Theresa A. Cancro
One haiku is included in Plum Tree Tavern for July 23rd. Scroll down. Two haiku of mine are included in Issue #40 of Hedgerow.
My August column is up at KCParent.com in the Word from Dad feature. This month, it's, “Soothing the Savage Beast,” and it's also available in print in KC Parent magazine.
My comic flash, “The Future Mrs.,” is up at Long Story Short. Thanks to the Practice group who critiqued this one.
Two of my stories, “Ghosts in My Skin,”" and “Open Mike Night,” have both been published in the recent issue of Deep Water Literary Journal. They're a fairly new Irish journal that publishes short stories, flash and poetry if any of you are interested in their style.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Friday, July 31, 2015
This Day In Writing History
On July 31st, 1965, the legendary Scottish writer J.K. Rowling was born. She was born Joanne Kathleen Rowling in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.
Although her first name is Joanne, she has always been known as Jo. "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry," she once said.
Around the age of five or six, Rowling began writing fantasy stories, which she read to her younger sister. She enjoyed playing "wizards and witches" with her childhood best friend Ian Potter, who would be the inspiration for her most famous character.
She attended St. Michael's Primary School, whose headmaster was a kind, elderly man named Alfred Dunn. She adored him and would model Harry's mentor and school headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, after him.
When she was a young teenager, Rowling's great aunt, who "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind" gave her a copy of Hons and Rebels, the autobiography of British political activist Jessica Mitford.
Mitford was born into a wealthy, aristocratic family. In the 1930s, her sisters and father were ardent Nazi sympathizers, but Jessica became a devout communist, eloped, and ran away to Spain to fight the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. J.K. Rowling loved her autobiography. Mitford became her heroine and she read all of her books.
Rowling received her college education at the University of Exeter, where she studied French and the classics. University was a "bit of a shock" to her, as she "was expecting to be amongst lots of similar people– thinking radical thoughts."
Once she made some like-minded friends, however, she began to enjoy college. After a year of study in Paris, Rowling returned to London, where she worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.
Around this time, in 1990, while on a four-hour delayed train trip from Manchester to London, an idea formed in Rowling's mind for a story about a young boy attending a school of wizardry.
She wouldn't act on the idea until a few years later. In 1991, she moved to Porto, Portugal, to teach English as a second language. While there, she met Portuguese TV journalist Jorge Arantes.
She married him the following year and bore him a daughter, Jessica, named after her heroine, Jessica Mitford. Six months after the baby was born, Rowling and her husband separated.
Just over a year after the separation, Rowling moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be near her sister. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and contemplated suicide.
Broke and surviving on welfare, Rowling decided to try her hand at writing. She completed her first novel, writing in longhand in cafes and at other locations while out with her daughter, whom she took for walks to get her to sleep.
Later, she typed up her writings on an old manual typewriter. She decided to go back to teaching, but in order to teach in Scotland, she would need a postgraduate certificate of education, which required a year long, full-time course of study.
While studying for her teaching certificate, Rowling tried to get her novel published. After an enthusiastic response from one of their readers, the Christopher Little literary agency agreed to represent J.K. Rowling.
They submitted her novel to twelve different publishing houses, and all of them rejected it, some stating that the novel was unpublishable and would never sell. Finally, a small publishing house in London called Bloomsbury - which was teetering on bankruptcy - decided to take a chance on the book.
This was because Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chairman, was thrilled with Rowling's novel. Given the first chapter to review, she quickly the demanded the next. And the next.
J.K. Rowling was paid a 1,500 pound advance by editor Barry Cunningham, but he warned her not to quit her day job, because she had little chance of making money in children's books.
Her novel was published in June of 1997. It was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It told the story of Harry Potter, an 11-year-old orphan boy being raised by his ignorant, hateful, and abusive aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley.
Forced to live in a staircase closet and tormented by his odious cousin Dudley, Harry's bleak life changes forever when a giant called Hagrid arrives to take him away from his nasty relatives.
Hagrid reveals to Harry the truth about himself, which his aunt and uncle had concealed from him: Harry is a wizard, like his father, James Potter, and his mother Lily - his aunt Petunia's sister - was a witch.
