Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: In Medias Res by Yolanda Wallace

Sydney Stanton realizes as she’s running through the airport that she doesn’t know where she’s running to. When she stops running, she doesn’t know who she is, where she’s going, or where she’s been. What she does know is that she has a ticket to Miami on flight due to depart now. On the plane, she begins the search for herself by going through the backpack she has with her. She quickly learns her name, her address in Chicago, her destination in Miami, and a few other bits of information. Over the next several days, she manages to recover more bits and pieces of her memory, including that she has a best friend, Jennifer, but not where she is.

Slowly, Wallace begins unfolding Sydney’s life. As Sydney’s memories begin seeping back into her head, Wallace picks up the pacing of the book as well. That’s not a good thing. The last chapters seemed rushed as if an approaching deadline was near. The first half or so of the book is all about Sydney. When Wallace begins introducing the other main character, the reader doesn’t get a sense of who she is, other than a doctor and a best friend. The book needed another 100 pages to sustain the “will-she-or-won’t-she get her memory back, to introduce Jennifer in depth, and to have Sydney’s actions explained. There were editorial gaffes, as well, that take the reader out of the story, a misspelled word, a misused word, etc.

This book will capture anyone’s attention from the opening page and the race through the airport. Having grabbed the reader on page one, it is unfortunate that by the last few chapters that grip slips and fails. That being said, this book is worth the price just to be able to read the first half of a fascinating premise that, while done elsewhere and to better effect, will still capture the reader as Sydney struggles to regain her memory.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: Fierce Overture by Gun Brooke

Helena Forsyth is the force behind Venus Media & Publishing, Noelle Laurent is the country’s hottest pop star and under contract to VMP. When Noelle decides she wants to record her own songs on her next CD, she knows she’s taking on the formidable Helena. When Helena’s well known strong-as-steel will power slips and she kisses Noelle, both women’s lives are changed forever.

While both women are intelligent, neither is able to talk to the other about her feelings, and in the case of Helena, she never tells Noelle she’s concerned about their age difference. Both women are beautiful, accomplished, wealthy, and live privileged lives.

Brooke has created two characters who should appeal to most readers - a high-powered businesswoman and a pop star used to getting her way, but without being spoiled. They are reduced to quivering messes when love unexpectedly rears its head between them.

This book needed a firm editorial hand, but didn’t get it. There are several editorial gaffes - point of view issues, character inconsistencies, and contrived plotting devices - to name but three. If this sort of thing drives you out of a story, this may not be the book for you. If you never notice these kinds of things, you will undoubtedly enjoy this book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Four "dous" Words

Did you know there are only four words in the English language that end in "dous." Think about it. Only four. Do you know them?

The Four “dous” Words

Those words are tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. I admit I didn’t know there were only four words ending in “dous.” I also admit that I’d never given it any thought.

Challenge for MeW

Having learned of this arcane fact, I had to do something with it, of course. So I decided to challenge myself to use the four words in a single sentence. I quickly figured out that these are four words I seldom, if ever, use in ordinary conversation. Perhaps I should, though.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be to create a single sentence. After all, I call myself a writer and a wordsmith. What would have been embarrassing, would be if I had been unable to create a single sentence with all four words in it.

While my creation isn’t great prose, there is an inner satisfaction in being able to use the four words to create. Of course, I don’t kid myself . If I had failed this challenge, I wouldn’t be blogging about it.

My Sentence with the “dous” Words

This is what I came up with

The tremendous effort of creating horrendous, but stupendous prose.was hazardous to my health.

Challenge for You

Your turn. Try it. Come up with a sentence using all four words, without making them into adverbs. Share it with us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: Keeping Up Appearances by Ann Roberts

Ann Roberts’ ninth novel is set in 2004 in a Phoenix, Arizona middle school and covers one school year. Faye Burton is the principal, and while not dumpy is less concerned with what she wears because experience has taught her it is always possible that one or more of the students she talks to in the course of the school day will end up leaving something of themselves behind on her clothes. While the school year is still young, she meets the District’s new director of special education, Andi Loomis, who wears Prada and Armani. When the women begin dating, Andi insists that they remain deeply in the closet which is fine with Faye because the District has recently hired a homophobic Superintendent.

