Guest Post: Honoring Fact in Fiction

This week I am honored to present a guest blogpost from C. Hope Clark, author of the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series. Thanks, Hope, for guest blogging for me. 

C Hope Clark photo-1

C. Hope Clark

Novelists forever juggle fact and fiction, wanting so much to write what they know in real life but worried that someone will take issue with it and sue. They have a wealth of material they can incorporate into a tale to give it a sense of reality, and are afraid to use it. My mysteries abound with real life, subtly veiled as make believe, and since my craft is fiction, in my own way I honor people who’ve impacted my life.

Lowcountry Bribe is my first novel, the debut for the Carolina Slade Mystery Series. The story begins as an event that actually took place – I was offered a bribe and participated in an investigation that went sideways. For obvious reasons, I had to disguise many factions of that case. But I inserted many other pieces of my life to give it flavor, in honor of those I know and love.

C Hope Clark childhood photo

The author with her father, David Milton Beales, Jr.

On a tense scene on a front porch, Carolina Slade has a heart-to-heart with her newly separated husband about how their lives would change. Behind the door, her father stands guard, gun in hand, ready to deal with her daughter’s spouse if the need arose. I remember thinking of my own father as a hero during my own similar situation. Today he’s in his eighties. One day when he’s gone, I’ll gladly read that scene and remember.

In the same book, Slade recalls her grandfather seated at a Formica table and chairs, much like one she finds in an abandoned farm house. The floor is worn where the farmer sat day in and day out until he died. I inserted a fond memory of when my own grandfather sat at such a table, in his own farm house, my little sister on his lap. He taught her how to drink coffee cooled on a saucer, slurp it, smack in delight, and then say “Damn that’s good!” He’d reward her with a nickel to say it in front of my mother. The moment fit so well in that chapter.

My mother’s cooking, my son’s defiant behavior as a child, and even the name Slade. A strong name. A name with very defined roots in my family’s genealogy. Using that special family name, even noting in the tale that it was my Mississippi grandmother’s maiden name on my mother’s side, I’ve left a piece of my legacy in print for my progeny to pass on.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-chair-sunset-image68117

Clark’s latest book – available at amazon, B&N, and brick-and-mortar bookstores, too

Honoring people in fiction doesn’t have to entail a poignant or nostalgic memory, though. In writing my latest release, Murder on Edisto, I recalled an argument between one of my best friends and my husband. She’s a free spirit and he’s law enforcement. When it comes to locks, she’s of the mind that strong security is welcoming danger into your life, as if embracing the negativity. Of course, security is a necessity in his world. To listen to the two go at it for an hour was humorous, especially knowing neither would convince the other to relinquish their polar position. As a nod to their beliefs, the conversation found its way into the story.

The list goes on and on. A writer can honor her world in fiction just as in nonfiction. Friends, family, pets, locations, events . . . anyone or thing can be inserted smartly into storytelling, with a wink to those who really know the truth.

 

BIO: Murder on Edisto is C. Hope Clark’s first Edisto Island Mystery in the series. Her award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series continues to be a favorite for many mystery fans. Outside her fiction, Hope is editor for FundsforWriters.com, noted by Writer’s Digest Magazine in its 101 Best Websites for Writers. Her homes are Lake Murray and Edisto Beach, both in her beloved South Carolina. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com

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How Nice! – The “One Lovely Blog Award”

A special thanks to Valerie Hughes of Genealogy with Valerie for nominating me for the ‘One Lovely Blog’ Award.

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Here are the rules for this award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog
  2. Share seven things about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)
  4. Contact your bloggers to let them know that you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award

Here goes!

Thanks again, Valerie. I appreciate very much that you thought of me for this award.  :)

Seven things about me.

1)   I work as a writing coach/tutor for Write at Home.

2)   I’ve been interested in genealogy and family history research for 20+ years.

