THE JOY OF STORY
John M. Daniel’s Blog
December 17, 2016
Greetings, friends and fellow fans of Story. This week we have a guest author, as we do the week following the third Saturday of every month. Our guest this time, Marilyn London, has written a multi-generational family saga. It sounds like a fascinating and highly entertaining story, with a blend of history and moral themes supporting the novel’s structure. I won’t tell you anything more about Marilyn’s novel, Percy’s Gold or The Trust Fund, because she’s done a fine job of that in the guest essay that appears below.
I’ve never written a multi-generational family saga, so I won’t pretend to list all that’s involved in the art. I can state the obvious: the novel needs to have the essential ingredients of all stories, namely conflict, choice, and change. I assume such a book must take a good deal of research, since the early generations in the plot must have lived in the long ago. I have written a bit of historical fiction, and I try my best to avoid anachronisms. I’ve also written stories involving families, and I’ve noticed how important it is to reveal family traits, and it’s sometimes good to pay attention to the relatives who dare to escape their roots and traditions and make their own rules.
Before I forget, I need to make this important announcement: this is the last post of the month of December and it’s also the last post for the year 2016. Susan and I will be in Las Vegas celebrating Christmas with family. The blog will be up and running again January 7, 2017.
Don’t forget about the 99-word story feature. In case you’re a new visitor, you’ll find rules of the game following our guest speaker’s visit.
The Roots and Treasures that Pass
from Generation to Generation
Percy’s Gold or The Trust Fund is a multi-generational saga of familial love, infidelity, and loyalty. The story explores how the consequences of our actions transcend time.
In the late 1850s, Mamie loses her husband on a whaling boat and enters a marriage of convenience with a Virginia plantation owner in the hopes of keeping food on the table for her sons, Percy and Sam. Aided by his brother and the underground railroad, Percy runs from the encroaching Civil War and joins a wagon train headed west. He survives the Indian Wars near Fort Laramie and falls in love with a runaway slave. Their life on the prairie is arduous and Percy becomes disillusioned. He steals gold from the railroad as it makes its way through the Black Hills. When he dies, the stolen gold is passed to Sam and his descendants as a familial trust fund. To inherit stolen gold, each must be trusted to keep the family secret, and the gold changes the lives of everyone it touches. Sam’s daughter has Alzheimer’s. She wills the gold to her grandson, Jason, but misplaces it before she dies. Jason’s mother, Emma, knows nothing of the gold but feels that something is missing in her relationship with her mother and is surprised to learn that her son has inherited a trust fund. In the end, Emma and Jason both find gold. The reader is left wondering if they will share their discoveries with one another.
Several themes permeate the story. The first theme deals with our choices about how to live our lives. Percy did what others wished they would do, but never would because of real or perceived dangers. He never lived vicariously. Sam, on the other hand, benefited from happenstance, and an innate ability to let go and enjoy life’s pleasures as they came.
The second theme is Percy’s gold, which is both his father’s wedding band and the gold Percy stole from the railroad. The only good that comes from the train heist is the reconstructed family home on Long Island, a symbol of family loyalty and hope for the future. Juxtaposed, the value of the ring is minute when compared to the monetary value of the stolen gold. However, the love passed on with the ring exemplifies the trust and caring that bonds family members whose actions transcend time.
Emma’s quest for acceptance is the third theme. She struggles to attain her aging mother’s love while caring for her. This theme also touches on researching ancestry and discovering how our lives fit into the larger scheme of history.
The fourth theme is derived from the prayer recited by Red Cloud as he absorbs the true meaning of a wagon train massacre carried out in retribution for the destruction of innocent lives at Sand Creek. The prayer recognizes the fleeting nature of human life and the transcendent power of nature, goodness and human action. As a metaphor, the reader notes that Percy will be gone, but the stolen gold will have lasting effects.
When my parents could no longer live in their home, it fell to me to prepare their house for sale. I began this book as I reflected on my childhood. I found that the memories of my family’s unique sense of humor, love for American history, and strong religious morals far out-valued any objects my parents left behind. The characters in my story bring my memories to life in a creative way.
I self-published Percy’s Gold or The Trust Fund as an ebook on Amazon recently, and it will soon be available in paperback.
Marilyn London is new to the creative writing field but not new to creative arts. For more than twenty years, she was a classical musician-teacher-performer before changing careers. For the next twenty years, she was an administrator and assistant dean at a medical school, where she currently volunteers to facilitate small groups of medical students in discussions about ethics and professionalism. She also teaches online courses part-time. As a retiree, she is participating in local organizations to hone her creative writing skills. Besides holding Masters degrees in piano performance and cultural anthropology, she has a Doctor of Education in Creative Arts in Education. Her novel, Percy’s Gold or The Trust Fund, is now available on Amazon.com as an ebook. It soon will be available in paperback. Marilyn lives on Long Island, New York with her husband and two dogs, Cole and Mirabelle.
Buy the book on Amazon.com: Percy’s Gold or the Trust Fund
Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories
The deadline for January’s 99-word story submissions is January 1, 2017. The stories will appear on my blog post for January 14, and will stay posted for a week.
note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.
Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:
1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY: Write a story inspired by the following sentence: I took a trip on a train.
Calling all published authors—
I try to feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at email@example.com.
Thank you for visiting. Please drop by next year!