A thorn in Faye’s side is attorney Constance Richardson, whose son, AJ, is in the school’s special education program. Richardson wants her son mainstreamed, i.e., put into the school’s regular program of classes. The school staff knows the boy isn’t capable of being mainstreamed, and have told Richardson that over and over. Richardson is adamant that AJ remain in the non-special education classrooms despite him being disruptive and increasingly violent. Richardson is vindictive, mean-spirited, and used to getting her own way in all things. Faye must deal not only with each day’s crisis at the school, but the politics of the district as well. When Richardson doesn’t get her way, she gets even with Faye. What Faye and Andi do after that is telling and threatens their relationship.

While there are some romantic elements to this book, it is not, strictly speaking, a romance.This book is about the bullying of gay students, the constant fear gay teachers live under if they are teaching under homophobic administrations, and survival. There are romantic elements, i.e., the budding relationship between Andi and Faye.

Roberts does a good job in developing Faye, Andi, and Constance (who is one of those characters the reader will love to hate). Unfortunately, she fails to develop the secondary adult characters in enough depth to tell one from the other. The only thing distinguishing Faye’s brother from the other secondary characters is the fact that he’s a man - the women characters are so similar as to be nearly indistinguishable from one another. If she had developed the secondary adults, this would have been a fully realized book. Much better developed secondary characters are the students, and, thus, more interesting than the adult secondary characters.

Readers may be chagrinned at the end of the book when both Faye and Constance act out of character. Roberts would have done her readers a favor by foreshadowing the change in both these characters beyond giving us love as the reason they would or could change in such a radical way.

Despite the minor criticisms above, Roberts’ book will keep you turning pages even if you aren’t a teacher or have children, and, if for no other reason than to see what deviousness Constance will be up to next.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Starting from Scratch by Georgia Beers

Avery King is a thirty-something graphic designer, happily single, with a strong crush on Elena Walker, manager of her bank branch. Avery’s best friend, Maddie, convinces her she should fill in as the coach of Maddie’s T-ball team of five and six year olds while she convalesces from knee surgery. By Avery’s own admission, she’s not good with kids and has no desire to be around them. Maddie assures her that it will be easy and it will only be for a few weeks. What could possibly happen in a few weeks? As it turns out, Avery is great with the kids. She feels sorry for one small boy, Max, whose mom is too busy talking on her Blackberry to watch her boy play ball.

While she convalesces, Maddie enrolls Avery in an online dating service. Avery is appalled, but, nevertheless, checks out the women who have responded to Maddie’s ad. She narrows the field down to three, and contacts all three, but one appeals to her more than the other two. She discovers Max at her back fence one morning. Imagine Avery’s surprise when Max’s other mother is Elena, the woman of her fantasies and dreams.

Beers is a Lambda Award winner and Starting from Scratch is her seventh novel. She tells the story in the first person and, as difficult as it is to write in the first person, Beers does it perfectly. Her characters, even the secondary characters like Avery’s close friends, her grandmother, and Steve, Avery’s dog, are carefully drawn, and readers come to care for them all. Be prepared to fall in love with Max, Elena’s son, because he will surely pull at your heart strings. The pacing of the book is perfect, slow enough to let the reader fall in love with the characters and fast enough to keep her turning pages. The book is full of humor, angst, tears, joy, love, sadness, and hope.

There were no false steps, no editorial gaffes, and nothing to take the reader out of the story.

This is one of the best books published in 2010.

It was announced last week that Starting from Scratch is one of the finalists for the Lambda Literary Foundations Best Romance of 2010.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Listening to Your Muse

Building a Reputation

“You can’t build a reputation on what you intend to do,” according to Liz Smith, journalist at the New York Post for many years.

Nor can you can’t get a book published if you don’t sit down and put words on paper, be it a “real” piece of paper or a Word or Pages document.

How many times have we heard someone say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book” or some variation on that theme? It’s easy to want to do something, but not so easy to put that want into action.

One Poll Says 85% Want to Write a Book

What does it mean that so many people want to write a book (one study indicated that 85% of respondents wanted to write a book), but so few people actually get it done. For those of us who have tried to get an agent or publisher to accept our work, it seems that half the world is competing for an agent’s attention while the other half claim to be writing the next best seller.

Is There a Special DNA for Writers?

Does the fact that we have actually completed a book mean that we have some special DNA sequence that hasn’t been defined by the Genome Project yet? Or perhaps we have more leisure time than everyone else. Or maybe we’re all from rich families.

