An Historical Journey

I have a dream to hop a train in Chicago and ride to Boston, where I'll begin my journey of history. After Boston, I'll see NYC, Philadelphia, and finally Washington, DC, all by train. Oh, and I won't be traveling alone. My youngest daughter (currently 22) will be with me.

I've been to these places at different times in my life.  My parents enjoyed traveling, and our vacations were usually two weeks of seeing everything there was to see on our way to our destination, at our destination, and on a different route back home again.  I've visited 48 of the 50 states, Canada and Mexico twice, and Havana, Cuba.  If I'm lucky enough to someday travel to Alaska and Hawaii, great!  If not,

I'm okay with that.  And while I went to Boston, Philly, and DC when I was almost too young to remember, and I've been fortunate enough to visit NYC twice and DC a second time, I want to go back.  There are still far too many things that I don't remember seeing, didn't get to see, or have a desire to see again.

Why are these particular places on my list to visit and revisit?  I blame Nick Cage and National Treasure 1 & 2.  Of course they were fiction, but the places the clues in the story took them ignited my interest in early U.S. History.  The movie made them more real to me than reading about them in a history book, and now I want to see them again, now that I know and understand the importance of them.

Sure, sipping Pina Coladas on a beach in Barbados would be wonderful--and I do have a friend who lives there!--or that trip to Greece (especially via cruise ship) or even a cruise in the Bahamas all sound dreamy.  And I sure wouldn't turn down any of them and a hundred other places.  (Pat, I'm keeping that Maine thing in mind. ☺)  Some of those would allow for some time to write or read, but right now a vacation of any length to anywhere sounds heavenly.  I guess I'll have to settle for a trip to Worlds of Fun in a couple of weeks and be happy.  Not that being happy will be hard.   My youngest is going.  So is my oldest, next to oldest, next to youngest and two granddaughters.  I really can't ask for more. ☺

Bon voyage!

From The Shores of Jolly Old England to The Pyramids of Egypt (Melissa Robbins)

If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be?  Would you write or read there, or do something else?

            I have traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, Dublin, Ireland, and Moscow, Russia among my more exotic locations, but there wasn’t time to write.  Too busy visiting the sites, dancing in them, or building them.  Where would I like to go?  England.  Even though my story takes place in the beautiful country, I haven’t been there.  To describe my settings, I use photographs from travel books and online, movies, and Google Earth.  I think England has changed a wee bit since WW2, so reading diaries and books from that era helps.  Which is why I love reading books in general.  They transport us to worlds we may never get to see. 

            So when I go, I’ll write, but it will be for recording sounds and smells one can’t get from photographs and movies.  I want to visit the coastal town of Hastings that has a striking resemblance to the village in my story. 

            I will drag my husband to the RAF Museum in London to see Spitfires and Hurricanes and 11 Group Ops Room.  Sweet!  Let’s not forget the Imperial War Museum where they recreated the sights, sounds, and smells of a blitzed London street.  It’s one thing to read about another person’s participation.  It’s entirely different to experience it for yourself.  Although I have to admit I may have a sense of what it felt like with tornado sirens going off, waking up my kids and hurrying them to the basement.  I can only imagine as we wondered if the tornado will hit our house, if Englanders felt the same way as doodlebugs flew over their heads. 

           The RAF Tangmere museum is also on my list.  Tangmere was an aerodrome in Hellfire’s Corner that got a brunt of German bombs.  I wonder if they would let me ring the scramble bell.  “Don’t yell.  Ring the bell and run like h***!”  Probably not.  

            Of course, our trip to England will coincide with The Blitz Party.  What’s that you ask?  An insane party in London that usually occurs once a month with a required 40’s dress code (lots of chaps in uniform), live swing and jazz music, and loads of dancing. 

            Eventually, I want to send my characters to the Mediterranean since that’s where my grandfather fought in WW2.  Ever since my sixth grade teacher showed us pictures of her exploring Egyptian tombs and monuments, I have wanted to go too.  That's also when I started reading Agatha Christie books.  So much mystery and adventure to be found in North Africa. 
          Hmm, I think I need to renew my passport. 

Places to Go, Peeps to See (Penny Rader) 

If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be? Would you write or read there, or do something else?

