Upcoming Booksignings

Posted Jul 31 2017, 7:30 pm

Heads-up to all my COLORADO pals. I’m booksigning TWICE in your great state this fall! The first location on Sat., Oct. 7th at the B&N in FORT COLLINS, CO — & the second location on Sun., Oct. 8th at the B&N in BOULDER, CO – Both spots from 1-3 p.m.

So save those dates & come see me!! I’d love to say hello!!!

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Books…Glorious Books!

Posted May 23 2017, 5:17 pm

Y’all know me & history, right?…Well, New York City is crammed full of the good stuff. By the second half of the 19th century, the Big Apple had already surpassed Paris in population & was nipping at London’s heels [then the world’s most populous city], but on THIS May 23rd day in 1911, the largest marble structure ever built in the U.S. opened to the public: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY…with more than one million books slid on the shelves for the official dedication.

Books, glorious books!

And nearly 50,000 visitors streamed through the front doors that first day to touch ’em. And what was the first thing checked out you may wonder? Well, ’twas author N. I. Grot’s “Ethical Ideas of Our Time, a study of Friedrich Nietzsche and Leo Tolstoi.” Today, NYC libraries are 92 strong & include 4 research centers & dozens of neighborhood libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. AND today, over 18 million patrons walk through its front doors annually; plus, the NYC Library’s website has 32 million visits each year from more than 200 countries. And everything stuffed inside this building, listed at #7 on the prestigious list of Top Ten Libraries in the world, is absolutely free to look at! In fact, the Library has just one criterion for admission: CURIOSITY! Yep, that’s it…& all built upon the foundation of a love for reading — Indeed, how very glorious…

 

 

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Diamonds a’plenty!!

Posted May 16 2017, 3:18 pm


Ahh yes…the DIAMOND — so full of sparkle & fire. And as we all know, these days, diamonds serve as a reflection of everlasting love. But THAT concept…the diamond engagement/wedding connection…was actually ‘created’ back in the 1930s by advertising executives to sell their overstock of diamond stones.

In ancient times, the diamond’s primary function, & the very reason one adorned themselves with said stone, was to ward off insanity with its bright & dynamic karat-charged powers. In fact, the word DIAMOND literally translates to “vajra” or “lighting” in Sanskrit [lightning being the choice weapon of the Gods].

Oh, & for the record, diamond tiaras should NOT be confused with crowns. “Anyone can wear a tiara, assuming it’s the right occasion.

Crowns, however, connote state power,” pointed out royals expert Arianne Chernock, an associate professor of history at Boston University. But, I’ll save that tiara/crown significance for another lil’ historical snippet.  

 

Nonetheless, when we slip on that diamond ring, or settle diamond studs in our ears, we can now know we’re channeling our powerful ‘vaira’ … ’cause after all, diamonds ARE a girl’s best friend…& there’s no madness about that delightful truth. HA!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s be GOATS!!! ☺

Posted Apr 22 2017, 5:31 pm

Hey everyone [& ‘specially my writing pals], on Earth Day [or ANY day for that matter] let’s all be GOATS! Yep, goats. Why? Because emotional depths [in a novel] is what truly brings our characters to life–right? Well, for me, anyway. And tragedy or not, the highs & lows of a hero/heroine is exciting to write AND read. Speaking of ‘tragedy’…did y’all know the word originally meant “goat song?” — Yep, ’tis true.

In Grecian mythology, tragedies were known as “goat-songs” ’cause the prize in their Athenian writing contests or plays was usually a LIVE GOAT.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “…the Romans knew Dionysus later as Bacchus, god of all things ‘bacchanalian’: in other words he freed people from their normal self through madness, wine, and ecstasy. Sometimes the goat would be sacrificed, and a goat lament sung as the sacrifice was made. Hence the ‘goat-song’ [albeit: tragedy] became intertwined with Greek plays.”

Also, many actors/actresses in the plays dressed in goat-costumes [as satyrs — half-goat beings that worshipped and surrounded Dionysus in his revelry]. So…regardless of what you write or whether your local goat friend sings good OR bad…the ultimate outcome is guaranteed a ‘tragedy’ … LOL. See? I love tidbits of history; I want to write like a goat. WooHoo …

 

 

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The Gardens of Emily Dickinson

Posted Mar 21 2017, 7:34 pm

 

SPRING has surely sprung…and since we’re on that wonderment of nature, I’d love to chat about Emily Dickinson! Yes, THAT renowned poet with a unique expression that still seems fresh even today.

However, during her lifetime (December 10, 1830 to May 15, 1886), she was known more for her beautiful spring gardens than her remarkable talent with the written word. Indeed, as other Victorians at the time, Emily was fascinated with the language of flowers as well as their symbolic meanings — and she liberally used them as metaphors throughout her poetry. 

