From Stagecoaches to Starships: Author Cynthia Woolf, with giveaway

Today I have a special treat on my blog! Cynthia Woolf writes western historical romance and science fiction romance – cool combo, huh? I recently read the first in her science fiction romance series, Centauri Dawn, and really enjoyed it! If you always wished there were more romance in Star Trek, then you really should check these books out. I know I’ll be reading the rest of the series, and I want to give her historicals a read too.

JMP: Cynthia, how long have you been writing? How many books did you write before publishing?

CW: I’ve been writing seriously to publish since 1990. I had finished 2 books when I decided to publish them on my own. The first one I published was actually the second one I finished.

JMP: Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.

CW: I published my books independently. I couldn’t find a traditional publisher who wanted my books, so indie publishing was the only way that my work would ever see the light of day. I’ve been very, very lucky in that my books are being well received. I’m always surprised that others like my work. 🙂

JMP: I know the feeling!  I love how indie publishing has opened up opportunities for sooo many wonderful books that didn’t fit the NY mold. Yet, some indie writers are still looking for that elusive contract. Now that you’ve tasted the control and flexibility that comes with indie publishing, are you still pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or perhaps an agent?

CW: I am not pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I’ve already made more than I would with an advance from a traditional publisher and my books will be out there forever, earning me money and making people happy.

JMP: That’s awesome! And inspiring for those of us still working to build readership. Especially the part about “earning money and making people happy.” I love it! Tell us about your current or upcoming release.

CW: My current release is TAME A WILD WIND. It is the second in my western romance series set in southwestern Colorado in the late 1800’s. It is the story of a widow with two children who meets a widower looking for resolution.

JMP: Sounds like a good read! Do you read or write series books? What do you love or not love about series?

CW: I do write my books in series and I like to read series. The reason for both is that I love to revisit old characters and see what they are doing now.

JMP: Me too. Tell us about a really fantastic novel you’ve read recently?

CW: I just finished While You Were Dead by CJ Snyder. Excellent romantic suspense novel. She keeps you on the edge during the whole book and I never saw the villain coming. Great book.

JMP: I downloaded that when it was free. I’m looking forward to reading it! Does your significant other read your books? What about your parents? Your kids?

CW: My husband does read my books but not until they are finished and he doesn’t want to know anything about them before hand. Not even the blurb. The first one he read, Centauri Dawn, he loved and he doesn’t read romance. It was very gratifying.

My extended family also reads my books, Some love them and some (the older relatives) think there is too much sex in them. LOL

JMP: LOL, I can relate to the latter! And now for the authors that are reading: what are some things you did to build your readership? What’s worked? What didn’t?

CW: I tweet like a mad woman, every 3 – 4 hours about my books. I’ll tweet about other things in between and I retweet for anyone who retweets me. I figure that’s the best thank you I can give someone is to tweet about their books. I also facebook. And I blog. I’ve found these to be the most effective for expanding my readership. The things that I’ve paid for tend to be the least effective. It may just be me, but so far I haven’t seen any increase in sales for the paid advertising that I’ve done.

JMP: That’s encouraging! Especially for us who are also working to build a blog readership as well. But most of all, I love reading about success! Thanks so much for being here, Cynthia!

You can find out more about Cynthia and her books at her website:

Tame a Wild Wind is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance Ebooks.

So what about you? Do you like a little romance mixed in with your science fiction? Or a little science fiction mixed in with your romance? Or if you prefer something more real-world, do you like historical settings or contemporary?

Got a question for Cynthia? Anyone who comments will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of her latest release, Tame a Wild Wind. I’ll do the drawing between 6PM and midnight (EDT) on Friday using, and either Cynthia or I will email the winner, so speak up to win!


UPDATE: The winner of Tame a Wild Wind is Coleen Patrick! Coleen, Cynthia will email you your prize! Thanks for all your comments, everyone!

To Video, or no?

I have been wondering about the preponderence of video, in place of the written word. Today, I was taking a break at work and went to a blog I follow, and was happy to find that today, the blogger was discussing something I’d been wondering about for a long time. I read it eagerly, looking for the answer…

Only to find that the remainder of the blog – and the answer to the question – was in a video.

