I’m not sure if any of you are old enough to remember the old radio program called, “The Sealed Book.” I discovered it during a conversation with my mother while writing Cammie Takes Flight. I could still hear the excitement in her voice when told me how when the gong sounded it meant the Keeper of the Book had unlocked the vault where the great sealed book was kept. It was in that very book that all the secrets and mysteries of mankind has been recorded through the ages. Just imagine how mysterious that must have sounded to my mum and her friends as they crowded around the radio on Saturday nights. At the end of each episode, listeners were told to tune in next week when “the sound of the great gong heralds another strange and exciting tale from… the sealed book.” According to my mum the show also had sound effects that made it all seem quite real.
While doing a little checking online the info I found said the program originally ran between March 18 and September 9, 1945, and was broadcast on Sundays from 10:30pm to 11:00pm. My guess is that the program aired on reruns for years after its original broadcasting which makes me think that it’s good to actually talk to someone who has knowledge of a time period rather than just relying on the information that’s available online. Obviously that’s not always possible and so a writer must do the best job she can to bring that authenticity to the story.
I worked in some bit and pieces about The Sealed Book to my novel during my first round of edits as it seemed to fit in nicely with a scene I was working on at the time. I found it quite exciting and hadn’t remembered my mother ever mentioning it over the years. And who knows perhaps there was something in our conversation that day that jarred the memory loose for her. It’s strange the way memories can suddenly come to us when we hadn’t thought about a particular thing in many years. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Cammie Takes Flight is , for the most part, set at the Halifax School for the Blind.)
Part of a writer’s job when writing historical fiction is to research the time period we’re writing about. All those details add authenticity to the story and help the reader to become a part of that time and place the author is writing about. What many people told me after they’d read my first novel Bitter, Sweet was that they remembered that time so well since they were kids themselves back then. Many of them found it easy to relate to the Burbidges plight because of it.
With both my mother and step-father having gone to the Halifax School for the Blind they were able to provide little bits of information I would not have otherwise discovered through research—The Sealed Book being one of those things. There were other little things as well, the note tossing between the boys and the girls during classes when the teacher they had was blind, and the way the boys would sneak out of the school and call the payphone in the lobby asking to speak to a particular girl they had a crush on. There were other stories as well that I was able to weave into the novel and hopefully when kids (and adults) read it they’ll come to understand that the children who went to the School for the Blind weren’t much different they are.
My ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) for Cammie Takes Flight arrived the other day in the mail. I finally got to see and read the story in book form for the first time. It’s such a wonderful sense of accomplishment to know that others will get to read my words and hopefully find something of value in the story. I’ll read through the ARC a few more times to pick out anything that needs changing before it goes for the final printing. Release day is three months away!
So, without giving you age away, do any of you remember The Sealed Book or are there any other old time radio programs you might have listened to back in the day?
Posted by Laura Best on January 29, 2017
“There’s an old spinning wheel in the parlor.” Never thought I’d be singing that old tune, let alone actually being the owner of a spinning wheel. I understand that most people wouldn’t be excited over something like this, but as a writer of historical fiction it makes my little heart go pitter-pat. Coincidentally, I’d been given a set of wool cards a number of years back. Perhaps the universe has ideas for me!
(Again)coincidentally, I have a friend who knows how to spin wool and the plan at the moment is for me to get a little instruction on this. I’m looking forward to it! Who knows I may discover a hidden talent. Stranger things have been known to happen. Or maybe when I sit down to spin I’ll have a flashback to a past lifetime and it’ll all come rushing back to me. My grandmothers both spun wool, as I’m sure many others did. It was a way of life back then. I’ve always said that history is made up of ordinary people simply living their lives the best way they could, doing the things that were before them to do, and yet when we look back we’re totally amazed at some of the feats they preformed.
While we speak about the past as simpler times there was certainly nothing simple or easy about the work our ancestors did. I marvel at how industrious people were one hundred or even fifty years ago and how we take so much in our lives for granted these days. We run to the store for most all our needs or else order it online from the comforts of our homes. What could be simpler? I’ve always felt a connection to the past from the time I was quite young. I suppose that plays a role in my writing life. When I sit down to write a story it almost always seems to end up being set in the past. It’s as if I can’t stop myself. I remember when it dawned on me that Bitter, Sweet was considered historical fiction—actually not until I saw it in the historical section in a book store. For some silly reason 1949 didn’t seem that long ago to me.
