Eva’s Byte #203 – A Dab’ll Do Ya!

Part 1

A newly published author in 2008, I prioritized increasing my visibility, while adding to my credibility, by binge-writing my way out of obscurity. One way I sought to do this—operative word “one”—was to dabble in writing articles about my native state of Rhode Island (41 thus far), the setting for my novels in the genre of Contemporary. Since I incorporate historic landmarks, geographical locations, and regional culture/cuisine in my stories, this endeavor aligned itself nicely for expanding my author persona.

On that note, I’ll share one of my Rhode Reads, the subject matter of which will wend its way to my current work in progress, set in the rural community of Foster.

Rhode Read: RI’s Official Hotbed of Paranormal Activity (847 views at my web page, Authors Den)

An abridged version:

The Ramtail Factory Ruins

Deep in the woods of Foster, Rhode Island lay the ruins of the Ramtail Factory (Foster Woolen Factory). Founded by William Potter in 1799, and mysteriously destroyed by fire in the 1880s, it continues to haunt the hollows of a town fifteen miles from the capital city of Providence, situated on the extreme western boundary of Rhode Island, bordered by Killingly and Sterling in Connecticut.

Lure of the lore:

By 1813, William Potter expanded mill operations and made son-in-law, Peleg Walker, a partner. Walker, no pun intended, walked the beat as a night watchman, holding onto his lantern while making his rounds to all the buildings, and pulling the cord to sound the bell in the tower to summon workers for the day shift.

Supposedly after racking up mileage on his shoes over several years, an argument between partners brewed. Purportedly Walker retorted to the gist that “one day they’d have to grab the keys from a dead man.”

As prophesized, on May 18, 1822, Potter walked into the factory and found his son-in-law had hung himself from the bell rope with the keys visibly hanging out of his pocket.

Shortly after his demise, strange events occurred: the bell tower struck at the stroke of midnight though no one pulled the cord, prompting replacement of the bell; the townspeople witnessed the mill running without anyone operating it, whereby the water flowed in the opposite direction of the stream; the apparition of Walker making his night rounds holding a lantern; the mysterious fire.

Most of the villagers fled town in fear of the mill. Visitations by The RI Paranormal Group document both audible and physical manifestations as well as photographic confirmation which more than confirmed the area is quite active – “The feeling of being watched closely and followed is a given at Ramtail Factory!”

You Tube Video: Haunted RI – Ramtail Factory (6:17 duration)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISA1B8v6SF8

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Eva’s Byte #202 – The Spin

A writer whose primary genre is that of Contemporary, I take pride in blurring the line of demarcation between fact and fiction throughout the storytelling process. I surmise many writers of fiction strive for the same, and take great pains to do so.

For me, this is achieved through research, ranging from pragmatic to perverse topics of interest.

This week, my spin revolved around a benign Internet search regarding my WIP. Chapter 23, a segment delving into the past—the spring of 1950, necessitated I research popular songs of that year.  I even delved so far as to check the month of release, predicating that I cite a few released in 1949 for on-point accuracy.

Authenticate! Authenticate! Authenticate!

Boo hoo! No Elvis Presley or Connie Francis!

Of fascination to me:

On March 31, 1949, RCA Victor introduced the 45 rpm record, 7 in. across with a 1 ½ hole in the middle. It became the industry standard.

Unbeknownst to me:

From 1949 – 1950, RCA color coded their vinyls:

Black – Popular Music

Ruby Red – Classical and Opera

Cherry Red – Blues and Gospel

Green – Country

Yellow – Children’s records

Midnight Blue – Show tunes & Popular Classics

Sky Blue – International

*Did any of the aforementioned make the cut in chapter 23? No!

Typically, I only use a tidbit or two of my findings for authenticating the spin I’m in. Ironically, I did mention, matter-of-factly and nonchalantly, something not stated in this blog:

Frankie Laine’s “Mule Train”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNkRcqjbSWU

 

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Eva’s Byte #201 – Copycat!

I’m proud to be an Indie author, one of many who “writes my own books,” while fame and fortune elude me. Basically, I’m thrilled God gifted me with the ability to string words, because I can’t carry a tune or draw for beans. Post-publication, I’m grateful for each sporadic sale and book review. I also cherish the comradery in the author community which is based on mutual trust and respect.