Well, poo. I would have to wait until I got home to find out.* Because I was at work, and without headphones to plug into my computer. I supposed I could have pulled it up on my phone (which I was listening to with Bluetooth headphones), but…

Nah. Too much trouble. And takes too long.

I am not fond of videos as a rule. Maybe this comes from the fact that I hardly ever watch TV. But that’s mostly because I don’t have time. But lately, several blogs I follow have posted a video instead of a written blog post – or at least, the “meat” of the post is in a video. And I find this unfortunate. Because at work, my usual choice is to just skip it. Even if I have headphones with me. If I’m working at my client’s location, even that isn’t an option – blogs are blocked. I read them on my phone, and while YouTube works fine on it, it’s slow (in addition to the time to watch the video). If the video is from Vimeo,  that’s a total non-starter – Vimeo doesn’t work on my phone at all.

The thing is, I can read fast. But a video is the speed it is. I can’t watch it any faster than it will play, nor can I easily skim ahead to the part I want to see. With written material, I can read quickly (my usual MO), or just skim to the parts that interest me.

That’s probably why I’m not a fan of audio books either – you can’t skip the boring parts. Of course, we all try not to put those boring parts into our books in the first place. But invariably, some make it in – to any book. Of course, if enough people were interested in an audio version of my books – I’d certainly look into it! But would probably only listen to them once myself.

Even Holly Lisle uses video in some of her fantastic online fiction workshops. I watch those, but knowing I have a 20 minute video to sit through, even if it’s interesting, good stuff, makes it that much harder to get to it in the first place.

People email me videos from time to time, and of course, there are plenty of Facebook shares. I like them if they’re really, really funny, but otherwise I skip them. With dozens of emails a day and writing to do, who has time?

Several industry pundits have hypothesized that ebooks will move to an “enhanced” form, where text will be supplemented with video. If these are an alternative offering to a text, or text and picture only format, great – some people probably love them. But I sure hope they don’t replace text-only ebooks. I read because I want to read. Not to mention, a good, professional video takes some doing to produce, even a decent DIY job, and they’d undoubtedly raise the price of the book.

I get it that sometimes, something just can’t be as easily explained with text and pictures, and if it’s something I’m trying to learn, I’ll watch a video. Or if it’s really, really funny. Otherwise, please write!

* I emailed the one blog to myself through Google Reader, and watched it when I got home from work. But usually I don’t remember to do this.

In the interest of presenting both sides, here a couple videos that are so freakin’ funny I can watch them over and over. I don’t think either of these would be at all effective in text and still photos.

Cat Yodeling, anyone? LOL!

I don’t know why, but I LMAO every time I see this one:

So tell me, am I the only one who’d usually rather read than watch? Do you like audio books? What do you think the concept of enhanced ebooks – is this something you’re looking forward to, or is it pretty much a “meh” thing, like it is for me?

Photo via Microsoft Office Images

My Town Monday: Fight Club – in Dayton!

This Saturday night, 16 area business people, arts and charitable organization representatives, Dayton Daily News staffers, and other volunteers will participate in Dayton’s own fight club – for charity. These fighters and their audience of 2500 (if it sells out) will get to take a little trip back in time, too (figuratively, of course) as they take Memorial Hall back to its glory days, when it was the place to go to see the fights.

Inspired by the venue’s history, as well as the sport of boxing’s storied past in the area, Dayton History is teaming up with Drake’s Downtown Gym to put on Dayton Knockout VIP Fight Night, with the proceeds to benefit Dayton History and the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio. It looks like it will be a fun time!

Gene Tunney & Jack Dempsey at Memorial Hall - note how the audience is all sitting in folding chairs, on the floor

It’s probably because I’m not a big sports fan that I had no idea of the significant part Dayton played in football history until I began looking for interesting things to blog about for My Town Monday. Similarly, I also had no idea boxing was a big draw in decades past. But starting in the late nineteenth century, boxing clubs started popping up all over town, and before long, some had gained a national reputation. One of these was Dayton Gym Club, which produced several Golden Gloves teams and was voted one of the best fight clubs in the U.S. in the 1950s.

