Monday, September 16, 2019

On Writing Right

Stephen King is extraordinary, a master storyteller. Back around 1986, I read my first Stephen King book, Pet Sematary, a gripping novel that kept me up late at night turning pages. When I'd force myself to go to sleep, I kept the lights on. Even after I finished reading it, I slept with the lights on for two weeks afterward.

Well, I'm glad to report that I'm finally reading my second Stephen King book! One that won't scare the living daylights out of me, but will allow me to sleep with the lights out. Today I started King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Although his horror novels scare me too much to read, he is a true master of the craft and I'm looking forward to what I'll learn.

In his Second Foreward, King states that his book is short because "most books about writing are filled with bull****." He notes that one "notable exception to the bull**** rule is The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White." He goes on to say that there is little or no detectable bull**** in that book.

After reading Mr. King's statement about books on writing, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites--and they're short with no detectable waste products:

  • The Elements of Style is a must read for anyone who's serious about writing. Before even starting a novel, read and re-read Chapter 5: An Approach to Style. It'll save you from many common mistakes of first time authors.

  • On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells by Leigh Michaels is an excellent writer's resource. Even if you're not a romance writer, Ms. Michaels offers helpful advice that can apply to all genres. In the appendices, she includes helpful information on crafting query letters, synopses, and cover letters.

  • Robert's Rules of Writing101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to Know by Robert Masello provides useful instruction pertaining to novels, screenplays, stage plays, memoirs, periodical articles, and non-fiction. Each rule (ranging from 1-3 pages) is jam packed with excellent advice that will improve your work--and leave you feeling like you can write anything!
What are some of your favorite books on the writing craft?

This is reprinted from 2010.  I finished the book long ago and I highly recommend!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Chicken and Red Tomato Curry

I love Indian food because of the extensive use of different herbs and spices.  But for the same reason I'm crazy about it, others may not like it, or even have trouble digesting it!

If you are a lover of Indian cuisine, try this easy recipe from the Cincinnati Enquirer.  It's healthy, and not too fattening.  Throw it together in one pot, serve over rice--and yum!  Hope you like it!

Lal Tamatar Murgh (Chicken and Red Tomato Curry)

3 T sunflower oil
1 medium onion
1 T ginger garlic paste *
1 1/4 lbs skinless chicken breasts, kept whole
1/2 t turmeric
1 t garam masala *
salt to taste
14 1/2 oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 T chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry onion until soft.  Add the ginger garlic paste, stir and add the chicken, stirring to seal in on all sides.  Once the chicken is sealed, stir in the turmeric, garam masala and salt.  Mix well.  Pour in tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done, adding a little water if necessary.  Serve hot, sprinkled with cilantro.  Serves 4.

*Available in the international section of most large grocery stores.

Do you love Indian food?  If so, what's your favorite dish?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Off for Labor Day

I'm taking a day off from blogging and will be back next week. Enjoy the Labor Day holiday!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Alexander Hamilton's Family Tree

What most people know about Alexander Hamilton is that his portrait appears on the ten dollar bill.  Some may have learned that he was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr.  Others might even be aware that Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Here's some more detailed information from Wikipedia:
Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.
As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the primary author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration, especially the funding of the state debts by the Federal government, the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. He became the leader of the Federalist Party, created largely in support of his views, and was opposed by the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
 Hamilton served in the American Revolutionary War. At the start of the war, he organized an artillery company and was chosen as its captain. He later became the senior aide-de-camp and confidant to General George Washington, the American commander-in-chief.
Born out of wedlock and raised in the West Indies, Hamilton was effectively orphaned at about the age of 11. Recognized for his abilities and talent, he was sponsored by people from his community to go to the North American mainland for his education. He attended King's College (now Columbia University), in New York City. After the American Revolutionary War, Hamilton was elected to the Continental Congress from New York. He resigned to practice law and founded the Bank of New York.