Hence, I’m totally baffled by the recent copy/paste plagiarism news bite brought to light.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” (Charles Caleb Colton).

Copycat is more like it!

Without getting into specifics, or railing against such a reprehensible act of treachery and theft—I question why anyone would go to great lengths to piece together an entire book predicated on pretense. If writing isn’t your strong suit, in all honesty—pursue a legitimate interest.

Hither come I from my own perspective:

Must be the perks associated with being a writer. Ha! I’ve yet to build a fan base from “people I know”. I’ve yet to be recognized at my local supermarket.

Must be the money earned from royalties. Ha! At eBooks priced under $5.00, I’d need a slew of sales to undercut expenditures on printer ink and contest entry fees. Imagine if I invested in book marketing ads!

For real: A true writer sheds blood, sweat and tears during the excruciating creative process from start to finish—whenever. That’s the glory behind a story!

For me, there’s no greater satisfaction than fabricating a story fanned by the windmills of one’s mind. Even better? Someone likes what I wrote and tells another they should read my book. Priceless!

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Eva’s Byte #200 – Bicentennial “Best of” Blog Bytes

In celebration of my 200th blog milestone, I’m citing excerpts from five of my favorite Blog Bytes—every single one originally published on my web page at Authors Den (2015 – 2019).  By the way, the bytes I’ve chosen have nothing to do with my writing career.

Eva’s Byte # 19 – That Which Kills Me!

If I weren’t concerned about health risks, impaired judgement, premature aging, an expanding waistline, tarnished reputation, threats to my well-being, serving prison time, financial ruin, compromising longevity, or suffering my soul to eternal damnation—you can be sure, I’d embrace hedonism wholeheartedly by indulging in that which kills me and makes my life worthwhile! A for instance:

I’d beef it up by eating Texas burgers more often, enjoying the sumptuous repast of ½ lb. ground sirloin topped with melted cheddar, bacon slice, onion ring, and barbecue sauce on a bun.

Honky tonk dives, here I’d come—those joints from yesteryear where smoking and drinking were suitably mated until ordinances took effect nationwide in every public place. I didn’t smoke or drink in excess, but loved the ambience. Go figure.

Eva’s Byte #22 – Swingers!

Ring-a-Ding-Ding!

The 1961 album by Frank Sinatra which included only up tempo swing numbers, one of them “Ring-a-Ding-Ding,” is an apropos opening for the swingers I’m about to zing.

Ding!

I’m referring to those callous, careless, cowardly individuals who leave behind their anonymous calling card of a ding or scratch on your vehicle, adding insult to injury from the forceful, wide-arc swing of their own car door when getting in or out of their heap of steel parked next to yours.

 Eva’s Byte #35 – Leopard

The spotted leopard print is both bold and timeless, as attested through our cruise down memory lane. My sister and I recalled the numerous times our Aunt Evelyn chauffeured my mother and us two kids around in her 1959, coral and white, batwing Impala, invariably wearing her leopard coat in winter.  Spreading the conversation forward, my cousin Gail remembered her mother, my Aunt Angie, had a leopard coat and matching accessories. The spots stop there! My cousin Deborah revealed that her mom, my Aunt Viola, wasn’t a leopard aficionado.  While my mother admires leopard print, my sister and I never spotted leopard lurking in her clothes closet. However, she does have a pair of leopard reading glasses.

An animal pattern that comes in a variety of colors and iterations, leopard rounds out a wardrobe by adding glamour and sex appeal. Leopard must be worn in moderation. Paired or “pard” with black, it’s the cat’s meow!

 Eva’s Byte #42 – That One Thing!

Do you know what the secret of life is? (Holds up one finger)

One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean **it. (A Curly quote from City Slickers, 1991)

Enough said!

Eva’s Byte #45 – Letting Go

Letting go is not easy for me. If a fine line exists between hanging on to things and hoarding, I’m straddling the line by not letting go of things past their prime.  Not bearing to throw away pretty soap boxes, I incorporate them into my décor.  Reluctant to part with empty perfume bottles for their design and for the precious dregs trapped inside, my glass goddesses stand sentinel on a bureau.  Treasuring my vintage designer bags, I’ve tucked them away for safekeeping in a closet.

