He’s “self-employed,” in modern language. He would laugh at the term, if he felt like laughing. But in his line of business — finding things out for money and dealing with dangerous characters in the process — he’s rarely jolly, or even in a good mood. Trouble is his business.
He is, of course, the private detective, a.k.a., the “private eye.” His is one of 20th century fiction’s most enduring characters.
Just who is the private detective of this “hard-boiled” fiction genre?
Jean Ritchie, First Lady of American folk music
But the revival and expansion of knowledge about the dulcimer is only the beginning of the contributions this remarkable women made to American music and culture. For more than 60 years, Ritchie gave us her knowledge, understanding, and research of the music that came from Appalachia where she was born. Her beautiful singing voice and pitch-perfect demeanor on and off stage inspired thousands to fall in love with folk music and follow it back to its Scottish and Irish roots.
Ritchie left Kentucky in 1946 to work in a Lower East Side settlement house in New York City. She took along her dulcimer, a musical instrument that most people there had never seen, and a vast quantity of music that she had learned during her childhood. The instrument and the music struck a chord, literally and figuratively, with her New York audiences, and the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960 began in earnest.
Ritchie died in 2015 at the age of 92. Next Friday (Dec. 8) would have been her 95th birthday.
Read more about this extraordinary woman — and listen to some of her music — here on JPROF.com.
Anne Bradstreet, Americ’s first published poet
The first American to become a published poet was a Puritan and a woman — Anne Bradstreet. Her collection of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, was published in London in 1650. Her volume of verse became wildly popular first in England and eventually in America, where, it was said, that every household that had any books at all — and most of them in Puritan America at that time had book — had a copy of Bradstreet’s poems.
Read for about her here on JPROF.com.
An extraordinary tale of courage
The world lost one of its true heroes with the passing of Jeannie Rousseau in August.
While I usually write about people who were writers, Rousseau’s story is too good to pass up without noting. She lived in Paris during World War II and took advantage of all of her resources — fluent German, a delightful disposition, steely courage, and a photographic memory — to score one of the great espionage coups of the war.
Yet, she never made much of what she did, waiting more than 50 years to tell her story and then downplaying its significance.
Read more about this remarkable woman here on JPROF.
Where did English come from
This short (4:50) animated video gives an excellent introduction to the origins of the English language.
If you’ve ever deliberately studied the English language — or, even worse, taught it — you know that bottomless aggravation awaits anyone foolish enough to try to explain its “rules.” What makes English so apparently strange and different from other languages, and how could such a language go on to get so much traction all over the world? Whether you speak English natively (and thus haven’t had much occasion to give the matter thought) or learned it as a second language, the five-minute TED-Ed lesson above, written by Yale linguistics professor Claire Bowern and animated by Patrick Smith, will give you a solid start on understanding the answer to those questions and others.
Sit back for a few minutes and enjoy the learning.
Check out Jim’s Art on FineArtAmerica.com
Prints of this watercolor are now available on FineArtAmerica.com.
Please remember the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma by donating to the relief organization of your choice. My choice is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org), but there are many other good choices.
Kill the Quarterback
Today seems to be the perfect day to remind folks that Kill the Quarterback is still available as a free digital download at Instafreebie: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/COmF4
Kill the Quarterback is a mystery novel set in Nashville with Mitch Sawyer, police reporter for the Nashville Daily Tribune, as the main character. When a star collegiate quarterback is murdered, the police have a suspect, but they can’t find her. Instead, she finds Mitch.
After that, nothing goes right for anyone.
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What reviewers in August said about Kill the Quarterback
Take a big football hero and mix in the Asian community and you have the basis for a good story. Then, add in the intrigue of a newspaper office with positions at stake and most of us will be hooked. Kill the Quarterback has all these, and more. Oh yes, some of it is predictable. But, then just as you think you know something, you get slapped with a new twist. Mr. Stovall has done an excellent job in creating mystery and suspense. It’s clear he knows the newspaper business. I recommend this book, and await his next mystery.
I certainly stepped outside of the box reading Kill the Quarterback. Overall, reading the book reminded me of watching an old black and white Humphrey Bogart movie where he narrates in first person. Given that, the author of Killing the Quarterback has done an excellent job re-creating that imagery through rich dialogue that is embedded between and within the characters. The depth and layering of the descriptive’s allow the reader to see, touch, smell as if they were a part of the story is instrumental in the overall experience. There were times when I was lamenting the story becoming tedious in getting to unveiling who the killer was, but then other times I became so caught up in the character involvement and narrative that I wasn’t thinking of when will the killer be unveiled. I would say that the back and forth can be a sign of a good book, but also a delicate balancing act which had me conflicted while reading, yet caught off guard by the killer’s identity at the end. In fact, I read the last chapter three times to understand not only who the killer was but why. (NOTE: I received a free advanced copy of the book to read in exchange for providing an honest review). I would RECOMMEND Kill The Quarterback as your next read. –Tex.
I read a lot of crime fiction novels, only occasionally do I come across one the caliber of Jim Stovall’s “Kill the Quarterback”. Fast moving right from the start. Exciting plot-line. Colorful characters. The prose is peppered with thought provoking analogies and commentary from the protagonist Mitchell Sawyer, a few examples: “Donnie could be as comforting as a prescription drug commercial and just as deceptive…”; “..the rain pelted my windshield hard, as if the water were angry at the glass for its mere existence”; “a whistle-less freight train on a dark night couldn’t have hit me any harder than the impact I felt from what she just said” and my favorite Mitch speaking about Dr Klein, the police pathologist: “Most of what medical school is about is learning how to talk to civilians with a straight face in a language they won’t understand and making them feel inadequate because of it. Klein had learned his lessons well”.
From the blog
A couple of items from the blog might be of interest to some. Find out why the Smithsonian Institution in Washington is named after someone who was not an American and who never set foot on this continent. And read a poem about being a newspaperman in the 1880s.
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Forward Jim’s newsletter (and include Jim’s email in the forwarding list), and you will have a chance to win a beautiful, hand-turned pen made by the author himself. The more times you forward the newsletter, the more chances you have to win.
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Combat artists come alive in new Battlelines series
The rarely-seen work of Civil War combat artists is now available in a new Battlelines series on Amazon and other book dealers.
The series currently features the work of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the two artists that were present at the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. Many of the sketches included in these volumes have never been published.
The first volume is available FREE on Amazon and at other venues. Here’s where you can get it:
Books2read universal link: books2read.com/u/3LrWE1
JPROF.com, the author site for Jim Stovall
Jim Stovall spent nearly 40 years teaching journalism, first at the University of Alabama (1978-2003), then at Emory and Henry College (2003-2006), and finally at the University of Tennessee (2006-2016). Stovall is the author of Writing for the Mass Media, a writing textbook that has been in print (and now in digital form) for more than 30 years. It was used in more than 500 colleges and universities around the world.
Now in retirement, Stovall lives on a small farm in East Tennessee and spends his time writing, woodworking, painting (watercolor) and drawing (pen and ink), gardening and a number of other activities.
My Amazon author page is where you can find more information about my books.
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Get a FREE copy of Kill the Quarterback
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