Writing Historical Fiction is like Treasure Hunting

“Sure, ‘historical’ is a great idea, but why fiction?” you ask. For me, it has to be because of the ghosts. You see, I want to tell history from then, but it’s now. How to do that? And while you ponder the riddle of time and space, consider the focus of my next book of historical fiction, the haunted Hotel Belmar in Mazatlan Mexico.

This will be my fourth book. And,  I am excited about writing it. Why? Because  I am learning like crazy about this place.

Angel Flores in 1923

When I look back in time, especially after I have finished something, I see why events have happened.  So,  as I piece together the history of the Belmar in Mazatlan, I can see it alive and young through the eyes of those who experienced it that way, and realize that it is not too late because I have met the people to help me tell the story. A coincidence? And we bought a house on Angel Flores in the historical zone of Old Mazatlan.  The above picture is of our street, several years after the Belmar was up and running as the first Mexican luxury Hotel on the water.  It was taken in 1923 by American Edward Weston who, along with Tina Modotti, his model and a famous photographer herself,  made the  Belmar their home in Mazatlan.

The Great White Cloud in Mazatlán

Weston  wrote: “We found life both gay and sad, but always life — vital, intense, black and white but never gray.” Weston made a historic photo in Mazatlán, a classic called ” The great white cloud in Mazatlán”, labeling it one of his finest and most significant photographs, as it meant an artistic departure from figurative into abstract art, or negatives with intention as opposed to matter-of-fact records. I think about the ghosts in my writing just that way.

I am scribbling every day, reading dozens of books, and searching/translating the Internet for bits and pieces of facts and fancy, What fun. And along the way, I have learned some Spanish. Oh, I do love treasure hunting. Don’t you? Well stay tuned and I will share some gems with you to reflect on.


It will take me a year to complete this book.  In the meantime, order the historical novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, A Soldiers Journey.  Enjoy a sample reading below!

Front cover 6x9bleed size

The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audiobook at adbl.co/2f0UeOp       Published as a paperback next week!

 And now out as a paperback, Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon. Go to  amzn.to/2nasO9S

Also a Kindle book:

 

 

 


On Laureates, the Sungod and Trees!

The above picture is a composite of polkadotedflower.deviantart.com and Franceso Albani from 1615.

 

Hooray! Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon is finally formatted in paper and available on Amazon.com. Whew. It is great to have completed this, my third book and second novel—a daunting task. And now that I have made an audiobook of The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey, I know I can make Epiphany an audiobook too. I crown myself “Laureate of the Highest Order I Have Reached Yet!”

More crowns ahead.  I want to transform-branch out-radiate! I am not ready “to rest on my luarels.” Like I do when I write, I looked up the meaning of said saying, and found that I want to be like Daphne who originated “the look.” A good look for me! But let me explain. I hope you love stories like I do.

It seems that Apollo, the pre-Christian Greek god, loved the nymph Daphne who turned into a Bay Tree when he reached out to her. Voila! He embraced the plant, cut off a branch to make into a wreath to wear around his head, and declared the tree sacred. Of course such wreaths were given as accolades for lauded deeds like winning an Olympic game. Hence “laureates are recognized for completing some kind of wondrous task—like writing a novel. Resting on your laurels means laying back on what you have accomplished. Laying back does not thrill me.

I am hooked on rising up, Daphne style. Like a tree, I like to branch out.  Yep. It’s a fact that when a tree stops growing it begins to die. So, having tasted some success looking back on my own life, making sense of it and honing the skills to communicate my story, it is time to shift gears and begin again. Why? Because I want to be like Daphne the nymph. As long as the sun god shines on me, I am going to bloom. I like my companions in my writing group-their challenge, their support, and I know I belong because I can still give them something from my experiences to help them grow too. And then there is the excitement of researching my subject and putting together the ideas and stories around me into something new. And what I am not good at—the technology, the social networking, the marketing etc. etc.? Well that just means there is room for growth. And oh the view, the contacts, the heady warmth of Apollo coming close, the rays of the sungod shining through me—embracing me. Oh. What fun to learn.

No, the book is not the destination, but instead it is the funny thing that happens along the way to finishing it. Like the going is the getting there. Got it? Get  growing!

And just for the “lovely of it” here is the whole poem by Joyce Kilmer about a tree. The writer was a Daphne lover!

Trees  
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 ___________________________________________

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,

recently released in all e-book stores.

