Friday, February 28, 2014

Family History Writing Challenge 2014

As in the past two years, I again participated in the Family History Writing Challenge in February. Organized by The Armchair Genealogist (a great blog to follow if you are interested in writing your family history), the month-long challenge encourages participants to set writing goals and offers valuable tips for bringing your story together. There is also an active participant's forum for the challenge. Unlike the past two years, however, I did not write about my family history. Instead I used the challenge to spur me on with my story about John Murdoch. The suggestions and writing prompts offered throughout the month have been instrumental in keeping me on task, and hopefully have made my writing better. My goal is to wrap up the first draft in March, and then I can decide the direction the end product will take.

Friday, February 21, 2014

City Corner Update

The show that we taped about book writing and publishing has not aired yet. However they do have the YouTube video posted. Here is the City Corner episode. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My First Television Appearance

Keith, Pat, Kim and Robin on set
Yesterday I was part of a panel discussion about book writing and publishing on local cable television station STL TV. Hosted by Robin Boyce, City Corner is a current events program about the people, places and events in St. Louis. Joining me on the panel were Christian romance writer Pat Simmons and publisher Keith Antone Willis, Sr. Pat talked about writing books that are set in St. Louis, Keith discussed his upcoming book that is geared towards helping salespeople learn how to sell, and I was able to talk about writing niche books and gave a shout out for the St. Louis Publishers Association. I think that it all went well, and I am eager to see the tape of the show. It was not live, so they are putting the finishing touches on the tape, including the segment that was on after ours. Hopefully it will then be posted on YouTube and I will be able to share a link.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bridging the Past

Stan Musial Bridge
Yesterday was the ribbon cutting for the new bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois. It is named the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in honor of a great man who was a World War II Vet as well as a Cardinals ballplayer, and for all veterans in America. For one day only, you could walk, run or bike across the bridge yesterday. I wanted to attend the event for a couple of reason. Despite the cold, I thought it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity as this is a vehicle-only bridge with no pedestrian or bike lanes. But the second reason was maybe more important. The first bridge to span the Mississippi River at St. Louis was the Eads Bridge, which opened 140 years ago in 1874. John Murdoch and his partner Charles Dickson were investors in both the company building the bridge. In fact Dickson was President of the Illinois and St. Louis Bridge Company, which built the bridge.

Dickson died before the Eads Bridge was completed, but I imagine that Murdoch attended the opening ceremonies on July 4, 1874. The bridge was first christened by Mrs. Julius Walsh, daughter of Charles Dickson, followed by a 100 gun salute and multiple speeches. Then the parade began. Police, politicians and key citizens were the first to cross, followed by a line of people that reportedly stretched for 13 miles! There were marching bands and fireworks to mark the celebration as well.

In attending the opening of the new Mississippi bridge 140 years later, I had a similar experience to Murdoch. There were police and politicians, key citizens and a parade. Nine speeches were given, and while it was a little chilly to just stand and listen, I have to say that each speech was fairly short, mostly non-political, and predominantly inspirational. After walking across the bridge to Illinois, we stayed and enjoyed the parade. There were no marching bands, but the military units, classic cars and the Clydesdale horses more than made up for the lack of music. And I appreciated the fact that the parade was far from being 13 miles long.

A walk on the bridge of the future gave me an opportunity to take a glimpse into the past. And that will hopefully make a nice addition to my John Murdoch story.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

When is Enough Enough?

Anyone who is writing a family history, memoir or biography has to address the question of when enough is enough. It is so easy to say that you are just going to look at one more source, or research one more thing for your story. At some point you have to draw a line in the imaginary sand and say enough already. It is hard to do though. I will be double checking a source for the story of John Murdoch, and all of a sudden a new article catches my attention. And off I go on another tangent. So I have had to become more disciplined at this stage of the process. I make a list of tasks that I want to complete each day, and I try to stick to the list. If something new crops up while going through my tasks, then I write the idea down on a Possibilities list. Once the first draft of the story is complete, I can decide if I want to come back and add any of the Possibilities items. Otherwise I will be spending all of my time researching and not writing. I have drawn the line in the sand.