Rusty in the rosemary-4 18Aug2010

Rusty The Mighty Hunter

3)   I have a cat with his own facebook page.  Rusty the Mighty Hunter

4)   I love Brussels sprouts.

5)   My sister named me.

6)   Many years ago, I worked as a tax preparer for H&R Block.

7)   I am an amateur (ham) radio operator.

15 blogs I admire

1)    The In-Depth Genealogist by various authors

2)    The Family Curator by Denise Levenick

3)    Dare to be Happy by Sharon Jordan

4)    Chris Morris Writes by Chris Morris

5)    No Story Too Small by Amy Johnson Crow

6)    Thyme for Herbs by Jane O’Brien

7)    Diane Rivers.me by Diane Rivers

8)    Seriously Write by various authors

9)    Olive Tree Genealogy Blog by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

10) Jana’s Genealogy and Family History by Jana Last

11) Michigan Family Trails by Diane Hall

12) One Rhode Island Family by Diane MacLean Boumenot

13) My Link to the Past by Kris Stewart

14) Teresa Shields Parker by Teresa Shields Parker

15) The Armchair Genealogist by Lynn Palermo

I will be contacting the bloggers on my list through a variety of social media avenues like facebook and twitter. Thanks again, Valerie!

 

 

Family Recipe Friday – Asparagus Casserole

Florrie Jane Thomas Martin

Flora Jane (Florrie) Thomas Martin, my maternal grandmother

 

My grandma, Florrie Thomas Martin, belonged to a seniors group at Wesley United Methodist Church in Vienna, VA.  The group was called Never Grow Old.  They met monthly for a cover-dish lunch and a time of fun and fellowship.

My grandmother almost always brought an asparagus casserole.  Everyone at Never Grow Old loved it.

In the beginning my grandma made it but as she got older my mom, Gladys Martin Heiser, would make it and Grandma would just bring it along to the gathering.  I don’t care for mushrooms so I never ate this casserole, but everyone I know who’s tried it liked it.

Asparagus Casserole recipe by Florrie Thomas Martin, in her hand

Asparagus Casserole recipe in Grandma’s hand, written with a fountain pen (her favorite writing tool)

 

 

Standing in for Peggy

This week, guest blogger Anne Peterson writes about celebrating life and keeping our loved ones alive.

 

It’s difficult when we lose loved ones. Sometimes our grief is like Tsunami waves. There we are standing and all of a sudden we’re thrown off balance completely.

But as time goes on, the waves lessen, except maybe certain days. Anniversary dates, and special celebrations. Like one we’ll have in December.

Peggy and me little

Sisters Peggy and Anne

 

My sister disappeared in 1982 never to be seen again. Peggy was a victim of domestic violence. Her missing person case was changed to a possible homicide. In 2004, we went to court and after 10 grueling days, we watched her husband declared “not guilty.”

The other side of the courtroom erupted in cheers, giving him high fives. We sat frozen till an officer escorted us out of there.

A couple of months later we had a memorial service for her. All of us had a chance to share what she meant to us. Although there were many empty chairs, we knew there were also many who cared about her.

And as we know, life went on. Her boys who were five, seven and nine years of age are now 37, 39, and 41. Two of them have married and have beautiful children. And in December, we’ll attend the wedding of her eldest son.

He called me the other day and said, “My wedding will be quite different than my brother’s wedding, but there is one thing I’d like to be the same. Would you give me the honor of walking me down the aisle?”

I felt a few tears slide down my face as I said, “I would be honored.”

My emotions will be varied that day. While I feel privileged to walk my nephew down the aisle, I’m sad Peggy won’t be there.

But instead of stuffing my emotions in, I will acknowledge them. And then I’ll carefully fold them up and put them away. Denying our feelings never works. We need to embrace them and move on.

My nephew received excellent advice from his pastor.

“I know you have loved ones who won’t be there. Your two uncles who recently died as well as your mother. Honor the ones who won’t be there in a tangible way and then focus on those who are there to celebrate with you.”

