Road Trip Day 3

Today was certainly the best day so far. First of all, this leg didn’t need to be one of those 10 – 12 hour days on the road. We did start off with a little hitch – a flat tire.

Luckily there was a Tires Plus right down the road from our hotel in Reno, but it did cost us some time.

We left Nevada, and entered California. DSC00045The landscape improved drastically, and although the mountain driving is a bit rougher for the driver (a big thank-you to John), the beauty makes the long hours stuffed in a car a million times more pleasurable. Sierra Nevada

We only had one stopped planned, and that was to the Donner Memorial. I would think most people have heard of the Donner party which was a group of families who left from Springfield, Illinois and crossed the country, making their way to California. The name comes from George Donner, who eventually led the group. Most people will only remember one thing –  that the group of early settlers to the west were reduced to cannibalism to survive being trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The story of what these people went through, what theyachieved in a time of covered wagons, and the hardship they endured, is much more interesting than just what they had for dinner. I think Mr. Dickens was impressed with the tale.

I will not give the full story here, if you’d like more details click here: Donner

Dickens DonnerThe sight of the Donner encampment is now the sight of a memorial park. The camps of the families were actually spaced pretty far apart as by the time they had gotten to this point, after seven months of a long and arduous journey, already weak and hungry, they weren’t on the best of terms. The memorial itself sits at the site where the Breen and Murphy families camped. The group had come across some old cabins left from mountain men that had been there before. A short distance away is the site of the Graves/Reed cabin, and even farther way is where the Donner family set up camp in tents. The site rests on the edge of Donner Lake. Donner Memorial

The memorial has a statue on a large stone plinth. The height of the plinth represents the height of the snow that winter in 1846/47.  This statue also stands at the sight of the Breen cabin.  There is a path that leads around the monument, and I have to say, we didn’t want to step off of the path, knowing that many of those people perished on that soil.

After a walk through the museum, and a short film about the Donner Party, we took a walk down a nature trail to where the Murphy cabin stood. There is still the remnants of the fireplace standing there.  Not only were we standing on Murphy Fireplacea historic site, but the site of a mass grave. We were actually standing on the grave itself. The survivors had been rescued in a series of three relief efforts. After the last survivor was rescued, a mass grave was dug in the floor of the Murphy cabin and most of the bodies were buried there. There were also some bodies buried at the other cabin sites.

The experience was interesting, awe inspiring, goose bump inducing, and a bit sad. Out of 81 people trapped on that mountain, only 45 survived.

After our exploration of the Donner Memorial, we drove around Donner Lake, pulled off to the side of the road, and hiked to a rock outcropping above a valley. It was a beautiful place to have a picnic lunch. picnic spot

From there we drove all the way through the Tahoe National Forest, through Sacramento, and San Francisco, to Daly City where we were reunited with our daughter, Emily.DSC00075

Road Trip Day 2

The same disclaimer goes for today. I’ve gotten a little over four hours of sleep after being on the road for 14 hours. Any errors are completely out of my control. I’m lucky I remember how to transfer pictures onto my computer at this point.

As we drove out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, we found ourselves surrounded by rolling landscape, dotted with buttes and  framed by mountains.

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Although not as spectacular as the Alps which has fascinated Charles Dickens in the past. I think he found the view as interesting as we did.

Utah, was even lovelier, with the  snow capped peaks of the Wasatch Range. We could see reminders of the 2002 Winter Olympics. The US Olympic team training center is here as well. The ski jump near Summit Park was awe inspiring and fear inducing.  YIKES!

From there we descended from approximately 7000 ft. in elevation, to only 4000 ft. in Salt Lake City. Here we made a stop at the Great Salt Lake.

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As we drove through the Great Salt Desert, it’s amazing to think of those early pioneers crossing such a vast, uninhabitable place. As I mentioned yesterday, our path is close, and sometimes the same as the Oregon, Mormon and California trails.  This was part of the Hastings cut-off that the doomed Donner Party took.

