The Terrible Trio Does Dialog with T.L.Costa,, 2nd from left moderator, and that’s Kristan Higgins on the far right.
RWA does not stand for ready, willing and able, at least not for us writers. RWA stands for Romance Writer’s of America. RWA knows how to travel. This year’s annual conference was here, in my hometown, New York City. I holed up at the Marriott Marquis for 4 days. For those of you who have never experienced this hotel, you will be in for a treat, especially if you like being on a cruise with about 2000 cruisers. The only difference is that instead of eating all day as you would on a cruise, you attend business meetings and workshops. The morning speakers were great, and the workshops were magical.
NY, NY a wonderful town
For the first time, I moderated a workshop. That meant I introduced the panel of speakers in one of the workshops. I loved doing that. I haven’t done any public speaking or teaching in a long time. It was fun having everyone’s attention and telling them about these speakers that were about to enhance their knowledge bank.
Regina Kyle, moderator &Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The workshops ran all day everyday, from 9:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. There was only a 45-minute break at noon. Hardly enough time to grab lunch or just miss it.
Jamie Beck selling all her books
Everyone was concerned about the elevators. No problem. All the elevators were automated. You push a button for your floor number on a wall panel, every elevator has a designated letter. And escalators between the first and ninth floor made it even easier to navigate. The hotel handled all 2000 writers well.
So, what was my favorite activity of the conference? Was it the Fun Home Broadway show? Dinner at Frankie and Johnny’s? The photo shoot with the amazing Marti Corn looking around with me around Broadway to have a great background in my photos? Getting my makeup professionally done for the photo shoot? The trade show for writers where some form of chocolate flowed at every table? Although all that was great, my favorites were my meeting with Gwen Reyes of Fresh Fiction and best of all was getting to know my chapter colleagues, meeting new authors and seeing two of our members, Patty Blount and Katy Lee’s names, on the marquee for the highest awards given to writers. They both were finalists in the Rita Award category.
Brownstone typical of NYC
By the time this great conference ended, we were exhausted and ready to go home.
RWA, thank you for an exhilarating experience.
Have you had a romance with New York City?
Federer & Nadal 2014
Borg & McEnroe 1980
Forget Federer & Nadal and Borg versus McEnroe. According to Marshall Jon Fisher who wrote Terrible Splendor, convincingly demonstrates that the greatest tennis match of all time was Gottried Von Cramm versus Don Budge in the 1937 Davis Cup semifinals. At our visit to the Newport Casino this past weekend, we took a tour of the newly renovated Newport Tennis Hall of Fame. Our tour guide Liz, an avid tennis player and former nun, knew her tennis history well. She spoke about Fisher’s book and told us that Von Cramm got a call from the Fuhrer (Hitler) before the match. He wished him luck, and said, “Win for the Fatherland.” Budge won that one, a year later Von Cramm disappeared. Knowing what we know, his disappearance makes you wonder, doesn’t it? This was a fascinating tale, and so is tennis history.
Played off that wall, Real Tennis circa 12th century
Tennis began with the use of your palm in France in the 12th century in the monastic cloisters. By the 16th century rackets appeared and was being called real tennis. Francis I of France (1515-45) was an enthusiastic player and promoter of real tennis, as it was called then. It was played indoors where the ball could be hit off the wall, like squash and racquet ball is played today. History has it that King Henry VIII was playing tennis when his wife Ann Bolin was taken away and beheaded. When he tired of them, he disposed of his wives in this uncouthly manner. Guess polygamy was not a preferred sport.
Between 1859 and 1865, in Birmingham, England, Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, combined elements of the game of rackets and the Spanish ball game Pelota and played it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872, both men moved to Leamington Spa and in 1874, with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital, founded the world’s first tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club. It made its way outdoors in 1874 and was played on grass.
This looks like serious tennis.
