Time Travel – visiting another time, meeting Di Vinci, Mark Twain, or Archimedes sounds fun, on paper. Yet, I’m not sure I would be happy doing so in real life, especially those pops to the past–flush toilets, Starbucks, blow-dryers and antibiotics would be hard to give up. But I enjoy the idea in fiction.
I started out time traveling young, about nine, by reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME. How I loved that book. I probably read it five or six times in a row because I was so taken with Meg, a GIRL, who was good at math, so good that she could help other children with their math homework. The time traveling part was just a side benefit.
Soon after I read PORTRAIT OF JENNIE by Robert Nathan, a haunting very short novel about an artist and a little girl who ages oddly. THE TIME MACHINE by HG Wells followed and gave me nightmares for a weeks –Morlocks! My reading lists were rounded out by PEBBLE IN THE SKY and END OF ETERNITY both by Isaac Asimov.
But my very favorite time travel novel is THE MIRROR by Marlys Millhiser. This novel is the story of Brandy and Shay –grandmother and granddaughter, who both look into an antique mirror on the eve of their weddings and switch places. I’ve never read any of Marlys Millhisner’s other novels, but they look interesting.
Time Travel has been a fun plot device in lots of TV shows I’ve enjoyed over the years, from Sam and Darrin traveling to Salem in BEWITCHED, to the many episodes of STAR TREK, DR. WHO, QUANTUM LEAP and of course Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s WABAC machine.
Movies are included in my time traveling adventures. I love BACK TO THE FUTURE. I’m laughing just typing the title for BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. A writing bubby and I dragged a gaggle of our kids and several of their friends to see this movie. We sat several rows behind the kids laughing our heads off, while the kids, ranging in age of seven to thirteen, sat there looking blankly from the screen to their clearly nutty mothers. I also enjoyed THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT.
The time travel movie I’ve enjoyed the most is the made for TV movie, THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH & EVERYTHING.
In searching for an image for THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH & EVERYTHING, I found out the movie was first a novel by John D. MacDonald. The same John D. MacDonald who wrote the Travis McGee hard boiled private detective novels. I was stunned, and now I really want a copy of the novel to read. The reissue copy of this novel includes an introduction by Dean Koontz.
I found other gems while looking on the Internet for time traveling tidbits. Andy’s Anachronisms is a website completely devoted to time travel in popular media. I also found Time Travel Institute a website that discusses possible theories behind time travel.
But, I saved the best gem for last. Susan Squires, who is an excellent writer and really nice person, has a series of time travel romance novels involving a time machine built by Da Vinci.
Would you like to travel in time?
Where would you go?
Eighteen and Eight
Since the Postal Service has been in the news recently, especially with the removal of high-speed sorting machines, I thought I would tell you all about the Jurassic days of casing all our mail by hand.
Working at Mack Trucks was great. I made a good wage, only had to work Saturdays if I chose to do so, and after thirty or more years, I could collect a pension, including health care. I had a sedentary job for most of my thirteen and a half years, and only did physical work near the end of that short career, working on the line in Macungie.
First, I worked on the cab line where I put on door and window handles on the driver’s side, the aluminum step, and squirted sealant into the grommets and all open holes in the firewall, a not too difficult job, if one kept up, or even a little ahead.
My second job, after being bumped off my gussie, by a more senior employee, was to help another guy install the windshield of a cab, working above my head most of the time.
My third and final job, before being sent back to Allentown, was to install mufflers. I spent my working hours on a creeper under the truck as it moved down the line, picking up the muffler, bolting it to the frame, and then keeping it up by installing U-shaped hooks and attacking them to the frame. It was so tiring that most times I just laid on the creeper for my two six-minute breaks. Lunch was twelve minutes, and I would crawl out to eat my sandwich and drink a soda.
I knew that I was going to lose my job soon, so I applied to take the exam to become a postal worker. Several weeks before the exam, I took a four-hour course where I learned the shortcuts I would need to ace the test.
Casing mail is all about speed and accuracy, and the exam tested one’s ability to perform this task. It was a two-part, eleven-minute test. Part one was about ninety-five questions, if memory serves. On the left side column was a list of addresses, on the right-side column was another list.
I had approximately three seconds to determine if the side by side addresses were exactly the same, or somewhat different. The most difficult part, after making my determination, was to completely blacken the answer circle with my number 2 pencil. That concluded the speed part of the test.
Part two dealt with memory and accuracy. There were five address blocks, with five different addresses in each block. On the test, you would see one specific address and had to answer which block it was in, A to E. I think we had eighty-eight questions in this section, and had to answer and mark your circle in about five seconds.
I scored ninety-six out of one hundred, plus was awarded an additional five points for being a veteran. Disabled veterans received ten additional points to their score.
I was hired and my first day on the job was December 16th, 1986. I was thirty-nine and a half years old, a rookie, when most employees my age were midway through their careers.
The next task I had to pass was my ninety-day probation period. My supervisor would judge my performances during the Post Office version of Basic Combat Training. As a recruit in BCT, I was fat, and out of shape, and now I was also old.