 


Her private gardens were breathtaking, and her knowledge of each bloom within quite intimate. Granddaughter of the cofounder of Amherst College and daughter of a respected lawyer and one-term congressman, Emily was educated at Amherst (Mass.) Academy and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. She spent virtually all her life, the later years growing increasingly reclusive, in her family home & gardens in Amherst, or at The Evergreens, the poet’s brother, Austin’s, home — which today still preserves an integral part of Emily Dickinson’s private world. Both locations are an impressive “time capsule” of this remarkable woman and her impact in the 19th-century . By 1870, though, Emily was dressing only in white and declining to see most visitors.

 

Regardless her reclusiveness, she loved the gardens of her world and treasured every bloom. Of her nearly 1,800 poems, only 10 are known to have been published during her lifetime. Her complete works were published in 1955, and she has since become universally regarded as one of the greatest American poets.

 

 

 

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The History of the Candy Cane

Posted Dec 1 2016, 11:51 pm

historical-candy-cane-vintage-1

 

Ahh, yes…the CANDY CANE. Those oh-so-delectable hard sugar sticks practically scream ‘the holidays’, don’t they? historical-candy-cane-shepherdsThe legend goes that these sweet treats appeared nearly 350 years ago when a choirmaster in Germany bent white sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff — although there’s no documentation from the 17th-century to validate such a fact, the story has transcended time. historical-candy-cane-roses-1And then a few years after that, in the mid 1600s, sugar roses were added to the treats. Eventually the roses fell out of favor for the plain white canes until the red ‘n white stripes we love today were added around 1890, and no one really knows WHO introduced the colorful swirls to the white. historical-candy-cane-sugar

But, the FIRST candy canes in America appeared in 1847 when a German immigrant living in Wooster, Ohio looped the tasty candy canes he brought with him from Europe over the boughs of his Christmas tree. historical-candy-canehistorical-candy-cane-treeAfter that, the sale of the treats boomed, and eventually, in 1919, the ‘Famous Candy Company’ [later, Bob’s Candies] in Albany, Georgia took the honor of being the world’s largest candy cane maker. But, way back then, each flavor-filled stick was formed by hand & was quite a timely process.

historical-candy-cane-the-keller-candy-cane-automated-machinehistorical-candy-cane-machineIn 1957 all was about to change when a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller [brother-in-law of the candy company’s owner, Bob McCormick] finally invented a simple devise which was dubbed ‘The Keller’ machine. This implement automated the making of the popular sugar sticks and forevermore streamlined the candy cane process.

Ahistorical-candy-cane-crochetccording to Encyclopedia Britannica, “The legends of the candy cane are many, including that the cane was shaped like a “J” for Jesus, the three red stripes symbolized the Holy Trinity, the hardness of the candy represented the Church’s foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor reflects the use of hyssop [an herb referred to in the Old Testament].” historical-candy-cane-vintageOf course, none of these are proven historical facts, but they do make up a wonderful tale. So, come THIS holiday season, when you’re ‘decking the halls’, don’t forget to include a couple o’ Candy Canes…they’ve been welcoming in Christmas for hundreds ‘n hundreds of years.  Oh, and btw, the curved part of the cane is called the “warble,” and the straight part is called the strabe…so there you have it, the history o’ the beloved candy cane. Happy holidays, y’all. ☺ 

 

    

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We all scream for ICE CREAM!

Posted Jul 20 2016, 9:12 pm

ice creamIt seems that summertime was made for Ice Cream! Yep, ’tis my favorite treat of all!

ice cream TangBut, did y’all know the “origin” of this sweet treat dates all the way back to China, circa AD618 when King T’ang of Shang had slaves haul ice to his palace to make a ‘slushy dish’ called koumiss ice cream koummis[heated, fermented milk, flour & camphor]? In 1744, a Scottish colonist described in his journal, & I quote, “…a Dessert treat…Among the Rarities of which is compos’d some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most deliciously.”

 

ice cream Mt. Vernon

And in 1782, even George Washington mentioned in HIS journal, the delights of owning “a cream machine for ice” at Mount Vernon. 

