When Learning is an Adventure

I’ve never been so busy as I have been since where we could go was restricted by COVID-19. First, I learned how to self publish on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With tutorials, many of them on YouTube, I learned how to format my manuscripts for eBooks and paperback books and how to design my book covers using Kindle’s Cover Create.

The next thing I learned how to do was copyright my manuscripts and also some of my photographs that I use in my cover designs. I learned this with tutorials on YouTube as well.

Knowing that I’d need an author website, I decided to learn how to create a website in WordPress. I learned this reading a book – WordPress to Go bay Sarah McHarry.

After taking a workshop on self publishing, I decided I wanted more flexibility in designing my own book covers than what’s possible with KDP. Not that KDP’s Cover Create isn’t wonderful; I designed some very nice covers with it. But the user is restricted in where she or he can place the text on the covers.

The workshop’s instructor said she uses GNU Image Maniuplation Program (GIMP). Like Photoshop, it’s a photo editing program. Unlike Photoshop, it’s free. So, I decided I wanted to learn this program. The instructor told me there was a steep learning curve, but I was certain I could learn. And if by some chance, I found it too difficult, so what? It’s free.

Well, guess what? There was a learning curve. During the first week I struggled with the program there were many times I wanted to give up. But when I wasn’t thinking I wanted to give up, I was thinking that I didn’t want to pay someone to design my book covers if I didn’t have to.

By the second week, it got a little easier and by this time, I was too invested in it to give up. I’d spent a lot of time learning what I’d learned up to this point.

By the third week, I was doing pretty well. If any of you reading this blog want to try it, believe me, as you get familiar with it, it does gate better. You’’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with it.

Again, I watched many tutorials on YouTube.

If any of you are curious as to where I’ve found the images that I use, I’ve found many of them on Pixabay. All of the images are in the public domain and all are free to use. Some of the photos I use are from the Library of Congress and some of them are photos that I took.

Here are some of the items I created.

This is Main Street. When working in GIMP, like Photoshope, you work in “layers.” There are six layers in this image: 1. the background with the sky and mountains, 2. most of the buildings, 3. the Assay Office, 4, the boardwalk, 5, the galloping horse with the rider, and 6. the other horse and cowboy. Each layer must be scaled so it fits with the other layers.

The next image, Woman in Butterfly Frame is two layers – the woman’s portrait and the frame. The portrait had to be scaled so it fit in the oval opening.

The next image is a greeting card. I took the photo of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Fort Street Mall in Honolulu, Hawaii. I then created a template in GIMP for the greeting card and then added the cathedral as a layer. The wording on the back of the card is another layer.

For this greeting card there are four layers: the template, the image on the front, the text in the image (“Thinking of You”), and the text on the back.

This birthday card was easy. The image already I used for the front of the card had the words and artwork in it. I just added it to the template as a layer and moved it into the correct position. Then I added the text on the back of the card. With the “Color Picker” tool, I copied the green in the image and put it into template background so the entire card would be the same color. So, there are three layers in this image – the template, the image and the text on the back.

Last but certainly not least, this is my God son Gabriel. This image is two layers: the photo of Gabriel and the image with the picture frame and the flowers on the desk. I positioned the layer with Gabriel’s photo behind the image with the picture frame. The center of the frame is “transparent” so whatever is behind it shows through.

And there we have it. I began my journey learning the GNU Image Manipulation Program on May 16, 2021. I don’t know how to do everything this program can do, but I’ve come a long way from when I started. It’s been an adventure. Now, I can design my own book covers!

King Kamehameha Day

On December 27, 1871, the Hawaiian Gazette published the following item:

BY AUTHORITY:  King Kamehameha V, on December 22, 1871, at Iolani Palace, Honolulu, proclaims Kamehameha Day, to be held in honor of his grandfather and predecessor, Kamehameha I, founder of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The first observation of King Kamehameha Day was held on June 11, 1872. According to Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate’s recount of the history, “Early celebrations of Kamehameha Day featured carnivals, fairs, and lots of racing – foot races, horse races and even velocipede races.” Over the years, the events became more elaborate.

These days, those of us familiar with the tradition think of the lei draping of the King Kamehameha Statue and the parade with the pa’u riders. The King Kamehameha Hula Competition attracts hula halau (groups/schools) from all over the world.