Forget about letting go of a grudge! Should anyone cross me, they’re crossed off my list.  There’s no crossing the Rubicon where I’m concerned.  A Michael Corleone character quote from The Godfather puts it succinctly, Sicilianly, and squarely – “You’re nothing to me now!”

Ciao for now…

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Eva’s Byte #199 – Irons in the Fire

Are you a writer who has too many irons in the fire?

Scenario: You’re a house of fire—firing away, fueled by the fire in your belly to set the world on fire through forging several irons in the fire at once. Vis a vis: devoting and dividing your time between writing more than one novel or novella.

If guilty as charged—Great balls of fire!

While no one has to light a fire under my feet for me to write, I typically focus solely on my work in progress, whether or not ideas for another story are in the line of fire. I’m a slow burner too, taking up to a year or w-a-a-y more to finish a novel. Thus far, in my lifetime, I’ve published:

Contemporary:

Underlying Notes (First Printing – 2007; Second Printing – 2009).

An Enlightening Quiche (2016)

Mr. Wizardo (novella in the anthology, Once Upon a Fabulous Time – 2017).

 Nonfiction:

Memoir collection—100 Wild Mushrooms: Memoirs of the ‘60s (2017).

In closing, I’d like to pay tribute to Emily Brontë, an author who wrote only one novel in her lifetime—Wuthering Heights (1847), my all-time favorite. At that, her book drew fire, garnering mixed reviews from critics, who mostly found the book unbelievable and even scandalous.

*Regardless of how many irons are in the fire, may every writer fire on.

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Eva’s Byte #198 – Under the Influence

The perils and pitfalls of storytelling may predispose a writer to drink on the job. So many of the late, great published authors did. To cite a few: Dorothy Parker, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jack Kerouac.

I’ll admit to tipping a bottle of iced coffee while presiding over the keyboard when composing. Preferably, Dunkin Donuts vanilla.

Regardless of what vice gets us through the day behind a closed door, I’ll wager that all creative folks proceed with their craft “under the influence” of someone we respect and admire who resonates in our soul.

I proceed under the influence of author, Ann Lamott, whose philosophy is to write books she’d love to come upon. Hence, she put the notion in my head to write the books I’d want to read.

Blue Shoe, which epitomizes Lamott’s knack for writing stories that are honest and revolve around spiritual transformations, families, secrets, and craziness—inspired me to go off my own deep end.

Under the influence, I’ve published and continue to compose Contemporary Women’s Fiction incorporating secrets and idiosyncrasies. In addition, I tap into significant issues affecting the lives of ordinary/ extraordinary, flawed women over forty who grapple with, confront, and overcome their personal dilemmas and become empowered to make profound life changes for the better.

 *Who has exerted the most influence in your creative endeavors?

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Eva’s Byte #197: Are We There Yet?

Whether embarking on a journey by car, plane, trip, or—brain—for me, the destination is neither here nor there:

From Memoir #87 – Straddling the Line (100 Wild Mushrooms: Memoirs of the ‘60s; 2017).

Chatting over a landline with my sister the other day, we straddled the line of demarcation between the past and present, concluding that our family road trips during the Sixties instilled in both of us enough thrills and adventures to last a lifetime. More than the destinations themselves, it was everything a road trip entailed from the hustle and bustle of getting an early start, rustling up grub, and watching the world go by in transit along single broken lines, solid lines, or double lines on asphalt.

An Indie author who has embarked on an arduous journey along the route of self-publishing, I’m still miles shy from my destination of becoming a best-seller. Or, for that matter, becoming a local celebrity in the state of Rhode Island.

That’s neither here nor there.

In the driver’s seat, I refuse to put the pedal to the metal for paid ads. I’m foregoing a newsletter. I’m not actively seeking author interviews, or setting up an author event. I will not pound the pavement on more social media sites.

Content to watch the world go by outside the double-hung window in my office, my brain is hot-wired for the solo journey of writing. More than the destinations themselves, it’s the sheer gratification derived from plotting twists and turns in a local setting.

That mentioned, my Contemporary, An Enlightening Quiche (2016) was ranked:

1st out of 90 books set in Rhode Island (Goodreads Listopia)

https://www.goodreads.com/list/book/32164316

*Wherever you are along your journey, remember not to overlook the forest for the trees.

