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Digging Up Bones

The sea is the largest cemetery, and its slumbers sleep without a monument.” “All other graveyards show symbols of distinction between great and small, rich and poor: but in the ocean cemetery, the king, the clown, the prince and the peasant are alike, undistinguishable.”

—George Bruce, 1884, St Andrews

As I walk along the entrance wall of Panteon No 2,   I am aware that the real graves are located inside.  But all along Ave. Gabriel Leyva, markers of Mazatlan’s heroes form a line  that once faced Mazatlan’s safe harbor. City fathers, philanthropists, and notable women are named, their contributions extolled on tall impressive monuments that stand in “honor’s row” along with those who sailed the blue Pacific. Though the waters are now contained by the seawall  blocks away, it is a fitting tribute that announces “Who is Who in Panteon No 2.”

I want to remember what happened here!

Even though I like to visit this cemetery, see the symbols and statues over each grave, and wonder about that  lifetime, the earliest dates on the stones are from the late 1800s. There must be earlier burial sites since there were some 3000 people at the start of the 1800s.  I want to find them and connect the dots. It seems that writing about ghosts in my new book, I fell under the spell of the old. It is dangerous, this “digging up bones,” it makes you want to know the rest of the story.

I am lucky because I now have a partner to work with who is a master at research. Bette Schwarz welcomes me into the fold of the curious “wanna know mores.” She works at night translating old documents, trying to understand the meaning in the Spanish words. It is map making in reverse, tracing the way back through history to the way it was then. And Mazatlan is so full of way-markers and clues. Lewis Carol wrote in Alice in Wonderland that “it is a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.” Wow. How timely is the idea that we can learn from the past and maybe do better! And so I am going to walk the route back in time that Bette has laid out for me and test that idea. How cool! Bette tells me that “the information a genealogist finds must be shared with others.” I like that—the kind of redistribution where nobody loses. It’s riches all around. She has been reading Oses Cole’s “Dictionarios,” (2006) and I have articles that indicate:

The first organized panteon in Mazatlan was located approximately between the streets 21 de Marzo, Teniente Azueta, Doctor Carvajal and Canizales and functioned until the  mid-1840s. But as the century passed, new people with no memory that it was a burial site came to build farms and then homes in the neighborhood. When digging-in foundations across these four blocks, human remains surfaced,and the place came to be called  “Barrio de las Calaveras,” “The Place of the Skulls.” Finally, there only remained above ground the memorial owned by the Romanillo family.

The first official cemetery (Panteon No.1) was built on the outskirts of Mazatlan, where the livestock  grazed the meadow, hence the name  La Plazuela del Burro. It was between what is today Germán Evers and Hidalgo streets.  It was here on the Donkey Plaza in  Panteon No. 1 that one of the most controversial characters of the port was buried: the famous “Picaluga” of Genovés origin who also called himself “Juan Passador” and according to the anecdotes of that time his tomb was cursed. Here also, The “should have been famous”  Birdman of Mazatlan, Andrew Jackson Grayson was buried in the Protestant section, separated from the Catholic gravesites by a wall. With the opening of the Panteons Nos. 2 and 3, in 1870 and 1909 respectively, the city stopped burials in the first municipal cemetery.  At that time the land was owned by the German Welfare Society of Mazatlan, then represented by Federico Unger, who donated the property in 1921 to build a park there in 1924.Today it is covered over by the Plazuela Angel Flores and the school of the same  name. 

I set off to find all the oldest graveyards, to get a feel of the past, and see how they fare today. And, I’m taking my German Shepard dog Karma with me. You know-in case of ghosts seeking revenge or trying to win out in the battle of life and death!!!!!! Bette quotes a wise person saying we die three times. First at death, second at burial and lastly when forgotten. So who remembers and what’s shakin’ in these less traveled  places?

Surprise!

Memory is alive and well but hidden from non Spanish speakers and  my untrained eyes. I meet several living in the Barrio who dis-believe tales of graves in the neighborhood, and some who are shocked that foreigners are asking to know such secrets. But the nearby  Chapel Miraculous proclaims with it’s processions that “a city without traditions is a city without history. “Let the circle connecting times and hearts be unbroken.”