Dayton’s Memorial Hall was dedicated in 1910. The “Memorial” part refers to veterans of the Civil War and Spanish-American War, whom the citizens wanted to honor. It’s on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. I’ve attended many concerts and plays there, but never a sporting event. However, it was a popular destination for boxing until the 1940s, when raised seating was installed. The last public performance held there was Bill Cosby, in 2001. It used to be the home of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and other performing arts organization, who have since moved on to the Schuster Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2003. Memorial Hall closed that year, and reopened in 2010, when the county placed it under the management of Dayton History.

Memorial Hall in the early 20th century

Tickets are only $15, or $25 for a package deal that includes entertainment by local band Funky G and the Groove Machine in the lounge downstairs plus three drink tickets. Local entertainment magazine Dayton Most Metro is giving away five pairs of tickets too – if you’re local and want to win ’em, hop on over to their Facebook page.

Have you ever attended an amateur sporting event like this? I normally don’t care for boxing, but this sounds entertaining. Got any interesting sports history from your area to share?

Additional Resources:

Dayton Most Metro, “Boxing in Dayton, From Past History to Present ‘Knockout‘” by J.T. Ryder
The Dayton Daily News, “Taking a Punch for Charitable Causes” by Amelia Robinson 

Photos via Dayton Most Metro and Dayton History

Why I Stopped Reading

Not everything! Just one particular book. It’s what some popular book review blogs call a DNF, to borrow from auto racing terms: Did Not Finish.

It was a free download, so I didn’t feel as obligated to finish as I might have if I’d paid for it. It wasn’t by someone I know, or anyone I network with, so that also cut down on the potential guilt factor. And I gave it a chance: it was approximately 75,000 words, and I read over 25% before I gave up on it, deleted it from my smartphone, and moved on.

boring e-book

Life's too short to read boring books!

I always like to analyze why I give up on a book, so I can learn something from it. The reason I put this one aside? One word: boring!

So what made this book boring? Or to put it another way, what did this book lack?

Well, for starters, it was a straight contemporary romance – no suspense or paranormal –  which I’ll admit is not my thing unless it’s a) really funny or b) really sexy or c) really emotional. This book was none of those. While it had its mildly humorous moments, they were super-mild, and I don’t know if they were even amusing enough to make me smile. It did have a consummated love scene in the portion I read – and I felt none of the rush of excitement or desire when the characters got it on. Instead, it was glossed over pretty quickly. But what really killed it was that the emotions were barely hinted at – and this was one of those best friends to lovers stories where the emotional whirlwind is key.

Add to that the fact that this was an office-set romance – which I have nothing against, but in this case, there were way too many boring details about work and again, at the cost of the emotions, the excitement and the fear the characters should have felt at risking being found out – and the impact it could have on their careers.

In a romance novel, emotion is what it’s all about. In a paranormal romance, some of the slack can be taken up by the weirdness of whatever situation the character’s in, otherworldly setting, magic, whatever. In a historical or suspense, there’s often other stuff going on that can pick up some as well. In this book, the author seemed to be trying to do this with the character’s work – which might have been okay if it was interesting, but it wasn’t.

In the book’s defense, it was well-written from a technical standpoint, it had an interesting premise, and characters that could have been people I’d have enjoyed spending a few hours with, had their emotions been better drawn. The book wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t have kept reading – except like most people, I have a To-Be-Read list (and pile of print books) that’s easily over a hundred books, if you count freebies I’ve picked up at conferences over the years that I still haven’t gotten around to reading. So with all that “competition” for my time…. life’s too short.

And this, I suspect, is the battle all authors face.

Read (or tried to read) any boring books lately? Or any that you just couldn’t see the point in finishing? Care to share why? If you’re an author, do you try to pick these apart to learn what not to write?

My Town Monday: Ohio, the Heart of It All – for Romance Novels! released an interesting study last week: The Most Romantic Cities in the U.S. They based this on per-capita purchases by customers in cities of over 100,000 people – as in how many romance novels they bought, how many romantic comedy movies and television shows they rented or purchased, and purchases of CDs and sexual health products.

The results may surprise you; I know I was. Apparently, Virginia is still for Lovers, but not as much as last year – and not as much as Tennessee and Florida. New York certainly isn’t – NYC was at the very bottom of the list. The other surprise? Two Ohio cities made the top 20: Cincinnati at #5, and Dayton at #9!

