The Healer and the Pirate

The Healer and the Pirate is available now on Kindle and Nook, and in print at Lulu and Amazon!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Personality types and writing

OK, busy night tonight, so I'll make this short!

Have you ever done a Myers-Briggs or similar personality test? I usually come out as an INTP when I do the test for myself. Some of my traits (indecision; difficulty following through without deadlines) can make writing tricky.

This page gives a rundown of the types. Here is a free test you can try.

To be honest, the test results can almost read like horoscopes, in that you can probably find something that pertains to you and something that doesn't. (In fact, I understand some Christians don't believe in personality tests at all, thinking they're too similar to horoscopes/etc.!) But I don't think the personality tests are wicked.

Though actually, once I realized that two people I knew--same gender, similar body structure--had similar traits, and got this idea of Satan having a HUGE list of personality types--far beyond the 16 Myers-Briggs types--that let him target everyone by their type's weakness. Whereas God sees us as individuals!

I do think it is fun to type characters. Aridin, male lead in "The Healer and the Pirate," tests as an ESFJ. What does that mean?

SUPER shorthand based on my reading and experience--serious students can actually figure out the way the different types interact.

E - Extroverted (50% of people)
I - Introverted (50% of people)
S - Sensor - Grounded in the physical world (65% of people)
N - Intuitive - Grounded in ideas (35% of people) - By the way, someone who is extremely messy is quite likely to be a "N" type. Yo.
T - Thinker - Ruled by logic (65% of men; 35% of women)
F - Feeler - Ruled by feelings (35% of women; 65% of men)
J - Judge - Makes decisions easily (50% of people if I recall correctly)
P - Perceiver - Has a hard time making decisions (50% of people if I recall correctly)

So Aridin is a pirate, that shouldn't be terribly surprising. Sensor sounds right for him; a pirate who's not very aware of his or her surroundings may not make it so long. I frankly have some trouble understanding the Judge/Perceiver one in general, but Aridin is quick to act and certainly "judges."

Feeler is the unusual one for a man. People think that women are the emotional ones and men are the unemotional ones. I think the 65%/35% idea is about right, personally. The majority of women are more emotional than the majority of men, but there's a big continuum. I actually am not very emotional, or good in social situations. (And it can be tricky to be a woman who's not emotionally sensitive!) I imagine it can also be hard to be an emotional man. Though I think men have more outlets for their emotions than some people give them credit for. (Like those guys who are so caught up in sports they come close to crying over sporting events!)

Of course, I think romance novels generally have the heroes being more emotional/sensitive than most men are...and I know someone who noted her husband is a "feeler" and it can cause some problems! But Aridin is just a very passionate person. And if you believe the scientists, 35% of men ARE "Feelers." I think there is room for all personality types, regardless of genders, in fiction (romance and not!)...and in life, too!

(Or at least, this Thinker woman hopes there is. :) )

Monday, August 29, 2011

DIY Free Kindle Sleeve (and a homely unicorn)

So I wanted a way to transport my new Kindle safely. I had the box it came in, but given the tiny size of the device, that sure is a big box! I could have gone out and bought a sleeve or a case, but have you priced those? There's a nice case at Target for $30, for instance, but $30 seems to me to be a lot of money to protect a $114+tax investment. (Especially when I read a story about a woman whose son accidentally stepped on his sister's Kindle, and they contacted Amazon and got a replacement device for under $70...).

So the cheapest solution in the world (per my own experience and the Internet) is a padded bubble envelope. I had just ordered a book or DVD set that came in a suitable envelope. I wanted something hard to protect the screen (bubbles aren't quite hard enough) so I taped some foam board that I had lying around to one side. But I wanted something more interesting, and figured I could do a collage or something on the envelope. Excellent idea, but I didn't have much around to collage with. What I DID have was a super-cute gift bag my former office-mate/current friend (though she's too far away now!) put a sweet Christmas present in. So I brought out the packing tape and the scissors and got to work! It added a lot of bulk and weight to the "case" but I think it was totally worth it.

Even though when I carry my Kindle I now feel like I'm going to a child's birthday party. "Sail ho! me squiffy men" indeed!

And while we're being crafty, here's a homely unicorn I made for her going-away. She likes unicorns more than I do (I prefer winged horses/pegasii only because they are, oddly, rarer!). I am pretty sure I like drawing homely unicorns more than she likes receiving them, but she does like homely unicorns, so yeah. Felt, yarn, buttons, and stuffing. Did not take long.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ford Production, Asylum Lawsuit, 92-year-old Groom

Quick look back today; I need to get to writing!

