Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whydah--or not?

I am working on Port Call to the Future, the sequel to House Call to the Past. Both books are time-travels. House Call to the Past goes back in time to introduce Maria Hallett and Black Sam Bellamy, real "living" characters from the early 1700s in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Maria holds a special place in my heart, as she is my 13th great aunt. (To read an excerpt for House Call to the Past, go here.)

A funny thing happened on the way to getting published. I wrote the book long before it was published, but before it came out a group of men conducted what they called "Expedition Whydah." After all those years, they were successful in actually locating the pirate ship, which sank off the coast of Cape Cod in 1716. It is the largest pirate treasure that has ever been recovered. It brought a great deal of attention to the story of Maria and Black Sam, resulting in several articles in National Geographic, a documentary by Discovery TV, and a movie produced by Arts & Entertainment.

Eventually, the treasure was put on display at the Whydah Museum in Provincetown, Massachusetts. (See more on the museum at http://www.whydah.com/.) I have spoken to Ken Kinkor, one of the members of the crew that found the ship, several times. He has been wonderfully supportive of my books about the couple, as well as sharing information with me on what is held at the museum, as well as swapping tales about Maria and Black Sam.

Since the first book went back in time, there was no need to ask them for permission to include anything in the book. However, since the second book brings Black Sam to today's world, I wanted to find out what their reaction would be if I were to have Black Sam make a few visits to the museum. That resulted in my calling Ken today. He was, as always, gracious. He said that the museum is a public place, so I can pretty much do anything I wanted to as far as including it in the book. He gave sort of a half-groan and half-laugh when he added, "But I hope you won't do anything too sinister to those of us who work here." I promised him that I would be kind to the crew. He then explained that some fellow wrote a book (fictional) about them and he killed Ken off in a very gruesome way. I asked him for the name of the book, and he couldn't remember it. (I think that's what they call "selective memory"!) He then related that the author had since died, so apparently they got the last laugh after all.

This whole exchange with Ken made me wonder, is it really worthwhile to contact somebody to get their permission to include them in a book, even if it is a work of fiction, if it is not necessary? My answer came in the co-operation I got from Ken (and by extension, the museum). I have a new enthusiasm for completing the book after talking to him. It is not only good publicity (for both the museum and for my book), but I'd a whole lot rather have the backing of the people involved than to have them upset because somebody bumped them off.

I hope to put the 1st chapter of the new book up in the next few days. I'll be back to let you know where to find it as soon as I do. In the meantime, don't be afraid to make that phone call or send that e-mail. Happiness is contagious. I'm happy I made that call, and I hope the Whydah Museum is too.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Best friends

Sometimes things just fall into place where they should. Not often, but when they do, they can last a lifetime. Such was my friendship with Gwen Crawford soon after we moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

We had just come back from Venezuela, where we were missionaries. We didn't know anybody there, but before too long I met Gwen Crawford. She was the secretary at the Religious Studies Dept. at the University of North Dakota (UND). We immediately "clicked" and I soon learned that she and her husband, John, had been missionaries in Mexico. We could converse in Spanish or English, and it was one of those bonds that formed right off the bat. You know the kind--where we could finish each other's sentences--in either language.

Over the nearly 40 years that we lived in Grand Forks there were few days when we didn't talk to each other on the phone, or meet somewhere in person. We shared our dreams, our frustrations, our hopes, our successes and our failures with each other. We literally had no secrets.

I was there for Gwen when John went to China to teach English. She was there for me when we faced some tough times dealing with "the system," which seemed to attack us on a personal and family level. We cried on each other's shoulder when Ivan lost his leg and when John had open heart surgery.

When Ivan died, John sang "Amazing Grace" (Ivan's favorite song) at the funeral. A women's choral group sang "I'll Fly Away," which Ivan loved. It wasn't planned, and nobody announced it, but when John got to that last verse--"When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun..."--the entire group joined in and sang it with more gusto than I've ever heard it sung before. After the service John said to me, "I wish I could have sung 'I'll Fly Away' instead of 'Amazing Grace.' What a great way to have a send-off. I'd love that." I told Gwen what he said, and she said it didn't really seem like the kind of a song John would pick, but she would remember it. So, when just a few months later John died, the choir at the Methodist church gave him his own grand send-off by singing "I'll Fly Away."

Time has passed, but we still talk to each other on the phone about once a week. Some things just can't be destroyed, and our friendship is one of those special precious commodities. So it was with great joy that Gwen began talking about coming to visit me in NE Wisconsin. We originally planned for the visit to occur on Easter weekend, but the weather was "iffy" at best, with snow in the forecast, so it was delayed until Mother's Day. Gwen, at 84 years old, drove alone the 500+ mile trip, arriving in just over one day. She had no problems other than that blasted detour that crosses Lake Superior between Duluth MN and Superior WI. But she made it and got back on the right road to finish the trip.

