Janet's Jargon

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bitz and Pieces

Back when Red River Mysteries and Memories Magazine was still alive, I wrote a column in each issue called "Bitz and Pieces." It was an assistant editor's dream; I could write about anything I wanted to. The magazine is long gone, but in memory of a fine magazine, today's blog is my version of that column.
I realize I don't blog nearly as often as I should. I have great admiration for people like my friends Lloyd Lofthouse and Marilyn Meredith who seem to be able to make new contributions several times a week. I certainly don't suffer from writers' block. No, my head is so overloaded with ideas that it seems like it is spinning like a top all day and most of the night. My problem is too many interruptions, too many things to do, and trying to get organized.
Another magazine I used to write for was Heritage Quest. It was devoted to genealogy. I wrote a column and several feature articles in most issues for over 15 years. Leland Meitzler, the editor, would call me as soon as he had decided on the topic for the next issue. There was only one time that I flatly refused to do a feature article. "The topic for next time," he informed me, "is how to get your findings organized." It didn't take more than about 10 seconds to tell him, "I have no experience in that at all, and I don't have time to do the research it would take. It would mean I would have to get organized." That was definitely not my best attribute.
So, today's blog will be random thoughts that have come across my path in the last couple of months. Please join me for the ride. I think it will be fun.

I have two time travel books out that are based on the real historical people Maria Hallett and Black Sam Bellamy. I stumbled across Maria's story in doing research on my Hallett family. (Hallett was my maiden name, and as far as I can figure out, Maria was my 13th great aunt.) When she was just a teenager she got hooked up with Sam Bellamy. By the time Sam left port from Cape Cod (in the early 1700s), he had promised Maria that he would come back for her when he had made his fortune on the seas. He became a fearless pirate, and he had no idea that he had left Maria pregnant. Sadly, the baby died soon after he was born, and Maria was accused of witchcraft.
Fortunately, they did not put witches to death on Cape Cod like they did in Salem. However, she was sentenced to jail for a short time, but her father was able to purchase her freedom. Some freedom! She was cast out of the village and spent every day watching for Black Sam to return.
Several years later, his ship--the Whydah--returned, but it was hit by lightning and split in half. All of the men on Black Sam's crew were found--except for Black Sam himself.
Fast forward to about 15 years ago, when a crew, headed by Barry Clifford, discovered the remains of the Whydah. It is the biggest pirate treasure that has ever been found. There is a museum set up in Provincetown, MA, but National Geographic has taken part of the treasure on tour. It is currently at the Milwaukee Public Museum, where it will remain until May 27th. Westlund Bus Lines from Marinette WI is conducting a tour of the "Real Pirate" exhibit on May 18th, and they have asked me to be the tour guide to fill in the blanks for people before they get to the museum.
The Riverside Manor Bed and Breakfast in Marinette WI is hosting a "Pirate Mystery" this Saturday, March 16th. They have asked me to bring copies of the books and come to share some of the fun from Maria and Black Sam. It will begin at 6 p.m. I have attended a couple of other events at Riverside Manor, and Becky DeWitt can throw some of the best parties I've ever attended. I will be attending both of the events dressed like Maria Hallett.
Another fun thing that happened was because of my clicking the daily notices I get from Publishers' Clearing House. I am not going to hold my breath to wait for the grand prize of a million dollars a year for the rest of my life (I wonder if they only send this one to old people!) or $5000 a week for the rest of your life and then pass it on to another person for the rest of their life. It doesn't take much longer to click the "Search" button than it does to delete it. One day last week I did a PCH Search for "Dunnottar Castle." That is the subject for my first written and first published book. What a surprise and delight it was to see three listings for Scottish castles in general, but the very first entry for Dunnottar Castle specifically went directly to my book at Amazon.com
Life is a set of variables, a good friend of mine often reminds me. That's certainly true of my books. You see, Ivan, my late husband, had all the kings and lords from Scotland and England (those made their way into Dunnottar, their ancestral home), but I get the fun ones like the witch and the pirate from House Call to the Past and Port Call to the Future.
I have had some fun with Dunnottar too. If anybody knows of a bagpipe player in NE Wisconsin or the UP of Michigan, please let me know. Back in Grand Forks I did a couple of booksignings with a bagpiper at my side. Talk about a great way to draw a crowd!
One of the other joys in my life is that recently, thanks to Face Book, is that I have reconnected with a (sort of former) sister-in-law and her son, my nephew. What fun we have had conversing with each other. I hope one day we can get together face-to-face.
Ah, yes, there are lots of other great things happening in my life. You can see a lot of them at my website in the upcoming events. I recently had an exchange with a new friend from Germany (like several of my "new best friends," we got acquainted when I edited their books). He was lamenting the fact that he is 74 years old and he wondered if he was heading down the last few miles of his life. I wrote back, telling him that one of my favorite Biblical characters was Enoch. The Bible doesn't say much about him. It does say that "He was no more, as he walked with God." It conjures up an image in my mind of a man who was so close to God that he went out for a walk in the woods one morning and he just put one step into the woods and the next step into heaven. Today, they would call out the army to look for the old fellow, as he obviously had Alzheimer's. One of Ivan's uncle's favorite hymns was "But until then, my heart will go on singing. Until then, with joy I'll carry on..." So, I am going back to work on my next book, Tuesday Nolan, the 2nd book in the Women of the Week series. Um, just as soon as I finish listening to my "proof copy" of A Lumberjack Christmas...Revisted, my first audio book. It will be coming out by Hop, Skip Jump Publishing LLC.
Nope, I have no time to stop now. I don't even have time to slow down, although my oldest son keeps reminding me that I'm supposed to be retired. Speaking of kids, it was fun this morning when my youngest son called me early this morning to tell me that he had taken his new dog, Spanky, out for a walk and they found the bottom half of a deer leg lying in a yard. Yup, that was in downtown Chicago. He took it home for the dog to play with. Life is full of fun. Enjoy it to the fullest!

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