The Murphy-Harpst Home: Writing About the Past

Rolling some ideas around in my head. I guess I should tell you where I am before I embark on something new. I have a tendency to get several projects going and bounce around between them.

It wasn’t like that when I wrote Red Clay and Roses. The idea for that story had rolled around in my head for twenty years. Having the time to put the words down brought it all together in a hurry. I didn’t really intend for it to become a published book. It isn’t set in a standard novel template and has its share of faults, but I’m proud of it just the same as if I had set out to accomplish writing a novel.

Naked Alliances was my first attempt at actually putting together a totally fictional story. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. I can’t say that I’m totally thrilled with it. I know authors are supposed to be very confident and write what they want to read and be all excited about putting it out there. I’d be lying if I said that I did not have any reservations.

At any rate, I know it has improved thanks to some wonderful beta readers and a couple of fantastic editors. I just got the novel back from its last pass through an editor’s hands and I am on chapter twenty-one of thirty finishing up those edits and I am much more excited about it now than I was at the start. I plan on continuing the Naked Eye series.

I have rough outlines completed for the next two novels. One involves missing elderly, and another involves development encroaching on wildlife habitat.

I still have Surviving Sister in the works, a 1950s-60 saga that continues with Hannah Hamilton’s family members, particularly her mother and her Aunt, who both suffer from mental illness during an era of major changes in how the mentally ill were treated. Concerning the Hamilton family members, it could be read as a sequel to Red Clay and Roses or a standalone. One of the biggest hindrances to writing this novel is the research required. There is so little documentation of treatment modalities in that era. My personal psychiatrist has given me some reference books that might help move things along. There is also a romance in that book that has slowed me down.

A nice lady from the orphanage that I lived in back in the mid-seventies has written to me. She found a blog post in which I mentioned the Harpst Home. That really has me thinking. I’ve done loads of research on Ethel Harpst and the Harpst Home and still have contacts there. Although it is primarily a treatment facility now, no longer an orphanage as most children are housed in foster care nowadays, it is still home to dozens of youth who would be at serious risk if the home did not exist.

Here is an excerpt on Ethel Harpst from “Georgia Women of Achievement”

 

Ethel Harpst

Ethel Harpst

 Perhaps Ethel Harpst’s biggest gift was the time and effort she gave to so many children in need. Harpst began her long career of caring for children at the McCarty Settlement House at Cedartown’s mill village. During her time teaching there, she took in a number of children who had been orphaned by parents who succumbed to illnesses. The Ethel Harpst Home opened in March 1924 and housed many children until the walls could expand no more.

Harpst traveled to raise funds for a new home, and in 1927 the first modern building, James Hall, was completed. And just in time for children who were displaced and orphaned during the Great Depression. An answer to prayer was the interest and attention shown by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Pfeiffer of New York. Through the Pfeiffer’s and several other friends, money was raised to allow more buildings to be constructed on the campus over the next 20 years, and hundreds of acres of land were contributed to the cause. All this is thanks to the dedication and tenacity of Harpst to continue fundraising. Today, the site houses the Murphy-Harpst residential program, where Georgia’s severely abused children can go for healing and therapy. In 2010-11, the program served nearly 300 children, which included 97 children in residential treatment.”

Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy

Long after her death in 1967, the Harpst Home merged with the Sarah Murphy Home. Sarah Murphy was a black woman in the area who had created a home for black youth.  Harpst Home became the Murphy-Harpst Home in 1976, during my last year there when it started integrating.

So, I’ve been wondering if I should write a book about them. It would either be non-fiction or a historical fiction based on their stories.

OR, Should I write a purely fictional story about a resident there and how she saw her world and the changes she went through?

Having been a resident there myself, I could better relate to a fictional character and write in the first person. There were so very many different coming-of-age stories to come out of that place during my short time there, I think it would make for a most interesting read.

What do you think?

What would interest you most?

Historical Fiction about the founders?

An orphan’s personal story?

