Discovering the Past to Understand the Future

Sometimes discoveries from our past can help us understand our journey to the present and the road between. No matter how we envision our future, it never turns out like we imagined.

When retrieving my daughter’s birthday presents, I discovered a long ago forgotten and deteriorating cardboard box hidden in the dark corner of my art room closet. It was filled with Badger Herald Newspapers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I had illustrated the top stories for a few issues when I was an art student. I pulled out the first three.

Badger Herald

Nostalgia washed over me with a glimpse into my college days and memories associated with some of my drawings. At that time, I imagined illustrating for an advertising agency after graduation. I hadn’t dreamed of becoming a medical illustrator. Like the golden hue of the old newsprint, I remembered popcorn for dinner, skip-and-go-nakeds (beer, vodka and lemonade), and all-nighters spent in creating art projects and cramming for blue book exams. I found them too.

I thought about how much my life has changed in those thirty-five years. I worked as a professional illustrator, married, moved to Colorado, have two amazing kids and only recently found my passion in writing. Talk about wildest dreams.

It’s funny how ironic life can be. I gasped when this flash from my past peeked out from the box. I had totally forgotten that I had drawn it. Back then The Empire Strikes Back was the newest movie in the Star Wars franchise. Finding my old illustration coincided with the new release. The two movies echoed my life with changes of their own.

The Empire Strikes Back
My name has changed from ‘Sue McCartan’ to Susie Lindau.

When attending a premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it struck me how the thirty-five years had been melted down and recast to reflect changes in our society. Instead of the typical male lead, the movie began with a badass female protagonist, Rey, who meets her black sidekick named Finn. Their romcom chemistry sizzled on the screen similar to the attraction between Han Solo and Princess Leia.

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That’s a pretend light saber in my hands. A real one is too dangerous.

Compared to Leia’s confining robe, Rey’s leggings and layered garb proved to be a better choice for fighting and running. She could take care of herself and didn’t need to be rescued. Another role reversal duly noted.

Instead of Yoda, we meet Maz Kanata, another female to balance out the male cast. She is the leathery, wizened counterpart without the strange manner of speaking.

When my favorite characters, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, and finally Luke Skywalker, appeared on screen, it was like reuniting with old friends. I slipped into the comfort of their easy banter and one-liners like my college hoody. We had all grown older, hopefully wiser and wore more smile lines than frown. I didn’t want it to end.

When the credits rolled, my shoulders slumped. This spectacular feature film ended in the ultimate cliffhanger. Another new episode won’t premier until May 26th, 2017. Just like when my college days had ended and I packed up that cardboard box, I wondered what the future would bring. This I know. It will be different than I imagine.

Are there characters from a movie you would like to see again? Did you see The Force Awakens? Are you looking forward to your next class reunion?

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A Tiny Tale of Terror or How to Train Your Resolutions

Many of you will innocently make resolutions for 2016 not realizing the kind of monsters they will become or the terror they will wreak. Be forewarned. This is not a tale for the faint of heart. This could happen to you.

On the first day of the year, many of us make a list comprised of all the goals we would like to accomplish. At that moment, our New Year’s resolutions are born. We point them in the right direction with a compass and strict orders to focus on the path and most of us don’t give them another thought. We assume they will find their way to achieving our goals by the end of the year. Sometimes they have other ideas.

new resolutions 2016

Many lose their way while meandering through the early months of the year without a care or a clue. Being young, restless and irresponsible they take breaks, play games, and socialize since they have an entire year to cross the finish line.

By May, Continue reading

The Big Reveal and WINNERS!

Holiday traditions are different for everyone. Some cut down their own Christmas trees while others host huge holiday gatherings. I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy crafting my greeting cards.

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Now that most of them are in the mail, I can relax and focus on the rest of my Christmas traditions, like shopping, baking, shopping, trimming the trees, shopping, wrapping gifts, shopping…

And DANCING!

