Posted in Books, Fictional Feast, Literary Gastronomy

Fictional Feasts / Literary Gastronomy, part 1

Virginia Woolf, who placed much emphasis upon dining within her works, famously said that “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” ( A Room of One’s Own, 1929).

I bought the book Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals (HarperCollins, April 2014) when it came out, because how could one not! As an avid reader, I always paid attention to the meals that the characters were having, looking for their raison d’être: did it bring back a memory of family, was it the first meal you had with your (soon to be) significant other; what did J.D. Salinger mean when he picked the cheese sandwich for “Catcher in the Rye”, or Lucy Maud Montgomery for the raspberry cordial of “Anne of Green Gables”.

Come with me as we travel the pages of literature to indulge with the characters, revealing everyday life and its rituals.

Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” (1957): Apple Pie & Ice Cream 

“I ate apple pie and ice cream—it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer…that’s practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course.”

Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of the Lambs” (1988): Liver, Fava beans and a nice Chianti*

“A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone. Go back to school, little Starling.” 

*Ed Note: the Chianti is the movie line.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” (1925): Cold Fried Chicken and Ale

“Daisy and Tom were sitting opposite each other at the kitchen table with a plate of cold fried chicken between them and two bottles of ale. He was talking intently across the table at her and in his earnestness his hand had fallen upon and covered her own. Once in a while she looked up and nodded at him in agreement.”

Bonus Food for “The Great Gatsby”: Mint Juleps 

And we all took the less explicable step of engaging the parlor of a suite in the Plaza Hotel.

The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back. The notion originated with Daisy’s suggestion that we hire five bath-rooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as “a place to have a mint julep.”

C.S. Lewis “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” (1950): Turkish Delight

“The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmond and never tasted anything more delicious.”

Bonus Food for “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe”: Marmalade rolls 

“And when they had finished the fish, Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out.” 

Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (1964): Bill’s Candy Shop

“Eatable marshmallow pillows. Lickable wallpaper for nurseries. Hot ice creams for cold days. Cows that give chocolate milk. Fizzy lifting drinks. Square sweets that look round.” 

Jonathan L Howard’s “Johannes Cabal the Necromancer” (2009): Peas

(Ed note: a bit gruesome ) 

Then, one morning, the surviving family woke up and found themselves short one for breakfast. They discovered Beatrice tied by her ankles to the chandelier. Her expression was one of purest horror and she was quite dead. There were a lot of peas in the room. The post-mortem discovered another five pounds of them forced down her throat, jamming her esophagus shut and clogging her airways.

Extra: Characters from the Johannes Cabal universe. From left: Satan, Frank Barrow, Leonie Barrow, Johannes Cabal, Horst Cabal, Bones the Carnival Manager, Dennis and Denzil, and Layla the Latex Lady. Image courtesy of AgarthianGuide on Deviantart.com. Here’s the link for more of her Johannes Cabal images: https://www.deviantart.com/agarthanguide/art/Johannes-Cabal-the-Necromancer-Linup-590426600

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” (2001): Chili 

Laura made a great chili. She used lean meat, dark kidney beans, carrots cut small, a bottle or so of dark beer, and freshly sliced hot peppers. She would let the chili cook awhile, then add red wine, lemon juice and a pinch of fresh dill, and finally, measure out and add her chili powders. On more than one occasion, Shadow had tried to get her to show him how she made it: he would watch everything she did…………….

(Ed note: have you seen the series on Starz? Season 3 just dropped the other night!) 

Edward Gorey’s “The Gashleycrumb Tinies” (1963): Peaches 

“E is for Ernest who choked on a peach”.

Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (1979): Zaphod Beeblebrox’s Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Take the juice from one bottle of the Ol’ Janx Spirit.

Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V — Oh, that Santraginean water… Oh, those Santraginean fish!

Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzine is lost)

Allow four liters of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in memory of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia

Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet, and mystic

Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger. Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink

Sprinkle Zamphour

Add an olive

Drink… but…..very carefully…

The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster’s effect is described as “having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped ’round a large gold brick.” Or “the alcoholic equivalent to a mugging; expensive and bad for the head.”

Stephen King’s “The Shining”: Wendy’s canned tomato soup and cheese omelette 

“She opened the can and dropped the slightly jellied contents into a saucepan. PLOP. She went to the refrigerator and got milk and eggs for the omelet. Then to the walk-in freezer for cheese. All these actions, so common and so much a part of her life before the Overlook, had been a part of her life, helped to calm her. She melted butter in the frying pan, diluted the soup with milk, then poured the beaten eggs into the pan. A sudden feeling that someone was standing behind her, reaching for her throat.”

Douglas Adams’ “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” (1980): Bovine Quadrupeds

Miliways serves Large fat meaty quadrupeds of the bovine type, with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost be ingratiating smiles.”

Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” (English version,1922): Madeleines 

“She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.”

Steven Brust’s “Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar & Grille” (1990): Matzo Ball Soup

“Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille has the best matzo ball soup in the galaxy. Lots of garlic, matzo balls with just the right consistency to absorb the flavor, big chunks of chicken, and the whole of it seasoned to a biting perfection. One bowl, along with maybe a couple of tamales, will usually do for a meal.”

J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone” (1997): Pastys

He had never had any money for sweets with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry — but the woman didn’t have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life.
Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts. Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.
“Hungry, are you?”
“Starving,” said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.
Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it. There were four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, “She always forgets I don’t like corned beef.”
“Swap you for one of these,” said Harry, holding up a pasty. “Go on –“
“You don’t want this, it’s all dry,” said Ron. “She hasn’t got much time,” he added quickly, “you know, with five of us.”
“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and sweets (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” (1965): Shrimp, French Fries, Garlic Bread. Ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream

“Read in the paper, afternoon paper, what they ordered for their last meal? Ordered the same menu. Shrimp. French fries. Garlic bread. Ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream. Understand Smith didn’t touch his much.”

Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1960): Calpurnia’s Crackling Bread

“Perhaps Calpurnia sensed that my day had been a grim one: she let me watch her fix supper. ‘Shut your eyes and open your mouth and I’ll give you a surprise,’ she said. It was not often that she made crackling bread, she said she never had time, but with both of us at school today had been an easy one for her. She knew I loved crackling bread.”

Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” (1988): Chocolate Cake

“The cook disappeared. Almost at once she was back again staggering under the weight of an enormous round chocolate cake on a china platter. The cake was fully eighteen inches in diameter and it was covered with dark-brown chocolate icing.”

And in the immortal words of Erma Bombeck…

“Seize the moment.
Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

What`s your favorite literary recipe or reference? Leave a comment down below!

Featured image: The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, from the color illustrated Nursery Alice, 1890.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Literature, Travel

Literary Tour: New Orleans

I’ve recently become enamored with the literary tours around the country that delve deep into the writing history of the city you are visiting.  I thought I would share with you, my readers, some of the cities that I’d like to visit and what you can do there, if you are a bibliophile like I am.

I’ve visited New Orleans while driving across country from New York to California, and had a wonderful time. It is one of those places on my bucket list to go back and spend some serious time exploring. The literary history just calls to me, so if you are nearby, please take advantage of it and let me know what you think.

Without further ado, come with me as we stroll Crescent City.

Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal St., between Bienville and Iberville Streets

history_literary
Photo courtesy of The Hotel Monteleone

Hotel Monteleone, a historic New Orleans hotel, has long been a favorite haunt of distinguished Southern authors. Many of them immortalized the Grand Dame of the French Quarter in their works. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner always made 214 Royal Street their address while in the Crescent City.

In 1999, the hotel was designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. (The Plaza and Algonquin in New York are the only other hotels in the United States that share this honor.)

Did you know… You can request the Literary Suites at the Hotel Monteleone, and stay in William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, or the Eudora Welty Suite.

