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My Other Hats

July 25, 2023 -- So I have two manuscripts searching for publishers and a few

others that need tweaking, but at the moment I'm not contemplating any new writing projects. That's because it has been ages since I worked on the family tree and I need to get back to it. I have so many unexplored leaves, I could make my own forest!

The other reason I should work on the family tree is my great-grandmother, Alice Maria Hopkins. I need to see if I can find any more information about her, because I am in the middle of writing an adult novel based on her life. She lived in one of the poorest parts of East London during the time of Jack the Ripper. She had three dubious relationships and nine children, only four of whom lived past childhood. Then, at age 39, while pregnant, she fell down a set of stairs and died. Her life was so sad, I wanted to do something to validate it. Her story -- the tragedy of it at any rate -- needed to be told. I started the novel several years ago. It is called Lady of Bethnal Green, and if I ever finish it, I think it might be quite good. But since I'm only about 50 pages in, and there is much research as well as writing to be done, it promised to be a lengthy project. So before I dive into it, I may first revisit another historical novel that needs some revisions -- The Sentinel of Mabry Moor. Set in Southern England during the Industrial Revolution, it is the story of a young man who is murdered and becomes the new guardian of the graveyard. While safeguarding the residents, his is also trying to deal with unresolved problems from his life and figure out who killed him. Yes, there is an element of magical realism in this novel, but it is primarily historical fiction.

I'm going to give myself some time with genealogy first though. Perhaps the remainder of this week, and then I'll slip my writing hat back on.

The last couple of weeks, I've been wearing my artist's beret. I challenged myself with three different projects: a landscape (I don't do landscapes), a large, very detailed pencil drawing, and a watercolour painting of my husband's baseball glove from when he was a little boy. He says it belonged to his father before him. It really was a challenge, and to be honest, I almost ripped up the painting quite near the start. I was certain I had botched it up, and unlike oils and acrylics, watercolour doesn't allow you second chances. So, abandoning the painting, I stomped off to make some lunch. When I went back to the painting afterwards, I decided I'd stick it out a bit longer, because sometimes a piece doesn't come together right away. The fact that I'm posting a photo of the finished product here is proof.

Happy with my efforts, I'm hanging up my art beret for a while and slipping on my dust bonnet to save me from the cobwebs draping my family tree. If I can brush them away, I may just find more dirt on my ancestors. Wish me luck.

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