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TRIBUTE TO A PLACE THAT IS SPECIAL TO MY HEART

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My fascination with England began with the music.

The British Music Invasion that began many decades ago thankfully never stopped. This video is a tribute to those bands, past and present. Be patient. Whoever made this video saved some of the best for last. If I didn’t finally see The Who and The Beatles by the end, it wasn’t going to be the video I chose for this blog. (WARNING: It’s loud, so if your headphones are as good as mine, you may want to lower the volume.)

Yes, I love the accents, too.

I fell in love with English literature next, while still in high school. I greatly admire Charles Dickens, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, George Orwell, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, D.H. Lawrence, and now J.K. Rowling (just to name a few HA HA).tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-012

I must also include the poets—Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats, Rudyard Kipling, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and William Blake (just a few again).

Of course, I do like American literature, just as I like American bands. (I’ve been a huge Motown fan since the age of ten.) There is so much talent to appreciate in this world, but I’m touching on what resonated with me above all.

I doubt anyone else in my high school junior class was as excited to read Wuthering Heights or see A Christmas Carol at Radio City Music Hall.

I haven’t tried a lot of British food, but we once had a place in New York City called David Copperfield’s. Since they had named the place after one of my favorite books by Charles Dickens, I had to check it out. They had a few English dishes. I think I had Bangers and Mash. The place closed and then reopened on the upper west side serving a hundred kinds of beer and mostly bar food. I’ve never been to that one (not a beer or bar person), but it probably closed again.

Lastly, I have heard of the many beautiful places in England. I’ve seen incredible photos. But despite the yen,  I’ve never been there—to the place I have always wanted to see more than anywhere else in the world. Maybe I’m afraid once I get there, I will never return.

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34 PHOTOS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO TRAVEL BRITAIN
BRITISH HERITAGE SITES
ENGLAND PHOTO GALLERY

“A bit of” humor in closing…

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© Copyright July 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THE DICKENS SPIRIT, NOW AND ALWAYS


Among my favorite teachers was one of the two male teachers in an all-girl high school. He taught English, my favorite subject. In junior year, he took our class to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The original black and white version of A Christmas Carol featuring Alastair Sim was part of their holiday spectacular.

Though I saw the movie decades after its original release, I found this old 1951 trailer for the film rather interesting.

Dickens painted Ebenezer Scrooge sympathetically and quite vividly. I fell in love with the spirited imagination of Dickens in all of its brilliance, his extraordinary larger-than-life characters, and the potent messages behind every one of his tales. My love of 19th-century British literature began, along with an ongoing yen for England. I was sixteen years old.

It may have been Oliver Twist that I read next. I recall being shocked by the harshness of this child’s reality.

By the time I turned 25, my love for Dickens knew no bounds. I named one of the two dwarf parrots I owned “Pip” after Philip Pirrip, the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I named the other one Nicholas after the character in Nicholas Nickleby. I had a fish tank I called “Copperfield Gardens” in homage to the hero of the Dickens’ book I loved most, David Copperfield. David, with his courage, strength and beautiful, benevolent heart, triumphed through one heartbreak after another. In this version, below, he was portrayed by a very young Daniel Radcliffe, better known to all as Harry Potter.

The same year I got the dwarf parrots, a precious friend from England gave me a miniature book of Dickens’ life story as a Christmas gift. I moved several times over the years, and this little book has always made it back onto my bookshelf. I loved reading about the man behind the fascinating tales.

Charles Dickens was already famous when he helped injured passengers in England during the 1865 Staplehurst train crash.

I saw, in Dickens, true heroism in the face of disaster and everyday heroism, as he was a tireless champion for the oppressed.

This final video is fitting in wrapping up my tribute. It’s my favorite song from the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol with Albert Finney in the role of Scrooge. In future visions foretold by the third visiting ghost, a town celebrated Scrooge’s passing singing, “Thank You Very Much.”

I also thank my beloved Dickens for his incredible contribution to the world, for all the inspiration, and for truly enriching my life.


Some of my favorite Charles Dickens quotes:

“Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again.” ― A Tale of Two Cities

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” ― A Christmas Carol

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”

“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” ― A Tale of Two Cities

“Give me a moment, because I like to cry for joy. It’s so delicious, John dear, to cry for joy.” ― Our Mutual Friend

“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

“Never,” said my aunt, “be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.” ― David Copperfield
 

More About Charles Dickens:

Charles Dickens Info

 

© Copyright December 20, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

A RETURN TO MY CHILDHOOD HEART

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A few years ago, when I began my literary fiction series, I chose New York City as the setting for my story. I was born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, so it seemed the obvious choice. I soon realized this was not the story I wanted to tell. The determination to write since early childhood had nothing to do with wanting or needing to tell my story. Fantasy drew me in, and I loved a challenge. Somewhere along the line, I became stuck in reality, and this created limits in the limitless realm of fiction.

