A LABOR DAY Salute to all of America’s Workers!
Rosie the Riveter
Tomorrow, Pre-Launch Celebration of The Caretaker’s Lady
On August 24, A.D. 79, the area surrounding Mount Vesuvius was a thriving mix of bustling town, elite retreat, and productive estates. Less than twenty-four hours later, thousands had died and the area was buried between three and twenty-five yards of fiery volcanic debris. Until 1748, the existence of the towns was totally erased from memory
Does the past foretell the future? Experts hope not. Almost four thousand years ago, a larger eruption (called the Avelino eruption) killed thousands and made the area a desert for centuries. Dozen of eruptions have occurred since but another four thousand victims were killed in the particularly lethal 1631 eruption.
Today, Mount Vesuvius is a ticking time bomb with another eruption imminent. The volcano looms above Naples and the surrounding areas with its 600,000 residents in the nine mile “red zone.” The Italian government monitors the activity twenty-four/seven. Emergency evacuation plans would take 72 hours to empty the red-zoned area.
Next week, The North Georgia Mountains & The Caretaker’s Lady
R.J.Hore, a fantasy author at Champagne Books, is my guest at Thursday Redux. He writes what he call the medieval fantasy style for novels like the “Dark Lady” series, and a more mad urban fantasy style for his “Housetrap Chronicles,” a fantasy detective series of novellas. Ron’s hobbies include photography and sailing, along with putting up with a large number of unruly grandchildren and an even more unruly large cat.
“Some Thoughts on Sequels” posted to the Writer’s Vineyard website back in June 23rd, 2012 when I was working on two sequels to The Dark Lady. The second novel, Dark Days, came out in March of this year followed by the third and final (probably) novel, Dark Knights which came out in August. 2014.as an ebook.
I spent the last few months working on a sequel for my first published novel, The Dark Lady. When I wrote the original book, a sequel was the last thing on my mind. Then I began to wonder what would happen if it sold? Not a problem, the tale was far from finished, so I threw myself into the task. One tiny question kept bubbling in the back of my brain as I worked on volume two, Is this the end, or is there still more? After wrapping up almost 90,000 words I can safely say, looks like there is another Dark one lurking out there.
When I attempted my very first novel, I set out to do a trilogy. I thought that would make it easier to publish. After all, it would prove that I could finish what I started. It is still hiding in my closet. When I finally finished it, I could imagine a whole series based on the characters and setting. I guess I didn’t want to let them go their own way.
Since then, most of my manuscripts start out designed as a single, complete story. But once I type “The End” I start to wonder what else the characters might be up to after I’ve closed the page. Unless you wipe everyone out in some major catastrophe, at least one of your favorites is alive and well and shouting from the page that they want to be heard. How long can you create the magic you felt writing the original story, before it starts to feel stale? Maybe someday I should have another peek at that original trilogy, to see if it is as bad as I thought.
I can see why some writers may become jaded, or worse, bored, while writing a lengthy series. I know that every once in a while I get an itch to write something new. I think writing could turn from a joy, to a job, if you had to tell the same story over and over again. Writers need a challenge, a change of setting, a new villain, an exciting new character you might fall in love with all over again.
When you set down to write a novel, do you think of it as being a single project, or do you suspect/hope there will be room for more of the same?
High Fantasy Medieval Style Fantasy from Champagne Books/BURST Books (March 2014)
Young Queen Nefasti’s hold on her throne is tenuous. Her powerful neighbor to the west has declared war, and her other neighbors want something in return for their offered aid, such as her hand in marriage and her kingdom. Assassins lurk in the shadows while handsome suitors try to bribe her with gold and jewels. Her best friend and protector is leaving and one of her favorite ladies-in-waiting is threatening to commit suicide. What else can go wrong for the young monarch?
BUY LINK: CHAMPAGNE
Thank you for sharing, Ron. Tomorrow, Goodbye to Pompeii
My post, The Mullet Fry, goes live at Long and Short Reviews’ Anniversary Party on Monday at 2:30 HERE. The mullet fry is an iconic celebration of summer on the Gulf Coast by those who are fortunate to live on the water. Writing the post brought back many fond memories of mullet, deep-fried in a cast iron pot over a gas flame, and family fun. Over at LASR, I promised my special recipes that accompany the mullet – potato salad, hush puppies, and tartar sauce/remoulade.