I thought I would return to my old-fashioned printed cards, but not this year. It’s really hard for me to settle for something less. I’ve never settled in my life. Why start now? This card is another pop-up.

I confided in a friend about the stress involved in making them. She asked why I bothered.

I had to think about that. Continue reading

Deconstructing the Avant Garde: Ed McCartan’s Art Retrospective

When my dad moved into the nursing home, I didn’t think an art show would be possible. I shelved the idea of a gallery opening. His amazing work has only been shown publicly at outdoor art shows once or twice, more than fifty years ago. He has always been a humble man and he remains unrecognized for a large body of artwork created during his lifetime.

Ed McCartan Self-portrait

Ed McCartan’s self-portrait.

Then Hospice took over. They came up with an idea to do a retrospective at the nursing home where he is living, the Evansville Manor, a few blocks from my parents’ house in Evansville, Wisconsin. Danny and I had to go.

Drawing had helped my dad with the transition into the nursing home. He would sit in the window of his small room and sketch from photographs or from a book of animals. A few weeks before the show, he stopped drawing.

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Dad and Mom.

My mom had framed many pieces over the course of the last year. He had forty paintings to show. We set them up in order from earliest to latest work. Continue reading

Leave a Comment and Win!

constructing Christmas

I’ve been busy drawing, cutting, pasting and folding this year’s Christmas card. I think I’ve listened to almost every corny holiday movie between the Lifetime and Hallmark channel.

Every year has its challenges. In the past, I sent out my cards after more than sixty hours of work and they boomeranged back for more postage! Last year I had to add extra postage for weight. This year I thought I had it handled, but the post office was closed, so I couldn’t check the weight. I was about to throw them in the mailbox, then I decided to take them home just in case.

homemade Christmas cards

Some of my older cards. The newer ones are popups. Continue reading

Treasure from 1893 Speaks Volumes about Publishing 120 Years Later

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Many years ago while visiting Wisconsin, I drove to a rural farm sale outside a small town. It was my last stop after several garage sales. Price tags hung from farming equipment along with assorted household items and antiques. It drew a crowd of curious neighbors as well as treasure hunters. I fell into the latter category.

Drawn to the tables laden with books, I found ancient leather-bound volumes and others in cloth. I sauntered along the stacks of old family Bibles and velvet photo albums. While leafing through Ladies’ World and The Ladies’ Home Journal magazines from the 1800’s, one raindrop plopped down on my head followed by another. I grabbed a box.

After filling it with as many old books and magazines as I could carry, I paid the lady $5.00, and staggered to the car just before the sky opened up and it poured.

I took the magazines home and glanced at the fine drawings and paintings. As an illustrator, I really appreciated the attention to detail. No photographs were included in these early issues. I was amused at the old advertisements, but nothing grabbed my interest, so I put them away and forgot about them.

Today, I read The Ladies’ Home Journal from 1893 with a different perspective. Now that I am a writer, several ideas jumped off the 120 year-old pages.

Long fictional stories and excerpts of books were included in each of the three issues I purchased. All were beautifully illustrated and captioned. Back in the 1800’s, reading was a very popular form of entertainment.

What really smacked me upside the head were the advertisements for one year subscriptions.

Inside the cover of The Ladies’ Home Journal was an advertisement for Mark Twain’s, The Century, FREE to anyone who subscribed to the magazine. This was a leather-bound edition! I believe Twain’s idea to advertise his book by giving it away, reached a wider audience. This compilation of short stories was perfect for the type of reader catered to by the Journal.

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At the time of this periodical’s publication, many authors feared short stories and magazines would take over the publishing industry. This point is often made to compare the same fear many have about ebooks replacing real books. It didn’t happen then and many believe it won’t happen now.

The first article by Frank R. Stockton, explains how he garnered a huge audience by frustrating them. In a beautifully illustrated essay, “How I wrote ‘The Lady or the Tiger?’” he defends the history of his controversial short story.  It caused quite a “hoopla” or “hullabaloo” back in the day.