Ford Builds 317,587 Cars And Trucks in 3 Months
Plants Break Record for Any Similar Period Since Organization, Officials Announce

Special Dispatch to The Tribune

DETROIT, Aug. 26.--Official announcement from the Ford Motor Company to-day showed that during May, June and July the company turned out more cars and trucks than in any other three months period during its history. Total production was 317,587 cars and trucks, a monthly average of 105,862….

"There are twenty-seven working days in August, and it is expected that June's record of building 108,962 will be eclipsed…The schedule for August calls for 109,700 cars and trucks."

--The New-York Tribune, August 27, 1921

Sales for Ford in third quarter 2010 were 1.3 million units.

Frivolous (?) lawsuits have been around since the 1920s.

Woman asks $50,000 of State Hospital Head
Arrested as Insane on Dr. Heyman's Affidavit, She Sues When He Fails to Appear

Mrs. Elizabeth M. Downey, of 2914 Eighth Avenue, wife of a former policeman, filed suit in the Supreme Court yesterday against Dr. Marcus B. Heyman, superintendent of the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward's Island, asking $50,000 damages for causing her arrest on an affidavit that she was insane.

Mrs. Downey's husband suffered a sunstroke while on duty, which affected his mind. He was committed to Ward's Island, where his wife visited him. On July 31, 1920, a warrant was issued in the Magistrates' Court for her arrest on the statement of Dr. Heyman that she was suffering from delusions and that his life was in danger. He asserted that she visited Ward's Island to see her husband without a pass.

This latter statement was denied yesterday by counsel for Mrs. Downey, who said she had a pass. Dr. Heyman asked that Mrs. Downey be sent to Bellevue Hospital for observation. There were seven adjournments of scheduled hearings of the case, and finally, Dr. Heyman failing to appear, Magistrate Levine discharged Mrs. Downey from custody.

--The New-York Tribune, August 27, 1921

And how funny that this was news!

Man 92 Gets License to Wed
Prospective Bride of 64 Assists Him From Automobile

Special Dispatch to The Tribune

MANCHESTER, N. H., Aug. 26--Dan Merrill, of Chelsea, Mass., ninety-two years old, and his bride-to-be, Jeanette W. Savary, of Nahant, Mass., sixty-four, drove up to the City Hall here last night in a limousine. The prospective bride when in to file a declaration of the couple's intention to marry, but when the City Clerk insisted that the prospective husband appear before him she had to go out to the car and help Merrill into the building.

Merrill has been married twice before.

--The New-York Tribune, August 27, 1921

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Musing about Fiction - HOW

Wow, my random Musing about Fiction series is just about over!

A few thoughts about How to write. On the one hand, it's not my business how you write. Though for that matter, it's not my business what you write either, is it? Even if you write one of the worst books ever, it's a free country so I guess you can. And if you're famous or fortunate, you might even make money!

How do you write? There are at least two different kinds of writers. Some writers plan a strict outline before they start. Others are often called "seat of the pants" writers, who seem to thrive from the adventure of discovering a story. A lot of people are somewhere in the middle, doing a little planning but a lot of wandering along the way. For myself, I've tried outlining but it doesn't seem to work. But when I just make up stuff as I go along, it takes a prodigious amount of editing. Like every NaNoWriMo I've ever done. (See About Me and my Writing!) It can be hard to put a story together. How do I make it come together? Honestly? I don't know!

You know what's almost certainly more important than how you write? It's THAT you write. Most people don't even finish the stories they start. People spend all their time planning, or editing, or...ah...playing on the Internet...::shifty eyes:: You can't spell writer without write!

As to how to make yourself write? That's tricky. I've gotta say, just shut up and do it. That's what NaNoWriMo, and deadlines, are all about. Yes, I kind of love deadlines, because they force you to work. It's really hard for a lot of people (certainly myself!) to stay self-motivated.

Writers often say their muse is gone, they've got writer's block, etc. I'm not saying writer's block never exists. But if I wanted to run a marathon (ha ha ha ha!) yet never went jogging, what are the odds I'd ever be considered a runner? I can't think of any other fields besides writing and other arts, where people can just say "I just can't do this" for weeks on end, yet still be considered a practitioner without having actually accomplished anything. I think most cases of writer's block are really more cases of a writer just wanting to do something else besides write.

Or maybe that's just me! Someone wise once said "Writing is 1% inspiration, 99% not getting distracted by the Internet."