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 finely chopped onion
1/3 cup dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: Combine onion and relish with the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Make a day ahead for best flavor.
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon Zatarain’s Shrimp & Crab Boil (Don’t Overuse!!)
Note: My daddy added 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish
Combine all ingredients. Stir. Store in plastic container. Make a day ahead for best flavor.
1 ½ cups yellow or white cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can cream-style corn
milk, as needed
finely chopped jalapeno pepper, optional to taste
Preparation: Mix dry ingredients. Add onion, corn, and Jalapeno pepper (if desired). Mix well. Add milk for consistency, if needed. Drop by tablespoons into deep hot fat, about 360°. Fry until golden brown.
Boil 8-10 medium potatoes with skin on until knife inserts easily.
Cool potatoes, then peel and cut into ½” pieces. Set aside.
For dressing for potatoes combine:
1 ½ Cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1/3 Cup mustard
2/3 Cup sweet relish
4 boiled eggs, chopped fine
2 tsp black pepper
In blender combine and blend until pureed.
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/3 Cup onion, chopped
2 Tbl bell pepper, chopped (I use red)
Add above to dressing.
Pour mixture over potatoes and mix.
Salt and pepper to taste
Elizabeth Fountain, author of science fiction, urban fantasy, and magical romances, is the Thursday Redux guest today. Writing is usually a solitary endeavor with few opportunities for interaction with other writers. Often we’re limited to occasional contacts at meetings and conferences. Another opportunity for interaction with other authors is membership in our publisher groups.
Liz is a fellow author at Champagne Book Group, one of my favorites. She writes funny, whimsical stories that have you laughing and thinking at the same time. She is always pleasant and supportive of the other authors. When I did an interview with her recently, I read her bio. Like her stories, Liz isn’t bound by one path to her destination, but she has a fascinating journey arriving there. Check out her website bio and her stories for great reads. Today, Liz shares a whimsical story that reflects her writing style. (Note: We also share an addiction to NANOWRIMO. See below)
It took me a long, long, time to choose a post for Rita’s Thursday Redux. The more I read my old pieces, the more lost in the past I became. Each one reminded me of everything that swirled around it in my life at the moment it came into being. Good thing I had a deadline, as it forced me to pick one, finally. I hope you like it.
This post was the result of a writing workshop I took at Richard Hugo House in Seattle, way back in early 2011. The workshop focused on using the conventions of fairy tales to tell all kinds of stories. Perhaps some seeds related to the fables in You, Jane were planted there and then. One exercise instructed us to take a favorite Disney-style tale and “rough it up,” making it into a more classic, adult-style fable. Well, my favorite Disney movie ever is The Jungle Book; here’s the moment where Mowgli meets Baloo, but, well, we’re not in Disneyworld anymore.
ROUGHING IT UP
One day a bear was out bathing in a stream. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a creature come toward him that he did not recognize as a usual resident of the jungle. This creature was a human child.
The bear sighed. He knew what would happen, having seen other small human cubs wander loose in the jungle.
“Child, where are you going?” he asked the little naked thing.
“I’m running away,” said the human cub.
“You know you’ll be eaten in the jungle,” said the bear.
“Not me,” said the child. “I know how to take care of myself.”
“Do you,” said the bear. He heard wolves howl in the distance and closer by he heard the purr of the tiger.
“Yes I do,” said the child, and growled a pitiful whining sound meant to frighten the other jungle creatures.
“That won’t help you,” said the bear. “Shall I teach you how to protect yourself?”
“Would you?” asked the child.
“Certainly,” said the bear. And without a second thought he ate the human cub. “You’ll be safe in my stomach,” he said, spitting out the bones into a neat little pile by the side of the stream, and went back to his bath, humming contentedly.
The wolf pack leader came by. “Have you seen a human cub?” he asked. “Yes,” said the bear, and gestured with a claw at the pile of bones. “There he is. “The wolf pack leader shook his great ruff and turned to go back to his pack.
