Sunsets and Literature

photoMA31367462-0002How can anyone describe something as spectacular as a sunset?   Nothing can take the place of a photograph, can it?  Augusta J. Evans (1835-1909) creates a credible word picture of a sunset on page 116 of ST. ELMO, and the twilight that follows sets the eerie stage for the entrance of the Byronic protagonist “St. Elmo Murray.”.

The sun went down in a wintry sky; the solemn red light burning on the funeral pyre of the day streamed through the undraped windows, flushed the fretted facade of the Taj Mahal, glowed on the marble floor, and warmed and brightened the serene, lovely face of the earnest young student.  As the flame faded in the West, where two stars leaped from the pearly ashes, the fine print of Edna’s book grew dim, and she turned the page to catch the mellow, silvery radiance of the full moon, which shinning low in the east, thew a ghastly lustre on the awful form and floating white hair of the Cimbrian woman on the wall.  But between the orphan and the light, close beside her chair, stood a tall, dark figure, with uncovered head and outstretched hands.

She sprang to her feet, uttering a cry of mingled alarm and delight, for she knew that erect, stately form and regal head could only belong to one person.

“Oh, Mr. Murray!  Can it be possible that you have indeed come home to your sad desolate mother?  Oh!  For her sake, I am so glad!”



It’s no secret that Augusta J. Evans is my favorite novelist and that ST. ELMO inspired me to write THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER.

A Literary Take on Icy Weather



The following passage is an excerpt from INFELICE, written by my favorite novelist, Augusta Evans Wilson (1835-1909).

“Walking to the window, he stood for some moments, with his hands folded behind him, and he noted the splendor of the spectacle presented by the risen sun shining upon temples and palaces of ice, prism-tinted domes and minarets, and burnishing after the similitude of silver stalactites and arcades which had built themselves into crystal campaniles, more glorious than Giotto’s,–the pastor said:–“The physical world just as God left it,–how pure, how lovely, how entirely good;–how sacred from His hallowing touch! Oh!  that the world of men and women were half as unchangingly true, stainless, and holy.”

Feigned Indifference

photoMA31378394-0007 I have three rescues.  “Brack,” the American short hair on the left, is named after my dad.  He belongs to Mom but I’m his caretaker.  Brack is about 18 or 19 years old now.  He is blind but healthy and smart.  He knows where everything is: the food, the couch, the bed, the litter box–all the necessities of life.  The other cats are somewhat afraid of him because he sits and stares at them, but they don’t know that he can’t see. I rescued “Abigail,” the calico on the right, from a shopping center parking lot.  She was a kitten at the time living in the bushes next to the restaurant Boston Market.  Rather than call her “Boston” (too masculine a name for a female), I named her after Abigail Adams of Boston.  *Abigail is small and shy.  The other cats pick on her.  Apparently, she thinks that if she looks away, they won’t see her because she can’t see them.  Cats are experts at feigning indifference. photoMA31378396-0006 Like Abigail, “Pickles” (the black and white cat on the right) is a feral cat.  He used to sneak on my porch at night looking for cat food.  When he started acting a bit tame, I made the mistake of touching him.  He snapped at me and disappeared.  After I started taking the required rabies shots, he decided to show up again.  He’s now domesticated and likes people but bullies the other cats.  He is a big cat–a very big cat.  Naming him was not easy.  “Goliath” or “Samson” might have been good choices, but I chose to name him “Pickles,” a fictional cat with big paws in a book called THE FIREHOUSE CAT. My cats often sit within a measured distance from each other with their backs turned.  They seem to be saying something like, “One’s company, two’s a crowd.”  They don’t like each other and make no secret of it.  They like people and view other cats as competition.  In the world of cats, body language says it all. *Abigail is my “Writer’s Companion.”  She has collaborated with me on many projects, including newsletters, fiction, non-fiction, photography, and research.  She’s a computer geek. photoMA31378445-0001

Late Night Journalism


Have you ever written what you thought was a brilliant post, and all of a sudden, you hit the wrong key and deleted the whole thing?  Well, that’s what just happened to me. Ironically, the post was entitled “Why Write?  Why Bother?”  Indeed, why bother?  It’s almost 3 a.m.  That’s what I deserve for writing in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.  So rather than try to recreate what might have been the best post–or the worst post–I’ve ever written, I’m going  back to bed.  Goodnight! :-)





Leatrice Gilbert Fountain (1924-2015): Daughter of Hollywood Legends

Originally posted on JOHN GILBERT, ST. ELMO, & ME:

Leatrice Gilbert Fountain was simply the most fascinating person I have ever met. I wrote her a fan letter years ago after reading her book DARK STAR: The Untold Story of the Meteoric Rise and Fall of Legendary Silent Screen Star John Gilbert, her father’s biography. She responded with a letter and an invitation to join the John Gilbert Appreciation Society.  I joined and eventually became president of the Society.
As president of the JGAS, I had the privilege of getting to know her well.  I interviewed her, consulted with her on the JGAS newsletter, and attended film events with her. I was in awe of Leatrice.   She had every ounce of her father’s charm, if not more.  She was larger than life, and yet she made others feel important.
She loaned me many photographs when I interviewed her for the SILENTS MAJORITY: Online Journal of Silent Film. Among the beautiful stills was a newspaper clipping with a…

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