In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, designed and patented a similar game. His idea was to outline the territory, and have a net dividing the two different sides. He wrote an eight-page rule book. The court had an hour-glass shape with a 4’-8” net, higher than today’s 36” center height and 42″ at the net posts. The way it is today is pretty close to Major Wingfield’s ideas. Scoring is not though. He wanted a 1, 2, 3, 4 simple scoring, but we have 15, 30, 40, game. It’s more involved than that, but you’ll find out quick enough when you learn to play and get on that court.
hourglass tennis court, originally designed by Major Wingfield
Major Wingfield, Father of Tennis
Who was the Father of Tennis? A question on my written test in 1977 for the USPTA.* This image on the right is Major Wingfield, the Father of Tennis.
Remember white balls and wooden racquets?
Tennis Birthplace of first lawn tennis Edgbaston club
In order to become a professional teaching member of the USPTA, you must pass a written and on-court exam. I took the test, passed, and still have my certification to teach tennis. I did teach for many years, played too. Intense, but fun, met great people, great players, even did a watercolor painting for the USPTA’s 75th anniversary. Went to conferences, Forest Hills, sat in the best seats. But you know, you do not have to pass tests to play. If you don’t play, you are missing a great game, a sport that gives you fabulous competition, keeps those synapses growing, and good exercise while you swiftly run to hit the ball. There are ways to hold the racquet, stroke the ball, body positions are critical, hearing and seeing the ball, and how the racquet is strung all matter. The game of tennis is just like playing chess, but the physical part adds another challenge.
If you enlarge the image above, you’ll see numbers that identify the players.
Left to right – top to bottom:
Top: 1. Jimmy Connors, 2. Chris Evert, 3. Jack Kramer, 4. Billie Jean King, 5. Roscoe Tanner (serving), 6. Pam Shriver
Bottom: 7&8. Two anonymous players in backcourt, 9. John McEnroe, 10. Peter Fleming, 11. Arthur Ashe, 12. Fred Perry, 13. Rod Laver, 14. Althea Gibson, 15. Stan Smith
I don’t want to forget to mention a great woman and athlete, Althea Gibson, who coached me for three years, at the Northvale Tennis Club in New Jersey. Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) was an American tennis player and professional golfer, and the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. “She is one of the greatest players who ever lived,” said Robert Ryland, a tennis contemporary and former coach of Venus and Serena Williams. “Martina couldn’t touch her. I think she’d beat the Williams sisters.” In the early 1960s she also became the first black player to compete on the women’s professional golf tour.
Althea Gibson 1980’s
Venus & Serena Williams
Yellow balls, so you can see the balls when playing on grass. White got lost.
Watching an intense match from the stands is dramatic, who do you want to win, and why. It’s a tough sport. Takes a good number of years to teach your muscles how to hit that ball and keep it in the court and away from your opponent. There are different types of tennis surfaces, grass, clay, carpet (no longer used), hard court and wood. I have played on all the surfaces. They all play differently, the ball bounce is different depending on the player and conditions.
Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, RI
Borg & McEnroe, friendly foes today!
*United States Professional Tennis Association
Do you play tennis? What’s your favorite sport to play or watch?
Thanks for help from Wikipedia.
A patch of green in-between skyscrapers
On Wednesday, July 22, at 12:30 p.m., you are in for a treat in Bryant Park at the Reading Room series of the NY Public Library with Robyn Carr, Kristan Higgins, Elizabeth Hoyt, Beverly Jenkins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Meredith Wild. (If it’s rainy they will be inside the library).
Brooklyn, New York is a great place to grow up, with all that access to New York City and its parks. Next week I am going to the Romance Writers of America conference, where? New York City of course, with thousands of other writers. Some of who are going to be speakers in Bryant Park, the announcement is the opening of this blog. Reminding myself of its location, I found all this history, that well, I didn’t know. Most would agree, when you live in the tri-state area, you take it all for granted.
Bryant Park fountain
The location, known at the time as Reservoir Square, besides being a nearby neighbor of the now gone, Croton Distributing Reservoir, the park was the site of the 1863 draft riot and where, it was called in 1863, the Colored Orphan Asylum, burnt down. That’s a tidbit in my book, Indigo Sky. More than a tidbit, it’s an important part of my story, when my characters try to escape the burning building with the orphans in tow.
