Patience is a virtue. Supposedly. Well, I guess. It always brings me back to the old printed poster we saw in the “head shops” of the early 1970’s.
My mother started looking for information on her father a long time ago. She found a few things, but not much and she had this romantic memory of him. If you refer back to my posts on “Desperate Times,” you’ll see some things about her father that we finally dug up. Unfortunately, most of this we found after she passed away.
If you read that earlier post, you’ll also note that Lee Frank Harrison spent at least two stints in the old Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana. I stumbled on the prison admit record in the process of searching for any kind of record of him.
I don’t think my mother knew that Lee Frank was in prison when she was an infant. All she remembers, as I recall from her stories, is she got hand-made moccasins from him that she wore and kept in her cedar chest all her life. It turns out that Lee Frank made those in prison as one of the craft projects the prison encouraged.
Anyway, a couple of years ago, my wife and I bought genetic/DNA testing kits for our family. I followed instructions on mine and sent it in thinking this would help with clearing up things in my family history. I first found my mother’s sister’s children and their kids in East Tennessee. That wasn’t hard or unexpected. Also, it’s amazing how some facial characteristics so memorable in my aunt carried through to my cousin’s children. But nothing prepared me for what happened next.
The other day I received a note on the genetic site from someone who thought they might be related. I checked the DNA comparison and went ahead and shared my info with them. What got me going were the names she mentioned. We messaged back and forth a few times, then she shared my information with her aunt and a sister and we all emailed and messaged back and forth.
It turns out that I now have a whole bunch of new cousins. Lee Frank seems to have been a rather opportunistic young man. He met and possibly (don’t have a record yet) married a woman when he was about 26-27 in Helena, Montana. This was after he paroled for the burglary sentence. They had two children, a boy in 1925 and a girl (don’t have the date).
This relationship didn’t last long, because Lee Frank left the first little family and started another with my grandmother. And fathered my aunt and mother. The first wife could not support two children on her own, so she put the son up in the Catholic children’s home in Helena. She came back for him when he was about 9, according to my new-found cousin. This would have been just about the same time that grandmother dropped my aunt and mother off at the same Catholic children’s home in Helena.
Grandmother, though, dropped them off for completely different reasons. She’d met a rich man and he didn’t want children around. So the story goes.
So, my aunt and mother missed getting to know their half-brother. It turns out this half-brother served in the military, married, had 10 children, and drove truck most of his life. My cousin said her brothers worked in the lumber industry and “were tough.”
Lee Frank changed or switched his name around a lot through his life, and this made tracking him through official records difficult. Stories from my new-found cousin’s family hold that Lee Frank got into more trouble with the law and married a few more times before passing away.
With more information now, I’ll find more records and trace Lee Frank’s history. No, it isn’t a pretty picture, based on what I have now. Sometimes, I wish Mom got to find out more before she passed away. Sometimes, I’m glad she didn’t find out things and get her romantic memories of him dashed.
But, now I have more family to meet, learn from, and get to know.
(*Note: I’m only using Lee Frank’s name to limit confusion. The family chart is now extremely complicated and it’s simpler to not use other names. Thanks for understanding.)
Fraud is a deceit, trickery, or con perpetrated for profit, according to Dictionary.Com. We hear about fraud all the time, maybe not with that particular term, but it all boils down to the same thing. It feeds on human greed.
Greed, of course, is one of the Seven Deadly Sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth). Boy, are we going to have fun with these over the next few posts.
I sometimes think we missed getting an eighth sin in there. Gullibility.
Fraud includes scams and things that prey on human frailties and the most common frailty is gullibility. Most recently–on Facebook–a post being share around claims some random Facebook users will be selected for various prizes from the Ellen Degeneres show. When I see someone I know posting these things, I let them know it is a fraud and to delete it. In this case, Facebook removed the post in question and I didn’t get any copies of the text for analysis. Sorry.
But, that’s my old IT security dude coming out. We need to look at the kinds of messages that gets folks to share, forward, repeat these scams. One, they claim to be from some pop-culture, popular organization or individual. Two, they offer “too good to be true” prizes, gifts, miracles. Three, all you have to do is like, share, copy/paste/post, or otherwise perpetuate the hoax.
It doesn’t seem to matter there’s no possibility of getting one of the prizes mentioned just for liking or sharing it. Folks get sucked in every time. It is no surprise. Every part of the fraud message is designed to get a greed, lust, pride, wrath, envy response–depending on the goal of the message. The perpetrators of these had a lot of practice. Remember the old chain emails and Nigerian 419 scams in the ’80’s and ’90’s?
