Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Remembrance

Here are some interesting facts about Memorial Day:

• Even though numerous communities had been independently celebrating Memorial Day for years, the federal government declared Waterloo, N.Y. the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo first celebrated the holiday on May 5, 1866.

• Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 for decades, but in 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and a federal holiday.

• Memorial Day originally honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865).

• Roughly 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War — making it the deadliest war in American history. About 644,000 Americans have died in all other conflicts combined.

• President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act on Dec. 28, 2000, designating 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day as a National Moment of Remembrance.

• It wasn't always Memorial Day — it used to be known as Decoration Day.

• Red poppies are known as a symbol of remembrance, and it's a tradition to wear them to honor those who died in war.

• Even though Memorial Day began as a holiday honoring Union soldiers, some states still have Confederate observances. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on Jan. 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

• The crowd that attended the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was about the same size as those that attend today's observance: about 5,000 people

• Here are the number of casualties in each U.S. war:
Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.
World War I: 116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.
World War II: 405,399 Americans died.
Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.
Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died. More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 148 U.S. battle deaths and 145 non-battle deaths.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,422 U.S. service members died.
Operation New Dawn: 66 U.S. service members died.
Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,318 U.S. service members have died as of May 12, 2014.

Thank you to: Allison Sylte, KSDK-TV, St. Louis, Mo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meet Author Hilda Lassalette

Hello, I am Hilda Muriel Lassalette. I was born in 1916 in a small village within walking distance of Whitehaven, Cumbria, England. Unable, healthwise, to attend my christening in an Anglican Church on a hill, my mother sent her two sisters and one brother to be my godparents. They threatened to name me Elizabeth Jane, not Hilda Muriel -- the Muriel after the doctor who delivered me -- but Mom's choice won out.

My father was a barber, his hobby was raising homing pigeons and racing them. I have a silver chalice dated 1905 which one of his birds won. He liked to go hunting for rabbits and
small birds, and always had a couple of thoroughbred dogs around. He was good at sketching pigeons and dogs. At home, we had a friendly white bull terrier.

My mother read books whenever she could. She wanted to be a schoolteacher. Her mother would not allow this because her sister, a teacher, died from consumption. Thus, Mom started a dressmaker's shop, hiring women to sew for her.

The Irish Sea framed one side of the village. Down the main street ran a high railroad. To reach the sand, one had to go under tunnels beside the tracks. A train tooted its way down the tracks once a day. Mom yearned for our family, now including a brother born in 1920, to be on it, heading toward the States.

One day the village was shelled by a German submarine. Villagers ran up the hills (brows) to escape. Father had bad knees and wasn't accepted for the Army, but was put to work in a nearby mine under the sea.

In 1920, sponsored by a countryman who guaranteed him a job in a mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Father sailed to America on a passenger ship, entering the States through Ellis Island. In 1921, the three of us (Mom, my brother, and me) sailed to the US. Aboard ship, I got a nail in my foot. Mom had to leave my 9 month old brother with a stranger while she took me to the ship's doctor. We went to Halifax and on to Ellis Island.

Leaving a sea level village for the high altitude of Wyoming did not agree with my mother. High winds were common. One day I had to hang onto a fence to keep from being blown away. I yelled and yelled and Mom finally reached me. I loved the huge sunflowers against our fence and seeing Dad on a horse while wearing his cowboy hat. A good neighbor told Dad my mother would die if she stayed there. So, after a short time, we boarded a train, changed in Chicago, and traveled to New York where we took a ship back to the UK.

Back in England, Mom said, "We won't get anywhere if we live here." This time we landed in New York where Dad was hired as a kennel manager for a 5th Avenue jeweler who owned an estate on Long Island. We had a a house of our own. Next door, the gardener, his wife, and two children had their own house. Pear trees grew on the property and we had a great time playing in the barn with the neighbor children. I remember walking home from school with snow reaching my knees.

After that, we lived in various parts of the East. My folks had friends in various places. I remember names, but not much else. Syracuse, Rochester, Wilkes Barre. Dad said I had been in fourteen schools when we reached Whittier, California. I was ten.

My father answered an ad for a kennel manager in Compton, California. We rented a house there. My poor Mom said it was full of bed bugs. She and Dad worked all night until they got it clean enough for us to sleep in. I remember when the California rains flooded the streets and we traveled in row boats to the market.

Dad didn't like working for a woman, so he left that job and accepted one as a kennel manager for a
man in Whittier until he could build his own kennel, which he did in 1928. The four of us traveled to England while our house was being built. We visited relatives we hadn't seen for years. I remember my grandmother wouldn't let me play hopscotch on the sidewalk on Sunday. My uncle took me for a motorcycle ride and grandmother told me to hang on tight. I was twelve and I held both arms up in the air as soon as he started the machine. My grandmother died shortly after our trip and I never saw her again. I never met my paternal grandparents or my maternal grandfather.

In Whittier I attended Jonathan Bailey School, John Muir, and Whittier Union High School, and I belonged to the Girl Scouts. In junior high, I entered an essay contest and won. My essay was published and I received a Girl Scout ring. Sadly, I don't have a copy of it. At WUHS, I worked on the school paper as the gossip columnist. I also belonged to a poetry group and we made booklets of our poems.

I took two years of an Adult Education Writing Class. Susan Dibelka was the instructor. In 1962, I was admitted to the Writer's Club of Whittier (which Susan founded) by selling a children's short story. I joined the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America in 1989.

I sold several young adult stories to Teen Magazine, several children's stories to other magazines, along with newspaper articles, poetry, and greeting card verse. Word count was extremely important and I learned to carefully count and delete words.

I used a typewriter, making three carbon copies. Writing my first book, I set four pages a day as my goal. If I missed a page, it was added to the next day's
requirement. A computer was a step up, bringing its own problems. After writing five books, using memories of my English background, my father's dogs and birds, and my traveling life, I sold number six, Fishing for Love, in 2013. A year later, I sold Amy, Jen and the Demon. I am now working on number eight.

I am asked the usual questions: where ideas come from, how long it takes to write a book, etc. As I wrote this blog I realized my writing talents no doubt come from my mother and my painting from my father. I have been inundated with stories about England my whole life and have visited many times. No wonder bits and pieces creep into my stories.

My father was in the dog business and traveled to the UK to buy thoroughbred dogs for wealthy fanciers on the dog show circuit after 1928. He handled dogs at the shows, besides showing his own, and occasionally being a judge. Therefore, my stories usually include a dog.

A house is not a home without a dog. Since I married we have always had one, even in our first home. When our beloved Dalmation died, we didn't think we could go through such sorrow again.
We held off for four months, now we have a female Rat Terrier.

I think the urge to write is born in a person and will eventually show up. I believe my mother's love of books and my father's love of drawing his dogs and birds were genetically handed down to me. I took thirty years of art classes through Adult Education. Both crafts take perseverance and exposure to fellow writers and painters, along with a tough ability to accept criticism and not get annoyed, or darned mad, sometimes.

My books can be found at Smashwords    Kindle    Nook
Keep writing, 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Darrien’s feeling a little foolish…The Gryphon and His Thief #8sunday #snippetsunday #SPeekSunday @KMNbooks

Looking for Snippet Sunday? Just follow the link to Karen's Shenanigans...

Set up for this week: Calli has left Darrien handcuffed to the bed and has made her escape. Darrien is feeling sorry for himself for being duped, but that is about to change.