How not to get distracted? If I knew the answer...I'm not sure I'd be blogging tonight. I'd probably be off writing. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saving Money with Kindle with Special Offers

So depending on how you count it, I either just spent $28.21 because of my Kindle with Special Offers, or I saved $53.11. Maybe both.

Let's look, shall we?

The Kindle with Special Offers has some ads on it, yes. A little ad bar on the bottom of your home page only, and then screensaver ads. But most of these ads have some sort of discount with them. You can check SlickDeals to see some of the recent deals.

So what codes did I use?

One recent offer was $5.00 of Amazon MP3 credit. Ever since I heard The Glorious Unseen's song "The Hope that Lies in You" from a free download from Tooth and Nail, I fell in love. Rather than wait for an eventual sale, I finally just actually bought it. Sounds good in my iTunes. Some heartbreakingly touching lyrics in Falling Into You (and I'm not even an emotional person!):

Why do I medicate? Why do I go back to the things I hate?
There’s something broken in me - I must be soaking in my apathy.

And You call me as your friend, as I drive these nails again. I’m falling into You.
You call me as your friend, as I break Your heart again. I’m falling into You.

All who are found in this place, come to the ocean of grace.
And all who have spit in His face, come and live!


Subtotal of items: $7.99
Discounts/Promotions: - $5.00
Total before tax: $2.99
Tax Collected: $0.00
Total for this Order: $2.99

$2.99 for 11 new songs (and 1 I already had). I consider this a savings because I had decided to buy the album anyway; it was just a matter of when. But you could argue the Kindle made me spend $2.99.

Then there was another code for $5 off any $10 item purchased from I saved it for a good deal.

And then came another code for 50% off many grocery items. Most of the items there also have coupon codes you can enter at checkout to take out another 5-15%. So you can get the items for 55-65% off the Amazon price...pretty darned good if you want mass quantities of groceries.

Being one person with limited space, I only bought a few things: 36 tiny packs of freeze-dried apples, 6 8-counts of Quaker Breakfast Bars (also apple, hmmm) and 12 boxes of Lorna Doone cookies (my new office-mate's favorites; sssssh). OK, the 12 boxes of cookies was excessive, but they came out to like $8.10.

Shipping Method: FREE Super Saver Shipping
Shipping Preference: Group my items into as few shipments as possible
Subtotal of Items: $73.33
Shipping & Handling: $11.59
Super Saver Discount: -$11.59
Promotion Applied: -$0.90
Promotion Applied: -$5.00
Promotion Applied: -$36.67
Promotion Applied: -$1.88
Promotion Applied: -$3.66
Total for this Order: $25.22

Technically, did I NEED any of these items? Well, no. But would I have bought them if they were on a crazy sale at the grocery store? Yes (just not in such quantities!).

In theory, at least, someone with a big family could make a killing with that coupon. It's no wonder some people buy multiple Kindle Special Offers (to get multiple codes). Occasionally, I understand even people who don't read will buy just for the sales!

Friday, August 19, 2011

1920s Sunburn Remedy, Fellow and Girl Woes, Good Pirates

This is perhaps the most entertaining and period-feeling newspaper page I've come across so far--at least, that didn't involve Coney Island! I think I'm going to need to keep an eye on the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger.

Just like today, the advice columns sometimes miss part of the question. (I'd love to hear about 1920s sunscreen, but no...)

The Woman's Exchange
Remedy for Sunburn

To the Editor of Woman's Page:

Dear Madam--I have just returned from a stay at the shore and find myself very much sunburnt. I would like to know what to do to get my skin white again. Also, could you tell me what to use to prevent sunburn, as I intend going away again at the end of this month and don't relish this discoloration of the skin very much.

What would be an appropriate gift for a new-born baby? Should the gift be to the baby or to the mother?


Lemon juice is a fine remedy for sunburn. Apply it to the face daily and in time your skin will become white again. Cold cream is also an excellent remedy, as it does not dry the skin like lemon juice. Use it every night before retiring.

A pair of kid shoes, a cap or a pair of gold pins for the baby would be an appropriate gift and should be given to the mother.

--Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, PA, August 20, 1921

Different advice column. I find this sadly quaint. (Though it shows the difficulty of even a Christian historical romance writer, seeing how some people even in the 1920s frowned upon a good night kiss, yet modern audiences seem to want the leads to kiss…)

Please Tell Me What to Do

Regrets She Kissed Him

Dear Cynthia--Will you be kind enough to give me some advice?