The 2021 King Kamehameha Festival has been canceled, but we look forward to the event in 2021. To keep up with the news of the Festival and to read further about the history, visit the King Kamehameha Festival website by clicking HERE

Visit the King Kamehameha Hula Competition’s Facebook Page by clicking HERE.

King Kamehameha Statue, Hawaii State Archives. Year not speicifed.
King Kamehameha Day Celebration, year not specified.. Hawaii State Archives.
Joe Medeiros standing vigil at the King Kamahameha Statue, waiting for his King to come to life and step down from the pedestal. Hawaii State Archives. Year not specified.
King Kamehameha Day Parade on Bishop Street heading toward Honolulu Harbor.. The procession of what looks like a Hawaiian Civic Club is passing the Alexander Young Hotel. Hawaii State Archives. There was no information as to what year this photo was taken or who the people were in the procession.

You Can Succeed!

It’s a challenge to learn something entirely new. Something you’re not familiar with and have nothing to relate it to. But each new task gets easier the more familiar it becomes. It really does.  

Knowledge is learned. Skills can be learned and practiced. If you pursue them enough, the tasks that you do with this knowledge and these skills become easier because the knowledge and skills become more familiar. With the acquired knowledge and skill, you gain an understanding of the task at hand. There’s that “Ah-hah” moment when things click into place and you get it. 

 A year ago, I was pursuing being traditionally published. I had no desire to be self published. No way was I going to hassle with that! I had no idea that in a few short months, I would decide to ignore my fear and learn how to self publish on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing. 

There was a learning curve. There’s a great deal of information that must be navigated. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has very thorough directions on its website. There are also numerous tutorials on YouTube on how to publish on Amazon with KDP. There is also a myriad of information on the internet that’s posted by not only KDP, but other people and companies advising the reader how to publish through KDP.  With perseverance, I was able to navigate through this. I started with video tutorials that were put on YouTube by KDP. Then as I used KDP to publish, when I got stuck, I “Googled” my question. My searches brought many, many responses. I chose the items that were from KDP. 

The tutorials gave me a good foundation and then I learned as I went along. It gets easier as you go, as you get more familiar with the process. On March 26, 2021, I published my sixth book in Kindle format to Amazon through KDP. I sailed through Kindle Create and my book turned out looking just the way I wanted it to look. Kindle Create formats your manuscript for Kindle. I also learned to use KDP’s  Cover Create, which assists authors in designing their book covers. Again, following tutorials, I learned how to format my manuscripts in Word and publish my books as paperbacks on Amazon.

It took time, but I did it. These are skills; skills can be learned and practiced.

Early on in this endeavor, I decided to register my writing with the Copyright Office. Again I used tutorials on YoutTube. I used the tutorials that the Copyright Office has on YouTube, although tutorials that people not affiliated with the Copyright Office are there as well, both on YouTube and in written format on the internet.

The last thing I wanted was a website. Initially, I was going to pay someone to design one for me. I’d had a book on WordPress for beginners for some time, but had put it aside. Fear that I couldn’t do it had gotten the best of me. But, then I thought, “I learned how to use KDP and I learned how to copyright my writing. Maybe I can learn how to create my own website. So despite my apprehension, I did it. In less than a week, I had a website that I had created. 

As I pursued it and played around with the website, the more I learned and understood. 

And then I arrived at the point where I wanted more flexibility in creating my book covers than what I was able to do in Kindle Cover Create. Make no mistake, Cover Create is an excellent tool. I was able to create beautiful covers in this functionality. It gave me a good foundation in creating my own covers and the desire to be able to do more. But, KDP gives you templates, you are limited in what you can do. Although you have the choice whether to use their images or upload your own images, you are limited to certain places where you can put the text on your front cover. So you have to keep that in mind when choosing an image for the front cover. You don’t want the title c  covering or blocking anything you don’t want covered or blocked. 

In a workshop on self publishing, I found out about the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). Like  Photoshop, it is a photo editing program; unlike Photoshop, it is free. Even though the workshop instructor told me there was a “steep learning curve,” I was convinced I could do it.  “After all,” I told her, “I read a book and learned how to build my own website in WordPress.

To which she replied, “WordPress is so much easier than GIMP.

After the workshop was over for that day, I promptly downloaded GIMP. I quickly found out there was a steep learning curve, even with the tutorials I found on the internet. So many times during the first few days that I was struggling to learn this program I wanted to give up.  But the more I pursued it, the more invested I became in it and the less willing I was to give up. 