Most of my days were spent delivering routes. A carrier would case the route, pull it down, and I would grab the loaded satchel, and either be transported or walk to my first delivery point. Generally, when a professional carrier cased the route, there were few errors, and having to be quick, when we delivered, we rarely had time to check to see if we were delivering the correct mail. As long as we delivered to the correct address, we rarely got into any trouble.
The accepted method of handing the mail was to rest the flats, which were large pieces of mail and magazine sized mail, in the crook of your arm, and hold a bundle of letter-sized mail in your hand. Using your free hand, you would peel letters for a specific address off the pile, and then peel of the corresponding flats, collating both piles together to deliver to the mailbox, or slip through the door slot.
Finally, I was given the opportunity to case mail, so before leaving work the day before, I walked to the route to check out the case. A mailman’s case consisted of two or three five row metal boxes with every address, or two addresses in a section, marked off on the case and split up by metal separators.
The job at hand was to grab a handful of letters and begin sorting them into the proper divider, your eyes and hands moving all around the case until you would finally recognize where to put the mail piece from memory. It was sort of like the game Concentration.
After casing the letter mail you were going to take out, you would pick up a handful of flats and rest them on your arm. The flat case was a series of cubicles with multiple address labels—remember the test—where you would throw the flats into the proper bin, and then when finished you would have to sort them into delivery order on your desk.
Doing the job properly, and speedily, the speed that was required was eighteen letter pieces a minute, and eight flats. I think I used to case close to thirty letters and fifteen flats a minute once I got the hang of it.
Today’s mail sorters now ‘case’ about thirty-five thousand pieces an hour, and in delivery order. I had been retired once they began using flat sorting machines, and I know literally nothing about them.
Note: If you want to learn more about Larry, read his interview A Time Traveling Man
Dianna is a contributing author in the recent Bethlehem Writers Group anthology, Untethered, Sweet, Funny & Strange Tales of the Paranormal. A man buys a painting of a jungle scene that is so realistic it seems to change in “Point of View.” She has also contributed stories for the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable ezine, including “In the Delivery.”
Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.
Dianna also has a regular column, Quill and Moss, here on A Slice of Orange.
Open to works of romantic fiction published in 2019.
Deadline for receiving manuscripts is April 30, 2020
We wanted to let you know that OCC/RWA is running our annual Book Buyers Best Contest for any author who has published a work of fiction any time during 2019 (traditional or self-published). The contest is open now and closes on April 30th. We welcome you to submit to our contest.
Here is the link describing the contest rules.
Please email us if you have any further questions.
Cathleen Armstrong and Nancy Brashear
Open to unpublished fiction in all genres.
Deadline April 30, 2020
For more information or to enter the contest follow this LINK
Price: paperback $14.99 e-book: $6.99
Publisher FYD Media, LLC April 2020
As a Homicide Detective for LA County Sheriff’s Department, Gabriel McRay has been assigned cold cases to investigate while he recovers from being kidnapped and held captive by a ruthless serial killer. He’s given the case of teenager, Nancy Lewicki, missing since 1988. Every clue he uncovers in Nancy’s case leads to more questions, but answers are dead-ends or blank walls. To make matters worse, his partner, good-cop to his bad-cop, is in jail.
He’s not sleeping. His future father-in-law delights in insulting him—both for his choice of profession and his lack of finances. His fiancé, Dr. Ming Li, turns up the pressure on him by insisting on a huge wedding and by maintaining that daddy can pay for it. She also becomes distance when her parents come stay with her for an extended visit. His only friend is his therapist who refuses to be his best man.
Gabriel tries to juggle his professional life and his personal life when a wildly popular celebrity psychic, Carmen Jenette, offers very public help with his cold case. He’s not interested, but she pushes the issue both with the Nancy’s family, with her powerful friends in the District Attorney’s Office, and with the public via her TV show. When Carmen is physically attacked all evidence leads back to his cold case. Gabriel realizes someone doesn’t want poor Nancy Lewicki found, and they’ll kill to keep what happened to her a secret.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading In Twilight’s Hush. Gabriel McRay, despite all his problems and flaws, is a very likeable character. He tries to do his best for Nancy Lewicki, her family and, even though he doesn’t trust her, Carmen Jenette. He also tries to balance his needs with Ming’s and understand her relationship with her parents without trying to fix everything for her.
Readers who like Lisa Gardner’s DD Warren series or Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series will enjoy reading Laurie Stevens. In Twilight’s Hush is the fourth Gabriel McRay novel but it stands alone. A reader wouldn’t have to have read the other three to follow the action or backstory. Gabriel McRay is an engaging character, and Ms. Stevens does a great job of weaving a compelling story, so I suspect a reader will want to read them all. The other titles in the series are The Dark Before Dawn, Deep into Dusk, and The Mask of Midnight. This series has won twelve awards, among them Best of Kirkus Reviews, an IPPY for Best Mystery/Thriller, Library Journal’s Self-E Award, and Random House Editor’s Book of the Month.
The regret of missed opportunity...More info →
Present Danger—When Victoria Bradford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she's on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter and nowhere to go.More info →
She knows in her blood and in her bones that her Destiny is a member of the Clan. She must reject him as an enemy. But can she?More info →