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There is salt stretching as far as the eye can see. Animal nor plant can survive here. There was no food or water for the animals. The waterholes were  brackish and poisonous. Although the salt desert seems like it would be a nice hard surface for the wagons, there are places when the surface crust is thin and the horses, oxen and wagons would break through the crust and sink into the mud below.Bonneville

We stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, where many a land speed record has been broken. Lunch was at the Salt Flats Cafe. The walls were covered by photos of racers with their rocket cars, and souped up motorcycles, many autographedDSC00035

 

Besides the Ruby Mountains,  there was not much beauty to behold. The remainder of Nevada was long and desolate, and made our journey less than thrilling. We were relieved when we finally pulled into Reno, Nevada.

I’m not too sure what Mr. Dickens thought of the bright lights and cacophony of sound from the slot machines, but we came out with a few more dollars in our pocket than we started with.

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We are looking forward to more scenic mountain views tomorrow, along with a reunion with our daughter in San Francisco.

Road trip Day 1

I will first apologize for any typos and grammar errors. It’s 2:00am after a very long, sleep deprived day yesterday. On Thursday. we got off to a rough start. Thanks to a poorly set alarm, o-dark-hundred started a little later than anticipated. We wanted to be up by 2:00 am, but it ended up being 3:38am. Regardless, we got on the road (without forgetting anything that 2013-05-23_13-26-33_218we can think of right now), without too much commotion.

The van was already packed. Thankfully Mr. Dickens is a small fellow – there really wasn’t any spaces or cubbyholes left unfilled. So the four of us, my husband Jim, our friends John and Sue, and I crammed ourselves into our allotted spaces and we hit the road.  This will be the most boring part of our trip. It’s our intention to get to San Francisco as quickly as possible, then slow down and do some sightseeing.  Not to say that our trip was boring. Oh no, the reason the four of us travel together so well, is that we can find humor in almost anything. There were many times that we were laughing so hard we were in tears. I’m very glad that, for a Victorian fellow, Charles Dickens was a bit of a wild guy. I’d hate to think we made him too uncomfortable! Even so, I’m pretty sure the ladies of his day were a bit more reserved than Sue and I are, and the gentlemen were a little more “gentlemanly” than Jim or John. I am certain he never heard song lyrics like the ones we were coming up with.

We left Wisconsin and drove south into Illinois, then west across the Mississippi River into Iowa.  The only sights we saw in Iowa were from the car window as we zoomed by, which consisted of the worlds largest truck stop, and newly sprouted corn fields.

Lunch was a picnic lunch eaten at a truck stop somewhere between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. We took turns at driving, except for Mr. Dickens of course.  Each of us tried to nap at different times, but without the ability to stretch our legs out, none of us got any really useful rest.  We did learn a little bit about the Oregon and Mormon trails which both parallel I-80, one to the north, and one to the south. I-8o is the second longest transcontinental highway, which runs all the way from New York City, to San Francisco, California. It is also the highway that most approximates the Lincoln Highway – the first road across America. Dickens Nebraska

 

 

 

It was exciting to a small degree when we finally crossed the state line from Nebraska into Wyoming. Nebraska can feel like the longest state in the country. If you have never been in this part of the country it is desolate. There is nothing but scrub, tumbleweeds,2013-05-23_20-21-10_970 and cattle ranches – lots and lots of cattle. Our rule of thumb is to always eat whatever is the local specialty, and that would be steak.  So after a very scrumptious steak dinner at Little Bear Inn, although as you can see by this picture, their bear wasn’t all that little!  We finally hunkered down at a La Quinta hotel at 9:00pm (which, since we crossed time zones would be 10:00pm Wisconsin time).

I would like to say I got a good nights rest, but as I said in the beginning, it’s only 2:00am and I’m awake typing this. In just two hours we will be up and back on the road. Today we aim for Reno, Nevada. Yesterday we traveled just over 1000 miles. today will be almost the same. At least we will be leaving the Great Plains and entering the Rocky Mountains.  I know Mr. Dickens was not too fond of America in his past visits, but he’s never been to this part of the country. I have visited this beautiful mountain range before, and I think he may be in for a treat.