So where are all the romance novels that take place in Ohio? It’s the first place that comes to mind when choosing a setting… oh wait, that’s just me. Or is it?

If you’re looking for a good contemporary romance, turns out it’s not hard to find one set in Ohio. Big name authors like Lori Foster, Jennifer Crusie, Toni Blake, and Diane Castell have all written a number of romances that take place in Ohio. Some are in big cities, like Columbus or Cincinnati, while others feature the ever-popular small-town romance, like Toni Blake’s series set in the fictitious town of Destiny. A recent read I enjoyed was Forever Material, a romantic comedy by Athena Grayson, which takes place in an unnamed suburb of Cincinnati.

Time's Enemy CoverBut what about historical romance, or paranormal? Those are a little trickier. The only historical that quickly comes to mind is Into the Valley, by Roseanne Bittner, which is several years old, but very good. For paranormal, there’s Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Waling urban fantasy series. I haven’t read these, so I don’t know how much romance is in them, if any.

Those all take place in Cincinnati. So where’s the love for #9 on the list, Dayton? Offhand, I can’t think of any romance novels set in Dayton except for one, and you need venture no further than this website for that. Time’s Enemy is historical, it’s contemporary, it’s paranormal. And it’s set in Dayton.

Do you know of any good romance novels set in Ohio? Especially historical or paranormal? Especially Dayton?? Bring ’em on! I want to read them.

My Town Monday: A Room Fit for a Time Traveler

The Algonquin in 1904

What do you do if you’re stuck in Dayton’s past, bad guys are after you, and you need a place to hunker down until you can return to the twenty-first century? If you’re time-traveler Tony Solomon, you approach the problem logically, and go to the first hotel you think of that was there then – and is still there in the twenty-first century, and is still a hotel.

The obvious choice would be the Gibbons, now the Dayton Grand Hotel.

Initially named the Algonquin, the building was constructed in 1898, and helped establish Dayton as a place to do business, whether you’re visiting from across Ohio, or across the Atlantic Ocean. According to one newspaper, “People can no longer point to Dayton as a one-street city.”

The Gibbons Hotel, from a 1930s postcard

The Algonquin made the news during the Great Flood of 1913, where some 250 people were trapped in the upper floors. They were better off than most people stranded by the 12-15 foot waters, for they had food and a relatively comfortable place to sleep.

Real estate developer Michael J. Gibbons bought the Algonquin in 1918, and changed its name to the Gibbons Hotel, which it remained until 1963, when it became the Dayton Inn. Either then or later, it became part of the Hilton properties, going through several names. It was the Doubletree from the late 90s until just a couple months ago. It’s now called the Dayton Grand Hotel.


Above is the hotel as it is today. The building next to it was the Post Office in the 1930’s. That building currently houses the Federal Bankruptcy Court. The parking lot, outlined in green, is accessible from Third Street by a narrow alley between the buildings, and plays a key role in Time’s Enemy.

Photos: Algonquin Hotel in 1904 via Dayton History Books Online, courtesy of the Library of Congress
1930s Postcard of the Gibbons Hotel via
Modern-day photos via Google Maps and Google Street View
For reference:  Dayton History Books Online

Here’s a short excerpt from Time’s Enemy, in which Tony discovers that perhaps the Gibson wasn’t such a good place to hide after all.

Tony paced across his room at the Gibbons, the only downtown hotel he was aware of that still existed as such in his time, although it had a different name. He threw open the window and gazed over the parking lot, already darkened by the lengthening shadows of the buildings that surrounded it on three sides.

He’d blundered around for hours after he left Charlotte, then took in a movie, something about a lion tamer. He sat through it twice—not because it was good, but because it had enough action to take the edge of his mind off Charlotte.

He paced to the door, then back to the window again. What was he thinking? He was a man who led through knowledge and order. A man who rearranged the magazines on people’s coffee tables. Not the kind of guy who threw a punch without thinking. Or at all, for that matter.

Never mind that it had felt damn good.