As I walk down the aisle in December, I will be thinking of the little boys who she loved so much. Peggy would play the piano and the boys would appear out of nowhere. They would dance to the tempo of the piece and finally collapse on the floor as we all laughed.

Yes, I wish Peggy were here to walk him down the aisle herself. To beam like I did when my son got married.

But this December we will celebrate my sister’s son’s wedding and we’ll be smiling. And maybe this poem I wrote depicts what my sister’s thoughts would be.

I’m Watching

Although you will not see my face,

as you walk down the aisle,

Imagine me just watching you

with my familiar smile.

Imagine just how proud I am

that you have found true love,

And know that I’m not missing this,

I’m watching from above.

 
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and most recently, her first children’s book, Emma’s Wish. Anne is also the author of 42 published Bible Studies through christianbiblestudies.com, an affiliate of Christianity Today, as well as the author of over 28 articles. Anne’s poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries. For more information about Anne visit http://www.annepeterson.com, or https://www.facebook.com/annepetersonwrites.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Mom’s Candlestick Holders

These candlestick holders sat on my mom’s dining room table.

Mom's candlestick holders

Mom’s candlestick holders

Sometimes they held red candles for Christmas or peach ones for spring or white ones for no special reason at all.  They were part of what made my mom’s dining room hers.

They were part of the sameness of my childhood, the comforting consistency, like the hardwood floors creaking in the same places all the time and the yard being blanketed with yellow maple leaves every fall.  And then one day the candlestick holders were gone.

GMH Candlesticks-2

 

My Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman had moved into a large parsonage with many rooms to fill.  My mom offered the candlestick holders to Millie, her sister, to use in the parsonage dining room.  I was sad about it because I loved them. They were simple but elegant. They were Mom’s to give, though, so I didn’t make a fuss about it.

Several years later I married.  When we came home from our honeymoon my husband and I opened presents.  The card and gift box from Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman were non-descript and traditional.  But when I opened the box itself I found my mom’s candlestick holders inside.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I read the note tucked in between them.

Note from Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman.  I keep it with the candlestick holders.

Note from Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman. I keep it with the candlestick holders.

They live in my china closet now, the one I inherited from my mom when she passed away.  I use them on special occasions, but they’re visible all the time through the glass front of the china closet.   Whether they grace my table for a holiday dinner or I view them through the glass, seeing them brings me right back to the comforting consistency of my childhood.

Tinker and the Mailman

Tinker was a cocker-beagle. She was tri-colored like a beagle, but her face was cocker-shaped, and she had short, wavy hair on her ears. Tinker was a good watchdog.Her deep, hound-dog bark scared newspaper carriers, the milkman, the mailman and anyone else that she didn’t ‘know’.

Tinker-1

How could anyone be afraid of this sweet face?

Our mailman was terrified of Tinker. Tinker would start howling even before he stepped foot on the driveway. You’d think the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings were storming the house the way she barked. The mailman was clearly shaken by Tinker’s barking.

In warmer weather, Mom would leave the front door open so air could flow through the locked screen door. (Yes, this was before we had central A/C.) Every day, Tinker would bark and snarl through the screen at the mailman. And every day the mailman kept one foot against the metallic bottom half of the screen door as a safeguard against the seemingly rabid Tinker. We tried to convince him that Tinker wouldn’t hurt him, but he would have none of that.

As you can guess, everything changed one summer day.

Tinker-4

Tinker at about 2 years of age.

That day, Tinker heard the mailman coming and charged at the screen door about the same time the mailman landed on the top step of the porch. Only this time the screen door wasn’t only unlocked, it wasn’t closed all the way either.

The door swung open and Tinker came barreling out and onto the porch. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the mailman or Tinker.

My mother, my sister and I came running to find the mailman on the porch and Tinker down the steps and in the front yard barking and howling and yipping at the mailman. Her hair was up on her back, her tail was between her legs, and she was clearly glad to see we had come to her rescue.