Tennessee Williams Home – A Streetcar Named Desire
1014 Dumaine Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands – and who knows what to do with it?”
~Blanche Dubois

http://www.hnoc.org/collections/tw/twpathindex.html

Tennessee-tux-300

If you’re  planning a trip, there’s the Tennessee Williams/ New Orleans Literary Festival.  being held March 24 – March 28, 2021 (hopefully!).

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival was founded in 1986 by a group of local citizens who shared a common desire to celebrate the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Don’t forget the Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest!

William Faulkner House
624 Pirate’s Alley, around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral

A little byway to get to the Faulkner House Books

Faulkner-plaque

http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2009/11/william_faulkner_house_in_new.html

Food and Drink… 

Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House
240 Bourbon Street,
corner of Bourbon and Bienville

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Be sure to stop for a drink at the Old Absinthe House, where P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, General Robert E. Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Enrico Caruso have come through the doors. The story goes, that Pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson planned the Battle of New Orleans there.

Try the Absinthe Frappe (Herbsaint, Anisette, soda water) invented there by Cayetano Ferrer!

Antoine’s Restaurant
713 St. Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Open since 1840, Antoine’s Restaurant has been part of Crescent City history. Franklin Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II, The Rolling Stones, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby have all dined at Antoine’s. Be sure to have the Oysters Rockefeller, try the Baked Alaska, and have a drink at the Hermes Bar (725 St. Louis St.).

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Finish off your days of wandering with some Coffee !

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French Truck Coffee
217 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

This coffee is so good, (my daughter had it while she was performing with her high school jazz band on their NOLA trip right before the coronavirus hit), that we have it shipped to us! When the ROUGAROU coffee comes back in season, I recommend that. One can’t go wrong with LE GRAND COQ ROUGE and LA BELLE NOIR.

or:

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PJ’s Coffee – Lower Garden District
2140 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

For cold drinks, try the Original Cold Brew Iced Coffee or the Velvet Ice Frozen Blended in either Mocha or Vanilla.

PS: If you want to delve into local history, let me introduce you to my very good friend, and client, Edward Branley. He is a font of knowledge, having written five books on NOLA history, as well as fiction novels.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Words

Favorite Words, Recommenced…

If you recall, back in… October… (seems like a lifetime ago in this pandemic), I had a post titled “FAVORITE WORDS and why I love them”. I promised you my next set of words… and here they are. What are your favorite words? Do they come from grandma, family jokes, or a book ? Let me know in the comments.

Petrichor

(n): the scent of rain on the earth

pronounciation: pet-ri-kawr, pe-trahy-kawr

Psithurism

(n): the sound of the wind through the trees

Scripturient

(adj): having a consuming passion to write

Callipygian

(adj.): having shapely buttocks

pronounciation: kal-uhpij-ee-uhn

Palimpsest

(n): writing material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased; something with diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.

pronounciation: pal-imp-sest 

Editor Note: Check out the ghost ads that I am researching, since palimpsest is one of my current favorite words from that! Also, be on the lookout for the “FADED” book I’m working on with Edward Branley.

Posted in Did You Know ?, From The Editor's Desk, Language, Words

Language: Alumnus, Alumni, Alumna, and Alumnae

Today’s Lunchbox Lesson: ALUMNUS, ALUMNI, ALUMNA, and ALUMNAE

These words all describe attending or graduating from a particular school, but they differ in number and gender. Here’s how it works:

ALUMNUS: a singular noun referring to one male attendee
ALUMNI: a plural noun referring either to a group male attendees or to a mixed group of both male and female attendees (but not *only* female attendees)
ALUMNA: a singular noun referring to one female attendees
ALUMNAE: a plural noun referring to a group of only female attendees

Alumnus means “pupil,” or “nursling” in Latin. This is where it gets interesting! The Latin term for a former school is “alma mater,” meaning “nourishing mother.” Thus, an alumnus can be seen as the “nourished one/pupil” of the “nourishing mother,” the school.