While all the above may be true - well, maybe not the DNA sequence, but the others - most writers don’t have rich parents who will allow them to write nor have they somehow found more hours in a day.

What’s the Difference?

So what is the difference between someone who wants to write and someone who sits down and gets the work done?

My theory is that authors have learned to listen to their Muse, that little voice somewhere deep inside your head who speaks to you, sometimes at the most inopportune times. That’s the voice that whispers a new story line or a plot twist or even some stunning dialogue.

Everyone Has a Muse

Does everyone have a Muse? I think so. Does everyone listen to their Muse? Not really. How does a person know whether that random voice in the back of your mind is that of a Muse or if it’s you going crazy? The answer is rather simple. You listen to the voice. Whenever it speaks, you write down what she’s saying. If you glean a tidbit of writing wisdom from the voice, you’ve made contact with your Muse.

Don’t Abuse Your Muse

Pay attention to your Muse. The more you listen the more she’ll say. If you’re serious about wanting to write that book, you’ve got to listen to her. You’ll surely end up writing the book. You can’t stop listening to her. If you do, she’ll get pissed off and leave and then you’ll have what is euphemistically called “writer’s block.” Once it’s finished, the really hard work begins. It’s the editing, querying, re-editing, and polishing that will suck your soul dry if you’re really an author.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review: "Trauma Alert" by Radclyffe

Trauma Alert is the first in Radclyffe’s new series, First Responders. Dr. Ali Torveau is a trauma doctor in a Philadelphia hospital while Beau Cross is a firefighter and a first responder with the Fire Department. When the two meet for the first time, sparks fly. Ali, however, senses a danger and vows to stay away from the overtly sexy firefighter. Beau’s partner bets her that she won’t be able to even get a date with the beautiful doctor. Beau accepts the bet rather than let Bobby know how much the doctor has gotten under skin. Beau cockily tells Ali that they won’t have sex until after the sixth date, which is fine with Ali since she has no intention of dating the firefighter even once.

Such is the attraction between the two women that Ali could “sense [Beau’s] presence like a heat signature flaring against a backdrop of shadows.” Try as she might, Ali can’t ignore Beau and her own growing attraction and need for the other woman. The dance between them continues until Ali is wounded by a gunman hunting for his wife in the ER. Beau stays with the doctor that night and Ali lets down her guard. Eventually, Ali realizes she’s falling in love with Beau and backs away. Beau is devastated, but understands that she can’t force Ali to love her back. When Beau’s life is at risk in a hostage situation, Ali realizes how stupid she’s been to deny the love she feels for the first responder. She only hopes it’s not too late.

Readers are going to love this series if the rest of it is like Trauma Alert. This book is hard to put down and it will sizzle in the reader’s hand as she reads it. The characters are hot, the sex scenes explicit and explosive, and the book is moved along by an interesting plot with well drawn secondary characters. The real star of this show is the attraction between the two characters both of whom resist and then fall head over heels into it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

A Rule Against Murder is Louise Penny’s fourth novel featuring Sûreté du Québec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team. In this outing, Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse as they do every year. A family, the Morrows, are having their family reunion at the Manoir as well. It doesn’t take long before the Morrow adults begin sniping at one another with long-festering hurts from childhood. None of the Morrows are as they seem. When one of them is murdered in the garden using a several-ton statue, Gamache must go from being on vacation to being on a case.

Gamache and his team begin peeling back the layers of the case one fact at a time. With each fact discovered, they get closer to their murderer. Gamache can’t figure out how the murder was accomplished, and until he does, he knows he will not know who committed the crime. To complicate matters for Gamache, one of the Morrow children, Peter, and his wife are acquaintances whom he likes a great deal. While Gamache hopes Peter didn’t kill his sister, it remains a possibility.

This is an outstanding series that is best read in order starting with Still Life. With each book in the series, the reader gets to know Gamache, Jean Guy Beauvoir, and Agent Isabelle Lacoste better. Gamache says that Beauvoir is “loosely wrapped, but tightly wound." We follow Gamache as he uncovers the clues that will help him solve the murder. Just when the reader is sure she knows who the murderer is, another clue is found and both Gamache and the reader must reassess the facts and the conclusions already drawn.

Penny’s writing is excellent. Each character is uniquely and finely drawn, including the staff of the Manoir, and, it seems everyone, including the chef and even Gamache, has secrets to guard. Penny evokes the setting so the reader sees the lake at the end of the rolling grounds outside the Manoir, feels the heat of summer as it lies heavy on the guests, suffers the growing humidity as a rain storm approaches the area, and feels the relief when Gamache threw “open their windows for the cool breeze the storm had left as an apology.”