There are many places I’d like to visit before I die (Montana, Wyoming, the Pacific Northwest, the Carolinas, Tennessee, New England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada (Wheel of Fortune gives away a trip to the Canadian Rockies that looks so awesome).  For years I’ve longed to take a long cruise to Alaska (though it’d probably turn out that I’m sea sick).  I’d love to take a girls’ road trip with my mom and sisters to visit our aunt and cousins in Arizona.  All I lack are the resources and energy. (I'm in dire need of some energy.)  I am hoping my middle sister will be able to join my mom and me when we visit my baby sister in Colorado for a few days next month. 
But…right this minute… if I had the resources, I’d love a week all by myself in a lovely, roomy inn with delicious room service and wonderful views.  I’d read and sleep and nibble and watch movies to my heart's content and then read and watch movies and sleep and nibble some more. And maybe check in with my characters and see if they're speaking to me yet.  If not, I'd do some writing exercises and find inspiration from pictures I've clipped or pinned (love Pinterest!)  But mostly, I'd refill my well by reading and sleeping and nibbling and watching movies.    


So...if you could go anywhere, where would you go, who would you see, what you do there?

Some ME Time

If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be? Would you write or read there, or do something else?
 That is a tough question for me.  As a small town, Kansas born and bred kind of gal, I haven't traveled much at all.  There is a huge world out there beckoning with so many places to go and things to see and do.

I have to admit I've never really wanted to travel the world.  Getting a passport and going through all the stress of that sort of traveling has it's rewards to be sure.  Scotland, Ireland, Australia... I could go on and on.  All of those places would be amazing to see.  Those far away places do tempt me, but I rather like the idea of keeping my feet in the USA and seeing all the amazing and beautiful places this country has to offer.

 The first place that pops into my mind when I think about getting away to somewhere is Chicago.  I have friends there that I've never actually met and I'd love to spend some time with them as well as see some of that part of the country.  I'm pretty sure there would be no reading or writing going on.  There would be research though.  Seeing new things and getting ideas for future stories would be on the agenda.

Another place that would come very close to beating out my hope of seeing Chicago, is my dream to some day stay in a private and very secluded beach house.  Relaxation and 'me' time would be the only goal there.  Relaxing on a deck that overlooked a great view of a sandy beach.  Waves lapping against perfect, smooth sand... a gentle breeze.  Me, a notepad, a tall glass of something cool to drink and a comfy place to just relax and enjoy the view.

If I could go anywhere in the world my own private beach house would be it.  You're all invited but you have to bring something along that will make our stay even more fun.  Anyone wanna join me?

Greece is the Word

It's hard to remember a time when Greece, the cradle of Western civilization, hasn't fascinated me.  There very little about Greece that wouldn't interest me, from the food to the ancient architecture to the beauty of the sea.

One of the first things I remember about Greece was in one of the many Little Golden Books I had as a child.  One book in particular had clothing from different countries around the world.  Two were especially my favorites: The kimono in Japan and the fustanella Greece.  What little girl wouldn't be fascinated by a picture of a man in a pleated skirt, similar to a kilt, and fuzzy balls on his feet?  I was too young to read the words that described the items, but that didn't stop me from choosing it as a favorite.  Originally Albanian, the "uniform" was adopted as a garment for the Presidential Guard, an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

From that funky kilt, my passion grew for more things Greek. Who hasn't heard of the Trojan horse and Helen of Troy?  The stories of Ancient Greece and places such as Mount Olympus, the home of the 12 Olympian Gods, have fascinated me since childhood.

I often wonder what it would be like to actually see the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena.  The temple is archaeoastronomically aligned to the Pleiades, a star cluster known as the Seven Sisters.  I can only imagine walking the grounds of the rest of the Acropolis of Athens, built upon a flat-topped hill.  Even today, the architecture of the 5th century can be seen in the buildings of today.

But it isn't just the ancient buildings and the mythology and history of Greek that calls to the 17.5 million yearly visitors.  Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world, with several islands, of which Crete is just one.  Greece has land borders to the north and east (Albania, the Republic of Macedonia,   Bulgaria, and Turkey), while the Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.  Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains.

There are many things in our everyday lives that are related to Greece.  Wine (Dionysus was the God of Wine), baklava, pita bread, gyros, olive oil and the recent popularity of Greek yogurt are just of few of the foods with Greek roots.  Even the herb Thyme is mentioned in Homer's Odyssey.  Writers and philosophers of Greece include Aesop, Socrates and Plato, just to name a few.