After a week, I’d created an eBook cover. Then I was able to create a paperback cover, although I didn’t quite remember what steps I’d taken after it was done. But I kept persevering. I’d come too far to give up. 

At the two-week point, I had created three book covers and a greeting card. It’s finally fallen into place for me. I have a good, basic understanding that will allow me to do what I want to do with this program – create book covers. 

There is still a great deal more that can be done with GIMP that I don’t know yet. I still make mistakes and have to “play around” with each project to get it to be the way I want it to be. But now that I’m familiar with the program and the terminology it uses, I can look up what I need to do in the help function and also on the internet.

I am amazed at how much I accomplished between September 2020 and June 2021. I never thought I could be so focused and self directed.  

I firmly believe that we are all capable of much more than we realize – until we challenge ourselves.

The Last Royalist

Joes de Mederos, ca. 1914, Hawaii State Archives
A pupuli man posing in front of the Iolani palace

On January 17, 1893, Queen Liliuokalani was deposed and would be imprisoned on the second floor of the I’olani Place. The Hawaiian monarchy had been overthrown. Joseph Medeiros was 12 years old. His 13th birthday was on March 27 of that year.

It was at age 13 in this year of great change for Hawaii that he took up the solitary vigil that would become his life’s work. For more than 35 years, Jose de Medeiros, or Joseph Medeiros as he bacame known, stood near the Kauikeaouli Gate on Honolulu’s South King Street fronting I’olani Palace worshiping the gilded statue across the street, waiting for the return of Kamehameha. It was Kamehameha the Great, holder of much mana, who could restore the monarchy.

In the beginning, his parents tried to keep him home. “Momma, I have to go. Something in here,” he’d say, pointing to his heart, “makes me go. You can punish me, do anything to me, but I must go.”

Joe was never strong. He wanted to help his father, who was a stone mason, but the work was too difficult for him. And so this frail boy began to love the mighty Kamehameha and wish for his return so he could meet him.

King David Kalakaua was on the Hawaiian throne when Jose de Medeiros was born on March 27, 1880 on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores. Jose and his family arrived in Hawaii in March 27, 1882 on the bark Karl of Dalhousie; it was the same year that King Kalakaua completed the new ‘Iolani Palace. King Kamahemeha III first used the former site of an ancient temple as a palace beginning in 1845. Following the death of Kamehameha IV, the name was changed from Hale Ali’I which means Chief’s House to I’olani, Hawaiian for hawk. It was torn down in the 1870s due to extensive termite damage. The year Jose arrived in Honolulu, there would be a grand new palace.

In 1879, King Kalakaua commissioned Thomas Gould, a sculptor living in Italy, to cast a statue of King Kamehameha the Great. It was unveiled in front of Ali’iolani Hale in 1883. In 1883, no one could have foretold that Joe Madeiros would become a fixture in front of Kalakaua’s palace waiting for the gilded Kamehameha to come to life and step off the pedestal.

As Joe stood sentinel over the years, Hawaii moved further and further away from being the kingdom of his childhood. Upon Queen Lili’uokalani’s deposition, the Provisional Government of Hawaii, was proclaimed on January 17, 1892. The Provisional Government had taken control of Hawaii and took control of ‘Iolani Palace as well.

Both Queen Lili’uokalani and Princess Ka’iulani would lobby President Grover Cleveland to restore the monarchy, to no avail. The Republic of Hawaii began on July 4, 1894. ‘Iolani Palace was now in the hands of the Republic. With the adoption of the Newlands Resolution in the United States Congress, the Republic was annexed to the United States and became the Territory of Hawaii on July 7, 1898.

 Eighteen-year-old Joseph Medeiros still stood at the Kauikeaouli Gate waiting in attendance on Kamehameha. Behind the King, the American flag now fluttered above Ali’iolani Hale’s clock tower. ‘Iolani Palace now housed the Territorial Government.

The city bustled and swirled about Joseph. In 1908, William Matson’s ship Lurline brought visitors from the mainland and Joseph Medeiros still made his daily trek from his home on Sereno Lane off Kuakini Street to his post in front of ‘Iolani Palace.