These words are Latin “loanwords,” meaning they preserve their original forms when we use them. The difficulty arises because many Americans have not taken Latin, so they are unfamiliar with Latin forms (i.e. genders and plurals). As a result, the words are often used incorrectly.

One fairly popular trend is to avoid using these specific words altogether. Instead, the word ALUM is used for the singular and ALUMS is used for a group. These constructions avoid the possibility of using the Latin words incorrectly. It is considered acceptable for casual writing and conversation, but it is not acceptable (yet) for formal writing. It’s best if you can try to remember the Latin words — and you’ll look smarter too!

Posted in Around Town, Did You Know ?, research

Westward Ho: Ghost Signs in Omaha

In the days of Westward Expansion, before the freeways and highways were taking us places quickly, waves of migrants were inspired by the promises of cheap land and riches, due to the California Gold Rush in 1849 and the Homestead Act of 1862.

Before the interstate billboards, and neon signs, signs painted on bricks helped the businesses advertise their locations and wares. They’re also located on streetcar routes and where pedestrians were able to see them, in a slower time.

Ghost ads give us a glimpse into the past of our towns and cities, the history of the buildings, and that of the surrounding area as well.

Baum-Iron
Baum Iron Company, Omaha, NE. Baum Iron sign is one of Omaha’s most recognizable ghost signs. The business, now Baum Hydraulics, was founded more than 150 years ago.  – photo courtesy of Omaha Magazine

Let’s take a stroll to Omaha, Nebraska. Yes, it was surprising to me to find out that Omaha is one of the main points for ghost advertisements, but after more research, I found out that Omaha served as the eastern terminus and outfitting center for pioneers headed to the west to find their fortune in the California gold fields or to settle available inexpensive land.

Did you know? “The fortunes of Omaha took a positive turn when President Abraham Lincoln selected Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the terminus of the Pacific Railroad, which was subsequently relocated on Omaha’s side of the Missouri River. Actual construction began in 1863, the first step in Omaha’s development into one of the nation’s largest railroad centers.” [1]

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On the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Eggerss O’Flyng building built around the turn of the century near rail lines in downtown Omaha. According to the city of Omaha’s Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, “Omaha was a major distribution point for a wide variety of goods shipped by rail throughout the west and Pacific northwest.”  Photo courtesy of Waymarking.com

“’They have their own historic value,’ said Ruben Acosta, National Register coordinator at the Nebraska State Historical Society. ‘They oftentimes are one of the very few sources we have as to what businesses were in the building, or what type of economic activity occurred in the district.’

They illustrate the city’s role in the country’s westward expansion, as both a manufacturing center and a trade hub, where ‘jobbing’ wholesalers provided product for retailers throughout the region. And the number of signs for hotels, Acosta said, is evidence of the number of traveling salesmen who did business in Omaha.”[2]

Map of ghost signs of Omaha:

Maya Drozdz, a graphic designer in Cincinnati, says ““I love seeing old examples of graphic design ephemera. The signs were never intended to be permanent, and to see old ones gives me a context for the history of a given area. It gives me a little bit of insight into the kind of community that a neighborhood used to be, or the kind of businesses that used to populate it.”[3]

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Parmer Co. Coffees & Teas, est. 1907. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Interested in reading more? See Part One of the Ghost Ads series on my blog, “Off the Wall: Faded Ghost Ads“.

Do you know of more ghost ads in your cities? Let me know, you might spark some research and a blog post! Find me on Twitter @bookdoctordara.

Featured image of Bull Durham Chewing Tobacco and Butternut Coffee ghost sign courtesy of Omaha World-Herald.

