Monthly Archives: August 2012

My Grandfather, the Naked Lady, and that Scandalous Book

You don’t think books are powerful?

My grandfather, at age 25, wrote a novel. It was published in 1906. I have a copy.

For decades — nearly a century — this book was not talked about in my family. It was shocking! It’s still shocking to some of my relatives. So much so that the copy I first uncovered 20 years ago was tucked away in someone’s drawer, and I never saw it again. I had to go to a rare book service to get another one of the few still surviving.

Apparently this book was at least partially autobiographical. Grandpa subtitled it, “Being the Little Story of a Young Railway-Office Clerk,” which is just what he was. He used his real name, with a fanciful and romantic faux middle name. Clever disguise!

In his little book, my grandfather wrote about a young man having an unrequited crush on some beautiful girl that he admired from afar as she walked to and from church every Sunday. He longed to marry her. He fell in love, knowing nothing but her name.

So sweet!

And yet… scandalous to his future wife and eventual children.

There’s the shocking scene where he finds a girl in the bushes smoking a cigarette. The wild night when he gets drunk and has to walk all the way home. The desperate pledge he makes to marry another young lady, a pious and beautiful blonde, who goes to the “Italian church.”

And finally — spoiler alert, in case you want to read the book yourself — he gets very ill, and at death’s door sends his best friend to tell the winsome girl who is the object of his affection that he would die happy if she would only visit him once before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

Reader, visit him she does, but when he professes his interest (in a very restrained way), she tells him that she is going away to join a nunnery. Alas… all his hopes are dashed.

To me, it was entirely fascinating to read the young thoughts of a forebear I never met, and to have a little glimpse into his world. Very cool and very tame. I like to think that we would have enjoyed each other, if we had ever met.

But here is the MOST shocking part. I’m not sure if the fuss was about more about the illustrations than the words. Because my grandfather was also an artist, he drew a sketch of (ready for it… gird your loins!) a naked woman.

Clearly, there were no naked women in those days. It’s a wonder my father ever got born.

And thus the lesson, dear writers — behold the power of the book. Here we are more than one hundred years later, and my grandfather’s little story remains a rather scandalous, barely-discussed subject to his family.

Now, imagine what trouble you can stir up when you write something for your descendants to read and devour!

My Washington, D.C.

Narrated by Vice President Catherine Young, candidate for President (and main character in the best-selling Kindle political thriller RUNNING)

One of my favorite places in the world is Washington, D.C. It’s a beautiful city, full of everything from free public museums to historic monuments, charming neighborhoods, spacious parks, and lively nightlife. Of course, as Vice President, I’m not in a position to wander around like I used to when I was growing up in the Maryland suburbs. My days are full, and I travel, as you can imagine, with an entourage of Secret Service agents and lots of people following me taking videos to put up on Facebook proving they saw the Vice President!

But let me tell you about some of my favorite spots in this city that I so enjoy. Naturally, when you come to the Nation’s Capital, you’ll want to get a tour of the White House. Try to plan in advance. If you have about one month’s notice you can contact your Senator or Member of Congress and ask for a “VIP” tour. But even the regular tour is pretty cool. You’re not likely to run into me or the President on your visit, but you will see some spectacular and historical rooms. One of my favorites is the Red Room. And as you know, I hope to be the next occupant of the Oval Office. I’m already imagining how it will feel to be the first woman to put her feet up on that desk… perhaps I’ll light a cigar to celebrate. On second thought, I don’t think I’d want to stink up the place!

There are monuments galore in Washington. I love the quiet majesty of the Lincoln Memorial, the beauty of the Jefferson Memorial, and the stark obelisk of the Washington Monument reaching into the sky. Spring is a gorgeous time to visit, especially if you can time it to when the cherry blossoms are at their peek. Don’t miss the chance to stroll around the Washington Mall, stopping right at the center so that you can see the cross that forms with the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial along the east-west axis, and the White House to the North and the Jefferson Memorial to the South.