Automobiles replaced horses and carriages and Joe, wearing tattered clothes and treading on bare feet still paced back and forth in front of the Kauikeaouli Gate. At other times, he stood motionlessly gazing at Kamehameha, a thin figure in faded denim overalls and faded jacket. A battered, old hat covered his thick, dark brown hair as it turned white over the years. He was burned by the sun and often drenched by the rain. And he was a tourist attraction, photographed many, many times.

In late 1930, the denizens of downtown Honolulu began to notice that the Statue Worshiper was not there. As people continued to wonder, it was remembered that Joe lived with this sister, Mary Caminos, and a reporter from the Honolulu Star Bulletin went to their home to inquire after him.

The thin, frail limbs that had once been clad in faded overalls as he stood vigil were now paralyzed by two strokes. After the first stroke, Joe continued to return to his post; after the second stroke, he could not. He lingered for two years.

On July 2, 1932, Joseph Medeiros passed away at the age of 52. A most unusual life had ended. A color from the fabric of the Hawaiian quilt of life in Honolulu had disappeared.

© 2021 Jeanne Alice Moore


“Hawaii’s Last ‘Royalist’ Nearing Trails End; Statue Worshipper ill,” Honolulu Star Bulletin, December 24, 1930, p 1

“Joe Medeiros, Worshiper of Statue, Is Dead at 52,” Honolulu Star Bulletin, July 4, 1932, p 9

“ ‘Statue Worshiper’ Goes to Join King He Venerated,” Honolulu Advertiser, July 4, 1932. p.1, c 6

Matson Company, History, Matson’s Contributions to Hawaii (website)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ark_70111_0gvJ.0.jpeg
Joseph Medeiros (Jose de Medeiros), 1899

Photo Credits::

The photo at the top of this blog is of Joseph Medeiros standing by the I’olani Palace gate. Title: King Kamehameha Statue; Description – “A pupuli man posing in front of the Iolani palace. Call Number is  PP-46-11-009 Date – ca 1914; Courtesy Hawaii State Archives. Link: https://digitalarchives.hawaii.gov/item/ark:70111/0gvx

The photo at the bottom of the blog on the side of the statue is also Jose de Medeiros (Joseph Medeiros). Title – Kamehameha Statue; Description – Opera house is in the back; Call Number – PP-46-11-016; Date – ca 1899. Courtesy Hawaii State Arachives. Link: https://digitalarchives.hawaii.gov/item/ark:70111/0gvJ

A Woman in the House

Jeannette Rankin
Jeannette Rankin

According to the Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), “118 women hold seats in the House of Representatives, comprising 27.1% of the 435 members in 2021. The women represent 36 states; 87 are Democrats and 31 are Republicans.”

The first woman to be elected to the U. S. Congress House of Representatives was Jeannette L. Rankin. This was in 1916. In 1917, she, along with 49 other members of the House of Representatives voted against U.S entry into World War I. This destroyed her chances of reelection in 1918. She then ran for the Senate in 1918 and was defeated. For the next twenty years, she campaigned for peace. In 1940, she won her second term in Congress. During this term, she served with six other female members, including Margaret Chase Smith. Since then, the number of women in the House has increased and today, there are 118 women in the House.


 Jeannette Rankin, United States Senate

Women in the U.S. House of Representatives 2021, Rutgers CAWP Center for American Women in Politics 

Photograph Credit: Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, Call Number: BIOG FILE – Rankin, Jeannette [item] [P&P], Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-8422 (b&w film copy neg.).

What’s in a Name?

Female Indian telephone switchboard operator – “Helen of Many Glacier Hotel.”, 26 June 1925

Her name wasn’t Helen. She wasn’t a telephone operator at the Many Glacier Hotel in Montana. There were no Native American telephone operators at this hotel. It is highly unlikely that there were any Native American employees there. The photograph wasn’t even taken in 1925; according to historian Ray Djuff, it was taken in 1913.

Hoke Smith was an editor at the Minneapolis Tribune hired by the Great Northern Railway to work in its advertising and publicity department. It was his task to sell the railway to potential travelers, especially by promoting the newly created Glacier National Park (1910). Combining fact with fiction, he wrote stories that were picked up by the newspapers. He created a Blackfeet princess named Dawn Mist. And the public, not aware that Dawn Mist was fiction, believed it.

Several Blackfeet women took on the role of Dawn Mist. We don’t know who this woman is posing in what was probably a publicity shot for the Great Northern, but she could be one of the four Blackfeet who portrayed the fictional princess.

