Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Present and Past in Writing

Let me start with the present. I’ve got two really fun events coming up in the near future.

The nearest is Mystery on the Menu, a luncheon followed by panels at the Cerritos Library. It’s this Saturday, January 28. The cast of characters--well, writers--has been changing but it promises to be a really fun event. Check it out at the Mysterious Galaxy website:

Next month is Passion and Prose. It’ll be at the Westin Long Beach hotel on Saturday, February 25. The website ( says, “Please join bestselling authors Meg Cabot, Christina Dodd, Gail Carriger, and 50 other fabulous romance authors...” I’m one of those 50 other fabulous romance authors!

Then there’s the past.

We’re spoiled, these days, with being able to research nearly everything on the Internet. It’s so easy, when I’m writing, to stop for only a few minutes and look up something I need for my story.

But, sadly, not everything is there.

I’ve been thinking about the past this week partly because my husband was running some old 8mm films about his family. He showed one movie that was shot in Miami in the early 1950s that had a picture of an old hotel called the Cromwell. I dashed over to my computer to Google it. Yes, it was there--sort of--but the best I could find was an old photo of it for sale on EBay. Apparently, it doesn’t exist any more.

That reminded me of trying to look up the delicatessen owned by my grandparents for years in downtown Pittsburgh. They sold it to someone who kept it up under the same name for several years before it was closed: Richest’s Restaurant. I’ve Googled it at different times, and the best I can find is a few blogs or articles where people reminisce about some of their favorite restaurants that aren’t there any longer.

There is a tad of information online about my relatives who once owned Richest’s--mostly just birth and death data. I’m sure the reason why this is on my mind so much today is that today would have been my beloved uncle Gary Richest’s birthday, but he’s no longer with us.

And there’s more that hasn’t been lost. Some additional things from our families’ pasts do show up on the Internet. Our older son was recently doing some research on ancestry on his dad’s side, and because those particular relatives were notable in history there was apparently quite a bit about them online.

I used to write time travel romances. I’ve also written a suspense novel loosely based on my family history and, yes, Richest’s Restaurant. The time travel romances were published but the suspense novel wasn’t. These days, I’m writing about the present and have gotten away from the past. But it’s still there talking to me, perhaps telling me to resurrect the time travel romances and republish them in e-format one of these days. And maybe I’ll even try the suspenseful version of family history.

What’s your favorite upcoming event? And have you found everything about the past that you’ve looked up on the Internet?


Dru said...

I have three:

my sister's graduation upon receiving her MBA. We get to travel to San Antonio and I can't wait.

The two big events are excited about are: Malice Domestic and Bouchercon.

Linda O. Johnston said...

They all sound exciting, Dru. And I'll see you at Malice! I didn't mention events more than a month or two away, but I'll at least be at Malice and RWA National.

Mollie Bryan said...

I'm intrigued with time travel, though I'd have a hard time choosing what time I'd really like to travel to! this weekend I'm going to be at the Roanoke Regional Writer's Conference teaching a class on the"Mystery Writer's Toolbox." I've found that I love teaching, and getting out and meeting other writers. I am also looking forward to my first Bouchercon and Malice Domestic this year.

Linda O. Johnston said...

The next class I'm teaching will be online, Mollie--Kiss Me or Kill Me, Cozy Mystery Writing 101 for Romance Writers! Enjoy your face-to-face class. I'll look forward to meeting you in person at Malice.

Robena Grant said...

You are a busy, busy, lady. I'm looking forward to a trip to NYC in the spring. My ex M-I-L will be 100 years young!
Later in the year I'll be at RWA National, just a short drive this year. Should be fun.

NL Gassert said...

I write a series set on Guam in the present. Let me tell you, Guam is an online-research challenge. More often than not, I end up calling someone, asking to be mailed the information I need. Sometimes they even e-mail! :-)


Linda O. Johnston said...

Great reason to visit NYC, Robena! And it really will be fun to have RWA National in our backyard this year.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Sounds a bit like the good old days, Nadja--although it's often better to get things directly from a person than one's own Internet research. I've seen training sessions by LA's Small Animal Rescue Team, for example. I love following them on their website and Facebook, but seeing them in person was really inspirational!

Chrystle Fiedler said...

Good luck with your events Linda! I hope to go to Malice next year. BTW your doggie is a cutie!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Chrystle. Your pup's adorable, too. My next Pet Rescue Mystery, Hounds Abound, will have lots of dachshunds on the cover!

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm going to be at Murder on the Menu, too.

I have found lots of cool things from the past on the Internet, but I think the most amazing was to see a photograph of the boat my father came on from Russia. It was so small!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Then I'll see you on Saturday, Betty! And it really is cool that you know which boat your father came from Russia on and that there's a picture of it online! My paternal grandparents came from Russia but I've no knowledge at all about the boats they arrived on.

Jane Emaus said...

I use the internet all the time, but some stuff such as Futuristic possibilites, just can't be found.