Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Sunday, August 23, 2015
My novel, The Unraveling of Mrs. Noland, has been released in eBook and paperback. It's women's fiction, dark, mid-century Boston era:
The year is 1960. Life is comfortable for Maeve Noland, pampered wife of the president of the Boston longshoremen’s union. Her daughter and son have begun to forge independent lives and she anticipates spending more time alone with her husband—still the most attractive man she’s ever known. Her husband dies suddenly. When a disturbing claimant to his estate appears, Maeve risks personal and financial ruin to salvage her children’s inheritance and her family’s reputation.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
WORLDWIDE DATES AND TIME
Today, I offer a resource for adding authenticity to fiction:
Time and Date.com
My favorite feature is the calendar function. This function allows you to pull up past, present, and future calendars by year/ month, country, and lists the holiday schedule for each country. Although, the first United States colony was founded in 1607, the calendar lets you pull up earlier years—for England.
In 1752, England and the United States changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian. The site also contains background information about Julian, Roman, Chinese, and Mayan calendars:
What else does this site contain that steals your writing time, by tempting you with research features you didn’t know you needed?
- Time zone maps by city in the United States and by major cities in foreign countries.
- Worldwide weather readings—current and for the past week—and fifteen-day forecasts, by city.
- Sun and moon calculators, moon phases, and eclipse calendars.
- Date-to-date calculators, distance and travel time calculators.
- Assorted trivia.
FURNISHINGS: Eras, Styles, Colors, Themes, Pricing source
FURNISHINGS: Eras, Styles, Colors, Themes, Pricing source
How do your characters furnish their homes?
Do they select contemporary designer furniture, period antiques, or one-of-a kind craftsman-built pieces? Purchase factory-made lines and/or matching suites from mass-market department and furniture stores? Are they surrounded by furniture and objects inherited from family? Do they prefer or require the budget friendliness of scouring yard sales, thrift shops, and Craigslist? Are they addicted to the serendipitous thrill of dumpster diving and hunting for freebies on trash day? Are they do-it-yourselfers? Do they adhere to specific decorating rules, periods, themes, and colors, or mix things up? Quite likely, they furnish their homes by using a combination of these options.
Here are sources to explore for furnishing ideas:
Contemporary and Modern Designer Furniture:
Geiger includes bios and product photos of contemporary designers of home and office furniture.
This site provides a useful outline of iconic modern furniture by designers and architects by timeline, 1900-1999; includes sketches of furniture pieces and bios of their designers.
Period Furniture and Decorating Styles:
This section of the Interiordezine.com site provides outlines and sketches of design and furniture by period or decorating style.
2) Connected Lines
A good source for decorating style from 1600 to 1950, Connected Lines includes a timeline, brief style descriptions, and sketches of representative furniture pieces and fabrics and materials used to construct them.
Mass Market-targeted Furniture and Furnishings:
Macy’s is the ultimate destination for mass market furnishings, with delivery available coast-to-coast.
2) Cost Plus World Market
Cost Plus World Market offers a variety of furniture and furnishings at mass market prices.
Prices range from budget to mid-priced. One advantage of browsing IKEA is to discover what is offered at stores located in various countries.
Budget Furniture and Furnishings:
1) Shop Goodwill.com
This site may not replace Ebay, but it bills itself as the first Internet auction site created, owned, and operated by a nonprofit: Goodwill of Orange County in Santa Ana, CA. Items for auction are supplied by Goodwill organizations across the United States and organized into broad categories. Additionally, items are slotted under “buy now,” “new today,” “(auction) ending today,” and under the tantalizing heading of “Hot 50.
2) Décor Steals
The site focuses on decorative items at discount prices. Items are added daily and offered for limited-time, outright sale.
Choose a geographical location from this Craigslist page. Under the “For Sale” category, choose “free.”
1) Antique Alter Ego
A husband and wife-owned site that focuses on 1950s, 60s, and 70s design and decorating that was aimed at the middle class in the United States. It contains photos of furniture, decorative objectives, tiles, house plans, and fences, etc, culled from vintage catalogues.
2) Ana White
This site includes plans, videos, techniques, and an active forum on building or adapting moderately-priced, practical furniture, and links to blogs of other do-it-yourself women.
Where do your characters live?
The following sources provide information about availability and pricing for housing, by geographic area within the United States, for the most common categories: single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and apartments in high rise, low rise, and multifamily buildings:
A goldmine of current property data, Realtor.com contains the listings of real estate brokerage firms across the United States that participate in state multiple listing services.
Searchable by specific address, street, citywide, and statewide, with further breakdowns by price range, numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, the database contains:
- Asking prices for homes, condominiums, cooperatives, and land lots currently for sale
- Selling price of recently sold properties
- Monthly rental fee of properties for rent.