When Harry was a baby, his parents were murdered by the evil dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry as well. But Harry miraculously survived, and the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead is the result of his attempted murder.
Harry discovers that there exists a secret world of wizards and witches hidden from the eyes of muggles - people born without magical powers. Hagrid takes him to Diagon Alley, a shopping district in the magical world, where he learns that he has inherited his parents' fortune.
There, Harry buys the books and supplies he'll need for boarding school - the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - where he will learn to master his magic and become a great wizard.
On the train ride to Hogwarts, Harry meets fellow students Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The three will soon become inseparable best friends.
At school, Harry meets his teachers, including kindly old headmaster Albus Dumbledore, teacher and Gryffindor house director Minerva McGonagall, and professor Severus Snape, director of the sinister Slytherin house, who may or may not be a "death eater" - a follower of the evil Lord Voldemort.
At the Hogwarts school, the students play a sport called Quidditch - kind of a cross between soccer and polo, the playing field high up in the air, the players riding on broomsticks. Harry takes a liking to the sport and becomes a talented Quidditch player.
As the forces of good and evil in the magical world prepare for war, Harry learns that his ultimate destiny is to face (and hopefully destroy) his parents' murderer, Lord Voldemort, to whom he is psychically linked via his lightning-shaped scar.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first is a series of seven Harry Potter novels that follow the boy wizard through his years at Hogwarts, as he prepares for his final showdown with Lord Voldemort.
Meticulously plotted and detail-rich, the novel became a huge bestseller after it was published in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
J.K. Rowling has said that if she had been in a better position to do so, she would have fought her American publisher, Scholastic, Inc., to retain the novel's original title for its U.S. publication.
The Harry Potter novels created a literary phenomenon. They not only encouraged millions of children to discover the joy of reading, they also earned millions of adult fans as well, including me. They disproved the long held notion that children's novels must be brief and fast-paced.
Rowling's amazing fantasy novels are full-length and epic in scope. The fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, (2003) clocked in at a whopping 750+ pages. She has earned the respect of many of her fellow writers, including horror master Stephen King, who is a huge fan of the series.
There were however, some people who were less than thrilled by the adventures of Harry Potter. Christian fundamentalists around the world attacked Rowling's novels, accusing her of encouraging children to dabble in the occult, including practicing witchcraft and engaging in devil worship.
Rowling dismissed these ridiculous accusations, explaining that magic in her novels is depicted as a talent - a gift one is born with - and not part of a religion. She also noted that she belongs to the Church of Scotland.
Christian fundamentalists still attack her novels. The Catholic Church was mostly divided on the issue, however, Pope Benedictus XVI attacked the Harry Potter novels for their "subtle seductions," for which he was ridiculed and scorned, given the child sexual abuse scandals plaguing the Church.
The former Pope was neither the first nor is he the last person to attack the Harry Potter novels, which reached the top of the American Library Association's list of most banned and challenged books for the years 1999-2001.
The Harry Potter novels made the jump to the big screen in November of 2001, when a feature film version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released.
Like the novel it was based on, the movie became a huge hit. The film version of the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in two parts in 2010 and 2011.
The movie studio, Warner Brothers, claimed there was too much detail in Rowling's last novel for one feature film. That didn't stop them from condensing the 750+ page Order of the Phoenix into one 138-minute movie.
The film's poorly written, threadbare screenplay removed a tremendous amount of important details, including the critical ending scene between Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore. Needless to say, that film was a huge disappointment.
J.K. Rowling said from the beginning that the Harry Potter chronicles were planned to be a seven-novel series. At the end of the last book, there is an epilogue set 19 years in the future.
While some new characters are established, there is no indication that Rowling will continue the series further - though she hasn't ruled it totally out of the question, either.
She has written some companion books, including Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, (2001) Quidditch Through The Ages, and most recently, The Tales Of Beedle The Bard (2007).
When her Harry Potter books first became an international sensation, Rowling expressed interest in writing other novels and she has. Her first non-fantasy novel, The Casual Vacancy, was published in September of 2012.
Geared toward adult readers, it's a scathingly funny black comedy centered around the people and politics of a quaint little English village whose appearance is deceiving, as a Parish Council election results in the spilling of several villagers' dark secrets.