As for book news, the edits for the new anthology being put together by Vernon Oickle is moving along. There wasn’t a whole lot to do, actually. The piece I’ve submitted was previously published in The Antigonish Review quite near the beginning of my writing career. I’m looking forward to the book’s release. The works of a lot of talented writers is included in the anthology. And now for the really exciting news, the Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) have arrived at the publishers! I’m hopeful that a copy will arrive for me in the mail one day soon. While it’s not the final version (I’ll have the chance to make some subtle changes to the text) it’s still pretty cool. I haven’t done a cover reveal on my blog yet as there could still be some changes there as well. So I’ll wait until I receive the “official” cover—front and back. Should be soon since the release date is April 30th. That’s coming up quickly. When I look at the calendar I can scarcely believe that we’re so far into January. We’re half-way through winter on February 2nd—or Candlemas Day for anyone with a mind for these things. Before you know it April 30th will be hear and Cammie Takes Flight will finally be released into the world. What could be more exciting?
What has your winter been like so far? Are there any new happenings on the horizon for you?
Posted by Laura Best on January 19, 2017
This week marked my blogging anniversary. That’s right! I’ve been hiding out on WordPress for seven years now. The number seven seems significant in that it’s always been said to be a lucky number and aren’t the cells in our bodies all replaced in seven years? I always wondered how they can know this. Regardless, I’ve been here in the blogging world for seven years. I’ve met some wonderful people and I’ve seen many bloggers come and go. Maybe I deserve a pat on the back for making it this far. Also it’s been seven years this fall since Bitter, Sweet came out–just saying.
It’s berry season in my part of the world. Wouldn’t you love to have a field full of these beauties to pick? We’ve been helping some friends with their berry crop for a few days. It’s always a challenge to get them harvested.A few weeks back we took a trip to Centreville and stopped off that the Cement Museum which was the home of Charles Macdonald. Unfortunately it wasn’t open for the season, but we took some pics of the statues outside. Quite amazing to think it is all made of cement. I’m looking forward to seeing the inside once the museum is open.
These cottages were also built by Charles Macdonald in the 1930’s and are in Hall’s Harbour. I think they’re absolutely charming. Some describe them as fairy homes and I can understand. They look so enchanting.
This one is called the Blue Cottage for obvious reasons. I understand that it can be rented!
Outside the museum there were other statues all made by Charles Macdonald.
Love this mountain lion. He looks to be on the hunt. Maybe for the deer that are hanging around the property.
I’m curious about this lovely lady, how and why she ended up here, naked, in the garden. Perhaps there a story there and maybe, just maybe, the answer can be found within the museum itself.
Okay, to many, none of this is earth-shattering news, or even news at all, but just a few things that caught my attention this past while. I’m so glad to say that summer is finally here. I’ve been looking forward to it and hoping I’ll squeeze in some writing time over the next few months.
Do you have any special plans for the summer months? I love to hear about it!
Posted by Laura Best on June 26, 2016
Posted by Laura Best on April 7, 2014
A friend recently lent me her album of old cards— some from the beginning of the last century—that had belonged to her grandmother. I’m in the process of scanning them into my computer. You know how people make the comment about how they “just don’t make things the way they used to?” This certainly applies to greeting cards. These ones are actually what we would call postcards. They certainly have a cool factor about them, not only that, some of the post marks are from “The Dale Post Office.” Hey, that’s where I live.! Not sure if I mentioned the fact that one of the rooms in the house I now live in was home to the Dale Post Office. Not only that, it’s the same Dale Post Office I mentioned in my book, Bitter, Sweet . Doubly cool!
So in honour of Valentine’s Day soon approaching, and the fact that I just scanned these last evening, I thought I’d share these old-fashioned Valentines with you.
The images and colours just make my little heart flutter. There are Easter Cards in the collection as well as Christmas and St. Patricks Day. I’ll share them with you from time to time on my blog. Can you imagine saving cards for over a century?
Posted by Laura Best on February 7, 2014
It’s World Book Day. Bet you didn’t know that.
My source tells me that March 7th is World Book Day. (That source being Facebook of course.)
I popped on over to the site only to see Bitter Sweet as one of the books listed. Um, wrong Bitter, Sweet, however. This one has no comma and was written by Cathy Cassidy. Still, kind of a cool coincidence, don’t you think?
In honour of this day why not give a shout-out to a book you think is great, either one you’ve read, one you’ve written or one you hope to write?
Posted by Laura Best on March 7, 2013