 


1. City-Data: Omaha Furthers Westward Expansion

2. Barbara Soderlin. “Love Letters to the city’s past”. Omaha World-Herald. December 13, 2015

3. Bill Rinehart. Ghost signs: art or pollution? WVXU. January 16, 2015.

Posted in Did You Know ?, Grammar, Words, Writing

Unwritten Rules of English Grammar: ‘Tock-tick’, ‘Dong-ding’, ‘Kong-King’

Thanks to something called ablaut reduplication — a rule stating that, if you repeat a word and change an internal vowel, the order you say them in has to follow I-A-O.

This is why it’s King Kong, Ding Dong, Tick Tock (which sounds right to your ear), and not Kong-King, Dong-Ding, and Tock-Tick (which doesn’t sound right at all!)

Ever wonder why it’s Little Red Riding Hood? The adjective rule helps you remember what order to put things in:  it’s obscure, but yes, it is a thing!

  1. opinion
  2. size
  3. age
  4. shape
  5. color
  6. origin
  7. material
  8. purpose
  9. Noun

ie: little green men, not green little men; and Big Bad Wolf, not Bad Big Wolf.

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And… now you know about the crazy things elements of eloquence* that I, as an editor, know, to help make your manuscript better! #knowledgeispower #research #grammar #saywhat?

*Editor’s Note- The “elements of eloquence” is a great book by Mark Forsyth! Get it and enjoy learning how to turn a phrase.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Ted Talks, Writing

Where do Ideas Come From?

Ever wonder where ideas come from?

Pad of Paper & Pen

Do they come while you’re daydreaming, or standing in the shower? Do you have a pad / pen nearby to remind you of those ideas when you need them? Some people are visual, and take their cues from images on billboards, memes, or old photos or advertisements.

According to Inc. Magazine, approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners, around 30 percent of the population is made up of auditory learners, who learn best through hearing, and Kinesthetic learners (those who learn best through lectures and conferences) make up just 5 percent of the population.

Check out Steven Johnson’s TED Talk “Where Good Ideas Come From”:

Need More Ideas?

Check out the Idea Generators: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/idea-generator-brainstorming/

Posted in Around Town, Editor Notes, Friday Fun, From The Editor's Desk

Coffee Shops, Caffeine, and Editing (or Writing)

Yesterday morning while scrolling social media, to glean ideas for the next (this) blog post, I came across a friend who is traveling this summer in Malaysia, in a Starbucks that is a Signing Store. He had to learn how to “sign” for milk rather than speak Malay.

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Interested? Here’s the link: www.starbucks.com.my/responsibility/signingstore .

That got me thinking about routine, caffeine, and why one chooses Starbucks vs. Coffee Bean vs. the independent coffee shop to go spend their mornings/afternoons. How culturally the experience seems so different depending on where you are in the country, and in the world, actually.

The offerings are very culturally specific and unique (to us Westerners) when one sees different drinks across the world, utilizing ingredients and traditions of that culture.

Smithsonian Magazine’s 2013 article, Coffee Here, and Coffee There: How Different People Serve the World’s Favorite Hot Drink, says in Ethiopia, coffee, called ‘buna’ is “made and served in a traditional table-side ritual that transforms the beans from raw red cherries into toasty, steaming drink, often all before the guest’s eyes. The process can last more than an hour, as the host toasts, grinds and boils the coffee before serving.”

coffeeethiopia
Photo courtesy of Flickr user babasteve

Personally, I’ve found a little independent coffee shop called Klatch which recently opened in the neighborhood is my current favorite. They have an iced Crème-brûlée coffee that is just spectacular. Perfect for those hot summer days here at the beach. Of course, most days are warm here, so perhaps my usual drink at Starbucks and Coffee Bean has been replaced?

Have you traveled to various countries and had coffee? Tell me what you like on Twitter @bookdoctordara. You never know what might come up in another blog post!

Meanwhile, if you are looking for me, I’ll be in a coffee shop working on editing, researching, and fact-checking;  and wondering which coffee I’ll be drinking that day.