The tiger slinked out of the tall jungle grass. “Did a human cub walk by here?” he asked the bear, who was just getting out of the stream to dry himself off and get ready for his afternoon nap.
“Yes,” said the bear, “I ate him and there are his bones, if you want to pick them over while I sleep.”
“Ah,” said the tiger, and with the swipe of one giant paw he sliced the bear open and ate his entrails, full of delicate human cub flesh as they were. “Now I need a nap,” thought the tiger to himself, and rolled over to sleep in the tall jungle grass.
An Urban Fantasy – Magical Romance Champagne Book Group (June 2014)
Note: You, Jane was born in my first joyous experience with National Novel Writing Month in November, 2010. The reliance on fables – some a bit dark – certainly found encouragement in the writing workshop that generated my Thursday Redux post.
Jane Margaret Blake’s problem isn’t her drinking. Sure, she’s missing work, and forgetting she’s already fed her cat, who’s getting a little fat. But Jane’s real problem is the reason she drinks: she writes stories that come true and wreak havoc in her life.
In her “fables” animals, people, angels, and the Universe itself conspire to destroy Jane’s last chance to be with her old love, or, just maybe, to bring her into the arms of a new love. Years ago, a fable pushed Jane’s best friend Charlie into marrying another woman. Now another fable shoves Charlie’s little boy in front of an angry dog – or worse, a wicked spirit bent on getting Jane and Charlie to face the truths they’ve spent a lifetime avoiding.
As her drinking and writing spiral out of control, Jane must finally discover how to write her own happy ending.
BUY LINK: AMAZON
Thank you for visiting, Liz. Tomorrow, More Pompeii
Pliny the Younger (a lawyer, writer, and civil administrator) wrote two letters to historian Cornelius Tacitus about the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. The letters were written about twenty-five years after the actual eruption. The letter is excerpted from Letters 6.20 by Pliny the Younger.
So the letter which you asked me to write on my uncle’s death has made you eager to hear about the terrors and hazards I had to face when left at Misenum, for I broke off at the beginning of this part of my story. “Though my mind shrinks from remembering…I will begin.”
After my uncle’s departure I spent the rest of the day with my books, as this was my reason for staying behind. Then I took a bath, dined, and then dozed fitfully for a while. For several days past there had been earth tremors which were not particularly alarming because they are frequent in Campania: but that night the shocks were so violent that everything felt as if it were not only shaken but overturned. My mother hurried into my room and found me already getting up to wake her if she were still asleep. We sat down in the forecourt of the house, between the buildings and the sea close by. I don’t know whether I should call this courage or folly on my part (I was only seventeen at the time) but I called for a volume of Livy and went on reading as if I had nothing else to do. I even went on with the extracts I had been making. Up came a friend of my uncle’s who had just come from Spain to join him. When he saw us sitting there and me actually reading, he scolded us both—me for my foolhardiness and my mother for allowing it. Nevertheless, I remained absorbed in my book.
By now it was dawn, but the light was still dim and faint. The buildings round us were already tottering, and the open space we were in was too small for us not to be in real and imminent danger if the house collapsed. This finally decided us to leave the town. We were followed by a panic-stricken mob of people wanting to act on someone else’s decision in preference to their own (a point in which fear looks like prudence), who hurried us on our way by pressing hard behind in a dense crowd. Once beyond the buildings we stopped, and there we had some extraordinary experiences which thoroughly alarmed us. The carriages we had ordered to be brought out began to run in different directions though the ground was quite level, and would not remain stationary even when wedged with stones. We also saw the sea sucked away and apparently forced back by the earthquake: at any rate it receded from the shore so that quantities of sea creatures were left stranded on dry sand. On the landward side a fearful black cloud was rent by forked and quivering bursts of flame, and parted to reveal great tongues of fire, like flashes of lightning magnified in size.
At this point my uncle’s friend from Spain spoke up still more urgently: “If your brother, if your uncle is still alive, he will want you both to be saved; if he is dead, he would want you to survive him—why put off your escape?” We replied that we would not think of considering our own safety as long as we were uncertain of his. Without waiting any longer, our friend rushed off and hurried out of danger as fast as he could.