I have been going with a fellow quite some time and think a great deal about same. He insists that I kiss him every time he leaves our house. I persisted for some time, but liking him, gave in, and now let him kiss me just once when saying goodnight. And now I do nothing but regret giving in, and would like to know what to do. I am past my 'teens, so you see am not so young and am in doubt about this matter. If I refuse to let him kiss me he gets angry. There is no understanding between us. Will you kindly tell me what to do? I would appreciate an early reply.

Tell him you feel that you have made a mistake, that you do not feel you should kiss him unless you intend to marry him--and stick to it.


Loves Friend's Girl

Dear Cynthia--Once more for your valued advice.

My friend and I have been going with two girls for a long time. Until lately we did not know each other's girl. After being introduced to her and going out together (that is, the four of us), I have fallen in love with her. I have been going with my girl for a long time, but never have I felt toward her as I feel toward his girl.

I know that my friend also loves his girl as much, probably, as I do, which is hardly possible.

I care very much for his friendship. Oh! What an awful predicament to be in. What shall I do?

Hard luck, B. S.! Find out from your friend if he is engaged to the girl. If he is, hands off. If not, tell him you do care and you will give him first chance to tell her of his love, but after that if she does not accept him you'll have a try.

--Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, PA, August 20, 1921

This is an excerpt from the delightful end of a serial.

The Good Pirates


The Pirates' Gift

"Weep not for the ship and the goods you lost," said Captain Black Eye. "New ships can be built and new goods can be bought."

"Not without money," groaned the captain of the wrecked ship. "We lost all we had when our boat was smashed on the rocks."

Captain Black Eye whispered orders to the pirates and they, giving a glad shout, hurried away toward the cave. Soon they came back again, their pockets stuffed full of something they kept carefully hidden from sight. They were grinning from ear to ear, and looked like a lot of boys up to some prank.

Captain Black Eye spread a canvas in front of the shipwrecked folks, and then spoke to them.

"For many years we were bad pirates, sailing the tossing seas," he said. "During that time we robbed scores of rich ships and took great treasures. Now we have become good pirates and instead of robbing folks we are going to do good to them. Behold the fine fortune we bring to you."

At that the laughing pirates emptied their pockets upon the canvas--emptied them of golden coins, of diamonds, of pearls, of emeralds, of rubies, of sapphires, of precious gems of all sorts.

"These will build you a new ship ; these will buy you new goods ; these will start you all on the road to wealth," cried Captain Black Eye, and the pirates laughed with glee as they saw the looks of delight that came upon the faces of the astonished shipwrecked folks. These couldn't believe their ears when they heard what the captain said.

The fairies danced happily upon hearing the captain's words. "When a pirate gives away his stolen gold and jewels that is the best proof he has become a good pirate," said Magisco. "Never again will I have to shut up Captain Black Eye and his bold crew."…

--Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, PA, August 20, 1921

There are other neat stories too! Ending with a fashion photo that isn't an ad, for once. Oh, Paris, trying to make long skirts come back in fashion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Musing about Fiction - WHY

Still musing about fiction! Almost through the series, too!

So WHY...Why write? I won't say too much because I've already addressed the topic here and here.

Most writers seem to be driven to write for some reason. I think I've mentioned that for myself, I just like to tell a story. At work I met someone today who writes screenplays (!) with a writing partner and evidently even made a documentary! People have encouraged her to write novels or non-fiction, but her passion is screenplays, and from what she said, it sounded like she'd probably write without an audience to read it.

I try to be the same way...before the Internet was big (and before I was working full-time!), I was definitely the same way. Now I find it's too easy to just read and post to messageboards and Facebook, and get my writing bug out at work (I spend all day writing sternly-worded letters) instead of writing fiction for fun. I do still write fiction, of course, but not as much as I used to. Some of the fun does drain away (for me, anyway) when you actually have people critique it...

Still, as my dad likes to say, "Writers write." While I'd like to make a living off my writing, mainly I'm just driven to do it, and I like to think led to, as well.

But other WHYs.

A big one I hear from people who critique me seems to be "Why are your characters doing that?" I've had compliments on my characters, yet sometimes they seem to act to advance the plot more than doing what comes logically. I'm not sure how to prevent that, but I think the only way to SPOT it is to get some third party to look at my work. I just don't see it when it happens.