 Interested in this topic? Read More Here:

National Coffee Association’s History of Coffee: http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/History-of-Coffee

Mental Floss Magazine (reposted to National Coffee Association) – 5 Attempts to ban coffee in History: https://nationalcoffeeblog.org/2015/12/15/5-attempts-to-ban-coffee-in-history/

Sensitivity to Caffeine – what kind of coffee drinker are you? (Genetics) https://nationalcoffeeblog.org/2018/06/14/which-type-of-coffee-drinker-are-you/#more-10875

Update: The Washington Post just announced the first Signing Store from Starbucks will be in Washington, D.C. My friend started a trend!

 

Featured image courtesy of: https://www.nativenh.com/blog/2018/6/1/coffee-around-the-world

Posted in Did You Know ?, From The Editor's Desk

Flitch Day: Food History Today, July 19

In 1104, in the village of Little Dunmow, England a tradition started called Flitch Day. Today the event is celebrated every 4 years (next one 2020). On this day, a flitch of bacon (half a pig) is awarded to a married couple who can convince a mock jury that they do not regret their marriage.  In front of a jury of bachelors and maidens they had to take a pledge.

Here’s the pledge the couple had to take.

You shall swear by custom of confession,
If ever you made nuptial trangresssion,
Be you either married man or wife,
If you have brawls or contentious strife
Or otherwise, at bed or at board,
Offended each other in deed or word:
Or, since the parish-clerk said Amen,
You wish’t yourselves unmarried agen,
Or in a twelvemonth and a day,
Repented not in thought any way,
But continued true in thought and desire
As when you join’d hands in the quire.
If to these conditions, without all feare,
Of your own accord you will freely swear,
A whole gammon of bacon you shall receive,
And bear it hence with love and good leave;
For this is our custom at Dunmow well knowne,
Though the pleasure be ours, the bacon’s your own.

bacon
Bacon image courtesy of Hip2Save

Learn more at: https://www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk/history/

Featured image courtesy of: British First Day Covers

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Literature, Writing

Favorite Closing Lines in Literature

Some books just stay with you. They haunt you. You dream of the characters, and of what would be if it just ended differently. Sometimes the closing lines just make sense, and sometimes they hint of a path not taken.  Some give us closure, some are cliffhangers, yet they make me want to read the book again, and again. How about you?

Here are a few of mine.

Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
“He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”

Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
“He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together; and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance.”

A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.”

Animal Farm
by George Orwell
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden
“Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.”

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
“Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him—and it was still hot.”

Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“But that is the beginning of a new story – the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.”

In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
“Then starting home, he walked toward the trees, and under them, leaving behind him the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.”

Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Hippos Go Berserk
by Sandra Boynton
One hippo, alone once more, misses the other 44.

 

What’s your favorite last line? 

Posted in Around Town, research

Research into the Churches and Parishes of New Orleans

Research, like writing, is never linear. I have a running chat conversation with Edward Branley that delves into many different directions. The beauty of it is, I can search on it and find the conversations that pop up as a “hey, what do you think of this” and use it later on. One perfect example of this was a conversation we had back in November of 2017 about Catholic Churches and Parishes, in New Orleans.

Father Anastase Douay held the first recorded Mass on Mardi Gras  [March 3, 1699] on Louisiana soil near the mouth of the Mississippi River, as part of the founding expedition of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. This is the beginnings of New Orleans Catholicism taking root.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Patroness of New Orleans, is believed to have helped the city defend itself against a British attack in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Deborah Krause, a Presbyterian minister wrote a historical paper on how “the figure has presided over New Orleans transformation from an 18th century colony to a 21st century republic — and lately to a devastated landscape after Hurricane Katrina.”