I remember the first black girl that came from the Sarah Murphy Home to the Ethel Harpst home, and her roommate. I’d love to tell their story.

What would you, my audience, like to read?

Any ideas you’d like to share?

An Open Letter To WordPress

WordPress. This should be Freshly Pressed. I also don’t like how to get to my site now. It used to be easy to just click site in the right hand drop down on my gravitar. That’s not there anymore. I don’t want to see a trophy case or find friends. I just want to get back to my page after visiting others. STOP FIXING THINGS THAT AREN’T BROKEN. You’re screwing up!!!

Fish Of Gold

Dear WordPress.com,

I am loath to write yet another letter to you, since I typically prefer to spend my time writing actual blog posts, but I’ve been bitching on Twitter and in your forums to no avail, so maybe you’ll pay attention to a blog post. It’s not likely, but hey, you never know.

Please, stop. Just put down whatever you’re working on and stop with the futzing. You have been tinkering under my hood long enough and you know what? None of the “improvements” you’ve made are actually improvements.

Below, you will find explanations as to why your improvements aren’t improvements sorted conveniently by feature.

Post Editor

Let’s talk about this “Beep beep boop” post editor nightmare with less than half the functionality of the old editor. Thankfully, you haven’t taken away the old editor yet. However, I fully expect that one day, I will go to write a…

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Medication Holiday and Why I Can’t Go There

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I made an announcement a week, or so, ago. My plan was to take a medication holiday from a mood disorder meds I have been on and off of since the age of nineteen. My courage has left me.

In the past, I was taken off meds to process through my education, or to carry my children. The meds slow thought processes (a compromise to learning new things), along with body metabolism. There is a numbing down of emotion and with that a deep and cutting loss of the ability to feel.

Being an extremely empathetic person, the loss of the ability to feel is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, pose limits to the experience of emotion. Sometimes those limits are good. Rage is in check. Anger is minimized. But so is joy, and happiness. On the meds, there is a numb sort of existence devoid of any extremes. Without the extremes, I made an excellent nurse for more than thirty years. I have a portfolio of commendations. Until the emotions began to bleed through due to stress.

I witnessed and contested some serious abuse and neglect in a pediatric long-term residential facility I was working in and up against a huge and powerful corporation and a gang of despicable people. Some of the abuse resulting in loss of limb or death. It was a two year battle. The place is closed now, if it’s any consolation.

I wrote a long and thoughtful post last evening but did not publish it.

I was recalling all of the times that I have gone over the edge and what happened. They were exciting times, filled with emotion, creative energy, and productivity. I had volumes of imaginative, expressive, original writing. I painted gorgeous pictures in oils and water colors, made fascinating jewelry, and had nearly a hundred ceramic creations that I ultimately smashed against my plaster walls in a fury.

You see, therein lies the problem.

At the end of any one of those glorious manic episodes of profound self-discovery and accomplishment were days and weeks filled with hallucinations, delusions, isolation, darkness and despair. It was frightening…no, it was horrifying. The crash that eventually came caused me to either fight the ones closest to me, or to fall into catatonia so deep that my soul wasn’t present anymore. The depressive loss of the spiritual self so profound that I not only didn’t care whether I lived or died, I didn’t even know if I was alive or dead.

Say I am exercising good judgment to stay on my meds.

Say I’m a coward for not being willing to try.

Can I live in constant state of fight or flight?

I don’t want to know.

The torment of sanity can be worse than insanity.

I’m just afraid of going over the edge and not being able to get back.

There is some sweet sorrow in the fact that the meds make me better controlled.

 

Kickstarter Campaign for Sci-Fi Magazine

kickstarter

 

What is Nonlocal Science Fiction?

Nonlocal Science Fiction is a quarterly digital magazine featuring short stories and serials from emerging science fiction authors from around the world. The first issue launches on March 14th!

 

Who is Nonlocal Science Fiction?

Nonlocal Science Fiction is published by 33rd Street Digital Press, a new independent digital publishing company owned and operated by Daniel J. Dombrowski.

