Sunday, April 29, 2018

Twelve Seconds That Changed the World

Think back. What have you done in the last twelve seconds? Did your last twelve seconds change the world? Could you change the world in twelve seconds? The answer is most assuredly, Yes.

On December 17, 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright changed life as the world knew it. On a sandy beach of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Orville, dressed in coat and tie, left earth’s gravity and flew the first airplane, keeping it aloft for twelve seconds for a distance of 120 feet. The brothers proved that a manned, heavier-than-air, machine could leave the ground under its own power, fly through the air, and land on a point as high as that from which it started.

Three more times that day they took turns flying their aircraft. The second attempt lasted, again, twelve seconds but went 175 feet. The third lasted fifteen seconds but went 200 feet, and the fourth attempt on December 17th lasted fifty-nine seconds and landed 852 feet from where it had begun.

Since then, airplanes have provided transportation to distant places, dropped bombs in wars, broken the sound barrier, and, with a few adjustments, landed men on the moon. What have you done in the last twelve seconds that made such a difference to humanity?

Last weekend, after bringing his dad and me home from a cruise ship, Bill and Cyndi made a detour and took us to Kitty Hawk, NC. I’d wanted to see Kitty Hawk since I moved to this state and was thrilled to know I would finally get there. When we parked the car, we saw a big open field with a monument on a high mound. The Wright Brothers 60-foot white monument atop Kill Devil Hill marks the site of the hundreds of glider flights that preceded the first powered flight.

In another area, a rail spanned a length of maybe fifty feet along the ground. The plane rode the rail with Wilbur steadying the wings until it was airborne. At the end of the rail sits a life-size replica of the first plane, made of bronze and steel and weighing ten thousand pounds. Lying on his stomach on the bottom wing is a statue of Orville manning the controls. In back of the plane stands Wilbur, his arms outstretched having just released the plane’s wings from his grasp. Behind them, is the statue of photographer John Daniels ready to take a picture with his camera affixed to a tripod. Three other men stand by for eternity, witnessing the first airplane flight.

I felt as though I, too, were a witness to that historic occasion as I stood with John Daniels and Wilbur and watched Orville prepare to take control of the sky.

Granted, there were years of preparation that took place before that first moment in 1903, but the actual flight that proved it could be done, took twelve seconds. And changed the world forever.

Quote of the Day: “They have done it! Damned if they ain’t flew!” Witness to the first flight.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Maggie's Dream - A Terrific Read

Today I have the extreme pleasure of interviewing a writer I met last month at the local authors’ event in Raleigh. Her name is Leslie Tall Manning and her latest novel is entitled, Maggie’s Dream.

In order to do a proper interview, I ordered the book on Kindle and began reading it. Hours later, I was still reading, unable to put it down. This morning dirty dishes sat in the sink, dust covered the furniture, and Charlie’s bird cage needed cleaning, but I sat at the table with my eyes glued to the Kindle until I reached the end of the story. It was that good!

Let me give you a couple of examples of her exquisite writing. In her other world, time meant nothing. But in this one, the clock breathed against the back of her neck as a constant reminder that seconds were ticking away.  Or: She could feel her last bit of self-control sliding through her fingers into the cool steel of the sword, then dripping out the tip and into the sand. Or this: John stood up and leaned against the inside of the window sill, staring out into the mist like a romantic poet gathering words for his next sonnet.

I am learning much from her writing style; now I’d like you to meet this talented author.

Good morning, Leslie. Give us an idea where you call home.
I live in a turn-of-the-century house located in a tiny river town in Eastern North Carolina. Grits, Spanish moss, Civil War graveyards…the whole Southern shebang!

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing seriously for twenty years, since that first play written and directed in college, all the way through fourteen novels (three published thus far).

What type of writing do you normally do?
I write both Adult and YA novels. Each of my books is a stand-alone, and each one is quite different from the other. I am a plot-forward thinker, so my characters grow organically out of the circumstances in which they find themselves. I also still dabble in play writing, and I will hopefully be collaborating on a musical in the next few years.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your book?
My historical fantasy Maggie's Dream is about a Rosie the Riveter caught between two worlds: a dream world in which she can have anything she wishes, and the real world which is not yet ready to support her desire for independence. It is an adult fairy tale combining post-WWII feminism, psychotherapy, and Carl Jung’s theory of collective consciousness. One reader referred to Maggie’s Dream as “a cross between Ira Levin and Alice Hoffman.”

What prompted you to write this story?
I wanted to tell a story about a Rosie the Riveter after WWII…you know, when the women were forced to go back to their Hoover vacuums and frilly aprons and Betty Crocker cookbooks after spending years working in a man’s world. I love exploring feminism and how it has evolved over time. Because I have a keen interest in the psychologist Carl Jung, I decided to add a dream element to the story, giving it a magical quality that adds to the conventional historical fiction novel.

How long did it take to write the book?
I originally wrote the book seven years ago in rough form, but then other books poured out of me, and my agent was shopping them, and I didn’t get a chance to revisit Maggie’s Dream again until two years ago. If I were to add up all the hours of research, pre-writing, writing, and editing…I’d have to say a total of three and a half years. The historical aspects of writing are often the most intense because every detail must be researched to perfection.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?
In this scene, Maggie, after being away from her dream world for longer than she’d like, compares her secret world to a fairy tale: “Does Cinderella, one foot bare, become immobilized on the palace steps if the book is closed just before the clock strikes twelve? Maggie believed her dream world was like a fairy tale, everything just as she had left it, patiently awaiting her return.”

Is it published and, if so, when and by whom?
Yes, Maggie’s Dream was published in fall, 2017, by Yours Truly.
I highly recommend this book, so how can my readers get a copy?
It’s for sale pretty much everywhere! Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, some bookstores, a few libraries…just search my name on any of these sites, or go to my website: And if you read the book, be sure to review on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever makes you happy.

Do you do something besides sit at a computer?
I market, attend writing events, and connect with other authors. I am also a part-time tutor, helping K-12 students with study skills and writing. When I get the rare break from both writing and tutoring, I travel with my husband, usually off the beaten path somewhere in Europe, and most often with a backpack filled with cheese and bread to eat on the train.

Do you have some advice for would-be writers?
Know from the start that writing is a solitary act. It can make your brain tired and your wrists and back ache. Hard to get going? Find a mantra and repeat it every day. I have my own: “This book ain’t gonna write itself.” I say this every single workday, and then I go to my office and write. And write. And write. Live it. Breathe it. Want it. Need it. Honor it. Rejections stop you cold? Find and cut all of the positive comments others have offered regarding your writing. Put them in your writing space in frames, in a notebook, as decoupage, or whatever. Read them before you get going each day. You deserve to feel good about your career choice, especially if you are dedicated to it!

What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?
That self-publishing was a viable option. I was so afraid of the stigma attached to self-pubbing back when I started writing, that I hesitated going that route for years. I have no regrets, but if I could go back in time, I would have gone indie sooner, as difficult as it is. I also wish I’d known it would take twenty years to get to where I am now regarding publication. Would I have quit if I’d known? No way, José! But at least I would have been a lot more patient while stumbling up that crazy mountain.

What’s next for you?
I just sent a final copy of a new novel to my agent, so I will keep you posted on how that goes! I recently took a two-week break between projects, so this week I continued a Young Adult Civil Rights book I started a year ago. I am very excited. Two weeks without creating and I start to lose my marbles!

I hear you. Thank you, Leslie, and thank you for an incredible story. I won’t forget Maggie anytime soon.

Quote of the Day: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream. Shakespeare