So this is my dream, although I don't expect it to come true.  But who knows?  Maybe someday I'll spend a week in the location I'd most like to visit:  Greece!

Geography as Destiny?

I’m taking a left, sort of metaphysical, turn on this month’s topic.  Instead of considering where in the world I would go, I’ve decided to talk about where our characters come from as in their back-story.  This was prompted by a brief quote I had saved in 2010 and found--while looking for something else to use to spark off a blog this month..

“Anthropologists claim geography is destiny. Which means where we set our stories will shape our characters in fundamental ways. How do you decide which setting you need for your type of story?”  Does geography determine who and what or why our characters are the way they are?  (I found in doing some googling that in the real world there is a vast, multitudinous debate on all stands pro and con on geography as destiny.  I am not a proponent of any views, just an explorer!)

One book I discovered (which I neither recommend or contest because I have NOT read it) Power of Place by Harm de Blij, really got me thinking because of its Table of Contents--thanks to Amazon’s Look Inside.  Some of the chapter titles in Place-- “Imperial Legacy of Language; Fateful Geography of Religion, Rough Topography of Human Health, Geography of Jeopardy, Same Place-Divergent Destinies; Power and the City, Promise and Peril in the Provinces,” started me thinking about how I choose my characters’ backgrounds.  I am taking the topics far more literally than the author.)

In my Honour series, André Ribeymon, Baron de la Croix is a French émigré whose parents were killed by a mob in France during the Reign of Terror in the early 1790’s.  He was six at the time and was rescued and taken to England by his aunt. She weds an earl and they raise the boy and his sister.  The earl was a British agent and de la Croix admires and respects him.  André decides to follow his example and becomes a British spy working to overthrow Napoleon.

Then there is his counterpart, Donatien.  He is slightly older than André but was born and reared in France.  Born on the "other-side-of-the-blanket" and raised in a dissolute aristocratic household he comes to admire survival.  As an adolescent he was part of the “mob” and as an adult has become a master spy working for Napoleon, or perhaps more correctly, for his own advancement via Napoleon or whomever he can use.

These two men speak the same languages, their health is equally good, they both deal with jeopardy in many different forms, reside mainly in the city albeit one in London and the other in Paris and are familiar with the provinces of both countries.  They began their lives very much closer geographically than they realize.  Are their adult decisions merely Same Place-Divergent Destinies?  In the case of these two men I believe it was more a matter of who raised them than of geography although the political geography did have a huge influence and open possibilities neither would have had otherwise.  One grew up within  a sound family life with examples of moral living and the other had the exact opposite.  They both have chosen “good” but its definition is very different for each.  But I do need to add that Donatien, a totally amoral unflinching sort, really surprised me when I was writing Honour's Redemption in that he showed a glimmer of a heart.  It will be interesting to see how that develops, or does not, in book five.

Does it matter what setting our characters come from?  Does it make a difference in who they become?  It does to some extent just like where I was raised had an effect on me and the kinds of characters I create.  I don’t think its nature versus nurture but a combination of the two that mold a person.  My experiences and beliefs create different characters than yours would even if we were both given the same basic character.  Agree?  Disagree?  Why?

New York, New York!

Pat Davids here.
This month we'll be talking about where we'd like to spend a week.
 Oh, the places I'd love to spend a week. Alaska, Washington State, Montana, Maine, Europe, Wales, Scotland, Cancun, Fiji, Africa, Holmes Co. Ohio, the list is endless. I could blog every day this month and not finish listing them.

So, I'm going to talk about where I'm off to next in my globe trotting life. I'm going to New York.
The Big Apple,
The City that Never Sleeps. (Is that New York? I'm not sure.)

Anyway, here is my delimma and my question. I only have four days in the Big Apple. What shall I see? Have you been there? What would you suggest? Central Park by horse drawn carriage? The Statue of Liberty? Times Square? A Broadway play? Ground Zero? Ellis Island? The Harlequin Offices? The Empire State Building?

Do you see my problem here?

If I stayed a month I might do it all, but not in four days. Especially, since one day will be taken up by the Book Expo of America where I will be signing at the RWA booth. How cool is that to have a book signing in New York?  So what if 1000 other and more famous authors will be there. Patricia Davids is going to be there.

So help me pick and choose. What would you go see and why if you had a week in New York?