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audio book at adbl.co/2f0UeOp      Soon to be Published in paper.
finalist-shiny-web5star-shiny-web

Legendary High Flyers

Above image: massively.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/riders-of icarus

I remember the story of the bird that stopped singing when put into a cage. With that in mind, I want to write about those who let their spirits soar, smashing through limitations. They walk among us!

HIGH FLIGHT

By John Gilesppi McGee Jr.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gilesppi McGee bounded from the cockpit of his plane with a scrap of paper in hand. The 18 yr. old American pilot for the Royal Canadian Airforce had jotted down a poem he called High Flight. It began,”Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth”  Young McGee wanted to fly in the Battle of Britain so much that he illegally crossed Canada’s border and began flight training for World War II. Three months later the young pilot/poet was dead, tragically killed test flying a super marine Spitfire.

I first heard McGee’s poem recited by the President of the United States following the tragic loss of Challenger 7 and her legendary crew.

We shall never forget them nor the last time we saw them, as they prepared for their mission and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.”—President Ronald Regan

pedro-at-dawnMazatlan has her heroes!  Every morning just at dawn, I walk past the memorial to Pedro Infante, a legend in bronze, that sits on a bluff overlooking the sea and Mazatlan Mexico where he was born. Pedro was an aviation fanatic and died in the crash of a war bomber he piloted. Another bronze statue is set in Mexico City made from the bronze keys of his fans. Two other such statues reside in Mexico. Pedro’s fame increased after his death. As Mexican American author, Denise Chavez, in her book “Loving Pedro Infante” put it humorously, “If you’re a [Mexican], and don’t know who he is, you should be tied to a hot stove with a yucca rope and beaten with sharp dry corn husks as you stand in a vat of soggy fideos.” Why? Because his spirt soared.  He was a high flyer!

new-pegasus I created this image for my soon to be published book Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon which is about rising above fears.  It is my attempt to describe spirit that won’t be confined, as a silver Pegasus. My next book  will be about Mazatlan’s HOTEL BELMAR— the place of high flyers— fascinating  people who dared much, their fame increasing after death,  for such energy lives on. “We shall never forget them.”

Mazatlan was a favorite destination for Hollywood stars escaping prohibition and watchful eyes. Indeed, the Belmar was the first ocean front luxury hotel in Mexico that catered to the “tinsel town. ” John Wayne kept a room in the Belmar while he worked in Durango making movies. The Matinee idol Tyrone Power, a highly decorated Marine pilot in World War II, often played cards with the locals in the spacious game room.

0vt88-ieuieh1tpk5I found this picture of Errol Flynn high-up the mast of his beloved yacht that frequented the Mazatlan waterfront.  See it at The Hairpin.com: The scandals of Classic Hollywood: In Like Errol Flynn. I am collecting  more  pictures and legends of the Belmar Hotel in Sinaloa, Mazatlan, Mexico to share  in this Blog and in my new book.  Stay tuned…

 

 


Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,

recently released in all e-book stores.

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audio book at adbl.co/2f0UeOp      Soon to be Published in paper.
finalist-shiny-web 5star-shiny-web

The Power of the Animal

 Last summer, we adopted a young German Shephard dog by the name of Karma. I saw her picture on the Internet and fell in love with her pretty face. She had been abandoned in a kennel for a year and a half and it took a court order filed by a sympathetic soul to get her out. Karma means action you know, and reaction. Fast forward to life with Karma today. We go to the beach twice a day for a run and a swim. At first, she was afraid of the waves on Olas Altas Beach—the sound and fury of them as they crashed ashore. She had only known a chain-link fence that kept her in confinement. But now, she cries and trembles on the way to the beach as she thinks of the joy of being free to work a job! When I throw a stick out across the breakers, she bounds into them to fetch it. Even as the waves roll over her, she remembers her mission, and though the stick gets sucked and surged in the surf, Karma finds it using her considerable powers. It is something to see her parade with her stick. Triumphant. Pleasing me, doing what I could never do.

And I remember my little Arabian horse Gremlin. Back in my long ago Wisconsin life, when all means of rounding up the cattle on our ranch failed, and the men finally admitted that their 4 wheeled beasts were no match for 60 head of rangy yearlings, that is when the guys would come asking for help. Gremlin knew. He would snort and tremble with excitiment as I rode him out to face the herd of beasties. Just me up top  a little horse facing jazzed up young cattle that had suceeded in out manuevering 4 men on machines. And so, in our face challenging, “they” (the yearlings) would come forward in a line, breaking out each end in a dead run. But one by one, I watched their eyes ablaze in rebellion, widen in fear, then get docile, as my little horse came alongside, ears back, nose out, outrunning them, out turning them, until they obediently filed thru gates and into the corals like it was their idea. How Gremlin would prance and dance with pride, for he loved his job—his work—and I got to be part of it. For a little while, I had powers I did not have alone—the power of the animal. Amen.

attackdog

I finished my book Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon. It is out as a Kindle book:

amzn.to/2bFQnme

A reviewer calls it ” a story of endings and beginnings, heartache and humor, confusion and enlightenment.”