In April of 2013, a detective novel titled The Cuckoo's Calling, written by a new author named Robert Galbraith, was published. According to the book jacket, Galbraith was an ex-RMP (Royal Military Police) investigator - the perfect person to write detective fiction.
He introduced private detective Cormoran Strike, a down-on-his-luck gumshoe. When famous supermodel Lula Landry dies in a fall from her balcony, her death is ruled a suicide. Her brother John doesn't buy it and hires Strike, a childhood friend of their late brother Charlie, to investigate.
The Cuckoo's Calling received rave reviews, but sold poorly. When writer and Sunday Times columnist India Knight sent out a tweet praising the novel, someone named Jude Callegari sent a reply tweet claiming that J.K. Rowling was the real author of the book.
Rowling didn't respond. Her circle of literary friends denied she had written The Cuckoo's Calling. So, Richard Brooks, arts editor for the Sunday Times, began an investigation. He sent a copy of the novel to linguistics experts who confirmed that Rowling had written it.
Confronted with the evidence, Rowling's agent was forced to admit that she had written The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Many thought that the mysterious Jude Callegari who had outed the pseudonym was Rowling herself as part of a publicity stunt.
They were wrong. Judith "Jude" Callegari was the best friend of the wife of one of the founding partners of Russells Solicitors, the UK law firm that represented J.K Rowling, who was furious that her pseudonym had been outed. She issued a press release stating the following:
"To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced."
Rowling explained the reason for her pseudonym by saying, "It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."
After Rowling was revealed as the real author of The Cuckoo's Calling, sales of the novel on Amazon jumped 4000%. She decided to continue the Cormoran Strike series, and the second novel was published in June of 2014.
The Silkworm finds Strike hired by Leonora Quine, the wife of notorious novelist Owen Quine, who vanished without a trace shortly after the manuscript for his long-awaited second novel, Bombyx Mori, was leaked. Quine's novel, filled with rape, sadomasochism, and cannibalism, was considered unpublishable.
The Harry Potter novels have sold over four hundred million copies combined. The book, movie, and merchandising royalties have made J.K. Rowling, once a broke single mother on welfare, one of the richest women in the UK.
Her new found wealth enabled her do a lot of philanthropic work, including raising money to combat poverty, helping single mothers, raising money to benefit multiple sclerosis research, (her mother died of the disease) and helping other causes.
On the day after Christmas, 2001, Rowling married her second husband, Neil Michael Murray, an anesthetist. She bore him two children, a son and a daughter. They live on an estate in Perth and Kinross, Scotland.
They also own homes in Edinburgh and Kensington, West London. J.K. Rowling's next book, another Cormoran Strike novel called Career of Evil, will be released on October 20th.
Quote Of The Day
"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better." - J.K. Rowling
Today's video features a recent Australian TV interview with J.K. Rowling, who discusses her post-Harry Potter writing career. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 30, 2015
This Day In Writing History
On July 30th, 1818, the legendary English writer Emily Brontë was born in West Yorkshire, England. Her sisters Charlotte (author of the classic novel Jane Eyre) and Anne were also poets and novelists. Her brother Patrick Branwell Brontë was a poet and painter.
Their father was a poor Irish clergyman, but he did have an impressive collection of classic literature. Emily and her siblings educated themselves by reading all of his books. As children, they created imaginary worlds and filled notebooks with stories about them.
Emily attended Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy at Law Hill School near Halifax, then later, a private school in Brussels. When her sister Charlotte discovered her own talent as a poet, they decided to collaborate on a book of poetry, along with sister Anne.
Due to the prejudice against women writers in the Victorian era, the Brontë sisters, like other female authors, published their poetry under male pseudonyms. Emily took the name Ellis Bell, Charlotte became Currer Bell, and Anne's nom de guerre was Acton Bell.
Their first book, published in 1846, was titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The following year, Emily Brontë published her classic novel, Wuthering Heights, as Ellis Bell.
Originally published in two volumes, (Anne Brontë later wrote a third volume called Agnes Grey) Wuthering Heights is considered one of the greatest Gothic novels of all time.
It told the unforgettable story of the intensely passionate, yet ultimately doomed love affair between childhood sweethearts Heathcliff and Catherine, soul mates who are ultimately separated by cruelty and snobbery, their unresolved emotions threatening to destroy them.