Which explains WHY you need someone to critique or give some sort of feedback on your work! Even if it's not fun! (That someone can be an editor, critique partner, beta reader, or even WRITING partner, but if you're just writing on your own without any feedback, your fiction will probably be a lot weaker than it could've been.)

One more WHY would be the overarching message of your work/s. When I was younger, I just wanted to write, yet my first full-length fantasy novel (high school; not so good) literally had a Jesus figure show up. My dad charitably commented that he'd read books worse than mine, and that it got awfully religious at the end. LOL. So on the one hand, I just want to write. But on the other hand, God seems to creep in anyway. The majority of the things I've written have had substantial express Christian content and much of the rest has had at least some in there.

I think whatever the writer believes will probably seep through into his or her work, really, whether those beliefs are the motivation for the work or just something that slips in unbidden.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Long story short, I got a Kindle last weekend, so I've had it about a week. It's the cheapest Special Offers version, by the way. So far the ads are unobtrusive (only small at the bottom on the home screen and then big on the screensaver) and in fact can be money-saving! They recently had one that let you get 20% off a Mac laptop! that saves more than a Kindle costs! And more recently I got $5 in Amazon MP3s, which I think I will put toward The Glorious Unseen's album "The Hope that Lies in You". The title track is so beautiful!

Anyway. I downloaded a mess of free books from Amazon and haven't bought any yet. (Bad author!) Also two free Bibles, so that's cool. I've read more since I got the Kindle, though it remains to be seen if it's the novelty of the device or the fact that it is a bit easier to read using the Kindle than using a book. (Fairly easy to read one-handed.)

The "e-ink" is about as cool as I'd heard, although if you get VERY close you can see slight pixelation.

The wi-fi isn't terribly receptive (there's a free network where I am but it doesn't come in strong). Do you know the very best spot for reception in my entire domicile? Right behind where I use my laptop. Crazy! Maybe that's why I used to think the reception was adequate...

At any rate, the Kindle is a fun little device. I like the light weight and the "bookish" quality of it more than I'd like a tablet. (Not that I have a tablet, but the last thing I really need in my life is something that makes it EASIER for me to goof off online!) I don't have a case (I don't want the extra weight) but might make (!) something hard-shelled to transport it in without the delicate screen getting smashed inadvertently.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if my Kindle is under $100 for Christmas, especially since new ones are coming out. Technically you could argue I've already recouped the cost of the device in the free books I've downloaded, but realistically I haven't downloaded anything I'd pay for anyway. Still, it's a fun device for readers.

(And it will be so neat to be able to read myself on Kindle someday. :) )

Do you have an eReader? If so, which one?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baptists to Welcome New Students and Tires - 1921

I guess with cell phones and the Internet this isn't so needed, but back in the day, it must have been truly scary to go off to college...

B. Y. P. U. of Baptist Church Will Meet Incoming Trains.

Preparatory to a campaign designed to reach all new Baptist students enrolling in the University this fall, the B. Y. P. U. of the Baptist Church is sending out letters to pastors of Baptist Churches in Missouri, asking them to extend a welcome for the local church to all prospective students who are affiliated with their respective churches.

Gilbert James, president of the union, says that arrangements are being made to have church representatives at all incoming trains to greet students and give assistance in getting located.

--The Columbia Evening Missourian, Friday, August 12, 1921

And a tire ad from Firestone.

--The Columbia Evening Missourian, Friday, August 12, 1921

Yes, that's 3 1/2 inches wide! I understand the tires at this period were generally made with cotton cording inside and wore out much quicker than tires today. You can still buy Ford tires for your old Model T today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Musing about Fiction - WHERE

So Blogger saved this as a draft and published the next entry early. I forgot I need to check to make sure every single entry is set to publish properly...sorry about that.

Anyway...I've been musing about fiction (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How). Here are a few thoughts on "Where."

Where do you set your novel? Settings aren't really my strong suit--or at least not physical settings. I'm not so interested in the physical world as much as the realm of ideas, so I don't always do the best job of describing places. When Maggie and I are playing around while writing, it can cause problems because I failed to describe a scene so she "saw" it differently! I need to work on "seeing" the world and painting it for others.

"Where" can bleed over onto genre. I've heard it said that if you can tell your story WITHOUT using magic, it shouldn't be fantasy. (I think "The Healer and the Pirate" passes that test, even though it's really a rather light fantasy.) I guess the reasoning is that if fantastical elements aren't an integral part of the story, it shouldn't be fantasy. As a reader, I don't know if I subscribe to that notion, but I imagine most serious fantasy readers do.