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Stockton was invited to a dinner party along with several other literary guests. As part of the evening’s entertainment, he was asked to prepare a story. When he didn’t finish it in time, he demurred. Later, he completed this ultimate cliff-hanger about a young man who falls in love with a princess who becomes his lover. They end up in an arena which has two portals. A tiger paces behind one of them. The princess tells her lover to open one of the doors. He let the reader decide which one.

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He received many letters from irate readers left in the lurch. Many offered their own resolution to the ending and begged him to finish it. Most women couldn’t fathom the barbaric nature of a woman who would send her lover through a portal to be eaten by a tiger.

A second book was written with more detail about the lives of the two characters, but still didn’t include an ending. The readers went wild again. At one point, graduates of Vassar College put it to a vote. The tiger received 18 votes and the lady only six.

Ten years later, readers were still talking about it. Not only did The Ladies Home Journal showcase the author, but offered his short story along with eleven others for free along with a one year subscription to Scribner’s Magazine.

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The book is offered free with 10 cents postage and $3.00 subscription.

Like so many who have written their first book, I am watching the publishing industry and new authors to see how they approach selling ebooks. I had been concerned after seeing prices drop from $5.99 to $2.99, and then given away for free on Amazon.

In 1893, there were probably those who thought Twain foolish when giving away The Century. I would bet the giveaway put his work in the hands of many who may not have been acquainted with the great writer.

Today, that is the goal as well. The free price is usually a limited time offer and it gets the book out to more people and the writer’s name on the lips of many.

Writing controversial books is still an effective way to get people talking. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey!

No matter how many people are in a writer’s platform, a book is still sold by word of mouth. The more tongues wagging, the better the sales.

Here I am in 2013, reading this old magazine from 1893 and can still learn something. Now that’s what I call a treasure!

What do you think about giving books away?

Do you think controversy sells?

Related Articles:

The Ladies’ Home Journal

Mark Twain – Wikipedia

Frank R. Stockton – Wikipedia

Scott Turow and His Sinking Ship

The Nutley Hall of Fame

Use Me and Abuse Me Day – March Wild Hare with Much Madness Edition

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Has this month been especially wild or what? With Saint Patrick’s Day, the spring equinox, a week-long break for many, March Madness Basketball, and Easter could we pack in another event?

Of course we can! It’s another Use Me and Abuse Me Day here at the Wild Ride. Welcome to all the new partiers!

Do you feel like the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland, as crazy as they come or the White Rabbit? “I’m Late! I’m Late for a very important date!” Hold on there. Put your watch back in your pocket. You’re right on time. Here’s your chance to sit back, relax and party down!

March-hare

Apparently, the Victorians believed running around with straw in your hair meant you were a lunatic, deranged or as Mad as Hatter. Wait that’s from the same story!

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Mad Hatter Susie Lindau

Yep. I’m as Mad as a Hatter. Just ask the bear! Continue reading

What Will You Do with the Bonus?

Thanksgiving is a few days away. Can I help you up from the floor? There is a reason why it has crept up so fast. November 22nd is the earliest date possible. The holiday is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month. Every once in a while, another Thursday sneaks in. The good news (and you can usually count on me for that), is there are also five weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Yay!

That means we will have several extra days to prepare for the holidays.

There will be…

…time for shopping.

Continue reading

Cara Mia, It’s Halloween!

I get into the Halloween spirit by watching glimpsing at horror and thriller movies on television. While multitasking, I peek through my fingers once in a while to see what mayhem has arisen.

I’ve seen zombies, one of the Scary Movie series onslaught and one scene from Friday the 13th complete with Freddy Kruger. When flipping through the channels the other night, I stumbled upon one of my very favorite Halloween comedies – Addams Family Values.

The lines were poetic, the quips unrelenting, and the cast replete with Angelica Huston, the late Raul Julia, Joan Cusack, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd had me laughing out loud. I have always loved these deathly, creepy, and wonderfully morbid characters. Continue reading