The history of churches and parishes have always been fascinating to me. Who builds them, where they’re built, why they’re built in that particular location. Churches, are the building, Parishes are the surrounding neighborhood. Post-Katrina reorganization, there are parishes in New Orleans that have multiple churches. I’m lucky in that Edward always ties churches / parishes into his novels.  For the current novel (almost out, in June!), Trusted Talents, these are all the Churches/ Parishes he mentions:

  • St. Mary’s Assumption Church, Irish Channel
  • St. Alphonsus, Irish Channel
  • Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, main campus of Loyola University New Orleans
  • St. Stephen’s Church on Napoleon Avenue, Uptown
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Kenner
  • St. Mary’s Italian Church, French Quarter (Old Ursuline Convent)
  • Annunciation Church, Faubourg Marigny
  • Our Lady of the Rosary Church
  • Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Chalmette
  • St. Angela Merici Church, Metairie
  • St. Ann Catholic Church, Metairie
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Faubourg Treme
  • St. Anthony of Padua Church – S. Bernadotte Street

    Vienna, Austria:

  • Peterskirche (Church of St. Peter)
  • Vergilius Chapel
  • Stephansdom (Cathedral of St. Stephen)

    Manhattan Beach, California:

  • American Martyrs Church

Wonder why I tease him about needing a spreadsheet to keep it all straight? 

There are many old photos, and many histories listed on all the church websites, which helps date the timeline for the church creation, and even if it has been merged since it was consecrated/dedicated.  Case in point, is St. Stephen’s Church, which is a merged parish now (St. Stephen’s, St. Henry’s and Our Lady of Good Counsel to form Good Shepard).

St Joseph’s Church

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Another bit of interesting that I found during my trip down research lane is about St. Joseph’s Church [1802 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans] .  Dedicated Sunday, December 18, 1892, the original building was across from Charity Hospital. In 1895 under Archbishop Francis Janssens ( the fifth Archbishop) who renovated the ‘old’ church, it became a place of worship for many Negro Catholics under the patronage of St. Katherine. Demolished in 1964, it was rebuilt on the current location in 1866 when Father John Hayden purchased the current plot of land.

Why does St. Joseph’s call to me, other than the history behind it? It has the longest main aisle in New Orleans at 12′ x 150′ long.

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St. Joseph’s Church

The Redemptorists and The Irish Channel:
St. Alphonsus, St. Mary’s Assumption, and Notre Dame de Bon Secours

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The first of three great churches built by The Redemptorists for Catholics in the Irish Channel.  St. Alphonsus for the Irish, St. Mary’s Assumption for the Germans and Notre Dame de bon Secours for the French.

Charles E. Nolan writes in his book, Splendors of Faith: New Orleans Catholic Churches, 1727-1930, “St. Mary’s Assumption formed part of a unique cluster of ethnic Catholic parishes in the South. St. Mary’s Assumption (German speaking), St. Alphonsus (English speaking), and Notre Dame de Bon Secours (French speaking) were all served by Redemptorist fathers who shared a common rectory. By 1885, St. Mary’s Assumption numbered 4,000 parishioners; St. Alphonsus, 5,200; and Notre Dame de Bon Secours, 340.  St. Mary’s Assumption ceased to function as a separate parish after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Following a decade of repairs, the renovated church reopened on August 15, 1975, as the place of worship St. Alphonsus Parish” (page 97).

Editor side note: The last line on the plaque “as the St. Aphonsus arts and cultural center” is a typo. Someone should tell them to fix it.

Another site I value for research is the New Orleans Catholic Church website. They even give you history of the various pipe organs that are still (sometimes) in use at the churches.

Finally, don’t be afraid to follow an idea or a fragment of a sentence you find when you are reading, you never know where it may lead.  I find that most of the readers are hungry for the historical details you can put in your novel/ manuscript, especially when it furthers your storyline. This is true for real-world places.  One never knows what reader you may spark to learn more.

For more information, check out:

https://nola.curbed.com/maps/new-orleans-oldest-places-of-worship-church-religion-

http://www.nola.com/living/index.ssf/2017/03/closed_catholic_churches_of_ne.html

Restoration of St. Stephen’s church:   http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_e251edf8-4719-11e7-8db3-5f938ca9af9e.html


Featured image of “Our Lady of Guadalupe Church” courtesy of Christopher Chen.

