Daniel's Esperanza

Daniel's Esperanza

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

That Quote is Attributed to...

“When you turn around, you’ll see something I bet you’ve never seen before. If it takes your breath away, then you’ll fit in nicely. If you don’t feel anything, then maybe you don’t belong here.”  - Veronica Randolph Batterson, Daniel’s Esperanza

If you write books, you hope people will read them.  In fact, you remind them, beg them, bug them, post on social media about your work until everyone ignores your pleas (or unfollows/unfriends you, or whatever ‘un’ of the moment happens to be that I’ve never heard before).  It’s wonderful when folks buy your books, and even better when you receive a positive review and shout-out from someone.  Recommendations are priceless because they rarely come, and I love them when they do.
Recognition and referral usually happen after someone reads the book, and I’ve received both.  But I have to say I’m very surprised as to how my book, Daniel’s Esperanza, has gotten attention lately.  It’s through the above quote, and I have no idea how it happened.  It’s being used on various sites by individuals I don’t know, and is being attached to personal photographs that have meaning to the people using it.  I’m told when something appears on Pinterest, it spreads like wildfire (the same with Instagram). I’m not on either one of the sites but my quote is, and it appears to be true.  It’s also being shared on Twitter, and other places I’m not even familiar with.  I guess hashtags are amazing. 
Daniel's Esperanza
Most of the people who use the quote attribute it to me and to the book, and I’m okay with this.  I appreciate it, and it's pretty special that people get something from it.  However, there are some who don’t give me credit, and that’s a problem for me.  It took over three years of work to get the book published, and the quote is actually a piece of dialogue in the book about seeing a band of wild horses for the first time.  Using it as your own by deleting my name and from where it came is essentially stealing.
Hey, I like it that other folks like it.  I like it that it’s being used in the way it has been.  Just give me that byline for it.  It’s deserved, it’s right, it’s cool…it’s what you’re supposed to do.  I’ve even included a photograph here of the book page where it’s published in paperback (about the fifth paragraph), in case someone wants proof that it’s mine.  Also, I’m sharing a screenshot of one person’s use of it (and she attributed it to me and my book – thanks!).
The quote finds itself here
By the way, I just became aware of how this quote has gone viral as I was preparing a blog post on Intellectual Property and Copyright.  I guess I’ll be sharing that next time, but this is certainly an introduction for it, and coincidental. And for those who think I'm being a little goofy about this, I'm not.  It's my work.  Finally, to all those people who like the quote so much:  there’s a whole book waiting to be read that I’m sure you’ll like even better.  Daniel’s Esperanza.  On Amazon. $12.95 paperback. $3.99 Kindle.  And sharing that is even better.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Historic Ridge Cemetery, Williamsburg Hill, IL - Deserving of Respect

Ridge Cemetery - Williamsburg Hill, Illinois
Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blog post about visiting an area in Illinois that was once known as Williamsburg Hill.  When the railroad bypassed the town in the late 1880s and the stagecoach line ceased to exist, residents deserted the village out of necessity.  The only thing remaining from that era rests on the hill itself:  Ridge Cemetery.
After viewing that beautiful and, yes, strange place, I decided I’d found the perfect setting for my next book.  Fictional townspeople have come alive in Williamsburg and Ridge Cemetery plays a prominent role in my story.  The first draft is finished and is now undergoing rewrites.  While I’m happy to share the status of my book, which is titled Williamsburg Hill, I’d also like to share something else.
In March of this year, vandals struck Ridge Cemetery.  Three adults and one juvenile from nearby towns were eventually arrested and face felony counts of unlawful vandalism of a gravestone.  According to a Go Fund Me Page that was started to cover the cost of repairs to the cemetery, approximately 122 headstones were knocked over and damaged.  The news reported destruction was done to some tombstones weighing more than a thousand pounds. 
Only road to Ridge Cemetery
Fortunately, enough money was raised to reset the stones, the brush was cleared, and the grounds were cleaned.  I visited the area again in May of this year for a bit of last minute research, and wasn’t aware of the destruction that had occurred just two months prior.  It was only a few weeks ago that I was informed of what had happened.  Kudos to the special volunteers who worked diligently in a short amount of time to restore the grounds to a place deserving of respect and honor, not one of contempt.
While the cemetery is isolated and difficult to find if you don’t know the area, it is open for anyone to visit.  There have been stories of odd events that supposedly occurred there over the decades, which more than likely attract the strange and curious sorts.  For all of the tales that might scare or intrigue about this nineteenth century place, it seems the only thing to fear are those living and breathing folks who wish to do damage.
Surname used in my book
Ridge Cemetery and Williamsburg Hill spoke to me of a rich background that didn’t evolve into anything greater, but simply ended.  The idea to visit took root as a story to write and I love history.  So seeing the cemetery appealed to me, especially because I thought it had something to say.  And it does.  One doesn’t have to write a book to hear it.  It speaks of families, hardships, lives lost suddenly, prosperity, tragedy, long years of existence, illness, stillbirth and disease.  It whispers of differences during life, but shouts that in the end everyone ends up in the same place together.  It exists as a reminder of those who came before us, and a place all of us will eventually face.  We should listen because it has a lot to say.
The volunteers who worked hard to restore it after the recent destruction know this.  It’s unfortunate that some with nothing but anger inside of them do not.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Books and Photographs