Who was Charles Dickens?

Christmas Carole Cover Design kindle

Who was Charles Dickens: the man, the husband, the father? It’s a controversy that will never end. After doing extensive research, I’ve come to my own conclusions which I talk about in the forward to my novella “Christmas Carole.” I believe that Charles Dickens loved his family. It seems that his and Catherine’s personalities were very different, and they were not a good match for each other. I think Mr. Dickens didn’t always handle the pressures of fame, work, worries, and family well and he certainly had flaws, but who doesn’t? I also think, just like today, the things the public think about celebrities are only half-truths. One thing I can tell you with certainty was that Charles Dickens often devoted his time, his craft, and his money to many charitable causes. And no one can deny that he provided the world with quality literature.

Here is the forward to “Christmas Carole.”

There have been many books written about Charles Dickens and just as many opinions as to the type of man he was. There is also much speculation as to the nature of his relationship with his wife, Catherine. They range from a loving relationship between two emotionally damaged individuals, to one of deceit and heartbreak. Given that the accounts written are about someone who was, and still is, a public figure, I can only assume that the truth lies somewhere in between. Since I haven’t lived in his home, I can only speculate. I have come to my own conclusions based on all the research I’ve done, and use that as my basis for the Charles portrayed in this story.

Some things are less debated, and seem fairly clear. Charles Dickens was a brilliant, creative, driven, hardworking man. He was haunted by his experiences as a child, and the time he spent in a boot blacking factory to support his family while his father was in debtor’s prison. He used those experiences in his quest to enlighten the public about the plight of the poor and underprivileged. Those experiences also drove him to succeed, always fearful of living in poverty once again.

Regardless of little education, Dickens was a man of wisdom and great talent. I can only hope I have done the great author justice.

Now in Paperback!!!!

Christmas Carole is now available in paperback for just $5.95! Just in time for Christmas!


Just click on book cover below to purchase.


“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Carole is a modern day, career-driven woman who has little time for love and even less time for Christmas. While escaping the flirtation of a co-worker and the trappings of an office Christmas party, she meets a mysterious stranger. With this man, she travels back in time to 1843 London. There, she becomes a guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he writes “A Christmas Carol.” People and events that inspire Mr. Dickens become part of Carole’s life. The secrets she learns about the man, his life, and his writing affect her in ways she could never have imagined.

This novella is a story about love, life, the Christmas spirit, and redemption.

Hump Day

For most people hump day is Wednesday, the day of the week in which one has crossed the center and is now in a race for the finish of the week. For me, hump day is similar, but different.

I wish I could say I was one of those people who are disciplined enough to get their work done well ahead of when it’s needed, but alas, I am anything but. If there’s not some deadline looming over me, I procrastinate. In all fairness, I do lead a very busy life. I have my writing, and all the book events, marketing, seminars and classes that go along with it.  I also work a full-time day job, and have a home and family to take care of. Add in any kind of social activities and don’t forget holidays, and you can understand why I have very limited time to get things accomplished. I can use lack of time as an excuse, but I know myself. I need a deadline, and will dawdle about until I’m in a panic because I’m running out of time.

That goes for everything. I’ve had paint chips taped to my kitchen wall for a year now. It really wouldn’t take much time to actually pick a color and paint the small accent wall. But it will take a party, or inviting someone over that hasn’t seen the house to motivate me, and even then, I can picture myself staying up until midnight the night before praying that it will dry in time for said event.

