Monday, December 19, 2016

Behind a holiday masterpiece

One of the things I like most about this time of year is that people and organizations focus more on disparities in society and the needs of the have-nots. They give generously of their time and money and often find creative ways to improve the lives of others.

We are used to seeing acts of kindness at Christmas time because they are a part of our traditions and culture. For this, we can give many thanks to a troubled man who published one of the great treasures of English literature 173 years ago today.

When Charles Dickens released A Christmas Carol in 1843, millions of people in Great Britain and America, including a great number of children, lived in poverty and squalor. Life, for them, was a daily battle with joblessness, hunger, and disease.

Dickens’ classic, published at the end of the Industrial Revolution, directed public attention to populations that this revolution had left behind. The result was a legacy of awareness and compassion that is still with us today and manifests itself in countless ways.

The novella, which has never gone out of print, has been adapted many times to film, television, radio, and theater, among other media. I recommend the 1951 film, starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge, but many other adaptations are worthy of attention.

Some background on the book and the author can be found online at Literary Traveler, the (UK) Telegraph, the British Library, Wikipedia, and TIME magazine, which produced a fine article on the classic this month. I encourage you to check the sources out.

So in the spirit of Charles Dickens, his causes, and his signature work, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(Credit: Image of Charles Dickens from Wikipedia Commons.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A first draft for a last book

Fifty-five days after telling others I would not begin writing the fifth American Journey book until January 1, I have finished its first draft. Weighing in at just over 100,000 words, it is the fifth longest of my ten novels, the second to complete a series, and the first to feature chapters set in another part of the world.

Set in Chattanooga, Southern California, and the Pacific Theater of World War II, Hannah’s Moon will follow a childless couple and the wife’s brother from 2017 to 1945. I hope to find a suitable cover in the next three weeks and begin the editing process in January. The projected publishing date of April 1 remains unchanged.