The genre, regardless of whether you call it a procedural or a mystery, doesn’t get better than the books of Louise Penny.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Older Dog Wisdom #8 - Become an Alpha Author

Tux’s Sister Grace
Although seldom mentioned in these blogs, Tux has a sister, Grace. While he is parti-colored, she is black with a blaze of white on her chest and white on the pads of her rear feet. She’s petite, looks dainty, but she’s a tomboy at heart: she has never seen a puddle she didn’t go through the middle of, a patch of mud she’s never walked around, or a pat on the head she’s ever passed up. And she is a leader by nature.

Tux on the other hand has always been much more fastidious. He walks around puddles and leaps over patches of mud. He, too, is gregarious and loves to be petted (although as he ages, he’s less inclined to accept gratuitous pets).

An Alpha Challenge
Grace, has always been the alpha dog in the family. She has always been in charge. She’s always led the way outside. She chose the way to go in the park - left or right. Lately, though, Tux has begun to test her rule. Slowly, over the last year or so, Tux has been testing the waters of being alpha dog. He still has trouble making a decision about which way to go on a walk, but given enough time to think it over, he’ll make a decision. He has, however, taken over leading them out of doors.

Gracie’s been hurt, and while she's recuperating, Tux has assumed her role as the alpha dog. He now takes the lead in all things. He’s not aggressive, not even very assertive. He accidently stepped on his sister’s injured paw in his hurry to get the door to lead them outside. He was immediately contrite - so much for his image as Mr. Macho.

Tux has also become our protector against trash-talking daschunds, teenaged boy dogs who say rude things to Grace, and any dog who looks hard at his sister.

A Coup in the House
Tux no longer says that he can’t be the alpha dog. He no longer says he doesn’t know how to be the alpha dog. He woke up one morning and said, “I’m going to be the alpha dog.” And he did. There had been a coup while Grace and I weren’t paying attention.

Lesson Learned from Tux
As writers, we need to learn from Tux. We need to learn to wake up every morning and say, “Today is the day that I become an author.” On that day, start that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Become the author you’ve always wanted to be. Take your writing to the next level. It won’t be easy and there will be some missteps along the way. Perhaps, like Tux, if we say we’re an author often enough, we’ll really start thinking it’s true.

Tux as Alpha
Tux has declared that not all alpha dogs have to walk through puddles and mud. He still goes around them - he hates being dirty. As for Grace and I, we have a hard time thinking of Tux as an alpha dog since he still squats to pee.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review: Turn for Home by Lara Zielinsky

Brenna Lanigan and Cassidy Hyland are actresses in a television series. Both women are married to men and both have sons, Brenna has two teenagers, Cassidy has a five-year-old. When they become lovers, they decide to remain deeply closeted, although Brenna tells her two sons, who, while not wild about the idea that their mom is a lesbian, don’t totally reject her either. The women’s affair sets off a chain of events that ends in violence when Cassidy’s abusive husband attacks her. Of course, the media has a feeding frenzy on the events and the fact that the two stars are lesbian.

The author, Lara Zielinsky, starts off slowly setting the scene, giving the reader background on both women, and bringing readers of her first book in this series up to speed. The pace picks up when Cassidy’s husband manages to get by the studio’s security and lures her into an empty trailer and attacks her first with his fists and then a baseball bat. Brenna and other members of the cast of their show arrive on the scene before the husband kills Cassidy. From this point, the reader will have to suspend belief when Cassidy not only survives the severe beating, but leaves the ICU mere days after the attack despite the author’s description of her injuries as being life threatening, including two heart attacks. Her recovery is remarkably fast and little emotional trauma results. The author gives us a good picture of the outward manifestations of the beating- a cast on a wrist and protection for broken ribs - but next to nothing of the emotional scars other than the angst by Brenna of being outed.

If the reader is looking for a quick read about first love, regardless of the age of the women, this book may satisfy. Reading the first book in this series is not necessary to enjoy this book, although the characters are introduced there and it might explain why Breena didn’t care for Cassidy when they first met and it is referred to several times in this outing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Review: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

This is the third book in Louise Penny’s excellent series featuring Sûreté du Québec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team. Gamache is called back to the small village of Three Pines when a woman dies of fright at a seance attended by several of the local villagers. The medical examiner rules the death a murder because ephedra, a banned diet drug known to cause heart attacks, is found in the dead woman’s system. Gamache does not lack for suspects who had both the motive and means to slip the dead woman the drug.