One aspect of "where" that I DO find fascinating (and that I might have some talent for?) is history. What kind of technology did people use to get around? How did people think? How did people talk? Dialogue can often establish setting as well as character. If a male lead is calling people "darlin'," you might just have a Western setting.

Unfortunately, with Google always available, it's very, very, VERY easy to tumble down rabbit holes when trying to find out, say, what kind of cookie my historic character may have consumed. Even when critiquing others' work, I get caught up Googling to see if something existed.

One of my favorite sources for words is the Online Etymology Dictionary. You can use it to see if your word would have been used back in the day. Now, granted, if you're writing something taking place in the Middle Ages, you can't use a lot of the words that were used then (or the reader won't understand). And you're going to have to use a lot of modern words. But if a word just "sounds" wrong to you OR your critiquer, this can be a good source. It may also remind you not to have your 1920s characters skateboard!

One thing that drives me crazy in historicals is when major characters have names that aren't accurate for the era. A great place to check American names is the Social Security website, of all places. You can check what the popular names were when your characters were BORN.

One particular problematic example I can think of is the American Girl book series, and specifically, the most popular girl, Samantha. Samantha was meant to be the quintessential wealthy 1900s orphan, and the books inspired probably tens of thousands of girls to enjoy history. (I was more obsessed with Kirsten, thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

But Samantha's name? Not so accurate; in 1895 (the year the character was born), 16 girls listed had that name. Now, the database isn't comprehensive this early, but the top female name, Mary, had over 13,000 girls given that name that year.

Now, on a fictional level, the name "Samantha" actually works; it SOUNDS old-timey. It's just not statistically very likely. Obviously authors want to come up with interesting and memorable names for their characters, but I'd still try to stick to something probable...or if not, something that sounds right. Your heroine born in 1895 would be much more likely to be named Letha, Pearlie, Elsa, or Birdie than Ashley, Madison, Addison, or Avery. (Though all of those were listed as rare boy names for that year!)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Media Monday - Review - The Doctor Takes A Wife - Laurie Kingery

Quick review of the second book (of 4) that I won from Love Inspired's Historical line. Bear in mind that I'm not a huge romance reader and am not the target audience.

So what drew me to this novel? Honestly, the cover put it at the bottom of my list. Man and woman having a picnic? "Can his love heal her heart?" Yeah, no. The art is pretty, don't get me wrong,

Fortunately, the book itself has a lot more action than the cover would lead you to believe. OK, OK, a well-played game of golf has a lot more action than the cover would lead you to believe.

I actually was interested to read it when I saw this guest blog series that Laurie Kingery (ER nurse and author!) wrote about 1860s medicine. Good read! And I wouldn't really consider the entries massive spoilers, either.

Back cover:
The Doctor Wore Blue

Why did the new doctor in Simpson Creek have to be a Yankee? Sarah Matthews can see that Nolan Walker is a good man—and a handsome one. But she can't return his affection. Not with so much bitterness from the war fresh in her memory.

Yet when the town is struck by a deadly influenza epidemic, it's Nolan who battles to save Sarah's life. And when a shadow from the past returns, the time arrives for Sarah to decide if she's finally ready to utter the words her doctor longs to hear—"I do."

This is actually the second in a series. You don't need to read the first book to follow this one (I didn't), though some of the characters were a bit confusing to me.

3 things I liked:

*Nolan was fairly engaging. He was smarter than most doctors of the period (i.e. more successful, doing things that modern doctors take for granted like washing his hands). Sarah was fairly likable. I definitely liked it best when she was being so pigheaded and hating him. For the plot I know she had to come to like him fairly early on, but I wish she could've gone on hating him a while longer. Too fun!

*1860s medicine! Interesting stuff.

*Spinster club. Too funny! The young women seem to put out ads and such to find eligible men who then come to town to woo them and the like. Actually, with the casualties in the Civil War, maybe it was tricky for women to find husbands...

1 thing I found a touch peculiar:

*The ending really took me by surprise, in that the rest of the book strikes me as almost X-TREME Anne of Green Gables series (influenza epidemic; parentage scandals)...and then.... Well, from reading the back cover and the first couple chapters, you can probably guess who or what the "shadow from the past" is, but I was really surprised at the turns it took. It wasn't BAD, but I would've liked it better if I had been expecting it to be that kind of book. Given Nolan's past as a Civil War doctor it does make sense that he could rise to the occasion if needed, but a big part of me was wondering why these small-town characters were being put through all of this.