When it was first published, Wuthering Heights received mixed reviews due to its stark and brutal depictions of mental and physical cruelty. It has since been recognized as one of the all-time classics of English literature.
Unfortunately, Emily Brontë would never write another novel. After her brother died of tuberculosis, Emily contracted the disease herself, a result of a cold she caught during his funeral. She died in December of 1848, at the age of thirty. Her sister Anne died of tuberculosis the following year.
After Emily Brontë's death, her sister Charlotte edited her two volumes of Wuthering Heights into a standalone novel, and republished it under Emily's real name. Charlotte also died young of tuberculosis, or so her death certificate stated.
Some biographers have claimed that she actually died from either typhus or dehydration, as well as malnutrition from excessive vomiting brought on by severe morning sickness.
Although Emily Brontë's life was tragically cut short, her literary legacy lives on. Wuthering Heights continues to inspire readers to this day, and has been adapted numerous times for the stage, screen, radio, and television.
Quote Of The Day
"Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves." - Emily Brontë
Today's video features a complete reading of Emily Brontë's classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Enjoy!
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
This Day In Writing History
On July 29th, 1965, the famous Korean-American writer Chang-Rae Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. When he was three years old, Lee's father moved the family to the United States so he could finish his training and become a psychiatrist. The family moved first to Pittsburgh, then to New York.
As a young Korean-American boy, Chang-Rae Lee struggled to learn English. His parents only spoke to him and his older sister Eunei in Korean, so they could learn to speak English without a Korean accent. In his mind, Chang-Rae found himself trapped between two very different languages.
He didn't speak at all when he entered kindergarten, but by the time he was ten years old, he had become fluent in both languages and served as a translator for his mother, who had even more difficulty learning English.
Chang-Rae Lee's experiences as the son of Korean immigrants would shape his future writing career. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, an exclusive East Coast prep school, then went to Yale. Instead of following the path of most children of Korean immigrants and study medicine or law, Lee majored in English. During college, he began writing fiction.
After graduating, he became an equities analyst for Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, a Wall Street investment bank, while writing part-time. He found his job unfulfilling, so, taking a cue from his old friend and prep school roommate, novelist Brooks Hansen, he quit to become a writer.
Lee's unpublished early novel, Agnew Belittlehead, won him a scholarship and entrance to the creative writing program at the University of Oregon. After graduating in 1993, he was hired as an assistant writing professor by the University. That same year, he married his wife, Michelle Branca. She bore him two daughters.
In 1995, Chang-Rae Lee's first novel, Native Speaker, was published. In Lee's offbeat tale, Henry Park is a young Korean-American man who suffers from identity issues, alienation, and an inability to grieve for his seven-year-old son, who was accidentally killed by his white playmates in a freak mishap. The novel opens with Park's wife, who is also white, leaving him.
In an intriguing twist, Henry Park works as an operative for a shadowy detective agency whose clients hire it to dig up dirt on people. His psychological problems begin to affect his job, so he seeks therapy. Henry suffers from alienation because he was unable to fit in with either his parents' Korean culture or mainstream American culture.
As he struggles to find himself, he asks his employers for a second chance and is assigned to infiltrate the campaign of John Kwang, a popular Korean-American politician and candidate for mayor of New York City - a task made difficult by the fact that Kwang reminds Henry of his father.
Native Speaker earned Chang-Rae Lee both the prestigious PEN / Hemingway Award and the distinction of being the first Korean-American novelist ever published by a major American press. His second novel, A Gesture Life, also dealt with identity and immigrant issues.
The novel, which won Lee the Asian American Literary Award, told the story of Doc Hata, a Korean who served in the Japanese Army during World War II. As a child, he had been adopted by a wealthy Japanese couple.
While serving as a soldier, Hata meets and falls in love with a Korean woman, who, like over 200,000 others, was forced to become a "comfort woman" for Japanese soldiers. After the war, Hata moves to America. A successful businessman, he fits in with his neighbors, but he is unable to connect emotionally with anyone.