Once we got Tinker and the mailman calmed down, the two made nice with each other. He petted Tinker, and Tinker wagged her tail. From then on, the mailman no longer put his foot on the door when he delivered the mail. And Tinker’s only bark in his direction was a friendly hello kind-of-bark.

Joyce and Tinker-1

Tinker sitting in my sister’s lap.

I wrote about Tinker in honor of National Dog Day which was on Tuesday this week. Please share your dog story below. I’d love to hear it.  Leave a comment, please!

The Chaos of Camille

Have been trying to find time to write you about the hurricane, but it’s hard to stop long enough. It has really been two weeks of nightmare. That’s how a letter from my Aunt Martha Martin dated September 3, 1969 began. It was written 17 days after Hurricane Camille made landfall on the coast of Mississippi where my Aunt Martha and Uncle Jerry lived.

Martha continues: Jerry decided we would ride this one out and not leave town as we had an invitation to stay with a friend in his office at the bank building on the third floor. 

Hurricane Camille-1

Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs https://www.flickr.com/photos/88022781@N06/

The building is made of concrete, steel, etc and designated as a bomb shelter so we felt we would be safe there, if anywhere. So we took enough food for a couple of days, blankets, pillows, T-V, radio (with batteries), candles, etc, and settled in middle of the afternoon. We filled pots and the bathtub with water before we left and taped the windows, etc. 

The winds began to blow shortly after we moved into the bank building and we watched the news on T-V until the current went off, then started listening to the radio. Of course, only the children slept. At first, only the people that worked in the bank building, relatives and friends were there, then later in the night, the Civil Defense began moving others in. They sat in the hallways on each side as thick as you could get them.

No air conditioning after the current went off, so you could hardly burn a candle in the hallway for the lack of oxygen. The worst part was around midnight, after the lights wore off, T-V and radio stations had been knocked out, we could hear windows breaking, tin roof rolling down the street and the winds howling terribly. But finally the worse was over and about 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. people began leaving the shelters and going back home. 

Hurricane Camille-2

Tugboat brought onshore by Camille. Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs https://www.flickr.com/photos/88022781@N06/

Hurricane Camille-3

Same tugboat turned into the SS Hurricane Camille Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs https://www.flickr.com/photos/88022781@N06/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My aunt and uncle were fortunate. They lost a TV antenna and a tree at their house, and there had been about 4 inches of water in the lower section of the new house they were building at the time. A good friend of theirs didn’t fare so well.  Martha wrote:  We could see from the outside that the double garage was blown out and the front door was open, so we went in to inspect. The water had been up about 4 feet, the furniture was strewn from room to room, the piano was in the back yard, freezer a block away, walls blown out and mud 3 or 4 inches thick. Everything was a total loss. China and silver, pictures, etc, all in the mud. All the homes around her and along the beach were the same – one house was completely missing.

The letter goes on to tell about my aunt and uncle pitching in to help friends and acquaintances who hadn’t been as fortunate: They stayed for about a week – meals, meals, dishes, dishes, and I washed clothes steadily for 3 days. I didn’t stop my washer and dryer from the time I got up till I went to bed. The letter, 5 typewritten pages in total, gives my aunt’s firsthand account of riding out the storm and the chaos it created afterwards.

Hurricane Camille-4

A home destroyed by Camille. Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs https://www.flickr.com/photos/88022781@N06/

Hurricane Camille made landfall on August 17, 1969 – 45 years ago. It was one of only three known hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 storm according to this article:  45 Years Later:  Remembering Hurricane Camille’s Deadly Landfall, Aftermath

 

 

Did anyone in your family history encounter a major weather event like a hurricane, blizzard, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption? These websites could help you learn more about them:

Major Blizzards in U. S. History

List of Natural Disasters by Death Toll

The Deadliest Volcanic Eruptions

The top 10 deadliest earthquakes in history

Earthquake “Top 10″ Lists and Maps for the U.S. 