I decided to find a different setting for my story, a place I’d never visited. I chose Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River. I would visit there eventually and numerous times but only after I created it first in my mind. Of course, these days, we have the Internet for research—images, maps and that little yellow Google person. One could travel the roads and study the map while sitting in a comfortable office chair drinking coffee, which I did.

This past Sunday was my first “actual” visit. I traveled there with my sister, Denise, my son, Jesse, and my nephew, Christopher. We decided we would go to Hartford first, which is about twenty minutes from Glastonbury.

We set out at 9 a.m. on the most beautiful September day. After an hour of driving, we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Milford. Christopher tried the apple streusel French toast breakfast. Jesse had a bacon cheeseburger. Denise and I ordered scrambled eggs with biscuits.

Now, Jesse never wants photos of him on the Internet, which I thoroughly respect. He took these photos at Cracker Barrel, except for the goofy one where I tried on the cowboy hat. Denise took that one while Jesse watched Christopher take videos of a toy pig singing ‘Wild Thing’ and a toy dog singing ‘Dance to the Music’.

Our arrival in Hartford was at least an hour later.

Hartford Welcome

We bought tickets for a tour of Mark Twain’s house and poked around the museum until it was time for the tour.

 

I was thrilled at the first glimpse of Mark Twain’s Victorian Gothic revival home. I could see why this place was so special to him. (As an aside, the guide usually referred to Mark Twain as Samuel Clemens, Mr. Clemens or Sam. As I am sure most people are aware, it was his real name.)

When we went inside the house, the guide asked that we refrain from taking photographs or touching anything except the banister while walking up and down the stairs. I must say, the décor is impressive. I loved the ambiance, particularly in the cozy library, which faced a conservatory that had a fountain and lush plants. The interior of the house remains dark for the tours because the Clemens family had gas lighting when they occupied the home. I love dim lighting, but I imagine this much darkness can become dreary, not to mention a little spooky at night, going up and down those stairs, probably with a candle. It prompted me to ask about ghost stories. The guide informed us that people claimed to have seen the ghost of Susy Clemens, the oldest daughter. She died alone in the house, from spinal meningitis, at the age of 24. Employees also made claims that the butler’s ghost continues to work there. We learned that the show ‘Ghost Hunters’ featured the house. Apparently, there are ‘Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours’ that sell out quickly, so tickets must be bought in advance.

Some people in attendance were not thrilled to hear about the ghosts. I hadn’t thought about that since I don’t seriously believe in ghosts. Denise reminded us of the time we all walked through the haunted maze at Bayville Scream Park. While searching frantically for the exit, I said (loudly) there was no way out, then suddenly all these kids were crying hysterically. Their parents had to assure them there was an exit somewhere. It’s a good thing I believed in ghosts when my own son was a child. I was less oblivious to people’s fears and concerns about ghosts and other creatures that likely don’t exist.

The tour, while quite interesting, took much longer than they said it would. Through most of it, I didn’t focus on our confinement to a relatively small space where only three people weren’t strangers. Toward the end, this reality became painfully obvious. I wanted to ball gag anyone who asked another question.

Outside on the grounds, we took more photos. I came up with the unoriginal idea to pose with a book, since I like those seemingly candid shots of authors reading books. I am still laughing about this. Denise (and even Jesse) took a dozen photos like that—me reading on the grass, on the steps of the museum, on a bench, etc. Everyone made me laugh with funny comments about these “photo-ops” especially since I hate photos of me, let alone sharing them on social networking sites. During the last attempt, Jesse thought he had the perfect shot when Denise came over and said, “Still with the book?” I lost it and laughed hysterically in the only picture you will see of me with the book. It was the way she said it. She is funny. They are all so funny. Christopher later decided he, too, wanted a picture while reading a book. It became a thing…a silly thing. Silly is good.

Here are a few of the photos, which include some other houses on the property, like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house. The Twain and Stowe houses are captioned at least one time.


I am including the link for anyone who would like to see the interior we could not photograph and some other interesting links.

Mark Twain House

Nook Farm: Mark Twain’s Neighborhood

Where Mr. Twain and Mrs. Stowe Built Their Dream Houses

Funny Mark Twain Quotes

By the time we arrived in Glastonbury, it was late afternoon. It was not easy to find certain places, and we often found ourselves on private property during the search. One or two of us got out of the car anyway, camera in hand. Jesse said we should have brought bail money. He wouldn’t budge from the car.

We drove around in circles trying to find the entrance to Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow’s pristine woodlands. That didn’t happen. The one person we asked sent us to the wrong place, though we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through the woods of Kongscut Mountain Open Space and Mountain View Estates. It was gorgeous, but we didn’t take any photos. We were too busy looking for Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow.