Not only must Gamache deal with the murder, but a series of stories appear in the Montreal newspapers accusing him of being in cahoots with Superintendent Arnot, a Sûreté officer Gamache arrested for murder. Gamache took action against the dirty officer knowing he would no longer be part of the inner circle of the Sûreté du Québec and his career would be stalled. His fellow officers either loved or hated his actions, but now someone has started a hate campaign in the newspapers against him. Gamache does not respond knowing that any response will only add fuel to his detractors. However, when the instigator goes after Gamache’s grown son and daughter, he goes toe to toe with the man he believes is behind the attacks only to find out he was wrong, very wrong.

Once again, Penny has written a wonderfully rich and detailed procedural set in a village whose residents are quirkily unique, like the renowned poet Ruth Zardo who, in this outing, has bonded with a pair of ducklings. Each time Penny returns Gamache to Three Pines, readers learn a little more about the residents and by this outing, it is as if the reader is catching up with old friends.

Penny’s writing is fluid and resonant. In every book, the reader will find sentences that compel her/him to write them down. For instance, in this book, Penny says “. . . Three Pines smelled of fresh earth and promise. And maybe a worm or two.” Added to the wonderful way with words that Penny possesses are the images she creates of her characters. Here, she has Gamache, who is a large man, tiptoeing down the village street after a rain storm trying to avoid stepping on the worms that litter the road.

This is a series that needs to be read in the order Penny wrote them starting with “A Still Life.” Reading the series in order allows the reader to get to know Gamache, his team and the residents of Three Pines. Penny is not stingy with the details of her characters’ lives, but in each book she manages to add another layer to each character so we understand them better, like them more, and even be surprised by some of them.

If you are a fan of P.D. James, Charles Todd, and Laurie R. King, you will be happy to discover this series.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad

Had he lived, my father would have been 95 years old today.

When I think of him, as I often do even though it has been 16 years since he died, I don’t see the old man he was when he died. I don’t see the old man shuffling along the sidewalk. I don’t see the old man defeated by a botched reconstructive surgery that turned his handsome face into something people stared at in horror. I don’t see the old man no longer interested in life. I don’t see the old man’s eyes which no longer sparkled with mischief, intelligence, and a love of life. I don’t see the old man waiting for death to stop by and take him.

I see the vibrant younger man. I see the younger man who loved connecting with people, especially complete strangers. I see the younger man striding along the sidewalk. I see the confident younger man. I see the younger man with the laughing eyes who loved puns. I see the younger man standing at the kitchen counter happily preparing his secret barbecue sauce, which changed each time he prepared it, and which remains the best damned barbecue sauce in the world.

My Dad wasn’t college educated like his children. He was, however, knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects that always fascinated me. He was a kind man. He was a man who never swore, even when he hit his thumb with a hammer. He was a patient man even while teaching his daughter to drive his car or to change the oil in her ancient VW bug. He was a supportive father who taught his daughter how to throw a ball and ride a horse. He wanted his daughter to be well-rounded so we went to baseball games and to the ballet. He was a betting man, betting his daughter $1.00 on the outcome of the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the U.S. Open Tennis championship matches, even when neither of us was interested in who was playing.

My Dad was only 78 when he died. I spoke to him on the phone two days before he died. He was in the hospital, but looking forward to going home on Monday. He died on Monday. My last words to him were, “I love you, Dad.” His last words to me were, “I love you, too, Honey.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Review: Head Trip by D.L. Line

Shelby Hutchison is the head of IT department of a major Chicago hospital in 2039. According to Shelby, her life is boring - she never travels outside Chicago and she never does anything but work and go home. Even her best friend, Jake, thinks she’s boring. Jake convinces her to take a vacation. She goes to Head Trip, a company specializing in virtual vacations, and signs on for a vacation set in 1985 and involving Russian spies, espionage, and love. On the appointed start day of her dream vacation, she is too excited and anxious to get going to listen to the technician’s instructions and jumps into the vacation with both feet. As the adventure unfolds, she gets more, much more, than she either asked for or bargained for.