1 more thing I liked:
*The last paragraph made me laugh out loud in a "how sweet" way.

I do get kind of lost when I'm reading a book and there are a kajillion characters (might come from being an introvert). But a lot of characters seems to be the sign of a well-thought-out small town! So it's not exactly my style. I still found it fairly enjoyable, though. I kind of wish there hadn't been as much action in the end. It sounds like the first book also ended with a lot of action...might be interesting to see how the subsequent books are. Not that there wasn't violence out there, mind you, but still...even with the post-Civil War talk, I was surprised!

*FTC disclosure--I WON this book and didn't pay a thing for it, not even shipping. Though I still try not to pull my punches.

Friday, August 5, 2011

1920s taxes; Mermaid at Deauville

Yes, politicians have been arguing over government expenses and taxes since...well, probably way before 1921, honestly. This is from a Louisiana paper.

Congressmen Predict Deletion Transportation Taxes.--Luxury Duties May Remain Same.--Slight Relief Expected.
Washington.--Republicans of the house ways and means committee have conferred for a development of views on tax revision. Many divergent opinions were developed, but no conclusions were reached.

Emphasizing that he was speaking solely for himself, Chairman Fordney said afterwards that the goal toward which he would strive would be a cut of half a billion dollars in the tax bill next year. His opinion was that by the exercise of rigid economy the government could be operated for three and a half billion dollars in 1922 instead of the four billions estimated by the treasury.

Practically all members of the committee are in sympathy with the repeol (sp?) of the transportation taxes, both passenger and freight, but they have not yet fixed upon a new source of revenue to offset the loss of $330,000,000 to the treasury that this would involve......

--The Concordia Sentinel, August 6, 1921

Before anyone goes all Tea Party on me, please note that 4 billion dollars in 1921 was 50.44 billion dollars today, at least per the Historical Currency Conversions page. And there were about 1/3 as many people in the US. The US life expectancy for a child born from 1919-1921 was perhaps only 56.34 years. While many people exceeded that age, there wasn't nearly as much worry about paying for people's old age expenses. I think the general attitude was that you worked until you died.

Oh, and that supposed 50.44 billion dollar budget is more or less what we spent for Homeland Security alone in 2009. Department of Defense spending was more than 10 times that.

But on the conservatives' side, we paid $189 billion in INTEREST on our debt in 2009! Note that even in 1921, politicians weren't sure how they were going to pay for government programs and lower taxes...

ANYWAY! Let's get something fun. This could make a really neat short story or even novel, if you imagined it from a speculative POV.

Mermaid at Deauville.

Deauville, France.--Everyone watches for the daily appearance on the beach of the "Norman mermaid." It is a golden-haired, sylphlike girl who has earned this flattering name that just fits by her appearance in an old-gold bathing costume made of some shimmering scaly texture.

--The Concordia Sentinel, August 6, 1921

If you Google Deauville Mermaid there are actually a few different prints of Deauville Mermaids (note: artistically topless!) from 1918, 1921, and 1947.

Click on the picture below to see a silent film of the beach at Deauville. From the street clothes I'm guessing 1920s.


And let's end with a couple jokes. Politician comic:

--The Concordia Sentinel, August 6, 1921

And OK, this one's an old joke but it made me chuckle.

Terrible Blow.
"The banker's daughter turned me down."
"Did it break your heart?"
"Worse than that. It ruined my credit."
--The Concordia Sentinel, August 6, 1921

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Musing about Fiction - WHEN - edited

I like to write (and in theory) read fiction. I've discussed my reasons before, but when it comes down to it, I like an escape. I like to read worlds where everything ends happily, where people are better (and more interesting) than they are on Earth, and so forth. I do believe in happy endings, but in many cases they don't come this side of the grave. Between sickness, death, and our own fallen natures, things can get pretty grim.

Though now that I think about it, I reckon almost any story can have a happy ending or a sad ending, depending on where you say "The End."

Pretty much every romance novel (at least, in the Christian market) has a happy ending. But much of the story (at least most the good ones) aren't necessarily happy throughout. For an example, I'll use Beauty and the Beast because everyone always seems to choose Cinderella lately.

Spoiler alert for the Disney version if you skipped the years 1991 through the present, or maybe if you don't like cartoons and haven't had kids in your life!

So imagine the story ended when Gaston stabbed the Beast. Story instantly becomes a tragedy, for lack of a few minutes of storytelling. In the alternative, what if it ended 50+ years in the future? OK, so they say "happily ever after," but if they were real people they surely experienced some disappointment or heartbreak. Belle's dear father had to pass away at some point, never mind Belle and the Beast's eventual fates.

