Facts Vs. Fancy Vs. Freaky

Facts Vs. Fancy Vs. Freaky

As writers, we are all marketeers (without mouse ears.) Social media is an important venue for us and Facebook is perhaps the most significant of these venues. I’ve been watching closely to the posts that have come across FB in recent months. Many have been sketchy, others clearly false, and some downright scary.

Note: We’ve all received emails to take advantage of an offer from, as an example, Amazon@Susie.com, right?  Need I say more?

FB recently posted the following tips on how to determine which posts are, indeed, false news. I thought this was a small step in the right direction. For my blog, I decided to list these in case you’ve missed them.  So here, in Facebook’s own words are tips to spot false news:

  1. Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.
  2. Look closely at the URL. A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.
  3. Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
  5. Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
  6. Inspect the dates. False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.
  7. Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.
  8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
  9. Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.
  1. Some stories are intentionally false.Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

Please share your own experiences.  Ideas always welcome.

B.R.A.G. Medallion Award Interview

B.R.A.G. Medallion Award Interview

This week I’m posting my interview with Magdalena Johansson:to honor my B.R.A.G. Medallion award for
Time Exposure.

I hope you enjoy.

 I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lynne Kennedy to A Bookaholic Swede to talk with me about her story, Time Exposure. With a Masters’ Degree in Science and more than 28 years as a science museum director, Lynne Kennedy has had the opportunity to study history and forensic science, both of which play significant roles in her novels. She has written five historical mysteries, each solved by modern technology.

 

Time Exposure: photography meets digital photography to solve a series of murders in two centuries.

The Triangle Murders was the winner of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Mystery Category, 2011, and was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Award for independent books of high standards.

Deadly Provenance has also been awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion and was a finalist for the San Diego Book Awards. With the release of Deadly Provenance, Lynne has launched a “hunt for a missing Van Gogh,” the painting which features prominently in the book. “Still Life: Vase with Oleanders” has, in actuality, been missing since WWII.

Her fourth book, Pure Lies, won the 2014 “Best Published Mystery” award by the San Diego Book Awards, and was a finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award.

Time Lapse, her fifth and latest mystery, premiered at the end of 2016 to all 5-star reviews. She blogs regularly and has many loyal readers and fans.

 Can you tell me what Time Exposure is about?

Briefly: In present day Washington, D.C., renowned digital photographer Maggie Thornhill discovers a mummified corpse in her basement. She believes it to be her ancestor, famed Civil War photographer Joseph Thornhill. The truth she uncovers, however, will change written history as we know it.

Can you tell me more about Maggie Thornhill?

Time Exposure is the first of the Maggie Thornhill series. Maggie is 30-year old digital photographer who heads up a lab at Georgetown University, Washington DC. She often works with law enforcement to help cases in which photography can be used. She is bright, does not suffer fools and, essentially, wants to rid the world of bad guys.

Why is Maggie Thornhill convinced that it’s Joseph Thornhill that she has found in the basement?

Maggie’s great, great grandfather was a famous Civil War photographer (and the reason she pursued a career in photography.) Through his diaries and photographs, she learns that he had taken photographs of a mysterious civilian on the battlefield, whom he believed was a killer. Maggie assumes that this killer found out about Joseph, murdered him, and buried him in his own basement, now her basement.

Who is Joseph Thornhill’s mentor Alexander Gardner?

In all my novels, I try to make the historical parts of the story as authentic as possible, both in real events and real characters. Alexander Gardner was, in fact, a famous Civil War photographer who began working under Mathew Brady, but then became famous in his own right. Many of the well-known Civil War photographs, and those of Abraham Lincoln, were taken by Gardner. He is an important character in Time Exposure, because my fictional character, photographer Joseph Thornhill, works with Gardner on the battlefields.

Can you tell me more about photography during the Civil War?

The Civil War was the first major “conflict” to be photographed extensively. Besides the portraits of soldiers, etc., done as tintypes and ambrotypes (replacing daguerrotypes, for the most part), photographers who ventured onto the battlefield had a difficult task. They used wagons for their supplies, often called “Whatizit” wagons since they looked odd. The newest technology at the time was the “wet-collodion” process, where an image was captured on chemically coated pieces of plate glass, a time-consuming venture. Also the cameras themselves were big, bulky, and heavy and took time to set up. One interesting note: photographers often set up the scene after a battle to get the best shot. Sad to say, but yes, the photos were often staged.

What inspired you to write this story?

When I was a museum director in San Diego, we hosted a Smithsonian Lecture Series. One program from the National Museum of American History was about Civil War photography. I was hooked. That, combined with my love of history plus my experience in science and technology, inspired me to write mysteries that took place in the past, around real historical events, but solve them today with modern technology.

Any author’s that have inspired you in your writing?