Through Charlotte, he’d discovered his heart wasn’t dead, and he could still feel excitement, anticipation and wonder. She was the first woman he’d found remotely interesting since Dora’s defection.

The woman who had the answer he needed but wouldn’t give it to him. Hopelessness settled over him like a new fallen snow. In his quest for knowledge, he’d failed. Was the one thing he wanted—his daughter’s life—too much to ask?

He sat and took off his shoes. If he got extra sleep, maybe the mental energy he needed to bring on the pull would build sooner.

He peered around the room. Bed, dresser, nightstand. Not much different than any of those he’d stayed in on his many travels, other than the absence of a TV and phone. And quiet. At his request, the desk clerk had given him a luxury room with a private bath on the sixth floor. There were no other guests in the wing.

It would be an adequate place to live—exist—until the pull returned him to the twenty-first century. Hopefully, the room would be unoccupied in his time. After he warped, he’d check into the modern-day hotel, then crash.

He wandered back toward the door when someone knocked.

“Yes?” What the hell did someone want this late?

“Room service,” a man in the hallway called.

“I didn’t order anything.” Tony hoped the intruder heard the irritation in his response.

“It says Room 639 right here on the order… Open faced beef sandwich with mashed potatoes, green beans, apple pie…”

Hmmm, that sounded good. Tony hadn’t eaten since breakfast, hadn’t been hungry, but eating might also speed the renewal of his mental energy. Better take them up on it, even if he didn’t order the dinner. He yanked the door open.

The black man in the hallway wore a white server’s uniform, but his hands were empty. Tony glanced down the hall in both directions. Where was the cart? “Where’s the food?”

“My apologies, Mr. Solomon, but I need to talk to you—”

Tony glowered at the man. “Who are you and what do you want?” Something about him struck Tony as familiar.

“My name is Theodore Pippin.”

Fear shot an icy tentacle down Tony’s throat. He couldn’t move. Moisture trickled down his back beneath his undershirt. God, how could he be so stupid? Charlotte and his failure had clouded his mind so much he’d forgotten all about the Saturn Society’s threat.

His stupor snapped. He shoved the door, but he man blocked it with his foot. “I’m with an organization called the Saturn Society… perhaps you’ve heard of us?”

“Yeah, and I’m not interested.” Tony leaned against the door, trying to dislodge Pippin’s foot. “Get out—”

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Mr. Solomon. Now if I could come in, we could discuss this like gentlemen…”

“There’s nothing to discuss.” Not with the man who’d been lauded for subduing more time-criminals than any other Society member in known history. Tony leaned harder against the door, but Pippin’s foot held. “Get out of here, or I’ll—” Somewhere outside, a woman shouted. He glanced at the window. Big mistake. Pippin took the opportunity to wedge himself through the door.

More information on Time’s Enemy

You’re special! And so are you, and you, and you…

Worthwhile, or BS?

My daughter had to clean out her room – I mean, get everything out – before we painted it last summer. It was a huge job – she’s had that same bedroom, and the same furniture, same stuff on the walls, for years, so decluttering was long overdue.
On top of one box, was a blue ribbon she got one year at Field Day. This was one of the boxes that was headed for the garbage.

How could she just throw out a blue ribbon? Is she that un-sentimental?

I remember the day she brought it home. She was in third or fourth grade, and stuck it on the mini-bulletin board on back of her door. “You got a blue ribbon?” I was a bit surprised. You see, when I was in school, Field Day was fun for a lot of kids. A day out of the classroom, where we got to run and play and do sports. To me, it was sitting outside in the hot sun (it was always close to the last day of school) being bored out of my mind – on top of being an all-day reminder that I suck at anything athletic. You know, the slowest time in the 100-yard dash, last one picked for any team, guaranteed to strike out in softball and get hit with the dodge ball every time. My husband, on the other hand, is very athletic. But in that area, our daughter is more like me.

So her getting a ribbon in field day surprised me, until I took a closer look: “Participation,” it read.

"When everybody's special, no one is!"

“Everyone who didn’t win something got one of those.” She shrugged. “It’s stupid. One of those things they think is good for our self esteem.” She said “self esteem” in an air-quotes enunciation. LOL! Even at age nine, my daughter had already developed a healthy BS-detector.