Also, you could tell a story about the same characters but in a different timeframe, and have something completely different. What if it started when Belle's mother met her father Maurice? At some point Belle's mother presumably died (or otherwise left the picture)--what if the story ended there? Or what if the story ended with Belle and her father finally coming to a new town where they were, if not accepted, at least tolerated? OK, yes, I'm sure there have been countless fanfictions writing about Belle's early life (and the Beast's!) but still. There's a story there.

In my opinion good fiction figures out exactly where to

OK, ironically (?), Blogger uploaded this before I meant it to! LOL. Though I guess the above is a good lesson--you have to know exactly when to end the story to match with your beliefs, and (unless you're trying to turn the audience for a loop) the expectations of your audience as well. An optimist and/or someone writing for an audience that expects happy endings will end with a happy ending. Few people who want their stories to be enjoyed end with a completely unhappy ending, no matter how dark the story. Myself, I figure, why not end with something happy?

My favorite happy endings are the "deliriously happy" endings like the Disney films Bolt and Princess and the Frog, where everything ends up just unbelievably happy for the characters. If you're still here, how about you?

Monday, August 1, 2011

6 good things about having an old laptop

So as I've mentioned before, my 2006 MacBook is getting near the point of NEEDING replaced. The battery the Apple Store kinda blackmailed me into buying has swollen (!) and so now I'm using the old third-party battery that has well over 10 minutes of life in it per charge. (Fortunately, I keep my laptop plugged in all the time--I know, that's why I have battery trouble!--but at this point it's not much of an issue.)

Anyway. 6 reasons why it's good to keep your old laptop instead of buying a new one.

1. Environmentally sound. Yes, you can sell your old computer (and frankly if it's not obsolete and/or broken, that's probably the best option of all). Given the state of my keyboard, battery, and case, I think I'd have a hard time selling it. I could send it away to be "recycled" but I can't help but picture this:

Environmentally, I'm not sure there's anything wrong with buying a computer, selling it after a year, and buying the new one. (Some people at report doing this and reselling their year-old computer for not much more than they paid for it, making it a sound decision. Me? I'm too lazy to resell so quickly, and not that interested in having the latest technology. Which leaves me with a computer that's bordering on worthless (it can't even run Kindle software or Google Chrome unless I upgrade to Leopard). So, using this one as long as possible is probably best for the environment.

2. Money. New computers cost money. The cheapest computer is probably the one you have. (Unless you believe time is money, of course. Which leads us to...)

3. Fewer distractions? Since my old computer can't sample everything the Internet has to offer, in theory I might spend more time buckling down and working, since I'm stuck on such a slow computer. (In reality this doesn't seem to pan out. Instead, it takes longer for me to load those distractions... But then the last time I got a new computer because everything on the Internet was loading too slowly, I didn't actually get MORE work done once I had the extra speed...I just had more fun goofing off....)

4. This one's probably good enough. When I consider that my not-very-smart PHONE has better graphics, more storage, probably more RAM, and is overall more useful than the computers I used in elementary school, I feel kind of ungrateful to complain that my computer is not fast enough/can't do quite everything I want it to. When it comes down to it, if I'm just patient with slow speeds (yes, I'm looking at you, NeoOffice), this computer is fine.

5. Much less big picture stress. Sure, it drives me batty when I jostle my computer and it restarts, but until recently, I've held my breath whenever I boot up my laptop after taking it on a trip, just hoping that it will start up. Now, not quite so much. When/if it dies, I will be forced to buy that new one I really do kind of need. (Unless I want to plug in an external keyboard and use this as a desktop.

And of course:

6. Electronics rarely seem to die when you actually want to get rid of them. At least, that's how it's been in my limited experience. Granted, the battery of this had its issues back when I was on the fence as to buying a new MacBook (over a year ago!) but it didn't keep the computer from actually working...

We'll see how long my old MacBook lasts (I'm fixing to get a new laptop by October or so). But even though the "e" key kind of doesn't work, and even though the outer case is cracked many places, I'm really getting the feeling that this computer just won't actually give up and die. Like my 13" CRT TV I bought in 1997....will this laptop stick around forever?

(So what am I waiting for, anyway? Well...mostly, I hate spending money, I suppose. I mean, I'm waiting for all the bugs to get worked out of Lion. Yeah, definitely. That's it. I'm not cheap. :) )