Over summer I learned how to make an Audiobook of my work of Historical Fiction set after World War I on my homeplace in Wisconsin: The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey.

Listen to an audio https://susancarnes.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/retail-audio-sample.mp3 Simply double click on this link and a new window will open.  Enjoy!

 

Endings and Beginnings

Last night, under a full Mexican moon, I watched lusty waves rise up flaunting emerald throats topped in foam, saw each one in turn roll over and crash spilling frothy bubbles a-shimmer in liquid glass onto Olas Altas Beach, as surfers, laughing children, families and lovers played in the ebb and flow of the great Pacific Ocean. Sort of like life. I thought. This place of beginnings and endings and goings on! And then I remembered a favorite song sung by a favorite singer Harry Chapin.

 

 

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown

The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around

All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why

The season’s spinnin’ round again the years keep rollin’ by

 

I thought about the season of winter spinning round again, remembering what I had accomplished over summer. Yes, I finished my book Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon. It is out as a Kindle book:

amzn.to/2bFQnme

A reviewer calls it ” a story of endings and beginnings, heartache and humor, confusion and enlightenment.”

 

Over summer I learned how to make an Audiobook of my work of Historical Fiction set after World War I on my homeplace in Wisconsin: The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey

Listen to a sample

Here.

 

Yesterday, I walked downtown to buy a frame for my latest oil painting. The old frame I found contains a canvas I can use to paint a new picture. I must get out my easel! And, as I trudged along carrying home my find, I thought about a new book rising up flaunting its throat of possibilities in my mind. What will this new season bring? Life is playing in the ebb and flow of beginnings and endings and I intend to jump right in and get into the swim.

And At the Top of My Bucket List Was “Make an Audiobook!”

I chose The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey to narrate and record an audiobook. Like my second novel, Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon, it was based on events from my past, but I developed it as historical fiction as well, so that readers would learn about Post Traumatic Stress, the First World War, and the trials, triumphs and tribulations of dairy farming in Wisconsin during and after the Great Depression. But as I read my own descriptions, spoke the dialogue of my characters including my father and mother and myself as a child, and recited the eulogy of the great barn that was the stage for the drama, there happened this miracle. How would I describe it? It was like entering into and directing a dream I once had. And although it took all the brain power I could muster to learn the jargon of audio, taxed the friendship I had with knowledgeable friends, and severely rocked my relationship with my partner who has little patience for me working the computer while he is chopping wood and doing other (what he considers) meaningful tasks, IT WAS GREAT FUN!

I think I finally have all the details correct on this 11 Hr. 10 minute production and will begin uploading it today. Then, there will be 5 to 10 days of scrutiny, but barring a computer crash, The Way Back Audiobook is COMING SOON!

Red-Room.com
Contributed by RedRoom.com

Here is a Review:

“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 

 

Plum Out of Luck

Write to Catch a Dream in a Bubble That Does Not Break

“If you are dealt a lemon, make lemonade,” they say. Well, Kindle Scout decided not to publish my book, so I decided to can plums. This after the racoons descended on our plum trees. Our poor recently rescued German Shephard is suffering from doggy Post Traumatic Stress after treeing all the coons. The racoon in the picture below got treed in plum tree heaven and munched all night to the dog’s bombastic dismay. Bill, having survived combat in Viet Nam, isn’t big at killing things. You can easily see his confoundment in the picture below, especially since he can’t remember where we hid the key to the gun safe.

coondog and Bill

So, instead of lamenting and beating my chest with disappointment and the despair that is oh too common among those of us #rejected by publishers, I have turned to  every day and needful things. The plums had to be harvested to avoid  tempting all our wildland  varmints who love the sweet and juicy. BiIl and I love sweet and juicy. And isn’t that what writing is all about anyhow? Preserving? Harvesting? Besides, I am working on an audiobook and can’t lose heart.

