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Black Orphans…What Did Savannah Do With Them? (Nostalgia-part 7)

   In honor of Black History Month I am reposting this  story about orphans and an old man.  The other day I was out on errands and spied a ‘For Sale/Waterfront’sign .  In my neck of the woods that usually means river front and/or marsh land.  So I turned around and followed the  signs.  At the end of the road I found a beautiful home on some acreage.   I always like to look at real estate and I am always curious about what ‘water front’ costs.  Driving slowly onto the property I began to look for a flyer. Failing that, I slowly rounded their circular driveway heading back out.

I paused at the street as a man, riding a John Deere mower, chased me down and asked if he could show me the house.  What luck!   I was going to be able to see the beautifully restored plantation house. I never could have imagined the story that awaited me!

It sits on three acres with a six car garage, a guest house, a barn and a doll house.  The lawns spill down to a large deck overlooking a tidal creek which feeds out to the Vernon River. The live oak trees are hundreds of years old, Spanish moss dripping from every branch.  The deck has been built around an oak even to the point of interrupting the hand railing to accommodate an oak branch eighteen inches thick.  (it’s a southern thing; we love our live oaks.)

But it was the owners’ story that I wanted to share.

Courtesy of sonofthesouth.net

Courtesy of sonofthesouth.net

Dick and Sue bought the working farm and farm house in 1975.  Back then, common in those days, the kitchen was outside on a porch so that it wouldn’t add to the summer heat within the house.  The house was approximately 1,000 sq. feet compared to its 5,000 sq. ft. now.

Part of the sale was that the new owners must care for a middle-aged black man; the grandson of slaves, for the remainder of his life.  That in itself was remarkable but they agreed.
Parker Bell was illiterate, didn’t know how old he was, didn’t know his mother or father’s name.  As a child he was blackmanraised on the ‘Brown farm‘. At first I found little history referring to a ‘brown farm’ but had heard that this is where young African-American children (orphans) were housed after the civil war and into the early 1900’s.  I wondered if the name was an acronym in reference to John Brown, the abolitionist?

But thanks to a friend, who loves this kind of research as much as I do….we found the ‘Brown Farm’ in Savannah, GA., and a census map.

Young black children who were orphaned in Savannah from the latter part of the 19th century to 1943 had – for a number of reasons – nowhere to live except Savannah’s penal farm. There the young children were surrounded by such sights as men in shackles laboring in the fields, windows with bars and chain gangs. The kids were not being punished, but it was common practice for them to be taken there.

Savannah Penal Farm

Savannah Penal Farm 

Because there was no orphanage for black children, Chatham County black youth were often placed at the old  Brown Farm, a 400 acre county penal farm for convicts (located on Montgomery Crossroad near where Lake Meyer is now) where they remained until they reached legal age. The girls were sent to the Chatham County Protective Home, operated by the Savannah Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. This practice went on for years, until Greenbriar Children’s Center was established.’   (Courtesy Greenbrier Children’s Center)

Lori’s mother-in-law, Mamie (now 94 years of age) remembers the Brown Farm.  She told us, When I was a young’un, me and a girl was in a fight, and both of us was sent to the Brown Farm for thirty days.   The people in charge there,  had us to wash clothes for the boys that were living there.  I believe that old brown farm is where Memorial Hospital is now, just off Waters.”

the old Brown farm

Census map of the Brown Farm in Savannah

 

 

 

Back to the old man. Parker Bell lived in the guest house and had the run of the property until his death a few years back.  The family treated him like a favorite cousin.  He didn’t have a social security number and because of his learning disabilities couldn’t work an outside job.  But he kept busy cleaning up leaves, mowing grass and helping the children with their horses.  Dick and Sue kept their promise and supported Parker Bell, until his death. Dick told me the fascinating story of the night they had a dinner party for twelve.  In the middle of the meal, Parker walked into the house and into the candle-lit dining room, proudly holding up a stringer of fish, saying, “Mr. Dickie, I caught us a mess of bass outta that creek.”  

My whole adult life I have had my best adventures when I’ve been ‘lost’….and today was no exception.  To other writers out there? Our stories are all interwoven as human beings.  Your new story could be around the next bend in the road.
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The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal ~~ A Review

writing, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fiction A REVIEW 
5 out of 5 quills ~~ The Paris Spy

 

A real cliff hanger! To the last page (especially the last page) MacNeal’s new book keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.  This series is a delight. Beginning when a ‘math-o-holic’ girl gets hired in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s office as a typist. WWII is just gearing up.  With an aptitude for numbers and codes Maggie Hope quickly rises, for a woman, in the war offices.  In this latest offering, we catch up with her as she ‘wrangles’ her way into war-torn and occupied France.  Searching for her sister, she is thrown into the deep end of espionage.