Glastonbury is a pretty place. I wish we had more time to capture this in photos; however, it was great to be there. We did more laughing than anything, but that’s the best part of any trip. We had fun.

These are photos of my main character’s neighborhood (which is a bit too close to the cemetery). She attended Smith Middle School. Addison Park was part of her childhood.


Here is a link to the preserve we were looking for (Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow).

The Cotton Hollow Preserve We Didn’t Find

On the way back to New York, we saw the most incredible sunset. Denise loves to photograph sunrises and sunsets, but she was driving. I took a picture for her with her phone, except I never heard the click. I thought it didn’t work the first time, and somehow she ended up with I don’t know how many pictures of that sunset.

She was busy deleting sunsets at Red Lobster while we ordered our food, scolding me. We all joked. We were home in New York by then and starving. We savored every bite of our meals. Eating is part of the fun, too, isn’t it? Besides, we ran out of Twizzlers in Hartford.

Here is what I learned. Your heart, as a child, knows. Through life’s encounters and experiences, you can pile shovel after shovel of dirt upon it—bury it so deep that it is lost to you. It’s important to dig through all the dirt and find it, then embrace it, and never lose it again.

© Copyright September 20, 2014 kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

TREASURES

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As I read Peter Cottontail to my son for the third or fourth time, feeling a bit tired, I bungled a line.

He said, “No, mommy, he lost one shoe amongst the cabbages and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”

Yes, that is important! I hugged him dearly for that.

It was quite an improvement from six months earlier when he ripped Alice in Wonderland to shreds.

I wanted to be a relaxed, nurturing parent. I did not want to raise my son in a palace of dangers. I childproofed. I permitted him to take books from the bookshelves, sit in a pile of them and explore. When he tore up the book, that party was over. I had to tell him only once, because he knew already, I was reasonable and always for him, on his side. I taught him, we love books. We respect books. We read them. We enjoy them. We never destroy them, and we never crush the spirit of their creators.

The love affair with books began in my own childhood. I fell in love, first, with writing and reading. Writing is still the love of my life.

The fantasy genre inspired me – Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, fairy tales. It provided me with a much-needed escape from reality.

As I grew, the books I cherished most fit into the category of literary fiction, which is reality-based and generally more profound and philosophical. However, I never heard the term ‘literary fiction’ or all this talk about genres. Many people are still confused about it and have no idea what literary fiction is. I was confused myself.

I struggled to categorize my work. Yes, there is a love story. There are quite a few. There is a psychologically thrilling mystery. There are many of those. Yes, it is dark and intense with elements of gothic fiction and quite a bit of horror, but the ongoing saga does not revolve around any particular theme. Do you know why? It is literary fiction.

Literary fiction is pretentiously termed ‘serious’ fiction, though that could be misleading. It indicates a profound work with literary merit, a celebration of language, a critically acclaimed classic. However, genre fiction can also be poetry in motion and a work of art worthy of acclaim.

If I have to answer as to whether I am working on ‘serious’ fiction, well if it means painstaking torture, yes, I am quite serious, and this is as serious as it gets.

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The well-constructed plot in literary fiction should be riveting, but it is not the focus. Literary fiction has a slower pace with many rewards for your patience along the way.

It is character driven with well-developed, introspective characters. The story is about the character’s journey. We become emotionally involved in his or her reality, the struggle, the challenges, the losses and triumphs. We glimpse into the character’s psyche, experiencing the love, the hate, the joy, and the pain. Works of literary fiction are good human-interest stories that move and inspire those of us fascinated by the human condition. Genre novelists can create deep characterization, but this is the hallmark of literary fiction.

Literary fiction defines some of the best books ever written: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Rebecca, Little Women, 1984, Brave New World, Anna Karenina and many Shakespeare tales. The list goes on. My favorite authors, including Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, wrote literary fiction in classic Victorian-style, which I love with all my heart.

I believe creative work in every category has potential for greatness. I have yet to find a genre unworthy of respect. I don’t think we should make fun of people for enjoying some nonsense book or series where the writing isn’t up to par. As professionals and critics, we may seek a certain quality, but I am of the opinion, if there is a mass audience for a book or series, and it made scores of people happy, it has earned its place in the world of literature. I am simply another writer in an endless sea of writers and one of billions of readers. It doesn’t matter whether I like it. Readers, by consensus, have the final word.

Here is the bottom line for those of us who share this passion: books are a treasure. I feel fortunate in a world of books. I am infinitely grateful. I am giddy with delight. This is our inspiration, our high, our bond. There is plenty of room for everyone, and I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey.

I would love to hear from you about what you love to read or write. In the meantime, enjoy these videos as part of my celebration of literary fiction with an appreciative nod to all genres.

 

© Copyright August 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction of text permitted without permission.