Hoping to get back to peaceful nights, back to sleep uninterrupted by  barking dogs, back to enjoying a yard uncluttered with fallen fruit,  I have “put by” plums in every fashion and in every glass jar. You know, jams, jellies, conserves, meat sauces, whole in honey. Like writing, it is a sticky and messy business. But when a thought or experience is contained,  writing is like catching a dream in a bubble that will not break! And to take the analogy a step further, in the form of an audiobook, it will be tasty on the tongue!

sideways looksm

 

While I puzzle over how to publish Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Soon it will be an audiobook as well as an e-book.

Here is a Review:

“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 

 

The Way Forward

The above photo is a modification of Photo 16 at <reed rummond.com>

Thank You

This is the last day to nominate Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon at     https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/113MLKNVIX6T

This morning, I followed the above link and saw that the book is termed”hot”. That means that on this last day, people are nominating this book, people in Mexico, Canada, far away New Zealand and everywhere people are starting over. On this last day of this campaign, I honor the way forward and those who blaze trails. Please nominate Epiphany.

Let me tell you about Epiphany and why I wrote it. Best I can!

By the time I started over in Oregon, I had over 50 years of schooling, Masters Degrees from several Universities, years of work in treatment centers for chronic pain, and addiction, years of teaching behavioral science and the arts, a lifetime of hard knocks seasoned by the love of animals and children, and yet I felt like I knew nothing. I wrote the book to say “thank you.” Thank you to the unlikely, unusual, amazing strangers who believed in me as I started over in Oregon. Thank you to Oregon herself, the inspiration of her pioneers and to the inner voice that said “Just do it.”  I was too afraid, too guilty, too —too—too until finally late in life, I was sick to death of my victim self, and faced into the unknown. Today I see people all over the world faced with starting over.  I hope you enjoy this book, and “thank you” to all of you who think it should be published.

I remember sitting in my office in Elementary School talking with a child who was telling me about the abuse she was experiencing, and feeling, along with the pain, the certainty that life would be different for her from that moment. I looked into eyes brave in the face of fear of the unknown. Eyes that trusted the way forward. And so I wrote this book to honor that kind of courage. Thank you, God for letting me share that moment.Epiphany Starting Oversm


While I wait to see if Kindle Scout will publish Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Soon it will be an audiobook as well as an e-book.

Here is a Review:

The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 

 

Down The Home Stretch

above image at https://www.etsy.com/listing/50873652/home-stretch-horse-racing-print

The Final Kick

Running long races, there is the need to muster a “last surge”. I well remember the end of Grandma’s Marathon– up that last hill in old Duluth and down, painfully down. The knees are gone and going downhill is dreadful, but there ahead, Lake Superior’s waterfront and the finish line is bordered by fans cheering me to cross it “going away.”

There was that time, that euphoric time, when I could catch everyone I could see. Ironically, it came just before what they call “the wall” through which I struggled with pain and flagging energy. Then as now, the shining Bayfront awaits. The end is near, and it is all downhill.

Life is like a horse race: Around the far turn and down the stretch. And that is where it counts. Just do it. Finish the things you have started, and do it with a flourish. With style. With all you’ve got!

I am currently recording an audiobook.  Both of my novels will be available in all formats. I am doing this myself and editing it myself. It is a steep learning curve for me, but it is fun to learn new things. Soon,  Kindle Scout will tell me if they will publish my book, and I thank all of you who thought it might be a good book—good enough to be published. Well, I promise you this. You will laugh and cry and agree that life is about putting it all together for that grand run down the home stretch!

Only 4 days left to nominate Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon at   https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/113MLKNVIX6T


While I wait to see if Kindle Scout will publish Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Soon it will be an audiobook as well as an e-book.

Here is a Review:

The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 

 

Shedding the Long Shadow of Abuse

Above image: hope_for_the_future_by_eddiecalz-d60f44i

Purpose

Epiphany is not just a pretty face. Sure it is classified by Kindle Scout as a “Romance,” and an “Action Adventure” but it is really a story about struggling out of the shadows toward the light. Please go to Kindle Scout, and nominate Epiphany to be published. Only 16 days left.                https://kindlescout.amazon.com/category/158566011?page=2

Birch in the Canyon 1

Years ago I took this picture of a birch tree in a canyon. Because it was so dark deep down, the birch tree grew up—up and—UP to reach the sun. It turned into this remarkable tree. It is an outstanding specimen among birch trees that usually mature at 40-50 feet in height. To me, this tree symbolizes people who live in difficult situations. Like trees, our purpose is to grow toward the sun. Thus enlightened by wisdom, we inspire others to overcome the shadows.



While I wait to see if Kindle Scout will publish Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:

“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

Magic Doors to the Unforgettable. Meaningful and Transcendent Moments

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