This city is a great place for people watching. Just like Disney World, D.C. is a location that folks from all over the country and the world visit. As a kid, I was always fascinated to see saris and dashikis on the international visitors who came to see the Smithsonian and other free museums. Speaking of museums, don’t miss the exhibits throughout Washington that include dinosaurs and lunar landing vehicles, First Ladies’ dresses and original documents such as the Constitution. There’s the U.S. Mint, the F.B.I. Building, and dozens of other fascinating places run by your government that are open for tours.

D.C. also has cozy neighborhoods, delicious restaurants, and fabulous architecture. Check out Dupont Circle and wander through Rock Creek Park. Visit the National Zoo. And don’t miss one of my favorite secret spots. In the Freer Gallery is a unique nook known as the Peacock Room. When American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (as in the painting of “Whistler’s Mother”) redecorated the room in 1876 and 1877 as a “harmony in blue and gold,” he was inspired by the delicate patterns and vivid colors of the Chinese porcelains. It’s an amazing intimate room to encounter in an equally wonderful museum.

So here you have a small sample of what my beautiful city, Washington, D.C., has to offer. I recommend a personal visit so you can find your own favorite spots. Perhaps you can come down for my inauguration… someday soon.

This is what I’m going for!


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Works in Progress

“I Dream of PIA” (for The Robot Chronicles anthology, available July 25, 2014)

3149/ 3000 words. 100% done!

"Sand Song” (a novella set in Hugh Howey’s SANDbox)

8,627 / 10000 words. 87% done!

"The Terminal” (a dark futuristic short)

2383 / 2000 words. 100% done!

“ROCKS 1” (the first episode in a dystopian series)

5675 / 10000 words. 57% done!

“Salt & Pepper Mystery #1” (Book one of a cozy mystery series)

22379 / 40000 words. 56% done!

Like Running

My Books

Karma of the Silo: the Collection (Karma Omnibus)
Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Cleaning Up: a Silo story (Karma)
Five years have passed since the airlock slammed shut on the 4,000 souls condemned to live in the Silo. Karma can remember now that there was a time before--before she was locked into this cylindrical tomb under the earth. But all she can see of the outside are dead hills and the dark clouds swirling through what remains of a toxic world.

The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn't sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the other residents seem content. Except for the ones who jump to their deaths from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones who are pushed.

Last Walk: a Silo story
The kids are fighting in the Silo—gangs engage in battles between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

Deep Justice: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma has endured twenty-five years underneath the earth. Her path in life—a path she never bargained for—has included marriage to a man she never chose, whose powerful position forces her to hide her memories of the time before.

Rising Up: a Silo story (Karma)
After a hellish three months locked in the private inner sanctum of IT, Karma and her family emerge, bloodied and forever changed. Rick is a man who is no longer in control. Mars has become the power in the Silo.

Silo Saga: SILO SECRETS: Daniel
Daniel is sixteen now, and he can count up to one hundred. He can go all by himself up and down the two levels of the Silo between his home and his job. Daniel knows he's not as smart as some people. But his mother told him he was smart enough to help her, so it must be true. He always believes his mother. His mother is a doctor.

THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN... Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, folksy charmer and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party.

Till Death Do Us Part: a short story
Join Harold and Rosemary as they bring together their family and friends for a night of celebration before a long-planned trip... and see just how this journey ends. Mix a little Dorothy Parker and a little Shirley Jackson, add a twist of David Sedaris and a pinch of O.Henry, and out comes a satirical romp. "Till Death Do Us Part" is a 3,000 word short story. This is a sophisticated take on the way people fool themselves. More New Yorker magazine than Asimov.

The Terminal
To be published next week!

Looking for Lance
A pinch of Dorothy Parker and a twist of O.Henry go into the mix to make this Fitzgerald short a bracing sip of satire. There is a free sample of RUNNING, her best-selling Kindle political thriller, at the end of this story.

Jungle Moon
Another quirky short story from Patrice Fitzgerald about love and the ways people connect. When Felicia gets a special birthday request from her husband Herman, she can't believe what he's asking her to do. Will she say yes? This 3,000 word short story explores the nature of a happy marriage, compromise, and passion. A four-chapter sample of Fitzgerald's best-selling political thriller, RUNNING, is also included.


August 2012
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