Bryant Park Carousel
From Wikipedia, here’s the scoop about the history of Bryant Park. It’s a 9.603-acre privately managed public park. It is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between Forty and Forty-second Streets in Midtown Manhattan. The New York Public Library forms the Eastern boundary of the park with its main entrance on Sixth Avenue. Bryant Park is located entirely over an underground structure that houses the library’s archives, which were built in the 1980s when the park was closed to the public and excavated; the new library facilities were built below ground level while the park was restored above it.
Table and sitting area
In 1686, when the area was still a wilderness, New York’s colonial governor, Thomas Dongan, designated the area now known as Bryant Park as a public space. George Washington‘s troops crossed the area while retreating from the Battle of Long Island in 1776. Beginning in 1823, Bryant Park was designated a potter’s field (a graveyard for the poor) and remained so until 1840, when thousands of bodies were moved to Wards Island.
The first park at this site opened in 1847 as Reservoir Square. It was named after its neighbor, the Croton Distributing Reservoir. In 1853, the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations with the New York Crystal Palace, featuring thousands of exhibitors, took place in the park. The square was used for military drills during the American Civil War, and was the site of some of the New York City draft riots of July 1863, when the Colored Orphan Asylum at Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street was burned down by an angry mob.
William Cullen Bryant bronze statue
In 1884, Reservoir Square was renamed Bryant Park, to honor the New York Evening Post editor and abolitionist William Cullen Bryant. In 1899, the Reservoir structure was removed and construction of the New York Public Library building began. Terrace gardens, public facilities, and kiosks were added to the park.
Ice skating in Bryant Park
The construction of the Sixth Avenue Elevated railway in 1878 cast both literal and metaphorical shadows over the park, and by the 1930s, the park was suffering from neglect and was considered disreputable. The park was redesigned in 1933–4 as a Great Depression public works project under the leadership of Robert Moses. The park was temporarily degraded in the late 1930s by the tearing down of the El and the construction of the New York City Subway‘s underground Sixth Avenue line.
On October 15, 1969, a rally attended by 40,000 people was held in Bryant Park as part of the nationwide Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. By the 1970s, Bryant Park had been taken over by drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless and was considered a “no-go zone” by ordinary citizens and visitors. From 1979 to 1983, a coordinated program of amenities, including book and flower markets, cafes, landscape improvements, and entertainment activities, was initiated by a parks advocacy group called the Parks Council, brought new life to the park.
Numerous events are hosted on the Great Lawn at Bryant Park. The Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, begun in the early nineties and now sponsored by HBO, brings a very large crowd into the park on Monday evenings during the summer. Various free musical performances are sponsored by corporations during the warm weather months, including Broadway in Bryant Park, sponsored by iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Media + Entertainment) and featuring performers from current Broadway musicals, integrated with content provided by event sponsors.
For you perusal, again, here’s the location of Bryant Park, located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and Forty and Forty-second Streets, Midtown Manhattan, New York City. I’ll see you there on July 22, at 12:30 p.m.
For more bits and pieces: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryant_Park.
Did you know that in 1863 a fee of $300 would exempt a man from the draft?
An important piece of American history is in this book
My guest today is author Bonnie Johnston. Her life-long interest in history and genealogy provided material for research and narrative writing that evolved into writing an historical novel based on the life of her ancestor, Anna Margaretha Mallow. Bonnie’s debut novel The Dark Side of the Mountain was published in November 2014 by Soul Mate Publishing.
Bonnie, where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing? Two high school English teachers encouraged my English major choice. My grandfathers shared tales of Indian raids and gave us history quizzes. This raised my curiosity about my ancestors. It led me on a journey of research and writing.
When did you first start writing? Writing has always been a passion. Especially long letters to family members and narratives about genealogy. Retirement from teaching gave me the time I needed to organize the several book chapters I had written. I discovered interesting tales of my ancestors, like the Fort Seybert massacre in 1758.
Beyond this wall are the graves of the 1758 massacred
When did you realize you wanted to write novels? Stories and documentation of the lives of pioneer women, rare during the 18th century, had to be written. I chose to write the story of a woman who was captured with her five children at Fort Seybert by the Shawnee Indians. A point of interest is her son, my ancestor, an early Ohio settler, who returned from six years of captivity in Chillicothe, Ohio.