Glacier National Park borders the Blackfeet reservation. During the time when Hoke Smith was writing publicity for the Great Northern Railway, Blackfeet were hired by the hotel to perform for the visitors. They drummed and danced. They spoke about their culture. The hotel insisted that they spoke their native language and used sign language; it insisted that they wore authentic regalia. In a harsh world where Native Americans were forbidden to speak their languages and practice their cultural ways, this helped the Blackfeet hang onto their heritage. And in that world where employment for people of color was difficult to come by, the income they made performing during the summer helped them through the winter.

But it wasn’t all a “bed of roses” so to speak. The Blackfeet performed outside and were not allowed in the hotel. So, it is impossible that there was ever a Native American telephone operator wearing Native dress in the hotel.

The stories that Hoke Smith fed to the public were fiction and to this day, remnants of that fictionalization are still passed on as fact. The fictionalization is passed on in the photograph of “Helen of Many Glacier Hotel,” which is in the Library of Congress. If you search the internet, there are photographs of “Princess Dawn Mist;” in one of them, she’s standing with “Abraham Lincoln” in front of a teepee. The Library of Congress holds a photograph of Princess Dawn Mist with President Calvin Coolidge.

Real history is so much more than the fictional accounts, but we must search for it.

I began my journey to find out who Helen was by contacting the Glacier Park Foundation. Carol Dahle forwarded my email to the board members. Ray Djuff, has researched Waterton and Glacier parks, contacted me with a wealth of information. I am indebted to him. He has several books on Amazon.

Photograph Credit: Female Indian telephone switchboard operator – “Helen of Many Glacier Hotel.”, 26 June 1925. Digital ID: (digital file from original neg.) ggbain 38272 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.38272. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ggbain-38272 (digital file from original negative). Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print.

Bygone Days: Charlie

Nu’uanu Valley was once the cornucopia that supplied the Honolulu area with most of its food. The taro lo’i (taro patches) were irrigated by auwai, a sluice-type irrigation system that carried water from the streams to flood the taro fields that terraced the mountains. In those olden days, passage from Honolulu into the lush valley in the Ko’olau Mountains was a trail. Hawaiians traveled it regularly by foot, but it was difficult for most others.

King Kamehameha III traveled over the Pali on horseback on June 27, 1845. The old footpath had been widened for travel by horseback. Accompanying Kamehameha III were Dr. Garrit P. Judd and the premier, John Young; their journey officially opened the Pali Road. Oahu residents could now travel between Honolulu and the Windward side without going around the island.

In the early 1900s, when Kauai-born Charles Kaulaloha began his maintenance career along the thoroughfare, the Pali Road was still traveled by horseback and horse-drawn carriages.

As a general laborer who maintained the road for the City and County of Honolulu, Charlie had plenty of work. Heavy rains caused minor landslides; stones disturbed by the high winds rolled down the hillsides onto the road. With his broom, pick and shovel, Charlie kept the road clear.

The city and county gave him the title “cantonnier,” which means “road mender” so that he would be paid a little higher than other general laborers. At the city offices, few people knew him by his real name, but knew him as “Charlie Cantonnier.”

Horseback riders and open carriage occupants had little protection against the wind. The wild and whistling gusts that ripped through Nu’uanu Valley knocking stones down the mountainsides into the road also carried off wayfarers’ hats.

Charlie retrieved the hats and collected them in his home at the bend where the road headed toward Kailua. People knew to come to see Charlie at what they called the Halfway House to retrieve their hats. To Charlie, the dwelling was Ku’u Home, Hawaiian for my home.

Visitors who came calling for their lost hats at Ku’u Home had time to stop and talk. Sometimes they’d bring gifts of food. Although Charlie lived alone, he had many friends in those days.

Times were slower then. Charlie patrolled the road on horseback; other riders had time to stop and visit. And while he was at work along the side the road with his boom, pick and shovel, he’d pause as each traveler passed and raise his hat with a courtly bow in greeting. Over the years, he became known as Hemo Papale, or Hemo ka Papale, the man who doffs his hat.

Closed-sedan cars changed the pace of life. It was faster. And there were no more stray hats, no more people coming to see Charlie to claim them and make friends. People were in a hurry; they no longer had time to notice Charlie.

But the lone figure by the side of the road still greeted each passing vehicle, raising his hat with a courtly bow.

