• • • • His beard and reputation are world famous. Miracles ascribed to him are legendary. Youngsters ponder his whereabouts and travel agenda, especially in December, knowing he’s not afraid to fly and he’s never run out of money.
• • • • Born to wealthy parents in Patara, Turkey, when the population of Anatolia was mostly pagan, it’s said he took a special interest in three sisters. Too poor to have dowries, they were being forced into prostitution when, suddenly, three bags of gold were thrown down their chimneys, enough bait to attract husbands.
• • • • The trio did not leave thank you notes behind, for the record, but anyone with a bulging sack of benevolence is bound to be popular. Faith and hope, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, are outweighed: “The greatest of these is charity.”
• • • • Love for others is what always drove him, this Turk named Nicholas, which means “people’s victory.”
• • • • Devoted to good works, Saint Nicholas [270-310] was once Bishop of Myra (“Myrrh”), a town now called Demre. Anatolia, the territory of modern Turkey, has been the heartland of human civilization since 7,000 BC.
• • • • Patara, to the west of Demre, had been visited by St. Paul and St. Luke in 55 AD on their way from Miletus to Jerusalem; perhaps from this early date, a Christian community was established at this major Roman Lycian port. Demre, a vital port on a dangerous part of the Turkish coastline, became part of the pilgrimage route from Venice and Constantinople to the Holy Land [Palestine].
• • • • This helped spread the cult of the saint, especially for seafarers who once worshiped the pagan god Poseidon.
• • • • In 392, the Edict of Theodosius ruled that Christianity would be the state religion of the Empire. Large scale destruction of classical statues and temples began, and locals constructed houses of worship like the much restored church of St. Nicholas at Myra (Demre), whose foundations date back to the late 4th-5th centuries. Rocked by a religious seesaw, this church was enlarged by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, then destroyed in an Arab-Muslim raid in 1034, but rebuilt by Constantine IX in 1043.
• • • • During the Crusades, Catholic merchants sailed to Muslim countries to acquire relics for their own parishes. In May of 1087, several well-financed Italian groups were bidding on the bones of Saint Nicholas — — when a boatload of aggressive Barese businessmen stole the remains and rowed them back to Apulia. The Pugliese, about to lose to the wealthier Venetians, knew they would have a major tourist attraction if they grabbed San Nicola.
• • • • The Cathedral built to honor the former bishop in Bari, Italy [in 1087] depicts the Turkish-born saint as a very dark-skinned, Middle Eastern male.
• • • • One of the most famous figures of Christendom, Nicholas is the patron saint of several countries including Russia, Greece, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Sicily, Loraine, etc. When the feast of Saint Nicholas (December 6th) was prohibited after the Protestant reformation of the 16th century, this miracle-worker retained his popularity.
• • • • In 1664, when the Netherlanders relocated to New York [New Amsterdam], they carried their customs with them. Dutch youngsters awaited a visit from Sinter Klaas (Saint Nicholas) and presents he’d leave in their wooden shoes on the eve of December 5. As the appealing Dutch custom of celebrating the feast of Saint Nicholas by giving gifts to children spread throughout this nation, “Sinter Klaas” became “Santa Claus” in the United States.
• • • • This ancient Turkish philanthropist, depicted as a white-bearded old man with a long caped coat [or sometimes in red Episcopal robes], remained a moralistic figure: rewarding good children or punishing unruly ones.
• • • • Washington Irving’s book — A History of New York, From the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker — depicted Saint Nicholas as a European, Caucasian-featured figure in a broad-brimmed hat who smoked a long pipe, associating his character with the then-familiar Dutch patron saint of New Amsterdam. An illustrated poem by John Pintart, which portrayed a slimmed down Saint Nicholas, further distanced him from his Middle Eastern origins; no longer pictured on a donkey, he guided a sleigh drawn by one reindeer until 1821.
• • • • Drawing on sources and his imagination, another New Yorker, Reverend Clement Clark Moore created the Santa that Americans know. In 1833, “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” introduced Santa Claus for the first time as a kind, plump, jolly Caucasian elf greeting readers with his twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks, and dimples. Moore’s Saint Nicholas smoked a pipe, navigated an airborne sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, and made his entrance via the chimney.
• • • • An enthusiastic house guest sent Clement Clark Moore’s poem to a local newspaper editor. Overnight, verses about a jolly old elf who piloted a reindeer-drawn sleigh began to be recited by families. After awhile, the Church urged Christians to merge this “children’s festival” with the Nativity. An Americanized Saint Nicholas, consequently, began making his house-calls during the night of December 24.
• • • • December 6th, if you’re motivated to be generous, especially to children who have lost a parent, give in to it. — — — — — — — — — — — —
Pale outcasts perch nearby, bones tinkling, Earth shaking with its greener mirth. Stones creak, Horned owls shriek as spirits gather loose clouds, Push these exotic feather-weighted shapes Aside — — transparent curtains of their realm.
What’s on the other side? Cold hands caress My arms invisibly. My candle glow Reveals no beings with a shadow. Yet I’m not alone, detect sweet fragrances, Lush nectar of forbidden grapes above.
A cricket orchestra replays nocturnes.
I flutter like a trapped bird, then something Or someone draws me in with secret steps. A brittle leaf is plucked from my red hair.
Glass-blown interiors invite me there, Strange iridescent skies pontilled with stars.
― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ― — — Sample from the Elgin Award nominee A Route Obscure and Lonely speculative poetry by LindaAnn LoSchiavo [Wapshott Press; 62 pgs].
• • Reviews won’t automatically land you on The New York Times bestseller list ― ― but positive comments by critics will make any book more visible to potential buyers. Every review will boost your rankings on Amazon, for example, emphasize your credibility, and entice readers. Additionally, good reviews drive sales. • • Here are some methods that have worked for authors. • • • • Use a “Call to Action” at the back of your book, advises Joanna Penn, whose site is The Creative Penn. According to Ms. Penn, this method is the easiest and most direct path to “reviewer heaven.” And “once you’ve set it up, you can just forget about it,” she adds. • • Joanna Penn explains how she does it: “Add a simple, short call to action (CTA) on the last page of your book once it is published.” • • You might say, “Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving an honest review on GoodReads, Amazon, or another favorite site.” • • Put a professional press kit together: author bio and photo, press release, your pitch letter ― ― and ARCs (advance reader copies). • • For the reviewers who request a digital copy, prepare a PDF of the book and a high-res JPG of the covers. • • For the reviewers who prefer a paper copy, you’ll need mailing supplies as well a few dozen books on hand. • • Research successful titles similar to yours and see who covered those. When you’re about to launch, contact those reviewers, mentioning you enjoyed the review s/he did of such-and-such book and pitch your up-and-coming. • • Book publicist Hannah Cooper advises, “Be very mindful of a publication’s particular audience and target market when pitching for review. If their readership is science-fiction, do not pitch a commercial crime novel.” • • Find relevant book blogs. Only approach the bloggers whose sweet spot is a new book in your genre, whose site shows recent (and consistent) activity, and where there are “engaged followers,” i.e., book-lovers who post comments and ask questions. • • Many bloggers will post their review policy and ask that you not send a book unless requested. However, you can post a free sample on your own web site and link to it in your pitch letter. • • Make your ebook available for free. Many book bloggers are already using Kindle. If you’ve published your ebook with KDP Select, then you will receive five days every period where you can make the ebook free. • • Ideally this will motivate you to finish the book so you can begin the next important phase: marketing. ― ― ― ― ― ― ― ―
Sandra J. Lindow reviewed the Elgin nominee “A Route Obscure and Lonely” speculative poetry by LindaAnn LoSchiavo [Wapshott Press; 62 pgs].
Critic Sandra J. Lindow wrote: Poet, journalist, dramatist LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s A Route Obscure and Lonely is inspired by Speaker for the Dead Emeritus, Edgar Allan Poe, and the women he pedestalled, then put in the ground. “Haunted by ill angels only,” (Poe, “Dreamland,” 1844.) and graced by Conrad Bradford’s eye-catching cover of a weeping woman in a white dress, this elegant collection of 33 gothic poems explores a dreamland of old anchorites, anxious ghosts, and cuckolding gods, offering intimate views of dangerous and/or ecstatic sexual relationships that we would not wish for our daughters. . . .
MAE WEST and Fiorello LaGuardia have a curious connection.
• • In his column “A New Yorker at Large,” Mark Barron shared insights about the Brooklyn bombshell and the ambitious politician Fiorello LaGuardia [11 December 1882 — 20 September 1947]. This installment of Barron’s column was published on Sunday, 28 January 1934.
• • Mark Barron wrote: New York — Mayor LaGuardia turned on the producers of risque shows, charging them with deliberately inviting police interference for the publicity it would bring.
• • Mark Barron noted: What is interesting in an ironic sort of way is the fact that it was an off-color show which led to the movement that — by increase and addition — eventually elected LaGuardia to his office. And, for that, some might say he owes thanks to Mae West.
• • Back in 1927, Miss West produced a play that brought a squadron of police censors tumbling about her with the turmoil of a Union Square red riot. As a result, Miss West was invited to spend a short vacation in the Welfare Island calaboose. [Mae’s 1927 arrest and trial in Jefferson Market Court are dramatized in the play “Courting Mae West,” which is based on true events during the Prohibition Era.]
• • Despite the avalanche of publicity, Mae was shocked, thinking that her attorney — a Tammany district leader — would be able to keep her this side of the steel bars.
• • A girl reporter was sent to interview Mae. In jail [i.e., Jefferson Jail — then located on Sixth Avenue], the reporter had a conversation with a girl prisoner who charged she’d been “framed” because she would not pay a bribe to a detective on the vice squad.
• • The resultant story started the inquiry into the women’s courts, and it was this inquiry that brought Judge Samuel Seabury into such high esteem in the public mind. And it was Seabury whose master minding helped put Fiorello LaGuardia in the mayor’s office.
• • If you are interested in Mae West, please visit my blog: https://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
You came one night and cut me to the quick, That penetration fast releasing one Long vowel — I, I, I, I— as chastity Curled up, defeated, helpless, spoken for. Lovemaking is the smile sewn through my skin.
The shadow spirits roam when darkness falls. They’ll lead a drowsy, sly cotillion, fly Through secret gardens gathering masked blooms Like belladonna, foxglove, or bloodroot. Each time you jerk awake, they’re visiting, Dripping moist jewels of death across your chest.
― ― ― ― ― ― ― ―
Sample from the Elgin Award nominee “A Route Obscure and Lonely“ speculative poetry by LindaAnn LoSchiavo [Wapshott Press; 62 pgs].