View from atop Spruce Knob, highest point in the Alleghenies, the mountain range above the site of Fort Seybert
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? The novel took two years to write and another year to find a publisher.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? The process of writing and publishing has been long and tedious. Joy was found through the process because of connections with distant family who share my interest in the colonial period.
How do you organize your writing? I have no special process for writing. Some days I spend hours and other days I print out material and make notes. I do find that I prefer editing on paper with a black pen and then making changes on the computer.
What are you working on next? My second novel is about a woman who outlived three husbands, survived an Indian raid, lost her daughter, and was one of the first settlers in Dayton, Ohio. My third book, a collection titled Tales of Frontierswomen, will include a chapter about Anne Ballard, who was tied to a cannon in front of Jamestown during the Bacon Rebellion in the late 1600s. Another chapter tells the story of Sarah Pease, a Salem witch who managed to survive after a year in the Salem jail.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? When there’s time, I play bridge and tennis with my husband. We travel to visit our children and grandchildren who live many states away. This fall I will be speaking at several groups about my novel and the subjects of my research.
The Dark Side of the Mountain excerpt:
In the mid eighteenth century, a young couple named Michael and Anna Mallow arrive in Pennsylvania, two of the many who have left the Old World behind in search of a new life. Michael is ambitious, he wants his children to inherit a better world, and he very quickly grows out of the original homestead, tempted to go further west, to distant western Virginia where the land grants are bigger.
His wife does not want to move. To her, the journey from Germany to Pennsylvania was sufficiently arduous, and she is frightened by the whispers of unrest among the native tribes. But an eighteenth-century wife has little say in the major decisions in life, so reluctantly she agrees to her husband’s plans.
Their new home is smack in the middle of the war brewing between the French and English, with the displaced local tribes joining the French in a desperate attempt to wrest their lands back from the settlers. White colonists are murdered, women and children are abducted, and Anna lives with a tightening noose of fear round her neck – until the day when everything she feared would happen does, with her carried off to captivity with some of her children while the younger three lie dead.
Fort Seybert flying the British flag
This is a fascinating piece of American history. Bonnie is fortunate to be part of this important legacy.
Question of the day: What most do you remember about American history?
Riding habit 1864
If you are a writer, you research. Once you get on the road to discovery, there is no end. Sometimes though, your research doesn’t always point in the right direction. It’s sort of like looking in the dictionary for a word you can’t spell, but have to know how to spell in order to find the one you are looking for. For fashions of the past, you must know something about the era you are researching. You need a date, culture, fabrics, patterns, decorative arts, architecture and more. Your descriptions give authenticity and place to your story.
The discovery of photography around 1839 amazed folks, you could see on paper people you know looking like themselves and not moving. Before that, painted portraits were the only choice that only the wealthy could afford. Daguerreotype, ambrotypes, cartes de visite, tintypes and cabinet cards (all types of photographs) galleries popped up in the big cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia. In a short time every city had at least one gallery. Picture taking grew so fast, before long rural areas had galleries. Now it was possible to pass on family photos for all classes. Women’s fashions of the Victorian era both pleasures and horrifies us. Painfully corseted wasp waists, dirt-collecting trains, billowing hoop skirts, absurd and cumbersome bustles—outrageous hats-one sartorial excess succeeded another.
Women’s fashion of the 1860s, basic silhouette fit closely through the bodice to the waist, then the skirt widens into a full round or dome-shape. Armhole seams are placed below the natural shoulder on the upper part of the arm. Fairly crisp fabrics with enough body to enhance the fullness of the skirt, even though it is supported by a hoop.
Bustle dress c1870
Among the silks for better dresses, taffeta, plaid and striped patterns, and iridescent fabrics were popular. Day dresses were washable cotton or linen.
The bustle became more fashionable in the 1870s, but outfits for sports were devised by homemakers. Women had ridden horses for recreation as well as for transportation for a number of centuries. Women now participated in active sports, tennis, golf, roller skating, hiking, and even mountain climbing. Fashions changed to fit life styles.
This era was the last of the cumbersome costumes and breathe defying corsets.
Public Domain images: 1850s to 1880s.
Where do writers go to get their material? Do writers write from their imagination, or must they research everything? Writers, what’s your take on these questions?