On the morning of September 10, 1937, sometime between 5:30 and 6:00, Wong Pa, a friend and fellow workman, called for Charlie as he did every morning. On that morning Wong Pa found his friend hanging from a rafter in the tool shed behind his Pali home.  Charles Kaulaloha was 68 years old; he had been the Pali cantonnier for 28 years.

Charlie worked the day before as usual. He discarded his work clothes for his Sunday best. His bed had not been slept in and his home was spotless.

There was no suicide note, no explanation as to why he took his life. A widower, Charlie left behind six adult children, a nephew, nine grandchildren and three adopted children. He was buried at Kalaepohaku Cemetery in Honolulu.

Charlie’s Kuu Home was an isolated three-room shack beside a Nuuanu gorge near an auwai amid yellow ginger, kukui, banana other lush foliage. A family moved in briefly after Charlie’s death, then moved out. No one ever lived in Ku’u Home again. It became known as the Haunted House Along the Pali.

Lingering memories of suicide, the isolation, and the gusting, whistling winds sounding other-worldly in the dark could all have conspired the make the house seem haunted. It stood for 12 years after Charlie’s death and was torn down in September 1949.

These days, traffic speeds to and from Honolulu, Kailua Kaneohe over the Pali Highway through the Wilson Tunnel, bypassing the Old Pali Road. Pieces of the old road still exist although they are closed to vehicular traffic. The former road has reverted once again to a trail that is still used by hikers. The memory of Hemo Ka Papale is lost in times past, down that old road where the trees and lush foliage listen to the wind.

© 2020 Jeanne A. Moore


“Hemo Papale Is Cantonnier; Keeps the Pali Road Clear. ” By John Williams, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Saturday, March 16, 1935, page 1

“Death Takes Picturesque ‘Pali Hermit:’ Charlie Kaulaloha, Who Doffed His Hat to Everyone, Hangs Himself,” Honolulu Star Bulletin, September 10, 1937, Page 1

“Pali Highway, Once a Path, Was 104 Years Old Monday,” Honolulu Star Bulletin, June 28, 1949

“Haunted House Along Pali Will Soon Be Memory” by Mona F. Shephard, Honolulu Advertiser, September 12, 1949, page 1

“Nu’uanu, O’ahu,” http://www.pacificworlds.com/nuuanu/land/planting.cfm

The Auwai of Nuuanu Valley, https://historichawaii.org/2014/03/03/auwai-of-nuuanu-valley-2008/

What the Heck is Swag?

It’s Tuesday, March 23, 2021. I never heard the term “swag” before today. A Facebook friend of mine who’s an author told me she didn’t have any swag at the moment because with the COVID-19 restrictions, she hasn’t been going to conferences. We were discussing the 250 pens that I’d ordered two days ago with “Jeanne Moore Writes” and my website address printed on them. COVID-19 restrictions or not, I still go to the grocery store, Walmart and the drug store. I figured I could hand out pens to whoever I talk with when I’m out.  

After concluding the discussion, I had to look swag up on the internet. Swag is a gift that a person gives away to promote his or her business or products. In the case of authors, you’re promoting your website, your writing and ultimately where people can purchase your books.

Almost anything can be a swag. Pens, highlighters, sticky notes, bookmarks, even a copy of your book. With your contact information on them, they’re an ideal way to put that information in other people’s hands. I always have enjoyed receiving free pens. Don’t you? And I keep them and use them until they run out of ink. 

Jane Friedman in her blog How to Use Swag to Support Your Book Marketing explains why swag is a very effective marketing tool and she also gives a list of companies that specialize in proportional items. 

There are many companies that specialize in promotional items. Do your research before jumping in and ordering.

For writers, the goal of marketing is to get your books out there so people will notice them, to direct traffic to your website and to direct them to where they can purchase your eBooks and paperback books. Swag can help you with that.

Researching with the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. It has over 130 million items in its collections. According to the Main Reading Room’s page within the LOC’s website, it is growing at the rate of 10,000 items per day.

At the Library, there are twenty public reading rooms. The Library offers free access to many databases that are not searchable on the open internet and other published reference sources that are not digitized. One must physically go to the Library of Congress to utilize these resources.

If you will be going into the Library of Congress to research, their website offers a guide to researching in the Main Reading Room.