This month the project du jour is a Christmas novella. My story is  about a modern day woman who once fancied being an author, but had been disillusioned and embittered by life. She meets an unusual stranger and travels back in time with him to 1843 London, where she finds herself the guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he is in the process of writing his classic “A Christmas Carol.” Once there, Carole (get the pun) learns (you guessed it) the meaning of Christmas from the father of Christmas spirit(s), himself. When I set out to write this Christmas story, I actually gave myself a year. Does it really take me a year to write a novella? Nope. Yet, here I am, on November 28th, racing through edits, hoping against hope, that “Christmas Carole” will be out in time for Christmas.  What does all of this have to do with “hump day” you ask?

Because I’m always writing right up until deadline, there are times when my mouth is telling the public “I will have a new book out for Christmas,” however, I will not have enough written to have any confidence in that statement.  I tell my readers on Facebook to expected it, and only have three chapters complete. I post a flier that promises it’s  “coming soon” at a book signing, and only have five chapters written. I say it to the bookstore owner who will be selling my book-that-does-not-yet-exist, when I have seven chapters written, but still don’t have a clue as to how the story will end. Hump day, for me, is the day when I have enough written, and know enough about where the story is going, that I realize I actually have a chance of meeting my deadline.  It isn’t based on any formula. It’s not based a certain word count. It isn’t even the half-way point. It’s some imaginary point-in-time in which the story is complete in my head, if not on the page, and enough pages are written that I feel I can complete it in time. It’s a feeling in my gut that I have gotten over the hump and I’m cruising for the finish line.

Last week Saturday was hump day. The story wasn’t finished, but it was whole. This past weekend I completed the last chapter, and this week is edit-mania. If all goes well “Christmas Carole will be available as an e-book within a week. Paperback is a bit more of a gamble since I have to depend on editors, on cover design, and on Amazon’s Createspace to get  the book printed quickly, once I approve the proof.

But you know, Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in only six weeks, finishing it at the end of November and having the final product in hand by mid-December and that was ages before computers and print-on-demand.  If he can do it, so can I!

So…

COMING SOON! IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Carole by D.L. Marriott

Sure to be a holiday favorite!

More on Dickens and The Pickwick Papers

 

More on the Pickwick Papers. We find ourselves along with the Pickwickian’s at Eatonswill, in the midst of a very emotional and energetic election that sounds not all that unlike what have been experiencing in today’s times – although, a bit more dramatic, lest some cab driver has dumped members of a political party in a river, somewhere.

Mr. Pickwick and the election at Eatonswill.- although, a bit more dramatic, lest some cab driver has dumped members of a political party in a river, somewhere.

While spending some time at the Peacock Inn, away from all the baby kissing and politics, Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass are told the tale of Tom Smart.

It is the tale of a poor traveler, who stops at an Inn to get out of a storm. The Inn’s owner is a widow, who Tom finds himself attracted to. But the widow is being courted by another man. Tom has a bit too much to drink, and once in bed, discovers the chair in the room, has come to life. After a discussion with said sentient chair, who now appears as a man to Tom, it tells him how to get rid of the other man. Why you ask? It seems the chair has a personal vendetta against the “tall man” as he calls him.Quote:

‘”You must have seen some queer things,” said Tom, with an inquisitive look.
‘”You may say that, Tom,” replied the old fellow, with a very complicated wink. “I am the last of my family, Tom,” said the old gentleman, with a melancholy sigh.
‘”Was it a large one?” inquired Tom Smart.
‘”There were twelve of us, Tom,” said the old gentleman; “fine, straight-backed, handsome fellows as you’d wish to see. None of your modern abortions–all with arms, and with a degree of polish, though I say it that should not, which it would have done your heart good to behold.”
‘”And what’s become of the others, Sir?” asked Tom Smart–
‘The old gentleman applied his elbow to his eye as he replied, “Gone, Tom, gone. We had hard service, Tom, and they hadn’t all my constitution. They got rheumatic about the legs and arms, and went into kitchens and other hospitals; and one of ’em, with long service and hard usage, positively lost his senses–he got so crazy that he was obliged to be burnt. Shocking thing that, Tom.”
‘”Dreadful!” said Tom Smart.
‘The old fellow paused for a few minutes, apparently struggling with his feelings of emotion, and then said–
‘”However, Tom, I am wandering from the point. This tall man, Tom, is a rascally adventurer. The moment he married the widow, he would sell off all the furniture, and run away. What would be the consequence? She would be deserted and reduced to ruin, and I should catch my death of cold in some broker’s shop.”