Because that’s pretty much what it is. When I was a kid, only the winners got ribbons. If I’d gotten one, I’d have known it for what it was, too. Kids aren’t dumb. Most of them know this stuff is supposed to make them feel good, but it usually ends up just being patronizing. I don’t think not winning any Field Day ribbons gave me any major self-image issues. On one hand, it’s important to recognize the ones who do have special talents, especially when that may be all they have. My husband struggled in school, but he excelled at sports. If he’d gotten a ribbon for “participating” in a spelling bee (which he’d have probably been the first one eliminated), he’d have called BS, too.

What do you think? Does everyone deserve to be “special” or is this just needless pandering that everyone knows is BS?

Reading Outside Our Usual Genres: Northcoast Shakedown by Jim Winter

I first read Northcoast Shakedown by my friend Jim Winter, back in 2005, when it was first released in print by a small press. It’s a fast-paced, engaging story with a quirky main character who’s so real, it’s hard to believe he’s fictional. Upon the re-read, my original opinion stands: P.I. Nick Kepler’s a piece of work (in a good way!) and never fails to entertain.

The majority of my reading consists of romance, suspense, fantasy and science fiction; preferably a combination of two or more of these. However, it’s good to take a departure from the usual every now and then and try something different. For me, the occasional “different” is usually a cozy mystery or straight fantasy, or perhaps something more mainstream. Occasionally, I pick up something more straight-suspense, usually upon the recommendation of a friend, or in this case, something written by a friend.

Northcoast Shakedown is crime fiction, a P.I. story with a bit of noir that doesn’t cross the line into too dark and dreary. Main character Nick Kepler is a P.I. with the perfect, cushy gig of tracking down workers’ comp fraud and the occasional cheating spouse. When the book opens, he’s investigating just that, plus a questionnable life insurance claim that’s more a matter of saving an underwriter’s job than saving the company money. But the more he digs in, the more questionable the life insurance claim appears, and not for the reasons the company thinks. Before Nick knows it, he’s in over his head in a world of swingers’ clubs, political cover-ups, and murder, and finds himself next on a killer’s hit list.

What made this book really enjoyable was Keper himself. He’s a very relatable character, a regular guy who just wants to get his job done and kick back with a beer and watch baseball afterward. His quirky dislike of SUVs and ability to be distracted by an attractive female are among the little details that make him real and fun. He has certain principles that he refuses to compromise, and others that aren’t so rigid, and reading him wrestling with these choices is what really made me want to root for him, especially when he deals with the aftermath of a choice between shitty and shittier. While totally a man’s-man, his emotions are 100% real and believable, and Winter didn’t pull any punches getting them on the page.

I had a few nits with the book, although they may be more genre conventions than anything else. One thing I’ve noticed is that mystery writers sometimes spend a lot of words getting a character from one place to another, nothing street names, traffic patterns, and scenery along the way. For the most part, that stuff works in Northcoast Shakedown, as Nick’s often being tailed (or fears he is). I’ve read other books where the driving becomes a travelogue (and a place to skim).

Another genre thing is the need for suspects and red herrings in a mystery often results in a large cast of characters. Northcoast Shakedown is no exception. However, there are so many minor/extra characters in this book, I found it hard to keep track of them. In this case, I’m not talking about the long list of persons of interest – the book does very well there. But Kepler is a former cop, and has associates in several different departments in addition to other government types and colleages/customers at the insurance company – enough that they eventually ran together in my mind.

Finally, I’ve talked about dated books before here. In his author’s note, Winter mentions that the book was written in 2002. There’s definitely the occasional reference to outdated technology (Windows 2000? Firewire?). Kepler also doesn’t appear to have a smartphone, GPS, or even an MP3 player – and while I can see Kepler as a guy who refuses to use a smartphone, I can’t imagine him not owning an mp3 player these days (or at least using his computer as a stereo while he works). Knowing that the book was written ten years ago, I could deal, but stuff like this did momentarily take me out of the story. Still, these things are minor, and Northcoast Shakedown was as enjoyable a read now as it was when initially published. So if you’re looking for an entertaining, fast-paced suspense, check out Northcoast Shakedown at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Do you stick to mostly one genre when you read fiction? If so, do you occasionally step outside? Do you notice things that you think are probably genre conventions, but clash with what you’re used to?