In my next blog, with the help of Bette Schwarz and Cheryl D’Angelo ( a kind friend and fellow walker who speaks Spanish and is too polite to say “No”) I hope to crack open this mystery. The strangest thing though—the deeper I get into these things, the more questions I have! Until next time, then, when “Them bones them bones gonna walk around!”

New recruit Cheryl D’Angelo: alive with enthusiasm!

Buy Now:

Hotel Belmar: the Ghost Has the Key

is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats at: https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

ISBN:978-0-6921 139820 https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

The Author hopes to have books at the First Friday Artwalk in Mazatlan. Click here to read reviews. Until then, going fast.

Other books by S.K Carnes:

ISBN:978-0692-84685-8 amxn.to/2nasO9S
SBN:987-0692-85172-2 http:bit.ly/SoldiersJourney Available in paperback, as an audiobook and e-book Silver Medal from Readers Favorite
ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author

By The Way

BUY NOW: https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

Hotel Belmar: the Ghost Has the Key is finished and available from Amazon as an e-book or paperback. Click here to order it. Go to my website: https://susancarnes.com and click on the “Books” menu to read a synopsis and review of this historical novel.

Joaquin Lopez and I will be giving a Presentation at 3:00 on the 16th of December at El Recreo at 209 Constitución in El Centro. Please come! The book truly is overflowing with information yet only scratches the surface. As I wrote it, I was constantly energized over new information. But my wise editor warned me not to include one more discovery. “Enough already!” With so much more to say,  I packed the “Notes” section of Hotel Belmar, often called “Research” with stories that are books in themselves.

By The Way,

still so many untold tales call to me, promising intrigue and enlightenment.  Wouldn’t you like to know the rest of the story of places and people? Ah —but let me feather-up the nest before asking you to sign up for further adventuring.

I grew up listening to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.” Try this link to hear him again with the rest of the story of a writer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPOizT9WzdI (especially apt in this case.) I am hoping you enjoy this sort of thing. Learning these little secrets  is a little like finding a treasure at the base of the rainbow.

And that is what I want to offer. A treasure chest of legends. And the ghost has the key! Subscribe to this blog and I will bring you along across the rainbow bridge to explore the less visited byways of Mazatlan and Friday Harbor too (both places are home to me). And there will be more ghosts in some of the back alleys, hovering about once famous  buildings, waiting for you with little known tales of  “once upon a time. ”

 

 

Hotel Belmar: The Ghost Has the Key

 

HotelBelmar_WhiteDove

Have you ever wished along with me, to know stories about the old hotel with a commanding view of historical Olas Altas Beach, the Hotel Belmar? But who could tell these stories? All around the Hotel, the streets of the Historical Center are named to honor Mexican heroes. Who were they? Two years ago, I decided to find out. But where to start? Who would remember? Who would help me? Did the famous ghosts of the Belmar give interviews?

The words of many Mexican songs tell such tales. Oh to know the significance of which a Nation sings!  Legends and superstitions layer Mexican culture. Unsolved mysteries. Secrets buried with the dead in mysterious graveyards and sunk along with the gold and silver treasures of lost ships in the sands of Mazatlan’s famous harbor.

Hooray. OUR book, Hotel Belmar: The ghost Has the Key, is finished. It contains facts flavored with a plot about real people, spiced with reported ghostly encounters all stirred together into a history soup to savor: delicious, fun, horrifying, touching, profound and nourishing. And the ghosts pictured are not ephemeral mist-shrouded or demonic. See these tellers of untold tales in crystal clear black and white.

Yes, OUR book, like the hotel, is the collaboration of the talent of many nations: a brilliant graphic designer in Bosnia put finishing touches on the illustrations, generous Mexican historians contributed pictures, conjecture and facts, Canadians edited and formatted, and the heroine is as American as apple pie. This is an unconventional effort at communicating history with no political ax to grind. Like the sailors of many nations watching battles at sea along Mexico’s western coast, I was awestruck over the unfolding spectacle. Find it as a paperback here with a free Kindle edition,  or as an ebook here.   

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!


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

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.