The chair/man gives Tom a letter that proves that the tall man is already married. In the morning Tom finds nothing unusual about the chair sitting in his room, perhaps it was all just an alcohol induced dream. But it couldn’t have been, for Tom has the incriminating letter.

In the end, the letter is all the proof Tom needs to force out the tall man and win the girl.

The Pickwick Papers Continued: The Madman's Tale

I am starting to get a better feel for Mr. Pickwick and his band of followers, and especially found it interesting when Mr. Pickwick went to speak to his widowed landlady only to have her mistake his words for a marriage proposal. But again, I can only get so deep with the world that Dickens paints where every man seems like a stout, jolly fellow. But, the tales they discover along the way are such a stark counterpoint, I can’t help to be instantly drawn in.

In Chapter 11, we hear of the madman’s tale.

Quote:  “‘Yes!–a madman’s! How that word would have struck to my heart, many years ago! How it would have roused the terror that used to come upon me sometimes, sending the blood hissing and tingling through my veins, till the cold dew of fear stood in large drops upon my skin, and my knees knocked together with fright! I like it now though. It’s a fine name. Show me the monarch whose angry frown was ever feared like the glare of a madman’s eye–whose cord and axe were ever half so sure as a madman’s gripe. Ho! ho! It’s a grand thing to be mad! to be peeped at like a wild lion through the iron bars–to gnash one’s teeth and howl, through the long still night, to the merry ring of a heavy chain and to roll and twine among the straw, transported with such brave music. Hurrah for the madhouse! Oh, it’s a rare place!”

The opening above grabbed me, and I couldn’t stop until I got to the end. This is a story about a young woman who is given up to a madman to marry by her father and three brothers in order to “cash in” on the madman’s wealth, told from the point of view of the madman himself.  It becomes clear from the beginning that perhaps the madman was only mad because he believed it was something he was predestined to.

“I remember days when I was afraid of being mad; when I used to start from my sleep, and fall upon my knees, and pray to be spared from the curse of my race; when I rushed from the sight of merriment or happiness, to hide myself in some lonely place, and spend the weary hours in watching the progress of the fever that was to consume my brain. I knew that madness was mixed up with my very blood, and the marrow of my bones! that one generation had passed away without the pestilence appearing among them, and that I was the first in whom it would revive. I knew it must be so: that so it always had been, and so it ever would be: and when I cowered in some obscure corner of a crowded room, and saw men whisper, and point, and turn their eyes towards me, I knew they were telling each other of the doomed madman; and I slunk away again to mope in solitude.”

He spends his days, convincing himself he is mad, although to the reader, he does not seem so. His wife spends her days wrapped in melancoly. The madman eventually finds out that his wife can never be happy with him, not because he is mad, but because when her family married her off for money, she was in love with another. The man, in his madness, or perhaps his broken heart, plans ways to kill his wife, but before he can do so, she collapses. After a bedside vigil and many doctors, the madman is told to prepare for the worst, since his wife is mad! His wife dies on her own, the very next day. The father, who so heartlessly forced his daughter to marry, followed her to the grave. In the end the madman is confronted by one of the brothers, and he tries to kill the brother in a fit of rage at what they’d done to him and the sister they claimed to have loved. Before he is successful, he is stopped, and he runs for his life realizing that they have discovered the secret of his madness.

‘My secret was out; and my only struggle now was for liberty and freedom. I gained my feet before a hand was on me, threw myself among my assailants, and cleared my way with my strong arm, as if I bore a hatchet in my hand, and hewed them down before me. I gained the door, dropped over the banisters, and in an instant was in the street.