The first draft of my latest book, Williamsburg Hill, is nearly complete.  Since I've been focused on finishing it, less time has been given to blog posts and updates.  So this one is a little short and simply a reminder that I have books and photographs still for sale.

Daniel's Esperanza, Funny Pages and Billy's First Dance can be purchased through various online retail sites.  All can be found in paperback form and for Kindle readers on Amazon.  I appreciate all sales, and if you're interested in giving one a shout-out, please do.  Many thanks in advance.

I also have over 300 photographs on Fine Art America for sale in canvas prints, posters, framed and unframed photographic prints, greeting cards, canvas totes, t-shirts, cell phone cases, shower curtains, duvets and more.  Any purchase is given a 100 percent guarantee; if you aren't satisfied you can return the item(s) for a full refund.  Included here are some screen shots of some of my latest work, but you can visit www.veronica-batterson.pixels.com for higher resolution viewing.

As always, thanks for any and all support, purchases, reviews and sharing on social media. Word of mouth works wonders.  Now back to that draft...hope to have it finished in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Best Place in Milwaukee - the Best Place

   I’ve always affectionately referred to my older daughter as someone who marches to the beat of her own drum.  The word traditional isn’t one I’d use to describe her and I think she prefers it that way.  There is a wonderful photo that occasionally floats around Facebook that depicts a group of young girls in dance class.  All but one stands in first position in front of a ballet barre, waiting for instruction. The other one?  She’s hanging upside down from said barre, winging it.  The caption reads something like this: “There’s always one.”  I think my daughter was generally always “that one”.
As a very young child, my husband and I carried her to dance class (screaming all the way) every Saturday morning for two years.  She hated it, but since she started wearing corrective lenses at the age of two, the classes were necessary to help her with hand and eye coordination.  And if you’ve ever had your fingers accidentally stepped on by a child who is wearing tap shoes (it hurts – a lot), you’ll probably understand I was relieved when those classes ended.  Basketball and softball eventually followed and she was much happier. 
Dolls were never her thing either.  There was one that held her interest for a while after she cut off its hair, giving it a Mohawk.  She named it “Stick-em-up-hair-Barbie” and it took the place of all the American Girl dolls she owned when she wished to play with a doll (and that wasn’t often). 
Her spontaneity, ready laughter and unique personality are traits that define her, and she married a man recently who shares her outlook on life, too.  So it really didn’t surprise me when they told us where they’d chosen to celebrate the big day.  Given who they are, their love of Wisconsin and the fact that her new husband is co-owner of The Hopewell Brewing Company in Chicago, their choice was fitting and represented who they are. 
Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee was it.  In operation from 1844-1996, new owners purchased the site in 2001 and eventually opened its doors to the public.  Named after the brewery’s founders and with historical preservation in mind, it is now a site for tours, events and serves as a well-known wedding venue.  It was the perfect location for our daughter’s wedding, with the ceremony being held outside in one of the courtyards, and a delicious dinner (provided by Zilli Hospitality Group) enjoyed indoors.  Then it was outdoors for music and dancing by MKE Sound.  Holen Photography worked the entire event, capturing the memories of the evening for all to remember.  It was a lovely night, made even more special by all of these individuals.  Thanks to all.
I have to say that my daughter was truly beautiful.  Her choice of wedding dress, and hairstyle (with no veil) were lovely.  Adding to the uniqueness of the evening:  the bridal bouquet was a King Protea flower (Greek legend says it’s named after Poseidon’s son, Proteus); rather than having gift favors for guests, the couple made a donation to PAWS; they also made a Girl Scout troop in Chicago very happy by making a large cookie purchase for guests to have at the reception in lieu of a cake.  However, the bride and groom did cut a small cake for photos, but I believe they were just appeasing me.  I bought a German cake knife and server (circa 1930) for them from an antique store about a year ago to use for their wedding cake.  Little did I know that a cake might not be part of their plans, but it meant a lot to me that they remembered. 
Many thanks to Best Place and all who made the day special.  It was one that reflected the beauty and character of the young couple getting married. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Witch of County Down

An old Irish cottage - Perhaps Gitta would have lived in something similar.
Along the path of novel writing, I decided to take a break and write another short story. The first draft of Williamsburg Hill, my next book, is coming along, but research is slowing it down a bit. I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment by completing something, so a short story it was. Thanks for reading The Witch of County Down. As always, copyright applies (©Veronica Randolph Batterson). Now back to the novel.