I think the book that launched my writing adventure is Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. A western, can you believe? The reason I found this book so special was its characters. They are so real and rich you cannot possibly forget them. Any of them. The plot, the setting, the atmosphere, dialogue, etc. all work too. But the characters are simply unforgettable.

What are you reading now?

 I read many types of books: mysteries, historical fiction, literary fiction. I also read a lot of non-fiction, particularly in researching my books. My favorite author these days is Kristin Hannah. She has a lovely style and characters that resonate and remain with you long after the book is finished. Unfortunately, when I try to think of a favorite mystery, none really come to mind. They all blend together. I write mysteries, so what does that say? At the moment I’m reading David Baldacci’s The Last Mile, and, frankly, am disappointed. The good news? There are so many books to choose from. The bad news? There are so many books to choose from.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Since my book goes back in time and is about photography in two centuries, Time Exposure seemed like a fitting title.

Who designed your book cover?
Based on an idea from a friend and colleague, also a writer, the concept of looking through a digital camera screen at a scene back in time to the Civil War was a perfect fit. The artists at BookBaby Publishers did the execution.

 A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Magdalena has chosen to interview Lynne Kennedy who is the author of, Time Exposure, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Time Exposure, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Thanksgiving: Puritans, Pilgrims, and Sexual Obsession

Thanksgiving: Puritans, Pilgrims, and Sexual Obsession

I found this article particularly interesting with the holidays coming and its ties to my research into my mystery about the Salem Witch Trials, Pure Lies.  Sexual obsession is not a concept usually associated with Puritans, but this sheds light on a grim and repressed period of time in American history.

1st-thanksgiving“America’s Thanksgiving holiday goes back at least 388 years to the year following the arrival of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1620. The Pilgrims were among a number of sects called Puritans, and like many Puritan sects, the Pilgrims came to America essentially because they thought 17th Century England much too bawdy.(1) That England of the time was bawdy — a raucous bawdiness in full bloom — there’s no doubt. But the idea that the Puritans (and Pilgrims) suffered from religious persecution in England is probably a myth. What they suffered from was unease (and maybe too much temptation) at the general licentiousness of English life.

So various Puritan colonies were established in America, colonies with dictatorial repression of daily life, mostly of sexual behavior. It’s an American cultural heritage that few Americans ever talk about, except maybe when they read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a novel about the miseries of an adulterous couple in a Puritan community. Our custom is for three or four generations of family to sit down at a Thanksgiving dinner with hardly a memory that what the Pilgrims and other Puritans were all about was sexual obsession.

A set of ideas about human sexual behavior so strong that the ideas result in strict rules that govern a community by threat of physical punishment easily morphs from philosophy into obsession — and that’s exactly what happened once the Puritans came into control of laws in their colonies in the New World.

The background of the Puritan obsession with sex is a fascinating thread in the history of Western culture. The obsession apparently originated in a close literal reading of the Bible, a fervent belief that the main causes of the suffering of all mankind were 1) the disobedience of Adam and Eve in seeking knowledge of sex, 2) the shame of their nakedness, and 3) their sexual desire for each other. Taking these causes as axioms for social doctrine about sexual behavior led the literalists (fundamentalists) easily into social tyranny. The sexual act itself became the “original sin” — an irony, since the sexual act was the only means available to produce progeny to replace those who died.

The old New England children’s rhyme tells it all: “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”

first-thanksgiving2And the origins? The fervor against sexuality evidently originated in ancient Hebrew law, the ancient fear that man was weakened by sexual intercourse, ancient references to the sex act as the “little death” and a form of castration. In their morning prayers, Orthodox Jews still proclaim, “I thank Thee, Lord, for not having created me a woman.”

Sexuality was inherently evil, the sex act an abomination and a sin, women morally inferior and sources of temptation. If the sex act was needed to produce a new generation, let it be accomplished without lust. So much for the mechanics of Darwinian sexual selection. From a biological standpoint, it’s a wonder the Western world did not go extinct before the Renaissance. But it’s no wonder at all that countless women (and many men) were driven into madness by the incompatibility between the social tyranny of their Judeo-Christian cultural heritage and their evolved biology.

At the Thanksgiving table we think of turkey, children, and grandparents. Let it be so. We need the comforts, especially in our current time. But we should also be thankful that we’ve come out of the darkness of the past, the darkness of ignorance and social tyranny. That too is something that needs the giving of thanks.

Note (1). Whatever “persecution” the Pilgrims suffered in Europe was political rather than religious. The Pilgrims were Puritan separatists. The sect of Puritans who came to be known as Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the Anglican Church. Other Puritan sects did not demand separation. It was the vocal opposition of Pilgrim leaders to the Anglican Church and the King of England that caused their problems with government. The Pilgrims left England for Holland, were unhappy in Holland, and eventually achieved financing by English investors and migrated to America.”

Written by Dan Agin and posted 3/18/2010, updated 11/17/2011.  Reprinted from the Huffington Post.