My Town Monday: We’ve Come a Long, Long Way

Indie filmmaker David Schock didn’t listen to more than the first few minutes of the odd, unlabeled tape in the box full he’d received for his film that day in early 2008. He was collecting audio of performances by poet and theatrical performer Herbert Woodward Martin for his film Jump Back, Honey, and that extra tape clearly wasn’t one Schock needed for his project.

Who knew something like this could contain a treasure?

He was a little curious about the tape, of the old reel-to-reel format. It started out with someone noting that it was taped at the University Dayton in November of 1964, and introduced Dayton City Commissioner Don L. Crawford, and Charles Wesley, the president of Central State College. He set the tape aside and went on with his work.

Over a year later, the project was finished, and Schock attended a well-received premiere at U.D. But he remembered that odd, unmarked tape he still hadn’t listed to, so he dragged out his equipment and gave it a listen – this time, to the whole thing. Sure enough, it started with opening remarks by president Wesley and Commissioner Crawford, who was the first African-American to be elected to that office. Then the featured speaker came on: Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dayton Daily News pics from 1964

Calls to U.D.’s archivist confirmed that Dr. King had, indeed, visited Dayton on November 28, 1964, and had given a speech at the U.D. Fieldhouse to a crowd of 6,200. In his usual, eloquent style, King addressed how “we’ve come a long, long way” in terms of racial equality, but noted that we still had a long way to go. He advocated peaceful protest and using the ballot box as the way to effect change, and highlighted the need for legislation to abolish discrimination. The tape cut off fifty minutes into his speech. The rest of his talk remains lost, the whereabouts of any other, complete recordings of it – if any exist – are still unknown.

Schock contacted Mr. Martin, the subject of his film, who’d provided him with the box of media. Martin had no idea where the tape had come from, or how it came into his possession. He hadn’t listened to it, nor was he aware of its contents.

King was not universally welcomed

Later newspaper articles about King’s speech surfaced, and revealed how, while King spoke to an enthusiastic crowd, there was a different scene outside the Fieldhouse, where protesters gathered, bearing signs with racial epithets and calling Dr. King a communist.

Despite this, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just a few weeks later, and gave almost the same speech there as the one he’d given in Dayton.

It’s easy for me to think we’ve come a long way, since I wasn’t around at the time King gave this speech, but one only need to watch the news to see that there’s still a long way to go, even now, almost 50 years later. You can hear Dr. King’s speech, digitized by David Schock, on the Jump Back, Honey website, as well as read a transcript of it.

What do you think? And can you imagine finding a treasure like that tape in a box of stuff you’d obtained for something completely different?

More at the My Town Monday blog

Reel-to-reel tape photo via
Dayton Daily News photos by Bill Koehler via 

Happy Nude Year! Or, Words We Mishear

Happy Nude Year!

One of my friends from college has a funny and slightly unique way of wishing people good tiding for the upcoming year: Happy Nude Year! She’s been saying this for years, and my husband and I often use it ourselves. Yet probably three fourths of the people we say it to don’t hear what we say. Granted, it’s close to the original, but the “D” in “nude” is definitely discernible – and our friends are not hard of hearing! Those who do hear it usually laugh. Others just return the standard greeting and go on their way. I guess it’s like proofreading something you’ve written – you miss a lot of mistakes, because you see what you expect. People hear what they expect.

On another note, I’ve finished the markup of Time’s Fugitive.  (Can we have a round of applause, please? Okay, I’ll settle for the sound of one hand clapping – mine.) Now all I need to do is type it in, read it aloud, refine and polish… sheesh, I’m getting tired again already. But really, the biggest part of the revision work is now done.

For New Year’s Eve, DH and I will spend a nice, relatively quiet evening with the neighbors. We can drink all we want without having to worry about driving, especially given that it’s amateur night for that. After owning a bar for over ten years, it’s nice to not have to go out.

What are you doing for New Year’s? Got any funny variations on common phrases to share? In any case, have a happy 2012 – and a happy nude year, too!

Illustration via Microsoft Office Images