Soon afterwards the cloud sank down to earth and covered the sea; it had already blotted out Capri and hidden the promontory of Misenum from sight. Then my mother implored, entreated and commanded me to escape the best I could—a young man might escape, whereas she was old and slow and could die in peace as long as she had not been the cause of my death too. I refused to save myself without her, and grasping her hand forced her to quicken her pace. She gave in reluctantly, blaming herself for delaying me. Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood. “Let us leave the road while we can still see,” I said, “or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.” We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room. You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore. There were people, too, who added to the real perils by inventing fictitious dangers: some reported that part of Misenum had collapsed or another part was on fire, and though their tales were false they found others to believe them. A gleam of light returned, but we took this to be a warning of the approaching flames rather than daylight. However, the flames remained some distance off; then darkness came on once more and ashes began to fall again, this time in heavy showers. We rose from time to time and shook them off, otherwise we should have been buried and crushed beneath their weight. I could boast that not a groan or cry of fear escaped me in these perils, had I not derived some poor consolation in my mortal lot from the belief that the whole world was dying with me and I with it.
At last the darkness thinned and dispersed into smoke or cloud; then there was genuine daylight, and the sun actually shone out, but yellowish as it is during an eclipse. We were terrified to see everything changed, buried deep in ashes like snowdrifts. We returned to Misenum where we attended to our physical needs as best we could, and then spent an anxious night alternating between hope and fear. Fear predominated, for the earthquakes went on, and several hysterical individuals made their own and other people’s calamities seem ludicrous in comparison with their frightful predictions. But even then, in spite of the dangers we had been through, and were still expecting, my mother and I had still no intention of leaving until we had news of my uncle.
Of course these details are not important enough for history, and you will read them without any idea of recording them; if they seem scarcely worth putting in a letter, you have only yourself to blame for asking them.
Tomorrow, Author Liz Fountain on Thursday Redux
Pliny the Younger (a lawyer, writer, and civil administrator) wrote two letters to historian Cornelius Tacitus about the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. The letters were written about twenty-five years after the actual eruption. The letter is excerpted from Letters 6.16 by Pliny the Younger.
Thank you for asking me to send you a description of my uncle’s death so that you can leave an accurate account of it for posterity; I know that immortal fame awaits him if his death is recorded by you. It is true that he perished in a catastrophe which destroyed the loveliest regions of the earth, a fate shared by whole cities and their people, and one so memorable that is likely to make his name live for ever: and he himself wrote a number of books of lasting value: but you write for all time and can still do much to perpetuate his memory. The fortunate man, in my opinion, is he to whom the gods have granted the power either to do something which is worth recording or to write what is worth reading, and most fortunate of all is the man who can do both. Such a man was my uncle, as his own books and yours will prove. So you set me a task I would choose for myself, and I am more than willing to start on it.
My uncle was stationed at Misenum, in active command of the fleet. On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had been out in the sun, had taken a cold bath, and lunched while lying down, and was then working at his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to a place which would give him the best view of the phenomenon. It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can be best expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. Sometimes it looked white, sometimes blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it. My uncle’s scholarly acumen saw at once that it was important enough for a closer inspection, and he ordered a boat to be made ready, telling me I could come with him if I wished. I replied that I preferred to go on with my studies, and as it happened he had himself given me some writing to do.
As he was leaving the house, he was handed a message from Rectina, wife of Tascius whose house was at the foot of the mountain, so that escape was impossible except by boat. She was terrified by the danger threatening her and implored him to rescue her from her fate. He changed his plans, and what he had begun in a spirit of inquiry he completed as a hero. He gave orders for the warships to be launched and went on board himself with the intention of bringing help to many more people besides Rectina, for this lovely stretch of coast was thickly populated. He hurried to the place which everyone else was hastily leaving, steering his course straight for the danger zone. He was entirely fearless, describing each new movement and phase of the portent to be noted down exactly as he observed them. Ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker as the ships drew near, followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames: then suddenly they were in shallow water, and the shore was blocked by the debris from the mountain. For a moment my uncle wondered whether to turn back, but when the helmsman advised this he refused, telling him that Fortune stood by the courageous and they must make for Pomponianus at Stabiae. He was cut off there by the breadth of the bay (for the shore gradually curves round a basin filled by the sea) so that he was not as yet in danger, though it was clear that this would come nearer as it spread. Pomponianus had therefore already put his belongings on board ship, intending to escape if the contrary wind fell. This wind was of course full in my uncle’s favour, and he was able to bring his ship in. He embraced his terrified friend, cheered and encouraged him, and thinking he could calm his fears by showing his own composure, gave orders that he was to be carried to the bathroom. After his bath he lay down and dined (8); he was quite cheerful, or at any rate he pretended he was, which was no less courageous.