 

What makes Nonlocal Science Fiction different?

Built from the ground up to function as a dynamic digital publication, Nonlocal partners with its authors directly and offers them a share of the profits from the sale of the magazine rather than a per-word rate that minimizes the value of a story submission.

Nonlocal involves its authors in a comprehensive digital marketing campaign which benefits the authors directly both by increasing sales and by giving independent authors valuable marketing knowledge and experience.

 

Why is Nonlocal Science Fiction doing a Kickstarter?

The Kickstarter will cover all costs to publish the first issue and help diffuse the expenses already incurred while organizing 33rd Street Digital Press.

More than that, the Kickstarter will help build a foundation of support for the magazine as supporters will become primary advocates. Every backer receives a copy of the magazine and has the chance to get limited edition merchandise and additional eBooks from authors appearing in Issue #1.

The top stretch goal for the magazine earns every backer a LIFETIME subscription to the magazine.

 

Is Dan available for interviews and guest posts?

YES! At any time, please feel free to email Dan (dan@thirtythirdstreet.com) to request an interview or a guest post about any topic you wish relating to the magazine or 33rd Street.

 

Anything else I should know?

After the launch of the first issue, all 10 authors appearing in the issue will be available for interviews! You will be receiving contact info for all authors and a complimentary copy of the first issue once it launches.

 

What are the relevant links?

33rd Street Digital Press website: http://thirtythirdstreet.com

Nonlocal Science Fiction website: http://nonlocalscifi.com

Kickstarter: http://kck.st/1KORMlN

Twitter: https://twitter.com/33rdStreetPress

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/33rdStreetPress

Story Summaries

All of these stories will appear in the first issue of Nonlocal Science Fiction.

Us and Everybody Else by Valery Amborski In the future, we’ll be able to escape, very literally, into our memories. But is it a good idea to live for the past?

 

Delivery to Venus by Robert Paul Blumenstein The Earth has become a ball of ice as the sun slowly burns out. A team of scientists must face the ultimate questions of existence while they sow seeds on Venus.

 

A Thin Atmosphere, Chapter 1 by Dan Colton Mars City comes under attack by tunnel-dwelling Rebels in the first chapter of this old-school space adventure serial.

 

Mazep-fal by Daniel J. Dombrowski A man who is both the youngest and oldest member of his tribe makes a terrible discovery on a pilgrimage to meet his gods.

 

Marigold’s Memory by Reva Russell English In a future where human memory is stored on microchip implants and bad memories can be erased, a young woman faces a terrible fate.

 

Catalyst by Aaron Hamilton A daring escape in a stolen spacecraft and a mysterious and alluring rescuer leave a smuggler wondering what will happen next.

 

Deal Gone Bad, Chapter 1 by Thad Kanupp Jack survives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland by scavenging guns and ammunition. His life is about to get a lot more interesting.

 

Shoot the Devil by Nicholas Rossis What would you do if you could travel back in time? If you had the devil in your sites, would you pull the trigger?

 

The Assistant Assistant Port Keeper by Jim Rudnick Life as an Assistant Assistant Port Keeper in a space port on the Rim has its highs and its lows. A visit from a particularly difficult species of traders presents an opportunity for both.

 

In The Days Of Still Pictures by H.C. Turk In an alternate wild west where cowboys ride zebras and elephants pull wagons, a pair of traveling salesmen appear and stir up trouble with their magical wares.

A few samples of what’s to come…

“In The Days Of Still Pictures” by H. C. Turk

At the desert’s edge, where dry heat created transient visions, sat the town of Vargo, Dakoda Territory, population low and unknown in the year 1873. Remarkable the newcomers passing through. Miners heading for the promised platinum out west just stopping for some drugs at the saloon. Damn herd of elephants ran right through the streets once. Really tore up the place. Your big city journalist seeking the “truth of the Amerigan frontier,” like a profundity misplaced.