Her vacation is cut short by unexpected events, and she quickly begins to have flashbacks and seizures. It is not until she meets the woman upon whom one of the characters, the beautiful Russian spy Tasha, is based that she begins to wonder what Head Trip really is. The two women, Trish and Shelby, begin to unravel the secrets Head Trip is hiding.

Written by D.L. Line, “Head Trip” is creative with a unique plot and setting. It is a well written story and Line’s main character is likable, but the others lack depth. At only 187 pages, it is a fast read, and the reader will be sorry that the book isn’t longer.

During Shelby’s virtual vacation, Line repeatedly has Tasha using Shelby’s full name. At first, it doesn’t matters. But after 65 pages, it simply became annoying enough to want to set the book aside. Then there is Tasha’s repeated overuse of “how do you say.” Again, it makes sense in the first few pages of their encounter, but after pages and pages of its use, it takes the reader out of the story. An editor should have reined in the use of these two distractions early in the book instead of letting it go on and on and on. It’s a good thing the action of Shelby’s virtual vacation is exciting enough to keep the reader reading because otherwise the book would end up unfinished.

The publisher calls this a romance, but it is more of a thriller or action novel. Yes, there are sex scenes, but sex scenes do not a romance make.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry

Steve Berry’s “The Emperor’s Tomb” is his ninth novel. In this outing, he intertwines history with modern-day action. Present once again are Cotton Malone, former CIA agent, and Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who has saved Malone’s life on more than one occasion in other books. Together, they set off to find the son of another recurring character the Russian geologist Sokolov. The story takes place in several locations including Antwerp, Belgium and Xi’an, China. Playing a prominent role in the story is Qi Shin, first emperor of China. Berry weaves China’s history throughout the book.

Berry has become a master of weaving history seamlessly into his stories. In this case, the history of China, a subject many people have little or no knowledge of. The book seems to be well researched and accurate in its depiction of the scientific and technological inventions and innovations of the ancient Chinese. Berry also gives us a glimpse of Chinese politics, from ancient time to the more recent past providing details that are not well known outside the circle of Chinese scholars.

If you love history, love thrillers, and love your action fast and laced with guns and gunships, this book is for you. This is a long book, one you’ll be able to immerse yourself into without ever thinking you’re bored. Berry knows how to write thrillers that will enthrall his readers long into the night. You may find yourself unwilling to set the book aside, even to go to work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tweets as Telegrams

Tweets as Telegrams

It occurred to me as I edited my historical novel that Twitter is the 21st century equivalent of a 19th century telegram.

Think about it. A telegram, for those of you who don’t know, was a succinct and fast way of communicating with others. People sending a telegram would be very brief because there was a cost associated with sending a telegram based on the number of words. So, as one of my characters said in a telegram,

In America Stop On way to new home Stop Will write when there Stop Love Stop Isabelle

In 17 words, Isabelle has conveyed that (1) she’s in America, (2) she’s head for a new home, and (3) she’ll write with the details once she’d settled. What it doesn’t say is (1) why she’s in America (Isabelle is British and is thought to be in China), (2) why she has a new home, (3) when she has an old one in England, and (4) when the letter with the details can be expected.

That’s not too far off the mark from Twitter. Although, with Twitter, my character could have added another 85 characters and been a little more forthcoming with details. So if she’d had Twitter, she might have said this,

I've safely arrived in America and am on my way to New Mexico Territory. I'll write with the details after arriving there. Love, Isabelle

Her Tweet probably wouldn’t satisfy her family any more than her telegram did, but at least they know where she’s going.

While her telegram would have been read by at least three other people, her tweet would have been read by thousands if not millions of people.

History of the Telegram

The telegram first came into use in the 1830s. In 1851, the New York & Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company was formed. In 1855, it merged with the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company to become Western Union. In 1861, it created the first transcontinental telegraph

The Demise of the Telegram

On Monday, 12 July 1999, the final commercial U.S. ship-to-shore telegraph message transmitted from North America by Globe Wireless, a company founded in 1911.The sign-off message repeated Samuel Morse's message from 155 years earlier, "What hath God wrought?"

It wasn’t until January 27, 2006 that Western Union announced, on its website, that it would no longer be transmitting telegrams. Western Union’s 155-year history came to a halt.

An Era’s Demise

An era of communications was dead and almost no one noticed. We were all too busy IMing and emailing to mark its demise.

Beginning of a New Era

Six months later, Twitter was launched in July 2006.