If you will not be going to the Library of Congress in person, you can access the Digital Collections from anywhere. On the Digital Collections page, scroll down to see the items in the menu on the left side of the page.

The collection I have used the most often is the Prints and Photographs. To access the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, click here. Generally, photographs and prints taken and/or published up to 1925 (before 1926) are not copyrighted.  I have used several of these photographs on my website and plan to use some of them as book covers when I publish some of my historical fiction.

If you are going to use any of the LOC photos or prints as a book cover, in your blog, in a newsletter or anything else that you publish, check to see if there’s any known restriction.

With each photograph, there are three tabs:  About This Article, Obtaining Copies and Access to Original. In the About This Article tab, one of the items is Rights Advisory. If the entry after this item reads No known restrictions on publication and the publication date is before 1926, the photograph is probably in the public domain.

For more information on copyright and other restrictions, click here.

Within the Digital Collections page, you will find Chronicling America:  Historic American Newspapers.

Within the Historic Newspapers section, there are digitized newspapers that may be accessed by the public. To search the historic newspapers, click here

The Library of Congress offers Reference and Research Services. If you are researching from your home or offices, there are guides you may access. In the Reference and Research Services section, scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will see the heading Research on the Web. The guides are located under this heading.

Last but not least is the Ask a Librarian function. In my genealogical and historical research, I have found librarians to be an invaluable resource. Ever willing to cheerfully help, they are my heroes.

Warning: This site can be addictive. If you enjoy researching, you will find the Library of Congress’s website fascinating.

Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress. Thomas Jefferson Building. Date published 1873. Reproduction Number:  LC-DIG-ppmsca-31519 (digital file from original drawing) LC-USZC4-1628 (color film copy transparency) LC-USZ62-59059 (b&w film copy neg.). Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

I’ve written nine novels, close to 100 short stories and have five books published on Amazon. I’m often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” And in  the Facebook writers’ groups I belong to, I often see this question posted. Well, where do I get my ideas? Everywhere. Newspaper articles, history, things people say.

Because I’m writing fiction, I am addressing writing fiction.

There are many sites on the internet that offer writing prompts. I’ve gotten ideas from reading these. Search the internet for “short story prompts,” “romance prompts,” “fiction prompts” and “story idea prompts.”

5,000 Writing Prompts by Bryn Donovan really does list 5,000 prompts.

Other people’s lives can offer a wealth of ideas for you. I wrote a romantic short story based on the couple who lived across the hall from me. He said that when they were single, they both owned condo units in the building we lived in. They each lived on a different floor and met in the elevator. And eventually they got married, he sold his unit and they kept her unit.

Advice columns can be an excellent resource for ideas. News items are fertile grounds for ideas. History is another fertile ground for ideas.

When I was doing  historical research for a short story I was writing, I contacted the librarian at the El Dorado, California public library (most public libraries have an “ask a librarian” function). In connection with this, she sent me a newspaper article about the first woman driver in Placerville, California. That gave me an idea for another short story that I am including in my upcoming collection of short stories called Sweet Victory.

Incidents that happened in history can spark story ideas. The California Gold Rush. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Asa Mercer’s bringing marriageable women to Seattle in the 1800s. The women who worked as waitresses for the Harvey House Restaurants at the train stations. Circuses and the wild-west shows. Vaudeville. The silent-movie era. 

The Orphan Train Movement was the inspiration for my short story Nobody’s Child, which is also included in Stories of Hope.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in 1911 was the basis for my story The Fire in my short story collection Stories of Hope, which is available on Amazon. 

Someone forced to leave the life and environment that he or she knows for some reason who has to adjust to and get along in a completely new environment works well in most genres of fiction. In my story Left Holding the Bag  (Stories of Hope collection), Lucy Mae Logan’s life changes for what appears to be the worst because of a chance encounter with a bank robber.  

The whole world is your resource. Don’t worry if you come up with an idea for a plot that’s been told before.  They say all story ideas have been written before. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back has been written over and over again. But, as with any story idea, you can make it all your own with your own characters and the circumstances in your story. 

Could this Harvey House at the Santa Fe Station in Chanute Kansas and the “Harvey Girls” standing out in front give you an idea for a story?

Click here to see this photo on the Library of Congress’s website. Do you know who the Harvey Girls were? If you do an internet search, you’ll find out and maybe a story will come to you.

Inspiration is out there just waiting for you.