He suffers from an identity crisis and is always at odds with his rebellious, mixed-race adopted daughter, Sunny. He adopted her when she was seven. Now a pregnant teenager, Hata forces her to have an abortion, hoping to save her from the failure that his life has become.
Lee's fourth novel, The Surrendered, published in 2010, a gut wrenching antiwar novel, follows three war ravaged characters.
June Han is a young girl who loses her family during the Korean War. Hector Brennan is the psychologically damaged American soldier who brought June to an orphanage, and Sylvie Tanner, the wife of the orphanage's minster, as a young girl witnessed the murder of her parents at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Manchuria.
Chang-Rae Lee's most recent novel, On Such a Full Sea, was published in January of this year. It's a work of dystopic, post apocalyptic science fiction set in a future America where there are only two classes of people: the extremely rich ruling class and the extremely poor working class.
With China so polluted that it's become uninhabitable, a large population of Chinese refugees now lives in America, where, like other working class people, they reside in formerly abandoned cities which have been turned into self-contained labor colonies.
The main character is Fan, a petite young Chinese woman who, like other other members of her class, works to produce food for the elite. She's a fish tank diver. When her boyfriend disappears, Fan embarks on a surreal, philosophical, and poetic quest to find him.
Chang-Rae Lee still teaches creative writing.
Quote Of The Day
"The truth, finally, is who can tell it." - Chang-Rae Lee
Today's video features Chang-Rae Lee discussing his latest novel, On Such a Full Sea. Enjoy!
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
This Day In Writing History
On July 28th, 1932, the famous American children's book writer Natalie Babbitt was born. She was born Natalie Zane in Dayton, Ohio, but the family moved around frequently. Growing up during the Great Depression, Natalie enjoyed reading fairy tales, folklore, and books about mythology.
When she discovered an illustrated copy of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Natalie determined to become a children's book illustrator when she grew up.
Her mother, an amateur landscape and portrait painter, encouraged her. She gave Natalie art lessons and made sure she always had enough paper, colored pencils, and paints.
Natalie Babbitt studied art at the Laurel School for Girls in Cleveland and at Smith College. After graduation, she married Samuel Babbitt and bore him three children. She spent the next ten years as a stay-at-home mom.
When her husband became the president of Kirkland College in New York, she performed all the duties of a college president's wife, including attending various functions.
In the late 1960s, Natalie and her husband collaborated on a children's book called The Forty-Ninth Magician. Samuel wrote the story and Natalie drew the illustrations. The book, published in 1966, was successful.
Unfortunately, Samuel's work left him little time to write, so further books were out of the question. Natalie's sister asked her to illustrate a comic novel she'd written, but that panned out due to her constant rewrites, which required Natalie to keep drawing new pictures.
Frustrated, Natalie Babbitt decided to write her own books. Her first solo effort, Dick Foote and the Shark, was published in 1967. With her enchanting fairy tales, she made a name for herself as one of the best children's writers of all time.
She also has a gift for humor and satire. In 1974, Natalie published The Devil's Storybook, a collection of humorous Saki-esque short stories featuring the Devil as the main character.
The Devil's Storybook has nothing to do with religion. Instead, it presents the Devil as a comic character. As Jean Stafford, book critic for the New Yorker magazine, noted:
"This Devil is not dire; he is a scheming practical joker and comes to earth often when he is restless, to play tricks on clergymen, goodwives, poets, and pretty girls."
Natalie Babbitt's ferocious wit, combined with her hilarious illustrations, made The Devil's Storybook a favorite of both children and adults. In 1987, Babbitt published a sequel, The Devil's Other Storybook.
Natalie Babbitt is, of course, best known for her fairy tales and fantasy stories. In 1975, she published Tuck Everlasting, a novel that most of her fans (including me) consider to be her best work.
Set in 1881, the novel tells the story of Winnie Foster, a bored and lonely ten-year-old girl stifled by her wealthy, overprotective parents. She escapes from them by exploring the forest near her home.
One day, she finds a mysterious family, the Tucks, (mother Mae Tuck, her husband, and their two sons) living in the middle of the woods. The Tucks have a secret, which Winnie discovers: they are immortal - the result of drinking water from a hidden, magical spring.
Winnie befriends the Tuck family and promises to keep their secret. She grows close to their younger son, 17-year-old Jesse Tuck, and thinks that it must be wonderful to live forever.