The Witch of County Down

By Veronica Randolph Batterson

The water sloshed over the bucket, soaking her feet and adding to the muddiness of the path.  It had stormed for days, making the ground slippery and treacherous.  Gitta had fallen twice since collecting the rain water, the weight of the pails hindering her journey; there would be two more treks up the hill and back before she was finished.  It figured to be a long evening as the moans of her houseguest had yet to grow deep; lengthy intervals spaced the pains.
 It was early, barely daybreak, when the young woman had knocked on her door.  Desperation marked her features; water stains and spots of blood revealed her plight.  Most came alone, driven by poverty, shame or both.  This one was no different.  Gitta marveled at how those, even the poor, could be so judgmental. 
“Been told you’d help me,” the woman said, leaning against the splintered door frame.  She drew a tattered shawl around her shoulders, her face and legs streaked with dirt and grime. 
“Come,” Gitta replied, ushering the woman inside.
“Don’t have any coins, but I can sew and mend,” the woman breathed before bending over in pain and grasping her stomach.
“No need to worry about such things,” Gitta said, holding up the woman.  “Breathe. The spell will pass.”
Once the pain had eased, Gitta readied the woman for the long hours ahead.  She washed her patient’s limbs as best she could, even though barrels of hot water and a bar of lye soap would have served her better, and she tried to make her patient comfortable.  The pallet of straw provided little relief when the spasms started, but Gitta figured the bed was better than what the woman was used to having.  
“You have a name?” Gitta asked, spooning broth into the woman’s mouth. 
“Fiona,” came the whispered reply.
The young woman’s skin, freckled from the sun, stretched across sharp and angled features.  Hair as red as fire fell across her shoulders; Gitta imagined it came to life when clean.  Her hands, dried and cracked from use and neglect, fared better than the swollen and split bottom lip that was either parched from thirst or split from a fist.  Probably both.
“Here, drink this.  It’ll quench the dryness in your mouth,” Gitta said, pulling a flask from a shelf and opening it.
“I’ll not drink water,” Fiona jumped, panic arching her back.  “I’ll not.”
“I boil my water, just like that broth, you see,” Gitta soothed, attempting to calm the woman.  “And it is rain water, kept separate from the river.  Rain directly from the heavens.”
“I’ll not get the sickness.  Saw too many of my own die of it,” Fiona replied, shaking her head.
“This is a little stronger than water, dear girl,” Gitta said, shaking the flask.
“What then?” Fiona asked.
“Plain old scotch. You’ll be needing it,” Gitta replied, tempted to drink some herself.  Fiona sipped, and choked.
Gitta understood the woman’s fear, and had seen the horror with her own eyes.  The filth of the river had caused dysentery and death, nearly eliminating entire families at the height of the epidemic.  It took the sight of a bloated cow floating down the river to keep the remainder of the villagers away from the water, even though years of contamination had been evident.  At the height of sickness, few came to her for help.  Fear of Gitta had been greater than potential death.  Murmurs of sorceress and witch still burned her ears as she remembered being ostracized for her ability.  Most thought she had powers when Gitta would argue it was nothing more than common sense. 
Carrying the pails up to the cabin, her thoughts of the morning troubled her.  Would the young woman inside have a place to go once the child made its appearance?  The ones who knew where Fiona sought help might view her as cursed.  It had happened with others, yet Gitta had been less caring in the past.  The young woman inside was nothing more than a child herself.
“My mam says to trust you,” Fiona exclaimed as Gitta entered the room, pails of water dripping on the floor.
“I have nothing to gain if you do or do not,” Gitta replied.
“Will my babe live?” Fiona asked.
“Your babe has yet to be born,” answered Gitta.
 “But what they say about you knowing things. Can’t you tell? Most are afraid, scared you will bring bad luck,” Fiona started, the beginnings of another labor pain twisting her features.
“What is said is just talk. Nothing more,” Gitta soothed, setting the buckets by the door and reaching for the pot of lavender.  She rubbed the oil at Fiona’s temples, and began chanting a prayer in Welsh.
“What’s that you’re saying?” Fiona hissed, teeth clenched against the pain.
“Just blessing you,” Gitta replied.
“Is it the devil?” Fiona asked, fear tempting her movements but the labor pain held her in place.
“Not the devil. Those who understand say it’s goodness. Some who believe, say God,” Gitta replied.
“Never heard talk like that before,” said Fiona.
“Most haven’t,” Gitta said.
“Where do you come from then?” Fiona asked, the pains subsiding.