Two old ladies, but we stayed up until midnight catching up on everything we hadn't been able to say on the phone. We looked at pictures and talked over old times, and what might lie ahead for both of us. We told each other about fantasies that we still cling to, and thoughts of lonely times--and the memories (both good and bad) that carry us through.

Gwen said she wanted to see what my "normal" life is like. She will gladly tell you that there is nothing "normal" about my life, even in a tiny town. I kept her busy, and by the time the 5 days were over, she was ready to go home--and then some. She made the entire trip back to Grand Forks in just one day, proving what I have always believed, that the distance home is always shorter than the same distance when you are going somewhere (anywhere) else. Will it happen again? Possibly not, but it is a very special time that will never be forgotten, by either of us.

Good wine, when aged, might improve, but you can never improve on true friendship. I hope you all have a friend who is as special to you as Gwen Crawford is to me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Boyfriend 9.0 upgrade to Husband 1.0

Sometimes one thing sparks another idea. I have a lot of wonderful online friends, some of them fellow writers, some readers, and some "just plain folks." One of those people is a fellow by the name of Aubrey Love. He lives "down south"--in Oklahoma. He is a disabled retired Vet. (That's a Veteran, not a veterinarian, although he has a bona fide "Doctor" attached to his name.) Now I ask you, how could anybody not be intrigued and more than a little bit curious about somebody who calls himself "Dr. Love." I thought at first that it was a pen name, but nope, it's as real as he is.

Anyway, recently somebody forwarded me a sort of cute take-off on a piece of software. Since Dr. Love is a computer engineer by both education and practice, he picked up on it immediately and we set out to have a little bit of fun. Here is the end result of our "playing" with the correspondence between a software user of our version of the program, with me being the customer and Dr. Love being the Tech Support guy. I hope you have as much fun reading it as we had writing it.

Letter to Tech Support

Dear Tech Support;

I recently upgraded from boyfriend 9.0 to husband 1.0 and found it to be absolutely perfect. Thank you and your team for such a wonderful product.

I am glad you found the upgrade satisfactory. If you encounter any problems, feel free to contact us again.

Tech Support

Dear Tech Support:

Is there any way to incorporate some of the elements of Boyfriend 9.0 into Husband 1.0? The earlier version allowed wining and dining, and the new version seems to utilize whining and leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

Dear Customer;

This is a common problem during first use of husband 1.0. There is nothing wrong with husband 1.0 you just need to re-read the “wife 1.0 users manual”. It explains how to utilize the additional feature - cooking at home 3.1.

Playing with husband 1.0 on a daily basis improves performance and initiates diamonds 5.0.

Dear Tech Support:

Three weeks have passed and I have still not been able to read the Wife 1.0 Users’ Manual. It looks completely foreign to me. I finally called the 800 number given in the manual, and I think the fellow I reached was in India. I could not understand him either. Would you please send me a translator? Oh, and it would help if he had a happy disposition and knew how to wash dishes. Thank you in advance.

Dear Customer;

It's never a good idea to install a translator, you would be better off upgrading to husband 2.0. Warning- you will need to install lawyer 87.5 to upgrade from husband 1.0 to 2.0. Please do not install boyfriend 9.0 while using husband 1.0 or 2.0. This will cause husband 1.0 to lock up.

Of course you should try again to read the “wife 1.0 users manual” for best results. If you still have trouble understanding any part of the manual refer to husband 1.0 who is all knowing and wise.

Dear Tech Support:

I do not want to INSTALL a translator. I want you to SEND ME a translator. Apparently you do not speak English any better than the man I spoke to on the phone. If I send you my husband, will you please try to program him so he matches what the manual says he is supposed to do????

Frustrated in Timbuktu

Dear Customer;

I am going to assume you are a blonde. I am going to do a remote upgrade to wife 2.0. Please stay online while I re-route husband 1.0 to wife 2.0. The other option would be to install secretary with short skirt 3.1to make husband 1.0 perform better. This option usually initiates guilt 4.5 which also initiates flowers 2.3 and diamonds 5.0.

Dear Tech Support:

I am no longer blonde. I no longer have ANY hair left. I have pulled it all out, thanks to frustration over all of your stupid products. I am enclosing the receipts for all versions of the Boyfriend, Husband, Wife and especially the Secretary with Short Skirt programs. Husband 1 ran off with Secretary with Short Skirt and I am left alone, with no boyfriend, no husband, and I am no longer a wife since Husband 1 filed for divorce. Please send me a complete refund, as you have ruined my entire life. I am also enclosing a receipt for the hairdresser’s services to convert me from a blonde to a redhead. It obviously didn’t make me any smarter or I would have dumped Husband 1 before he dumped me!

Dear Customer;

We regret any problems you may have had with husband 1.0 and will begin processing your refund. Please allow 6 to 8 months for processing minus 60% restocking fee. If you prefer we can substitute husband 1.0 with “significant other 4.3”. Please log-on to our website http://www.spousesoftware.com/ to start processing your refund or download significant other 4.3.

Thank you from the tech support team.

For more about Dr. Love, please go to his website

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