“Straight and swift I ran, and no one dared to stop me. I heard the noise of the feet behind, and redoubled my speed. It grew fainter and fainter in the distance, and at length died away altogether; but on I bounded, through marsh and rivulet, over fence and wall, with a wild shout which was taken up by the strange beings that flocked around me on every side, and swelled the sound, till it pierced the air. I was borne upon the arms of demons who swept along upon the wind, and bore down bank and hedge before them, and spun me round and round with a rustle and a speed that made my head swim, until at last they threw me from them with a violent shock, and I fell heavily upon the earth. When I woke I found myself here–here in this gray cell, where the sunlight seldom comes, and the moon steals in, in rays which only serve to show the dark shadows about me, and that silent figure in its old corner. When I lie awake, I can sometimes hear strange shrieks and cries from distant parts of this large place. What they are, I know not; but they neither come from that pale form, nor does it regard them. For from the first shades of dusk till the earliest light of morning, it still stands motionless in the same place, listening to the music of my iron chain, and watching my gambols on my straw bed.”

It’s a sad tale, of a sad man, who was given the belief from young on that he was destined to be mad. In the end, that belief lead him to his demise. The power of the mind overrode reality.

The Charles Dickens Project and The Pickwick Papers

As promised, here is more facts and information about both Charles Dickens and his first novel, The Pickwick Papers.

(Sorry about the lack of space between some paragraphs, seems to be a problem with the site.)

 

I have a little trouble connecting with Mr. Pickwick and company. They are the typical overly dramatic Dicken’s type characters. But the “stories” they hear and report to the Pickwick Club instantly catch my attention. Especially the darker ones. What can I say? It’s my dark side. I was completely pulled into “The Convict’s Return” as told by a clergyman.

It’s the tale of young John Edmunds who grows up protected by his mother from his violent father. His mother takes the abuse to spare him. He is very close to his mother, and goes to church with her regularily. As he grows older, he drifts from his mother’s side, and no longer goes to church with her.

Once grown, John Edmunds is accused of a crime spree and sentenced to death. His mother’s heart is broken. His sentence is commuted to 14 years in prison.

Despite his hardened attitude, his mother visits him everyday, until she grows ill. He suddenly realizes how much he loves her and how sorry he is when she stops coming to the prison gate to see him. The clergyman tells John Edmunds that his mother is ill and tells him of her love and forgiveness, and the clergyman tells the man’s dying mother of his repentance. During the night John Edmunds is moved to another prison and the clergyman has no way to tell him that his mother had passed away. She was buried in the corner of the church graveyard without even a headstone.

Although John Edmunds had written letters to his mother via the clergyman, none had ever made it and the clergyman had assumed that John had died in prison. John’s father never visited, or cared what happened to his son.

Once released John returned to his village, looking for his mother. He went to the church, but the familiar pew they always sat in together was empty. He went to his childhood home, but someone else lived there. He didn’t have the heart to enquire further, and wandered on, sad and alone.

Quote: ‘On a fine Sunday evening, in the month of August, John Edmunds set foot in the village he had left with shame and disgrace seventeen years before. His nearest way lay through the churchyard. The man’s heart swelled as he crossed the stile. The tall old elms, through whose branches the declining sun cast here and there a rich ray of light upon the shady part, awakened the associations of his earliest days. He pictured himself as he was then, clinging to his mother’s hand, and walking peacefully to church. He remembered how he used to look up into her pale face; and how her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she gazed upon his features — tears which fell hot upon his forehead as she stooped to kiss him, and made him weep too…’

Later, John Edmunds came upon an old man. At first he didn’t recognize the person who had caused him and his mother so much pain. Then, when the man cursed him and hit him with a stick, he knew it was his father. Although he wanted to choke the man, John couldn’t bring himself to harm his father. The man collapsed on his own of a burst blood vessel right there and then. He died before his son could even raise him off the ground.

The old clergyman finished his story with – ‘In that corner of the churchyard,’ said the old gentleman, after a silence of a few moments, ‘in that corner of the churchyard of which I have before spoken, there lies buried a man who was in my employment for three years after this event, and who was truly contrite, penitent, and humbled, if ever man was. No one save myself knew in that man’s lifetime who he was, or whence he came — it was John Edmunds, the returned convict.’

I actually teared up a bit. Not only is the story heartbreaking, but Dickens creates art with his words. His poetic style brings real emotion to the page.

And now to Mr. Dickens – Here’s one of many interesting fun facts about Charles Dickens. Hans Christian Andersen was Dicken’s close friend and mutual influence. Andersen even dedicated his book Poet’s Day Dream to Dickens in 1853. But this didn’t stop Dickens, a bit of a jokester, from letting Andersen know when he’d overstayed his welcome at Dickens’s home. He made a sign and left it on Andersen’s mirror in the guest room. It read: “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks, which seemed to the family like AGES.”

Blogging and The Charles Dickens Project

In a time when media is king, and using the internet as a tool to get the word out there is  necessity, I find myself overwhelmed. Authors no longer have the advantage of holing themselves up to write a book. In truth, I have to wonder if they ever did, or if that’s just Hollywood’s take on it. Anyway, as an author, not only am I writng, not one, but several things at once, but I am also trying to maintain an online presence. That means Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, GoodReads, etc. etc. Part of all of that is this blog. I feel terrible that this blog  is the thing that gets left in the dust, the most. For those of you who don’t know, I also work a full-time day job, and take a writng class on my day off, as well as being a member of a writing group. Throw in book signings, appearances at book clubs, etc. and it’s amazing I ever get time to make dinner for my family.

Now I’ve started my third facebook page titled “The Charles Dickens Project” and have been consistantly posting everyday. This is part of my research (oh yeah, I forgot to mention research in the list of things to do) in writing a historic fiction Christmas story in which Mr. Dickens himself will be one of the main characters.  I thought, since I made the page public, anyone could read it, but now I’m finding that’s not the case. So in an effort to kill two birds (excuse the cliche’) I am going to post what I write there, here. That way, those of you who don’t use facebook can keep up with my progress as well. Since I’ve been posting for a while, I’ll post one weeks worth once a day until I catch up. Afterwards, I’ll post here once a week. I’m reading all of Dicken’s books in order, and post summaries of where I am in each book. I also post biographical information, definition of Dickensian terms, and fun facts.  I hope you enjoy!

Week One –

Bio – Let’s start with a little background information. Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on Feb. 7th, 1812 and died on June 9th 1870. He was born to John and Elizabeth Dickens, he had three sisters and four brothers. During his life he and his wife, Catherine had ten children.

Book One – Dickens’ first published novel was “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club” more commonly known as “The Pickwick Papers.” The main characters are Mr. Samuel Pickwick, and his traveling companions, Mr Nathaniel Winkle, Mr Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr Tracy Tupman, who went out across the country as reporters of a sort. This was published as a serial. I did not read an overview, so at first I was a little confused as to what connection there was between one character and another. I quickly realized that Dickens simply used his main characters as a vehicle to tell a collection of otherwise unrelated short stories. Quite a brilliant idea!

One thing I have to say, Dickens’ chapter titles are almost stories in themselves. Take, for instance, the title of Chapter Seven of “The Pickwick Papers” – HOW MR. WINKLE, INSTEAD OF SHOOTING AT THE PIGEON AND KILLING THE CROW, SHOT AT THE CROW AND WOUNDED THE PIGEON; HOW THE DINGLEY DELL CRICKET CLUB PLAYED ALL-MUGGLETON, AND HOW ALL- MUGGLETON DINED AT THE DINGLEY DELL EXPENSE; WITH OTHER INTERESTING AND INSTRUCTIVE MATTERS. Quite a mouthful, wouldn’t you say?

I’ll stop here so I don’t overwhelm you. Tomorrow, I will get more into the story itself.