The Maggie Hope Mystery series offers intrigue, twists and turns and great characters. Woven expertly through world history the reader is treated to the workings and intrigues of 10 Downing Street and M16 (the CIA of England) . This reviewer strongly urges the reader to start at the beginning with Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and read the books in order.  But, of course, The Paris Spy stands very well on its own. With each book Susan MacNeal gives the reader a complete story, albeit a dangler most likely leaving the reader in a most delicious sort of suspense.
 
Available at www.amazon.com or your favorite book store.

 

 

 

Did you miss my Interview with this Author??
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #27

I’ve always believed that to be a good writer you must read. Why? 

I can only answer for myself. Other writers inspire me to improve my writing skills. This is true of my fiction, stage plays, and poetry.
Their styles are innumerable, their dash extraordinary, the story telling superb.  Oh sure, I stumble upon the ‘not so good’ authors but they contribute to my self-confidence.  I say to myself, “Oh! So I’m not the absolutely worst writer out there.”  I learn from the great ones and I learn from the mediocre.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Fiction mostly. I love a good story…and better, a good story-teller. I recently discovered Janet Macleod Trotter, one of our hidden treasures and, I predict, her books will be considered some of the best modern-day classics of our time.

Here are more some quotes that I stumbled across recently and really enjoyed. 

“That’s what the greats of literature did — they got their characters up a tree and threw rocks at them…” Robyn Carr (excerpt from ‘What We Find’)  Another great weaver of stories. 

“Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude.” Sir Thomas Browne

“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.” Raymond Chandler

 

Coming Soon! Release date, May 15th.

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    February’s author was Sheryl Steines.
Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.  May’s author will be Cheryl Hollon and in June: Mehreen Ahmed. July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter
                                                                                   
                                        
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Interview ~~ Grace Burrowes, Author (conclusion)

interviews-authorsQ. As a fan, I noticed that you are published by a traditional publisher and have self-published some of your romances as well. Can you give other writers some tips about that?

GB. I’m actually onto my second trade house. I started with Sourcebooks and now write for Grand Central/Forever, in addition to my indie titles. I hesitated to indie publish because I’d heard it was, “so much work,” and all I wanted to do was write. I just kept feeding manuscripts down the trad pub chute, and I kick myself for that. Good career decisions are made based on good information, and “everybody says,” is not as useful what I say about my own experiences. I find trad pubbing a lot of work, in part because I don’t control the schedule, I don’t control development of the cover and meta data, I don’t control pricing or PR. I’m at the mercy of the trad house’s schedule, process, and agenda, and to some extent, their editorial preferences.

With indie publishing, there’s start up effort—setting up accounts, and rounding up a team to do editing, proofreading, covers, and virtual assistance. The reward though, in terms of creative, scheduling, editorial and financial control is enormous. I’m very fortunate to have worked with trad houses who are supportive of hybrid authors, but then, I couldn’t see signing a contract with a house that wasn’t.

Q. What makes a writer great?

grace-at-eilean-donan-1GB. The people whose company I treasure most work hard at being kind and telling the truth (both). They laugh a lot, love ferociously, listenGrace - age 8 respectfully, and take risks in the name of love. Great writing touches the heart and makes a lasting impression. As for a great writer… I’ll have to think on this. Generosity of spirit and humility come to mind, but so do passion and fierce, unapologetic ability.

Q.    ….and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

GB. I wake up one morning and roll around in bed waiting for a thought to coalesce that I can build a scene on. Could be a line of dialogue, could be a letter, could be a guy grousing to his horse about the burdens of bachelorhood. When I get something that leans toward dialogue or an opening hook (or I have to pee), I get out of bed and turn on the computer.

A scene emerges, and in that scene, I find a character, usually the hero of a romance novel. He has Troubles. I lurk in his hedges and ride pillion behind him, and scribble down any scenes he’ll give me. He also has a heroine intent on her own story, and she gets the same treatment from me. I haunt my characters until I can pry a story loose from them.

I write the opening scenes and the meet, launch the character arcs, introduce a few secondary characters, and then the begging begins. I crawl around on all fours, searching, searching, for an external conflict. To quote the brilliant and humble Joanna Bourne, “Liking, attraction, and respect pull them together. Something real, substantial, and interesting must push them apart.”

jack-683x1024If the universe is kind, the external conflict reveals itself in a flash of insight—the universe is seldom kind. I impose on friends, I talk to myself, I toss away scenes, I mutter profanities and plan trips to Scotland, and eventually, I will see the tail of an external conflict peeking out at me from under a pile of clean laundry.

By then, I’ve often gotten a handle on the main characters’ defining traumas, and that sheds light on how to write the big black moment.