Some people stayed for one reason or none, for one duration or another. The photographer, Mizzer Benjumin Roze, had been present a month, but not many people could afford his family portraits. A traveling salesman changed that, providing Mzr. Benjumin with a plenitude of business, an enterprise to unhinge this Erth frontier…

 

“Marigold’s Memory” by Reva Russell English

The second time she tried to have the chip unlocated, she went into cardiac arrest, her heart’s rhythm a high-pitched “eeeeeeeee” that showed itself on the monitor as a thin and serious line that stretched between the farthest cosmic reaches of an infinite point A and the farthest cosmic reaches of an infinite point B…

 

“Deal Gone Bad” by Thad Kanupp

I woke up with a scorpion on my face. It was crunchier than I prefer, but I’ve had worse breakfasts.

I crawled out of the scrub patch where I’d slept, tongue poking at the chitin stuck in my teeth. Dew had beaded across my skin overnight, and I was shivering. By noon I would trade it for sweat under the ruthless wasteland sun and be longing for the dripping bushes I’d hidden in for the night. That’s man for you. Want what you want ‘til you get it, and not a minute longer—one thing that held true for everyone. I needed it to…

 

“Catalyst” by Aaron Hamilton

Cribbs tried not to think of how lucky they had been, afraid he would somehow cause the scales to tip back against them. He hadn’t stopped to question it when his cell door slid open, or when his impounded ship was released from grav-lock, or even when they escaped without pursuit. But his cynicism resurfaced as his pulse slowed…

A Picture of Your Bookshelf (a shelfie) Might Win This Contest

Want to win some really cool books, all of them by Tim Baker, and be entitled to a free signed copy of every book he writes for a lifetime? You even have a chance of being in his next book. Here’s a contest you don’t want to miss. 🙂

blindoggbooks

Check out this picture of my books, posted on facebook by friend, fan and fellow author Susan Toy

books on bequia

Susan lives on the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia (pronounced Beck-way) and she has been a great supporter of mine, as well as many other independent authors, for as long as I’ve known her.

map of Bequia

Recently, despite the fact that she already owns the kindle versions of all of my books, she bought paperback copies of the entire collection and paid for them to be shipped to Bequia – a process that was not only costly, but slooooow.

After posting the above picture, showing my books enjoying a picturesque view of Admiralty Bay, she posted this picture of the collection in their new home on her bookshelf…

book shelf

…which gave me an idea…time for another contest!

contest time

A while back I held a contest to name my mascot.

blindogg sketch

After the deluge of entries…

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Change in Plans on Crime Novel Series

Richard Noggin and Brandi already have a few fans. I’m happy that readers found them likeable and well developed.

Richard is a bit of a klutz. Not seriously useless, but not quite as adept as I had originally planned for him. That’s how characters sometimes take over and write their own stories.

Having a name that translates into dickhead might have been the impetus for his development, but I really think developing Brandi and her skills had more to do with it. I wanted her to be feminine, but tough. She frequently had to come to Richard’s rescue in book one, so she sort of came into her own, leaving Richard to appear to be floundering a tad.

Richard is still a smart guy. The outline I have for book two gives Richard a much greater leading role and Brandi sort of takes a back seat.

But here’s the thing:

I don’t know if I like this. Brandi has earned her place and pushing her into the background on this one doesn’t seem right.

So, I’m skipping what I planned for book two and proceeding with book three. Book three has a more interesting plot, whereas book two has a plot that, IMHO, has been done to death.

Book two deals with development encroaching on the environment. A noble cause. However, I must have read variations to that story a hundred times. Maybe I’ll come back to it.

So I’m going with what I had planned for book three as book two. It’s more obscure and I think it will be more fun.

Confused little old people are missing all over the country, with a significant number missing in Florida. Richard and Brandi must find out who, when, where and how. There’s a common denominator.

I’m working on my victim profiles now. We’ll see how this unfolds.