Shaping Our Own History

Shaping Our Own History

We are making history every day.

uncertain-futureTime will tell us whether it is for good or ill, but since we have not figured out how to turn back the clock (except in science fiction novels,) we must move forward into an uncertain future.

With the holidays near, and many people despondent in light of recent events, I thought this poem appropriate, perhaps even optimistic.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Things Work Out 

By Edgar A. Guest, 1881-1959

Because it rains when we wish it wouldn’t,
Because men do what they often shouldn’t,
Because crops fail, and plans go wrong-
Some of us grumble all day long.
But somehow, in spite of the care and doubt,
It seems at last that things work out.

Because we lose where we hoped to gain,
Because we suffer a little pain,
Because we must work when we’d like to play-
Some of us whimper along life’s way.
But somehow, as day always follows the night,
Most of our troubles work out all right.

uncertain-future2Because we cannot forever smile,
Because we must trudge in the dust awhile,
Because we think that the way is long-
Some of us whimper that life’s all wrong.
But somehow we live and our sky grows bright,
And everything seems to work out all right.

So bend to your trouble and meet your care,
For the clouds must break, and the sky grow fair.
Let the rain come down, as it must and will,
But keep on working and hoping still.
For in spite of the grumblers who stand about,
Somehow, it seems, all things work out.

Countdown to New Book Launch!

Countdown to New Book Launch!

I’m getting ready to launch my new book!

This is a very exciting time for me. I’m getting ready to launch my new book, the fifth in a series of historical mysteries solved by modern technology. I’ve just moved across country back to my old home of Brattleboro, Vermont, and much nearer to family. I’ve had success in New England getting my first four books into “bricks and mortar” bookstores, and soon . . . my latest novel.

For those of you who read my blogs, I wanted you to be the first to get the book jacket description. I’m expecting the book to premiere within the next four weeks but I’ll keep you up to date. It will be available in e-book and paperback.

“Time Lapse– the time between serial killers from two centuries.

Renowned digital photographer, Maggie Thornhill, coins a new definition when a friend turns out to be the fifth victim in a series of grisly Georgetown murders.

Jack the Ripper Scene As a professor of digital photography, Maggie works with law enforcement to analyze the photographs from the present day killings only to discover their resemblance to the murders of Jack the Ripper.

A century earlier, in Victorian London, brutally murdered prostitutes found in the East End baffle police. Despite help from Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, little progress is made. High-powered suspects like Prince Albert Victor, the Queen’s grandson, make solving the case considerably more difficult. Desperate, the police turn to actor, John Wilkerson, to recreate the crimes on stage.

With the aid of DNA technology, long-lost forensic evidence from the last of Jack the Ripper’s canonical murders is tied to a living heir today. This final link could change history as we know it.”

 

Here’s to writing!

Lynne’s Excellent Adventure

Lynne’s Excellent Adventure

Throughout our lives we hit bumps in the road.  Some small, merely dips. Others, nasty speed bumps that rattle your teeth.   Early on there’s school – passing, failing, moving through high school and onto college, hopefully, and beyond.  Next comes jobs or careers, not the same, by the way.  Climbing the ladder of success, perhaps.  Add weddings, kids, divorces, more weddings, more kids, grand kids, and finally, funerals.

What all these “adventures” in life have in common are moments of deep exhilaration and happiness combined with moments of profound stress and sadness.

vermont 5I’m about to embark on a new life adventure.  After many years in San Diego, my husband and I have decided to move “home” to Vermont.  I put quotes around “home” because neither of us grew up there, but rather met, married and worked there for some years.  Both of us loved it: the beauty of the green mountains, the peaceful small town feeling, the camaraderie with friends we’ve maintained over the years.  And, the return to nature after big-city living.  We won’t miss the sound of planes or helicopters overhead; we won’t have to deal with the freeway traffic, parking difficulties and queues everywhere.

By the same token, we will miss jewels like Balboa Park and, of course, the moderate year-round weather.  As you can imagine, Vermont gets cold in the winter.  On the plus side, Vermont has seasons.  Very beautiful seasons, especially fall.  And I always loved the first snowfall of the season.  Cold, yes, but hey, there’s always Florida in March, right?vermont 2

vermont 3Most important, is that almost all of our family is back there.  All within driving distance.  Imagine.  Being so far away, we’ve rarely gotten to share holidays with brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grand-niece and nephews.  Plus, the many friends we left behind.

I am sad to part with my dear San Diego friends, but we’ve all pledged to stay in touch and I know we will.  I truly believe it.

So it’s time to embark on a new adventure in life.  Bid farewell to one beautiful place and say hello . . . again . . . to another.

vermont 4What else is life about if not new adventures to keep you young and energized.  And, of course, I will continue to write.  My next book, Time Lapse, will be launched next fall.

Take me home, country roads . . .