Creating a rough draft usually takes from eight to ten weeks, and then it’s on to polishing, polishing, polishing. I’m awful about talking heads/white room syndrome, echoes, oh, my sins are legion…. At some point, the manuscript has to go into cold storage while I work on other stuff, then it gets another buffing and goes into production.

I try to keep at least two, more often three projects going at once, so that if any one of them needs a rest, I can forge ahead on the others. I am happier working like this, and it seems to result in the most progress overall.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

GB. That’s a big question. My life experiences include being the sixth out of seven children in an academic family. I had to learn to use words early and well if I wanted to be noticed. I also had to learn to entertain myself, hence books and imaginative play. I’m a child welfare attorney, single mom, horse girl, animal lover, former musician, and I have a master’s degree in conflict transformation. It all goes in the pot, as does my belief in the power of loving and being loved.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

GB. I’m toying with a historical mystery series, mostly because I love to read them.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

G.B. One of the quotes I keep handy, because our business can be very unfair and daunting, is from Stephen King: “If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” Words to write by! 
Did you miss Part I, II of this wonderful Interview? Click here
http://graceburrowes.com/
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My BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

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The Queen’s Accomplice ~~ A Review

queens-accomplic-coverreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  reviews, authors, writing 5 out of 5 quills          A REVIEW
The Queen’s Accomplice
On Sale: October 4th

Susan Elia MacNeal plunks the reader down on the streets of war torn, bombed out London.  We can see and hear the determination of the British people as they pull together and try to overcome the ravages of war.  So how can it be that a serial killer is on the loose mimicking the infamous London ‘ripper’ from a previous century?  And targeting only women who are ‘doing their bit’ for the war effort; many of them secret agents for MI-5.

Maggie Hope is still working for the British version of the CIA. But, now she’s been dragged into a murder investigation. And it’s suddenly gotten very personal when her own acquaintances and friends are the victims.

As always, with a MacNeal mystery, there are a couple of story lines within one book and at the end Susan ties it all together with a tidy bow.  Fans of MacNeal’s Maggie Hope mystery series won’t be disappointed with this new offering.  I was engaged to the last page by Susan’s excellent writing, and now can’t wait for the sequel, The Paris Spy.

Did you miss the wonderful interview I had with Susan: click here
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes
Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Song of the Yukon, A new Novel by Trisha Sugarek

Song.cover_rev16JulyIt’s taken me 3 years to write this saga. Since it’s set in the 1920’s there was extensive research to be done about how life was lived ‘off the grid’ in Alaska. It’s jammed packed with interesting characters and adventure.

The old timers would tell you, ‘it’s a good yarn’ and I’m proud of it. Based on the true story of my aunt when she was a mere 17 years old, running away from home and working her way from Seattle to the wilds of Alaska.

Click here to purchase

Alaska was calling! LaVerne’s dream was to follow in Robert Service’s footsteps to the wilds of Alaska. At sixteen she was already writing her own music and she believed that her talent could only flourish on the back trails of the Yukon. Alone and impersonating a boy, she hires aboard a freighter, out of Seattle, and works her way to the north.

From boat rides on the Yukon and encounters with native tribes to filing homestead papers and working the land, LaVerne uses newfound frontier wisdom as a basis for expanding both her music and her perceptions: “No man owns what Mother Spirit does not freely give.” Black-eyed Joe told her. What a charming folk tale, LaVerne thought. I could use the story in one of my songs.”
It was here she learns the realities of frontier life that will shape her life, help her create music, and lead her in directions no woman has explored alone before.

‘Song of the Yukon covers more than music growth, more than homesteading in the wilderness, and even more than testing one’s abilities against a foreign environment. Most of all, it’s about one woman’s determination to achieve her dream against any odds – and it provides readers with not only a solid background in frontier experiences, but a sense of self and accomplishment that heroine LaVerne learns through hard experience. Song of the Yukon is a powerful saga, recommended for a range of readers. Thank you for the opportunity to look at your fine title! ‘~~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review ~~

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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  

                     Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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What are Writers? Crazy?

……..to want, to need to be writers??  I am happy (and nostalgic) to report that the world of writers has not changed all that much…..I came across these quotes and laughed.  Writers of the World!  We are not alone!

john steinbeck, authors, writing, quotes from famous authorsJohn Steinbeck:  ‘The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.’