How does this translate to our writing? Well, character. We build characters to reflect the human condition. And most humans are pretty gullible, among other things. Based on what we see on Facebook, a few choice turns of phrase easily manipulate people. Temptations that feed on our greed, lust, or pride.
A fellow author, Thomas Waite, recently released his new novel Shadowed (this is an adult-themed novel, so you’ve been warned). The main character, Dylan, is my case in point. Dylan’s main flaw is his gullibility (Thomas, you can argue this, he’s your character). The bad guy sucks him into situations that compromise him, his future, and his love interest, and could have ended his life. He makes bad decisions. Repeatedly. That’s about all I can say without spoiling a great read for you.
But the character Dylan is like most of us, woefully unprepared for the bad guys. We don’t recognize the signs, the language, the dangers. Until it is too late. On Facebook, the end result is often a compromised account. In real life, the end result may be yellow tape around a crime scene and a chalk marked silhouette.
Apply the Flaw
Isn’t this the stuff of thrillers, though? The flawed main character, the long con, the love interest, the really bad guy.
So, apply the flaw. Make the main character gullible. Use what you see on Facebook for examples of how to dupe and manipulate. Think like the bad guy. What can the bad guy get the main character to do? How will he/she approach it? Have some fun. I think Thomas had a lot of fun writing Shadowed.
Remember. The good guy has to have some redeeming quality that allows him to win out in the end. Just saying.
Traditional Haiku is the 5-7-5 format. Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the last. The last line is supposed to be the cut or slash to provide contrast to or a shift from the first two lines.
If you look it up in Wikipedia, you’ll find better descriptions. I like it because of the challenge to create a vision and experience in a brief, concise, and intense set of words–seventeen syllables.
If you think that is easy, check the Wikipedia entry and they try it yourself.
I’m working on a project that involves Haiku in my own style. I call it Biker Haiku. Most of the poems were composed in my head while on the road. Flavored by the landscapes, weather, and encounters, the little bits of verse help package the experience of the journeys.
Long, straight desert road Flickering desert mirage Mountains float ahead
I currently have 30+ little poems in the project. More will come. At some point, I’ll take the entire collection and make a little ebook. In the meantime, I’ll continue to crank out little verse snippets after rides.
Like this one:
Cool October day Ride along a river road Through golden tunnels
Yes, the other day was a cool day in October. A friend and I rode our motorcycles along a beautiful river and through incredible falls colors you only get in the Pacific Northwest. Western Larch (also called Tamarack)–an evergreen that actually changes color in the fall–lends a bright golden hue to the landscape.
This time of year can be magical in the changes, the colors. We’ve been fortunate the fall colors came before the heavy rains that knock off all the leaves. The mornings start cold and often frosty. Mountain roads might retain some of that frost in shaded curves. Sometimes leaves fall like orange snow as you ride down country roads.
Pull the images from your mind and pack them into seventeen syllables. It’s an exercise in brevity and art.
(Note: somehow, I managed to publish this before it was read. Fat finger error, evidently.)
The publishing industry is much like the old hardware stores, where walls of tiny little drawers house little parts of an endless variety. Someone in those old stores knew how to find even the most obscure part, screw, or nail. It was a gift.
Those old hardware stores are gone. But, in the publishing industry, those categories are still around. And they change. Sometimes they change year to year. Sometimes they change from one bookstore to another. Even online booksellers have different, often incompatible, categories.
Amazon allows an author to set up the categories for his/her book(s). As the author dives into this, though, restrictions rear their ugly head. Certain topic areas can’t be included in certain age categories, for example. You can’t start with science fiction, and roll down to teen or young adult and then Christian. You have go another way.
Then there are limits to how closely you can define your genre via the categories. Some allow only two or three levels.
When Sudden Mission was first published, the publisher set the primary category as “middle grade.” I thought that included teen or early teen. Silly me. I found out that this put my books in the classification of children’s books. I don’t think the Spirit Missions books qualify as children’s books.
So, when I re-launched the books after that first publisher closed their doors, I set the initial categories as teen or young adult. Then I had to struggle to get things to accept Christian and science fiction as a genre. What fun.
Sometimes the whole category things gets a bit maddening. I grew up reading science fiction, but that’s not all. I read biographies, mysteries, historical novels, history, drama, and classic literature. Even Shakespeare’s plays. My favorites were Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and Midsummer Night’s Dream. So, how does one categorize all that?
Or, how important is it to categorize all that?
Could the entire motivation to read something is for a good story. Interesting and compelling. A good story.
Maybe the only category we really need for books is “a good story.”
P.S. The summer and early fall have been very busy with travel and other things. I hope you stick with me.