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Eva’s Byte #196: When No One’s Watching

One of my treasured books gifted to all faculty members by the school principal of Northern Lincoln Elementary where I finished my teaching career in the third grade trenches was What Teachers Do When No One is Looking by Jim Grant and Irv Richardson.  I can attest that most teachers unselfishly contribute after-school hours and money to make a difference in the classroom—when no one is watching. Scrounging yard sales for materials and attending seminars barely scratch the surface.

Which brings me to the career I embraced shortly after retirement—that of a self-published Indie author who wishes more people were on the lookout for my books and making a mad dash to acquire them.

Nevertheless, I thought I’d share the nature of this week’s writing sessions for my WIP in the genre of Contemporary at the juncture of part 2, chapter 21 which delves into my protagonist’s past—when no one’s watching:

RESEARCH

Incorporating elements from my native state of Rhode Island in my novels, and priding myself in blurring the lines of demarcation between fiction and fact, hither and thither I go:

*To St. Mary’s Academy – Bay View in Riverside, RI – the prestigious, all-girls Catholic school attended by my protagonist.

*To Borders Farm in Foster, RI – the location of an old farmhouse built in 1849, surrounded by several fields with stone walls and fences—the setting for chapter 21.

*Which led me to reading up on “stone walls” just as my protagonist did prior to sketching one at Borders Farm. When the glaciers melted across New England, they randomly dumped millions of granite and gneiss rocks. Their hardness and durability made them the optimum choice for building walls on farmland.

What I’ve shared with you while no one was watching, is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a writer, you already know that.

For a writer, leaving no stone unturned glorifies “the end” of a story.

*When no one’s watching, what are you researching?

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Eva’s Byte #195 – The End

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” Lazurus Long

Excluding book formatting and cover art, I otherwise operate “solo” when it comes to writing. In that regard, I am my own harshest critic when it comes to executing every aspect of editing to the finish line.

 The End

While I can understand the utter satisfaction of typing this visual marker in concluding the manuscript, I never do.  At this point in time, drafting chapter 21 of my WIP, I’ve miles and months to go before I reach the end of the story despite my steadfast vision.

Respecting the prerogative of other writers who tweak their text and/or design a new book cover at various intervals post-publication, “the end” is the last stop on my train of thought. Although I’m far from perfect, once my novel is published, I’ll stand by its integrity which shall remain intact for all eternity, regardless of any errant typo or faux pas.  There’d better not be!

Point of fact, when my contract with a hybrid publisher expires and I self-publish An Enlightening Quiche (2016)—not one word will be changed, and I’ll retain the cover whose elements I prepared in entirety for the cover artist. After all, every review worth its weight in gold was based on the original version.

From my writing perspective, the art of ending one literary journey paves the way for undertaking the next—without turning back.

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Eva’s Byte #194: Stretch of the Imagination

Surely, a stretch of the imagination—by far, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, published on June 30, 1936, when the US was still suffering from the Depression. Nevertheless, this one-hit wonder spanning 1037 pages, penned by an unknown author, and eventually considered one of the Greatest American novels, was raked over the coals in a New York Times review shortly after the book’s publication:

“The historical background is the chief virtue of the book, and it is the story of the times rather than the unconvincing and somewhat absurd plot that gives Miss Mitchell’s work whatever importance may be attached to it.”
https://www.literaryladiesguide.com/book-reviews/original-1936-review-of-gone-with-the-wind-from-the-new-york-times/#EZQiv638E5rJvaKf.99

Margaret Mitchell ended up winning the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936, and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937.

So, there! Believe in the merits of your own work, and let no one dissuade you from your literary endeavors.

Which brings me to my own stretch of the imagination:

Working in earnest on my third novel in the genre of Contemporary, I have finished part 1 comprised of 20 chapters (23,420 words) whose plot spans a 24-hr. time period! How’s that for stretching one’s imagination?

Prior to conducting a massive proofreading/editing/tweaking session, there were 16 chapters. However, the dictates of logic mandated I stretch it out to 20. Voila!

It’s a stretch for me to predict when I’ll finish this novel due to my boundless imagination to deliver a story without cutting corners or skimping on substance—no matter how many pages it takes to get the job done.

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