Category Archives: short stories

Finding Fictional Characters

JerimiahDoss 001Meet “Jeremiah Doss,”  the main character in “The Eastlake Clock,” one of my unpublished short stories.  To tell the truth, I haven’t the foggiest idea who he is–or was.  I found his photo in an antique shop and was drawn to it at once.

When I started writing the story, I had a vague image of what my leading character looked like, but when I stumbled upon this photograph of a nineteenth-century gentleman, I knew that he was the one.

I didn’t buy it at first. The price was an exorbitant $17, too much for a picture of a dead man that I didn’t know.  So I went home and brooded over my predicament.  I couldn’t get the photo out of my head, and I was desperate for inspiration; so, I trekked back to the shop and shelled out the cash.

When I got  home, I examined the back of the photo, and guess what?  No name.  The only script on back of the photo was the name of the studio, “Morse’s Palace of Art,” and the address:  “No. 417 Montgomery St., San Francisco, Cal.”

That gave me an idea.   Why not name the character after the studio?  So “Mr. Anonymous” became “Mr. Morse.”  Now I needed a given name.  I choose “J.D.”

When my husband saw the framed photo among the family pictures, he made a remark about “another dead relative.”  I didn’t have the nerve to tell him that the fellow was not part of our ancestry, and I wasn’t about to tell him what it cost to acquire the anonymous image.  

One day as I was browsing through my Dad’s genealogy online, I came across the name “Jeremiah Doss.”  Charles Wright and Rachel Doss were my g-g-g-g-grandparents, and Jeremiah was related to Rachel.  His name had a nice ring to it.  So I tossed J.D. Morse into the graveyard of unknown fictional characters and resurrected Jeremiah Doss.

I haven’t finished penning “The Eastlake Clock,” but when I do, I will post a notice on my blog.

Kindle & KDP Select

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I found a great article about Kindle and KDP Select in Forbes online magazine.  It’s a must-read for authors.

See the link below.

Vintage Inspiration

Eastlake ClockThis antiquarian Eastlake clock belonged to my great-grandfather.  He and my great-grandmother were first cousins–double first cousins (whatever that means).  The clock sits on the mantle over the fireplace in my living room.  It inspired my unpublished story, which I named “The Eastlake Clock.”  How original is that?!

Charles Locke Eastlake, an English architect/writer, invented the Eastlake style of furniture, which dates to 1880. The popularity of Eastlake furniture quickly spread to America.  You can spot these fabulous antiques in any antique shop by looking for furniture with “Eastlake lines.”  I’ve found sofas, chairs, tables, beds, dressers, and washstands in this style.

EastlakeSofaCan you find the Eastlake lines on this sofa?


While writing  THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER, I deliberately inserted some of my favorite antiques into the setting.  Most of the novel takes place in Northern Virginia. The Moore House in the City of Fairfax, VA inspired the fictional Warwick House.  Antiques abound in the antebellum Warwick House.  These include Eastlake furniture, a pincushion doll, and a salt cellar.

My display case above contains many salt cellars and two pincushion dolls. (Pincushion dolls that no longer have a skirt or a pincushion beneath the skirt are called “half dolls.”)

I have a large collection of salt cellars.  Most salt cellars are made of clear glass.  Others are made of tinted glass, ceramic, silver, or pewter.  Most date to the 1800s.  The larger ones are called “master salts,”  the smaller ones “individual salts.”  Other names for salt cellars are “salt dips” or simply “salts.”  These were in vogue hundreds of years before salt shakers existed.

Have you heard the phrase, “seated below the salt?”  It was NOT an honor to be seated below the salt.  Quite the reverse.

At least one salt cellar turns up in every piece of fiction I write.  It has become my “signature.”

Inspiration for Short Stories


Genealogy is one of my passions.  I took this photo while exploring a creepy, neglected cemetery tracing my ancestry.  The cemetery was in the woods next to a cow pasture.  Wearing shorts, a summer top, and sandals, I emerged an hour later with 10 ticks on my skin.  I had been looking for my great-great-grandparents graves, and despite many obstacles (including poisonous plants), found them.

Their names, laced with lichen, were nearly erased by time, but I was able to make out enough letters to identify the headstones of Edna Ann Neighbors Cardwell and Thomas Dixon Cardwell, who had died a few days apart in the 1800s.

Prior to this excursion, I had been working on a short story called “The Eastlake Clock” and needed inspiration to move forward.  The photo of the cemetery, which I inserted into the text, advanced the plot.