She ultimately realizes that immortality is more of a curse than a gift. The Tucks live a lonely, isolated existence, trying to prevent their secret from being revealed, for then everyone would want to be immortal, and the world would become a terrible place.
When Mae Tuck kills a man to save Winnie, she's sent to prison, but Winnie helps her escape. The Tucks flee, taking their secret with them - except for some magic spring water which Jesse Tuck gave to Winnie. Will she drink it when she turns seventeen so she can marry him and live forever?
Tuck Everlasting was adapted twice as a feature film, first in 1981 - a rarely seen, independently made gem that really captured the essence of Natalie Babbitt's novel - then again in 2002.
The 2002 version was a Disney film - a horrible adaptation that turned Babbitt's great novel into a sappy teen romance - despite the fact that Winnie Foster is only ten years old in the book. The movie was panned by critics and film goers alike.
In 1977, Natalie Babbitt published The Eyes of the Amaryllis, a haunting tale of the supernatural. It's summertime, and 11-year-old Geneva "Jenny" Reade has been sent to stay with her grandmother for a while.
The old woman has broken her leg, and needs help while she recovers. Jenny's grandmother believes that her husband, who went missing at sea thirty years ago, will soon send her a sign of his love.
Jenny doesn't believe her - until she meets the ghost of a drowned man named Seward. Seward is tasked with returning to the sea anything of value that may wash up on shore.
When Jenny finds an object of value that washed up, her grandmother believes that it's a sign from her husband. But Seward warns them that the sea wants it back - and will take it back by force if necessary.
The Eyes of the Amaryllis was adapted as a feature film in 1982 - an excellent, independently made film that wonderfully adapts Natalie Babbitt's novel to the screen.
It featured a memorable performance by 11-year-old Martha Byrne as Jenny Reade. A year later, she would star in the science fiction classic, Anna to the Infinite Power - another indie gem.
Natalie Babbitt has written seventeen children's books. Her latest, The Moon Over High Street, was published in 2011. In addition to writing, she also serves as a board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance.
Quote Of The Day
"Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live." - Natalie Babbitt
Today's video features the complete, rare 1981 feature film adaptation of Natalie Babbitt's classic novel, Tuck Everlasting. Enjoy!
Monday, July 27, 2015
My July column is up at KCParent.com in the ‘Word from Dad,’ feature. This month, it's “Coyote Aria,” and also available in print in KC Parent magazine.
The first story I ever submitted to the fiction group, "A Thousand Paper Cranes" will appear in an upcoming issue of The Tampa Review (either issue 51 or 52).
By my count, that'll be in a year or so. The accepted draft preceded the group's work shopping, but I'd still like to thank all who helped with develop the story further.
My review of the novel Supersymmetry by David Walton has been published by the Internet Review of Books.
My comic flash, “The Future Mrs,” has been accepted for the August issue of the new print and online versions of A Long Story Short. This story was written in the Practice group just a couple weeks ago.
Execs from the Iowa Newspaper Association (INA) and the Des Moines Register contacted me, and they wanted to discuss the INA partnering with Iowa Cold Cases for a new weekly, ongoing series about Iowa's unsolved homicides, with the Register premiering the launch with several stories and an interactive map.
Each weekly piece will run simultaneously in all participating daily papers statewide. The weeklies who chose to participate will run the features on their regular weekday schedule.
I'll be providing contact info and what case details I have to the respective papers, and each story (written by a staff writer from that city's paper) will link back to the victim's page on the Iowa Cold Cases website.
The series launches today, July 26, but several of the stories are already online. There's an interview with me here and an interactive map of the state's cases here.
Friday, July 24, 2015
This Day In Writing History
On July 24th, 1802, the legendary French writer Alexandre Dumas was born in the village of Villers-Cotterets, Aisne, France. He was half-black like his father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, a top general in Napoleon's army.
When he publicly criticized Napoleon's military leadership, the emperor accused him of sedition. Thomas-Alexandre resigned from the army in disgust, and the ensuing scandal ruined the Dumas family.
Alexandre Dumas' father died of stomach cancer when he was three years old. His mother, Marie-Louise, couldn't provide him with much of an education, but Dumas loved books and read every one he could get his hands on.