 


Edna St. Vincent Millay
:  ‘A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his (or her)authors, quotes from famous authors, writing, writers, bloggers pants down….if it is a good book nothing can hurt you.  If  it is a bad book nothing can help you.’

famous quotes, famous authors, writing, writers

 

Somerset Maugham:  ‘There are three rules for writing a novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’

Trisha Sugarek ‘Writing is a lonely business.  You pour your heart and guts into the written famous quotes, authors, writers, writingword, often exposing what you’ve experienced in your own life.  You nurture it, feed it, trim its toe-nails, wash its hair, dress it up and send it out into traffic.’  more »

More Nostalgia…..the Roaring Twenties

I was sorting through my library of over 500 books and came across, of all things, my ‘baby book’.  Inside I found more photos of my mother, Violet, (Wild Violets, a novel) during her flapper days in San Francisco.  Most exciting was to find this newspaper clipping featuring her on the team of a semi-pro, female basketballthe roaring twenties team.  Sadly, I did not find the article. She saved enough of her earnings with the winning team to buy a bar and grill on Fulton Street in SF.

Geisha girl costume during Violet's roaring twenties yearsThis photo is from a costume party she held at her bar.

 

 

 

And this in her camping/hunting garb. No surprise, it resembles what the heroines of the day in Hollywood wore.th114DCWAM

Violet at a hunting cabin  Here she is sitting on the porch of the cabin.  She used to laugh and quip: ‘I had to sit all prim and proper because the zipper in my pants Violet at the hunt cabin circa: 1920'shad broken’.  Check out her boots.

Last but not least, here is a studio photo of Violet (on the right) with her sister, Gladys. She was a stunner and never wanted for men…always buzzing around and not always a good thing.Wild Violets, a novel
If you want to read more please check out my novel based on her life as a flapper during the hot jazz, cold gin, dance all night road houses, speakeasy days in San Francisco.  Available in e-books and audio.

 

Wild Violets, a novelSynopsis:

After documenting my mother’s colorful childhood in the primordial forests of Washington State, I wrote a story of Violet as a grown woman with children of her own. She has left her small home town in the Pacific Northwest to pursue a successful basketball career and with her earnings, she buys a bar and grill. She is a ‘flapper’ in every sense of the word; working all day and playing all night. While her teenage daughter raises her seven year old son, Violet is out on the town with her latest man de’jour. Dressed in her signature red dress, she is the toast of the town and owner of a speakeasy where she hosts the cream of San Francisco’s society, city politicians, bishops, and Hollywood celebrities.

But there is an underbelly of corruption, grifters, the mob, excess, and neglect in Violet’s life. Her two children are an afterthought and she chooses her men over their well being time and time again. Their childhood needs are always trumped by her self-indulgent desires. The two children are possessions that she can put down or pick up again on a whim, showing them off to her current beau or friends and then forgotten. And when they get in her way, she gets rid of them.
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!
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Celebrate Black History Month with Billie Holiday!!

Billie Holiday, black history month, African-American, people of colorPlaywright, author, Trisha Sugarek celebrated Black History Month with a musical, staged reading of her one woman show, “Scent of Magnolia”, A Tribute to the Life and Music of Billie Holiday.  Playing to a sold out house, the reading featured Krystle Pitts (as jazz singer, Billie Holiday) and Ben Rafuse (as Billie’s ‘piano man) on keyboard’. ‘God Bless the Child’ video from the show, click here:  https://www.facebook.com/writeratplay

black history month, billie Holiday, people of color,

Ben Rafuse, Billie’s ‘piano man’

Synopsis:
“Scent of Magnolia” tells the story of a young woman who rose above poverty, rape, bigotry, prostitution and imprisonment to become one of the most memorable and celebrated artists of the twentieth century. This one woman show portrays the life of a black jazz singer in America during the 30’s. The script does not dwell on the sensationalism of her addiction to alcohol and drugs but chooses, rather, to celebrate the whole woman and her music.

Billie Holiday, stage plays, scripts, monologues, jazz singer, segregrationBillie tells us not only her story, but the nation’s story. She interjects her tale with her most famous music as well as some of her more obscure songs. In her own words, she talks about her struggle to succeed in spite of the segregation of that time and the difficulties she experienced singing with the great bands, most of which were white men. Without self pity , she talks about the daily slings and arrows that are a part of bigotry. Billie takes complete responsibility for her life, her choices, and her actions. Her triumph was her music and her songs that will live on forever.

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A Review…..”Darling Beast” by Elizabeth Hoyt

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingFive out of five quills   A REVIEW   Darling Beast by Elizabeth HoytHoyt_DarlingBeast_MM

There is nothing quite like reading a good, ole ‘bodice ripper’.  1741, London, a gorgeous hero who can’t speak (oh, were they all like that) and a noble, single mother who is reawakened by this handsome man.  And this is another exceptional story from storyteller, Hoyt.

A MAN CONDEMNED . . .

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .

A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .

London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants-a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye.

I couldn’t find where Vauxhall Gardens ever burned down more »