The 30 Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes/Tropical Cyclones 1851-2006

Betty Boop and Bambi

 

Question:  What do Betty Boop and Bambi have in common besides both starting with a B?

photo courtesy of Rob DiCaterino https://www.flickr.com/photos/goodrob13/

Answer: They both premiered on August 9, Betty Boop in 1930 and Bambi in 1942.

The cartoon in which Betty Boop first appeared, Dizzy Dishes, looks primitive to us now but was likely fresh then.  Click here to watch “Dizzy Dishes”

The improvements made in the 12 years between that cartoon and Bambi are amazing. Not only the quality of the animation, but the differences in music and sound. And Bambi was in color!  Click here to watch a clip from Bambi.

Were moviegoers as impressed by Bambi and Thumper on the ice as my generation was with seeing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast dance, seemingly in 3-D, across a computer-generated ballroom? Probably so.  Click here to see the ballroom dance from Beauty and the Beast.

My dad loved cartoons. His favorite was Woody Woodpecker. He watched cartoons with my sister and me when were kids. And when my girls were little he watched cartoons with them sitting in his lap. Yes he often dozed off, but they happily cuddled up to him and kept watching the cartoons.

Charles Leroy Heiser with Joyce and Nancy, early 1960-cropped

My dad, Charlie HEISER, with my sister and me. I am the baby in this photo.

Personally I didn’t understand my dad’s love for Woody Woodpecker. I found Woody to be annoying, but I didn’t tell my dad that. I didn’t want to spoil cartoon time with him. I liked Pepe Le Pew, Tom and Jerry, and Sniffles; a lesser known Merry Melodies character. I still like them now.

We’re visiting my in-laws this weekend. I can’t wait to ask them who their favorite cartoon character is and what they remember about watching cartoons when they were kids. My father-in-law is nearly 88 and still sharp. I’m sure it will be a fun conversation.  :)

How about you? Who is your favorite cartoon character? And what is your favorite animated movie?

 

Elephants and Giraffe Swim the Pee Dee

According to the Cheraw Time Line on the Chesterfield County SC Genealogical Society website, in 1837 “the first circus came to town. The elephants are too heavy and the giraffe too tall to cross the covered bridge so they must swim the river.” That would be the Pee Dee River.Elephant-3

One of my 3rd great-grandmothers, Margaret PEARSON GRIFFIN, likely witnessed this event.  She was the only one of my 3rd great-grandparents who lived in one of the counties on either side of the Pee Dee River, and she was a wee girl of 4 in 1837. Other of my 3rd great-grandparents lived in nearby Richmond County, NC, but who knows if they even knew about the circus coming to town, let alone witnessed it.

Now I’ve been to the circus. You maybe have, too. Elephants, lions, trick bicycle and unicycle riders, fire eaters, clowns, and all the rest. The circuses of the mid-1800’s weren’t much different. According to The Ins and Outs of Circus Life by John H. Glenroy, circuses of the mid 1800’s had clowns, horseback riders, modern Samson and Hercules, trick riders, singers, acrobats, plate spinners, a tattooed man, vaulters, jugglers and minstrels of color (which seemed to be a fascination of circus goers in those days.)

Circus-1

Olympians of the Sawdust Circle, A Biographical Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century American Circus by William L. Slout says the following animals were seen in circuses of that time period:  leopards, lions, panthers, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.  Imagine the amazement and awe that people on both sides of the Pee Dee experienced upon seeing the circus arrive with exotic animals and curious performers.

More than one resource used for this quick study said that the first giraffe arrived in America in 1837, coming to New York.

Giraffe-3

This leads me to believe that perhaps the circus event in Cheraw happened a year or so later than 1837. I don’t doubt the event happened, though. By the way, the first elephant in America arrived in April 1796.

This Cheraw circus event is going on my Margaret Pearson Griffin’s personal time line. I don’t know much about her, but this tidbit helps to add some depth to the flat name-and-dates information that is currently her in my family history.