Potential victims:

Book launch! Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stevens

DOG BONE SOUP Launch Banner

DOG BONE SOUP is not only the title of Bette A. Stevens’s debut novel; it ranks high among the paltry meals that the book’s protagonist, Shawn Daniels, wants to forget. Plodding through mounting snow and battling howling winds, Shawn is ready to leave it all behind—living in poverty, Dad’s drinking, life in foster care, the divorce, the bullies….

Travel with Shawn Daniels through the guts and the glories of life. You’ll find them all in DOG BONE SOUP, a Boomer’s coming-of-age saga. Available now at “YOUR AMAZON”

From the Reviewers

“Dog Bone Soup is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when most others were on the crest of a wave. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. But most of all it will make you glad you read it.” ~ Charlie Bray, founder of the Indietribe

“In Dog Bone Soup, Bette Stevens captures the feeling and images of growing up in hardscrabble times perfectly.” ~ John Clark, librarian and author

DOG BONE SOUP

READ the opening Excerpt from Chapter One right here…

DOG BONE SOUP BW Border 2015The postcard arrived four days before my eighteenth birthday. All I had to do now was sign the final papers and light out for basic training. I could hardly wait to leave this place behind.

There were six of us ready to become soldiers. The other five guys were headed to Fort Dix. Soon as we were inducted, the sergeant who swore us in started calling us a bunch of lily-assed bastards and worse. When the jerk marched the other five guys off, I was happy as hell I wasn’t one of them.

Lieutenant Richards called me into his office. “You’ll be heading out tomorrow, Private Daniels. Here are your tickets.”

We sat in his office and talked about my future with the U.S. Army. Then he handed me a schedule for the next day’s journey and we went over every detail.

“Now let’s get you home so you can get a good night’s sleep before you fly off to serve Uncle Sam, soldier.”

“Good luck Private,” the lieutenant said when he dropped me off at the house. We saluted and I stood there watching until his car disappeared over the hill.

I’d always liked army people. They called me Mr. Daniels and even sir sometimes. Now I was officially a private in the U.S. Army and I was ready to start a new life. I pictured myself in an officer’s uniform one day—a lieutenant, a captain, maybe even a general.

Mum and I didn’t get much more than a few winks of sleep that night. I don’t know how many pots of coffee she perked while we sat at the kitchen table and talked the night away. Of course, it was Mum did most of the talking. Once she opened her picture books, I felt like I was drinking in the life I wanted to leave.

Mum took all of those pictures with her Brownie—that camera was her pride and joy. None of us kids was allowed to touch it unless she supervised a picture taking every now and then. If Dad wasn’t around, it was me peeking through the lens. Mum was fussy about taking pictures just so.

Five books were piled on the table and we went through them one page at a time. Mum had a story for every snap shot. Some made me laugh so hard that I doubled over.

It was two minutes shy of three when she closed the last album.

“Thanks for staying up. I’ve got the alarm set for six and I know that won’t give us much sleep.” Mum pulled out her hanky, sniffled and hugged me before we turned in. My leaving would to be hard on her.

Willie was snoring away, likely dreaming about cars. I slipped in next to him and pulled away some puffs and huddled under them.

The minute I closed my eyes I started dreaming about my new life. No more freezing to death up north. I was headed for southern sunshine and I saw myself soaking it all in.

Bzzzzzzz. I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes, grabbed the suitcase and headed for the kitchen. Mum already had breakfast on the stove, so I ran outside to do my business and came back in to grab a hot biscuit and down it with a cup of steaming coffee.

I was half frozen and snow was whipping around me in circles when I headed out on the three-mile walk into town to catch that bus.

I shook flakes big as quarters from my jacket when I climbed the steps of the Greyhound. Two hours and I’d be boarding a plane headed to Fort Jackson. South Carolina was sure the place to be, especially in February.

### end of excerpt

About the author

BAS Author logo stamp 2015Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Bette A. Stevens is the author of award-winning picture book AMAZING MATILDA; home/school resource, The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP.

Find out more about the author and her books right here on “YOUR AMAZON”