Most listings include exterior and interior photos of properties, and details about square footage, age, and taxes.
The “Local” heading, located at the top of the screen, links to a variety of demographic
information by city, including average property sales price, crime rate, household income, and educational attainment.
Zillow also contains prices for properties for sale or rent, although that information is not as comprehensive as Realtor.com.
The best feature of Zillow: its history of sales prices for specific properties. Plug in an address to retrieve the sales price going back roughly ten years. It also estimates the property’s sale and rental price in the current market.
I’ve searched addresses similar to the type and location of my fictional characters, to get a ten year economic perspective of the neighborhood, whether property values have improved or declined.
Zillow obtains its data from transaction data, so if a state or jurisdiction does not make its property records available in a manner accessible to Zillow, that info won’t be available in this database.
For characters who’d rather reside somewhere other than a house or apartment, consult the following for info about alternative choices:
Thomas Backlund, a Swedish man, quit his job to live and work in a tent.
As promised, here is the first of four blog posts from my original blog:
I’ve used obituaries as inspiration for authentic-sounding regional names. The Legacy.com Website allows obituary searches for cities and states throughout the United States. The easiest way to do this: choose a state from the search box menu, then type the name of a city in the “keyword” field.
NAMES OF CHARACTERS
In fiction and creative nonfiction (when I want to replace a real name with an appropriate substitute), I like each name to reflect or imply something about the character, time period, and geographical setting.
I’ve found the following five sources especially useful:
1) The Social Security Administration (SSA): Given Names (First Names)
Based on social security applications, the SSA lists the popularity (frequency) of male and female given names indexed by the following criteria:
By popularity in the United States: top 1,000 male and female names by birth year, from 1880 – present (latest completed calendar year).
By state: top 100 names by state and birth year, 1960 – present.
By name: ranking of specific names, every year from 1880 – present.
For Puerto Rico: top 100 baby names by birth year, 1998 – 2011; top 10 names for 2012.
For all other United States Territories combined (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U. S. Virgin Islands): tope 40 names by birth year, 1998 – 2011; top 10 names for 2012.
In addition, the site contains two downloadable zipped files—one for national data, the second for state data—that list the incidence of names by birth year, 1880—present, for names that did not make the top 1,000 popularity ranking, but were chosen at least five times within a year.
2) United States Census Bureau (BOC): Surnames
The Census Bureau bases the statistics for surname frequency on decennial Census data. Although the last Census was conducted in 2010, the latest surname frequency statistics posted on the website are tabulated from Census 2000.
The above link leads to a table of the top ten surnames in 2000. The same page includes a downloadable Excel table of the 1,000 top surnames in the United States; a zipped file of surnames occurring at least 100 times; and a PDF file of technical documentation of the data, which is handy for deciphering the bareboned tables.
Links are also included for surname frequency from the Census 1990. From what I can determine, Census 1990 was the first to reveal surname frequency. The Census Bureau posts various methodology documents that explain the scope and limitations of their findings.
3) National Geographic: Surnames
National Geographic has posted a map of the top twenty five surnames in each state of the United States. Geographic state boundaries aren’t delineated, so it’s clumsy to pinpoint surname frequency for specific states. Lots of Smiths, Millers, and Andersons throughout the country.
4) Behind the Name
Begun and maintained by a layperson, who appears to consult several reputable sources, this site provides the meaning of specific given names.
Search options include: by name, gender, ethnicity, mythology, and biblical origin. You may also search by concept or descriptive words, like “queen,” and retrieve names from various cultures that mean “queen.”
The site also contains wonderful time-wasting search options, including names for twins, name anagrams and variant spellings, themes (names associated with various sentiments, meanings, or professions), and a random renamer, which generates a first, and or middle and surname, based on selected criteria.
Welcome to my blog, The Truant Librarian.
After several months of dormant bloghood, I’ve resumed posting.
About 18 months ago, I stopped posting to concentrate on finishing a novel, so I set my blog to “private.” I finished my novel! However, I was unable to switch the blog back to a public reader setting, so I deleted the blog and created a new one with the same name and appearance.
For anybody who is curious about my previous (4) posts, I’ll paste them into my next four entries, without the original reader comments.
I’m a writer. I used to be a research librarian.
A research background ought to complement my writing profession. It does—so long as I avoid dallying too long and too often in the Internet playground, instead of actually writing. If you’re a writer, you know how any other activity, even housework, can seduce you away from a writing project. Well, maybe not housework.
In this blog, I’ll attempt to justify my diversionary Internet behavior by frequently sharing resources I’ve found to be useful, reliable (so far as I can determine), and available for free via Internet. Occasionally, I’ll offer useless, sometimes interesting commentary.
Regarding my novel: The Unraveling of Mrs. Noland, is scheduled to be published in September 2015.