 

 

ice cream Nancy M. Johnson

BUT, it wasn’t until September 9, 1843, when Nancy M. Johnson [of Philadelphia] got her tub, cylinder, lid, dasher, & crank she called her “artificial freezer” patented. ice-cream -freezer-patent

 

 

 

 

 

ice cream jacob_fussellEven Baltimore dairyman Jacob Fussell [who spearheaded the very first commercial ice cream factory in 1851], didn’t make any changes to the process. ice cream fusselAnd by the 1930s, grocery stores and vendors all across America began selling the creamy treat. ice cream vendor

ice cream 1862

 

 

 

 

Ice-Cream-Maker

But, in all this time, Klatchers, NOBODY has changed Mrs. Johnson’s design. Nope, guess she knew a good thing when she ‘patented’ her cylinder/dasher method which is still crankin’ out tubful’s o’ the good stuff today. So, who wants ice cream? Yummmmm!!…Oh, & cheers to summer! I’ll have a scoop o’ vanilla, please.  ☺

 

 

 

  

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Portières a plenty!

Posted Jul 12 2016, 9:07 pm

Portieres green dress

Who doesn’t remember the movie ‘Gone With the Wind’ & Scarlet O’Hara’s emerald green dress made from her mother’s portières?!!  I doubt there’s a garment more immortalized on earth! Portieres greenBut, let’s chat a bit about that word, shall we? PORTIERESA portière is technically a hanging curtain placed over a door OR an opening into a room. Derived from the French word porte [door], portières were extremely popular during the Victorian era & yards of draping material were used to stop drafts & dampen sounds between adjoining rooms—besides their utilitarian use, portieres also brought ‘eye-candy’ & more status, if you will, to the wealthier Victorian homes. portieres 9

The rich enjoyed the inviting, softening statements as their guests sashayed from room to room. Most portières were made from velvets and brocades to polished silks and satins. And the more expensive, the better!! And added embellishments of bullion fringe, or gold cording proclaimed great prestige to the home owner. portieres 4

Some even used decorations of strung wooden, ivory, or jet beading. Even seashells!!

Portieres - Tearing-down-the-curtains-2Portieres scarlettSo, back to that famous emerald green dress worn by Scarlett…in the book version of GWTW, Margaret Mitchell correctly used the word CURTAIN, however…in the movie version, the term portière was used INcorrectly by both Scarlett & Mammy: ’cause they were talking about green velvet WINDOW curtains — not portières, which, as we now know was the Victorian word used to describe draperies IN DOORWAYS.

So, Klatchers, the next time y’all see the movie…now you’ll know the truth.

 

 

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The Typewriter!

Posted Feb 17 2016, 5:47 pm

Typewriter - Tower

 

Yep, the lowly lil’ typewriter! My first, a Tower typewriter, created by Sears & Roebuck. ‘Twas a marvelous creation, indeed.  But, let’s imagine creating novels on one today? LOL….I shutter at all the ‘white-out’ I’d need.

typewriter - ball

 

BUT, I digress. Instead, let’s take a trip all the way back to 1870 & see the “writing ball” created by a Danish pastor named Rasmus Malling-Hansen. ‘Twas a remarkable ‘first’ of its kind machine…’though it fell out-of-favor when, in 1874, a Milwaukee newspaperman & part-time tinkerer named Christopher Sholes approached the Remington Arms Company with a better idea. typewriter - first

The novel ‘creation’ clicked w/Remington executives & soon they rolled out the first mass-produced typewriter called the ‘Sholes & Glidden’…BUT, this looked too-decidedly ‘feminine’ since they manufactured the ‘type-writer’ in their ‘sewing machine department’ & adorned the piece with painted ‘flowers’ – no lowly clerk in his right mind wanted THAT in the office! Typewriter - Remington

typewriter - advertismentSo, the executives put their minds together & came up with ‘The Remington’ & this model was gladly embraced. Of course, other manufacturers soon jumped on the ‘typewriter’ bandwagon, until…

 

typewriter - underwood…1895, when a German-American inventor named Franz Wagner created ‘The Underwood #5’. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the name “Underwood” comes from John T. Underwood, a successful entrepreneur of ribbons & carbon paper who bought the company early in its history.” This model was produced by the millions for both personal use & office work & became the most popular typewriter ever…UNTIL…

typewriter - selectric

 

1965…when IBM (International Business Machines) breathed to life a model called ‘The Selectric’ with the lil’ ball-of-keys tucked inside. Yep, typewriters had come ‘full circle’…& the rest, as they say, is history. So, think of this evolution the next time we open up our WordPerfect program to write…☺

 

 

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PBS came calling! ☺

Posted Feb 10 2016, 5:00 pm

PBS 1‘PROJECT REVEAL’…”Write Your Story” — As promised, here’s the half-hour PBS/WNIN television show which includes my interview woven around a festival where others share their hopes & dreams. PBS 2Hey, we’re all ‘authors’ of our own ‘life story’ & I’m so blessed by y’all’s presence in my journey. ENJOY the ride.   PBS

 

 

 

 

As I always like to say: “Since we’re going to dream anyway, by golly…DREAM BIG!”

~ Cindy  

 

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