That and his mother's stories of his brave father's adventures as a soldier planted the seeds of his future writing career. He dreamed of heroes and high adventure.
When Dumas was 20 years old, he moved to Paris, where he was employed at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis-Phillipe, the Duc D'Orleans and the future and last king of France.
While working in Paris, Dumas began his literary career, writing articles for magazines and co-writing plays for the theater. In 1829, King Henry III and His Court - his first solo play - was produced and became a great success, as did his second play, Christine.
After writing more successful plays, Dumas turned his attention to novels, as the newspapers and literary magazines of the day offered a lucrative market for serialized novels.
In 1838, Dumas' first novel La Capitaine Paul - a novelization of one of his plays - was published. The success of the book led Dumas to create a studio of sorts dedicated to producing short stories and serial novels, where he worked with assistants and other collaborators.
Dumas continued writing nonfiction, and from 1839 to 1841, he compiled an eight-volume collection of essays about famous crimes and criminals in European history called Celebrated Crimes.
During this time, Dumas married actress Marguerite-Josephine Ferrand, known by her stage name, Ida Ferrier. Though he loved Ida, Dumas was a notorious womanizer.
He would father at least four illegitimate children, one of whom, Alexandre Dumas Jr., would become a fine novelist and playwright himself.
In 1844, Dumas published The Three Musketeers - the first in a three-book trilogy, The D'Artagnan Romances. A fourth book, The Son Of Porthos, aka The Death Of Aramis, was published 13 years after Dumas' death; though it bore his name, it was written by Paul Mahalin.
In Dumas' classic swashbuckler, a young man named D'Artagnan sets out to join the King's Musketeers. He meets three of them - Athos, Porthos, and Aramis - and ends up being challenged to a duel by each man.
Just as D'Artagnan's duel with Athos is about to begin, the guards of the evil Cardinal Richelieu arrive and threaten to arrest all the men for dueling. Using his skill as a swordsman, D'Artagnan helps the three Musketeers defeat the guards.
The impressed Musketeers befriend D'Artagnan and offer to take him under their wing. Soon, D'Artagnan runs afoul of the vengeful Cardinal and his beautiful but deadly spy, Milady de Winter.
The Three Musketeers was followed by two more novels - Twenty Years After (1845) and The Vicomte de Bragelonne, aka Ten Years Later (1847). It be adapted numerous times for the stage, screen, radio, and television.
From 1845-46, Alexandre Dumas published, in serial format, what is considered to be his greatest novel, The Count Of Monte Cristo, an epic novel of adventure, betrayal, hope, vengeance, and forgiveness.
It told the story of Edmond Dantes, an honest and loyal man framed for treason by group of conspirators including a romantic rival and a corrupt prosecutor.
Sentenced to life imprisonment, Dantes is befriended by fellow prisoner Abbe Feria - a priest and sage. He becomes Edmond's friend, father figure, and teacher. They work on a plan to tunnel out of prison.
Fourteen years later, Dantes finally escapes from prison. Before he died, the ailing Abbe gave Dantes a map to a treasure he buried on Monte Cristo, an island off the coast of Milan. Dantes finds the treasure.
Now a wealthy man, Dantes buys the island and re-invents himself as a mysterious aristocrat known as the Count of Monte Cristo. He returns to France, where he finds that his former fiancee Mercedes married one of the men who framed him.
Dantes conceives and executes an elaborate plan of vengeance against the conspirators responsible for his imprisonment, then questions the value of his revenge when it threatens to destroy the son of the woman he still loves.
Even though the success of Alexandre Dumas' plays and novels brought him wealth, he spent money lavishly, and his mansion, the Chateau de Monte Cristo, was always filled with friends and hangers-on looking to take advantage of his generosity.
Often broke and in debt, he continued to write more great novels, including another classic swashbuckler, Robin Hood (1863), Dumas' retelling of the story of the legendary outlaw Earl of Huntingdon, his Merry Men, and his love, Maid Marian.
Alexandre Dumas died in 1870 at the age of 68.
Quote Of The Day
"How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it." - Alexandre Dumas
Today's video features a complete reading of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, The Three Musketeers. Enjoy!