A 20th century artistic rendering of the July 11, 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton by J. Mund
What most of us don't know, is that Alexander Hamilton was of African Ancestry!  According to Julie Carter over at RootsWeb:

The first mothers of Nevis were African slave women who lived on the
island with the mulatto offspring of their white slave masters.
Rachel Fawcett Lavain, a woman said to be of "mixed blood" and the
daugther of a Nevisian doctor, was the mother the First Secretary of
the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton's father, James
Hamilton, Sr., the 4th son of a Scottish Duke (History Writer NOTE: I
believe this is incorrect, and Alexander Hamilton's actual grandfather
has been identified as an untitled Scot. End NOTE.) did not marry his
mother. Their relationship lasted 15 years. John Fawcett, Rachel's
grandfather, was listed in an early census as having 4 black females.
The surest proof that Alexander Hamilton was of African ancestry was
that Alexander's older brother, James, by the same mother and father,
was of dark complexion with dark hair. James Hamilton, Jr. migrated
to the United States and was treated like a Negro once being refused a
seat on a Broadway coach because of his color.

Alexander Hamilton also migrated to the United States to be educated.
He got involved in the American revolution and later appointed the
chief military aide to George Washington then Secretary of the
Treasury. Alexander's father was invited to come to the United States
but not his mother because "her presence would have ruined his
prospects. Her features were too pronounced. She was too typically
Negro. Her dark skin would create as much trouble as a colored
delegate at a white convention." (History Writer NOTE: Rachel
Fawcett died when Alexander Hamilton was 13, before Hamilton ever
moved to what became the United States, so I am not sure where the
author got this quote. End NOTE.)

Alexander Hamilton's papers of ancestry were burned after his death in
order to hide his alleged African strain. When harassed about his
birth Hamilton stated, "My blood is as good as those who plume
themselves on their ancestry." The real truth regarding Hamilton's
ancestry can be found in the earliest and least known portrait of him
drawn from life by Peale which reflects Hamilton's skin color, nose
and wooly hair. The portraits that we know today have been
caucasianized revealing Hamilton with a more European nose, thinner
lips, light complexion and straight hair. Both pictures are found the
New York Public Library Collection. Information on the life of
Alexander Hamilton can be found in Charlestown, Nevis at the Museum of Nevis History.
Just a little fascinating food for thought! Had you ever heard about Alexander Hamilton's family tree?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 8/27/12

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House

I'm a few days late with this post because I just got a new computer, or rather my son got a new computer for college, and I got his cast-off. It took a little longer than the weekend to get things done, but I'm finally enjoying a newer computer that's small and comfy on my lap. With that said, here's a post from August of 2013 that I hope you'll find entertaining if you missed it the first time around!

 As a lover of history and author of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoy visiting historic homes. They're great for research and just a fun way to get lost in the past!

Okay, so that all sounds fine and good, but my kids hate history! Regardless, during summer vacation I dragged them over to The Harriet Beecher Stowe House.  It's less than ten minutes from where we live, and I thought it would be a great living history lesson for them.

"How exciting," I said, "to walk in the same house that Harriet Beecher Stowe actually lived in.  We'll walk on the same floor, climb the same steps, and walk on the very grounds she strode!"  I reminded them that she's the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book partly responsible for bringing about the Civil War due to its realistic portrayal of slavery.

She brought to light the truth about the "Peculiar Institution" that so many Americans were unaware of. While living in Cincinnati she met slaves.  She visited Kentucky, which is right across the Ohio River (today about a ten minute drive from the Stowe House), and saw the conditions to which slaves were subjected.  Her time in Cincinnati inspired her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin.

My boys were much less enthusiastic than I was about our field trip, but despite their initial protests, they enjoyed the self guided tour we had.  They even stood still  long enough for me to read some of the display materials to them.

Here's a little history about the house and Harriet Beecher Stowe's life in Cincinnati. Mrs. Stowe lived in Cincinnati for nearly twenty years.  The house where she lived, now known as The Stowe House, was completed in 1833. It was built as the residence for the Lane Seminary President, and its first occupants were Harriet's family, headed by her father Reverend Lyman Beecher, who moved his large family to Cincinnati in 1832.

Lane Seminary was an influential Presbyterian college and religious seminary in the 1830s and 1840s.  It was also the first US college and seminary to admit a black student, James Bradley, a former slave. Students of the seminary went on to become educators, ministers, abolitionists, and social reformers.

After Harriet married Lane professor Calvin Stowe in 1836, she moved nearby, but visited the house frequently, and her first two children were born there.

Every city and town has history to share.  Are you close to a piece of living history in your area?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!