Meanwhile on Mount Vesuvius broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points, their bright glare emphasized by the darkness of night. My uncle tried to allay the fears of his companions by repeatedly declaring that these were nothing but bonfires left by the peasants in their terror, or else empty houses on fire in the districts they had abandoned. Then he went to rest and certainly slept, for as he was a stout man his breathing was rather loud and heavy and could be heard by people coming and going outside his door. By this time the courtyard giving access to his room was full of ashes mixed with pumice-stones, so that its level had risen, and if he had stayed in the room any longer he would never have got out. He was wakened, came out and joined Pomponianus and the rest of the household who had sat up all night. They debated whether to stay indoors or take their chance in the open, for the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro, as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside on the other hand, there was the danger of falling pumice-stones, even though these were light and porous; however, after comparing the risks they chose the latter. In my uncle’s case one reason outweighed the other, but for the others it was a choice of fears. As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths.
Elsewhere there was daylight by this time, but they were still in darkness, blacker and denser than any ordinary night, which they relieved by lighting torches and various kinds of lamp. My uncle decided to go down to the shore and investigate on the spot the possibility of any escape by sea, but he found the waves still wild and dangerous. A sheet was spread on the ground for him to lie down, and he repeatedly asked for cold water to drink. Then the flames and smell of sulphur which gave warning of the approaching fire drove the others to take flight and roused him to stand up. He stood leaning on two slaves and then suddenly collapsed, I imagine because the dense fumes choked his breathing by blocking his windpipe which was constitutionally weak and narrow and often inflamed. When daylight returned on the 26th—two days after the last day he had seen—his body was found intact and uninjured, still fully clothed and looking more like sleep than death.
Meanwhile my mother and I were at Misenum, but this is not of any historic interest, and you only wanted to hear about my uncle’s death. I will say no more, except to add that I have described in detail every incident which I either witnessed myself or heard about immediately after the event, when reports were most likely to be accurate. It is for you to select what best suits your purpose, for there is a great difference between a letter to a friend and history written for all to read.
Tomorrow, Pliny’s Second Letter
Mount Vesuvius is one of a line of volcanos where two tectonic plates (African and Eurasian) collide. The others volcanos along the plate are either extinct or haven’t erupted variously in tens of thousands or hundreds of years. Vesuvius in the only volcano to have erupted on mainland Europe for several centuries.
Mount Vesuvius has erupted often. Though there have been several large eruptions, the famous eruption of 79 AD was the most destructive. Vesuvius has erupted every century or so and more but has not erupted since 1944. Some eruptions have been so large that they blanketed all of southern Europe.
The 79 AD eruption that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum was described by Pliny (a Roman lawyer, author, and civil magistrate) in two letters to the historian Tacitus which have survived for almost two thousand years. Because of his thorough descriptions, the explosive eruption at Vesuvius is termed a “Plinian eruption.” According to Pliny, Vesuvius ejected a cloud of stones, ash and fumes about twenty miles high. The molten rock and pumice released was a hundred thousand times the thermal energy of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.
An estimated 16,000 people died due to pyroclastic flows which are fast-moving currents of hot gas and rock (1800+° F) which can flow downhill at speed up to 450 mph. Today, Because of its location and explosive eruptions, Vesuvius is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. The area is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world with 3,000,000 people living in nearby Naples and the surrounding areas.
Tomorrow, One of Pliny’s Letters on the eruption of Vesuvius.