“Wales,” was all Gitta offered.  She told no one of her past, caring not to share the story of her life, of the hardships brought on by a father who loved the drink better than he liked his wife, of a traveling, nomadic existence that forced her to beg for scraps wherever they stopped.  “A poor, needy child gets more sympathy,” her father had laughed, snatching any extra coins she might have collected.  Then he’d leave for the night, drinking away her day’s work. 
He had not been a cruel man, just lazy, and Gitta never saw him work much at anything.  She and her mother would sell trinkets and herbs, a poultice or two for various aches, and homemade remedies for common ailments in order to keep their bellies full.  Eventually, they learned to hide their earnings from her father until he grew tired of doing without his ale.  He left and Gitta never saw him again. 
She and her mother were taken into the folds of a traveling caravan of gypsies.  They continued selling their herbal cures, and Gitta got quite good at mixing concoctions and experimenting.  Within a year, her mother died of consumption; Gitta, heartbroken that none of her remedies could cure the woman, vowed to do for others what she couldn’t for her mother.
She remained with the caravan, proving herself even more useful when she assisted in delivering a child that was breech.  The laboring woman, a person of prominence, had visited the gypsy stalls one morning and her pains came early.  Without thinking, Gitta took charge and through a long and difficult birth, both mother and child survived.  She was rewarded with coin, food and reputation, but even greater, Gitta earned the attentions of a young Irish soldier.
They married impulsively, and she followed him to his homeland where news of their union was met with hostility by his family.  Gitta endured criticism on all levels, from her coloring to the way she spoke.  It was her refusal to abandon the cures that finally drove her husband away and instigated the rumors of witchcraft started by his family.  With no one to turn to, she stayed where she was, alone.  She grew old.
“Oh, help me. It feels like the babe is coming,” Fiona’s voice cried, interrupting Gitta’s thoughts.
“Not much longer,” Gitta reassured the woman.  The pains were intense and closer together; it would soon be time.
Gitta marveled at new life as the baby made its appearance, fists drawn and screaming from healthy lungs.  A son for Fiona.  As the woman held her child, Gitta felt a fleeting stab of envy.  What she’d give for the chance to hold a child of her own.
“You have been kind to me. Kinder than most of my kin. I’ll not forget it,” Fiona murmured, exhaustion marking her face.
“Thank you,” was the only reply Gitta could give. 
Over the following days, Gitta looked after woman and child, providing nourishment and teaching Fiona how to care for her babe.  She shared simple remedies and stressed cleanliness.   As she readied them for their journey home, it was her turn to thank Fiona.  She had felt purpose for the first time in many years.  Perhaps age had softened her, made her less bitter.  She wished to think it was more than fate that brought the woman into her life.
“Might William and I come visit again?” Fiona asked, standing at the door, preparing to leave.
“That is his name then?” Gitta asked.
“Yes, it is.  Felt right to me,” Fiona replied.
“I would like that very much,” Gitta said, “the two of you visiting.”
She watched as mother and child vanished into the morning mist, making their way back to the village, to Fiona’s home.  Gitta’s cabin was quiet and felt empty.  She busied herself cleaning, mixing herbs and boiling water, and when the loneliness seemed to engulf her, there was a knock upon her door.  Gitta ushered in another needing soul to give her purpose.

 ©Veronica Randolph Batterson

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bookstock 2016 - Thank You

I'd like to thank the Memphis Public Library system for the invitation to participate in this past Saturday's Bookstock 2016. The event was held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library and was a great success. I've enjoyed the privilege of attending many author related festivals over the years in the Chicago area, but I think this event in Memphis was the best I've ever seen. Kudos to the organizers for realizing that promotion, table placement for the authors, engaging attendees to visit with all the authors, and incorporating music, visual and performance art with literacy all lead to a successful day. It was well attended and enjoyed by all, and it was nice meeting so many people. Thanks to those who bought copies of my books, too.

Until next year.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mid-South Horse Review

Thank you to the editors of the Mid-South Horse Review for giving my book, Daniel's Esperanza, and a couple of my equine photographs a page in its April 2016 issue. Any and all acknowledgments, shout-outs, mentions and promotions are always appreciated. Here is a screen shot of the actual page, but you can visit their site at Mid-South Horse Review.  The print edition is available at newsstands, too.