“Built in 1826. Originally deemed The Old Mortuary Chapel, Our Lady of Guadalupe incorporates the oldest standing building of worship in its design. The founders created the church to hold funerals for yellow fever victims in the mid-19th century.” 411 N Rampart St., New Orleans.  Information courtesy of : https://nola.curbed.com/maps/new-orleans-oldest-places-of-worship-church-religion-

Posted in Did You Know ?, Editor's Toolkit, From The Editor's Desk, Writing

Master Outlining & Tracking for your novel

I just finished editing the second novel in the Bayou Talents series for Edward Branley, Trusted Talents.  As I am wont to do after finishing edits, I take stock on how I can help my clients streamline the process and make it smoother.

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Trusted Talents has so *many* characters, I decided to try to create a spreadsheet to keep track of who they are, how they fit in the story, their quirks, their nicknames, and any other details that I think would be important, especially NAME CHANGES in the middle of the story.

Well, that got me down a rabbit hole pulling my hair out and drinking lots of coffee late at night (does no good for me when my HS Sophomore needs to be at zero period at 6:45 am and I get up at 5:15 am).  I am not an Excel expert by any means, I can do basic sum functions and that’s about it. So, cut to the next morning when I was more awake and able to focus. I used my Google-fu powers and found a few different Excel spreadsheets that did what I was looking for already and all I had to do was test them out and see if it worked well for me.

The one I wound up liking and using is from Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll’s “Master Outlining and Tracking Tool for Novels (MOTT) “.

I started with the tab labeled ‘Character List’ and page one of the Trusted Talents novel from Edward.  I input all the characters and the formulas that are built into the pages (Remember that I am NO Excel expert) was a lovely touch to make the spreadsheet fill out faster.

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Screenshot of Character List Tab

A couple things that I really liked was when I sorted by first name, you could see that there are way too many names starting with a certain letter, and how many characters have names that are similar (Davey, David).

I sent what I had worked on to Edward, to see what he thought, and he realized that Brooks Stirling Sumner (Silver)’s grandfather had two names in the novel. Remember up there when I said NAME CHANGES in the middle of the book? He was listed as both Robert Duncan Sumner and Grantland Sumner.

Now, I think of myself as being very attuned to that, but I admit even I missed that name change.  This set-up made it easier to fix and find the mistake with a global search and replace function in the master document.

I have started on Edward’s newest novel, Dragon’s Defiance (Book 3 in the Blood-Bound Series) and from first read, had a new spreadsheet set up to start on page 1. What a difference this will make in my editing, and my clients writings.  I highly recommend this.

I’ve only used the Character List tab at this time, but  I can see how much more you could do with this spreadsheet – from the Character Genealogy Tab  (one of my other passions on the side), to the Word Count Tracker (great for authors trying to hit a certain word count per day or per week to finish their novel), and the Scene List.

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Word Count Tracker courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

In the updated Version 2.0, which I just downloaded, there is the Cards Tab (sort of my old way of writing papers in high school and college with index cards delineating all the scenes/main ideas.) This one is automated, so if you use the Scene List, it pulls the information from that.

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Cards Tab

The Chapters Tab in Version 2.0 will give you a visual graph of how word count length and number of scenes per chapter.

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Chapter Words and Scene Count courtesy of Iulian Ionescu

I’m a firm believer if you have various tools and processes in place, it helps you focus on what you need to do, which is write! (Or in my case, EDIT!) Don’t be afraid to use tools that are already out there to make your process easier. One does not have to reinvent the wheel. You can tweak something that is created to match what you need.

Until next time… Don’t fear the red pen!

Sound is so important to creative writing. Think of the sounds you hear that you include and the similes you use to describe what things sound like. ‘As she walked up the alley, her polyester workout pants sounded like windshield wipers swishing back and forth.’ Cadence, onomatopoeia, the poetry of language are all so important. Learn all that you can about how to bring sound into your work.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

QUOTE: The Poetry of Language by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett