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Doodlebug
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I'm posting this here because it involves pre-Amtrak passenger railroading.

For a long time I sought a publisher for a civil rights novel based on my experience in the first fully integrated graduating class from my high school in Hamlet, N.C. In the course of that effort, I contacted our fellow RAILforum poster, novelist and former newspaper book editor Henry Kisor, who politely shot down my hopes as a first-time novelist in the current publishing climate and advised publishing "Through the Heart of the South" myself.

A year later I have followed that advice and launched a website at www.jodymeacham.com to publicize and sell the book as a paperback or eBook. One of the main characters is a Pullman porter on the Silver Meteor, and the cover includes a picture of the Silver Meteor stopping in Hamlet during my senior year of 1968-69. Among the features of the website is a discussion of the historical background of the novel here, which includes a section on Pullman porters' role in the Civil Rights Era and a section on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad and its Silver Meteor.

I hope you enjoy it.

Posts: 48 | From: San Jose, Calif. | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Henry Kisor
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The web site looks very professionally done, and having the book available in three versions (ePub, Kindle and paperback) is very smart.

I like the fact that one can download the first two chapters free. Which I am going to do right now.

Posts: 2236 | From: Evanston, Ill. and Ontonagon, Mich. | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Henry Kisor
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I'll take the liberty of quoting a passage from the first two chapters:

"The woman took shelter behind Rufus Junior when the blast of track debris preceding the train forced her to grab her hat. A fiery trail of sparks splayed from the brake shoes that squeezed the Meteor’s steel wheels into submission as it slid to a stop along the platform. Almost in unison the vestibule doors along the flank of the train opened, and boarding steps clanked down into position. A wave of workers and supplies surged from under the wide eaves of the Victorian station against the side of the train – carts of block ice from the Witch’s Hat to the diners and lounge cars, hoses to refill drinking water tanks and a couple of car knockers to fix the brakes on the tavern-observation car on the rear."

Now that's vivid prose. It's impelled me to purchase the Kindle version.

Posts: 2236 | From: Evanston, Ill. and Ontonagon, Mich. | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
notelvis
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Doodlebug - Website looks very attractive. Do you think that if I order a copy in paperback today that it would reach me by next Friday, November 5?

(addendum -) I did place an order BUT did not request the expedited (ACELA?) shipping or even the impressively fast (SILVER METEOR) shipping. Instead I went for the $3 buck milk train (DOODLEBUG) rate. I'll have it for reading on our family trip to Charlotte around Thanksgiving! Interesting read on how POD works.

I'm riding the Silver Star from Cary to Washington November 6 and had been wondering what I would take with me to read.

Note that when riding a train I rarely spend much daylight time reading...... BUT you know the thing about pine trains along the former ACL.....

Posts: 4203 | From: Western North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
notelvis
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And another question Doodlebug - I read your bio and am wondering when you were writing for the Asheville Citizen......a paper which I have read frequently (though not as often as I once did.... it has declined quite a bit....) since about 1970.

A childhood memory from the house on Bailey Street where we lived from 1969-72 was being trusted with going out to the home delivery box and picking up the morning paper. I particularly liked making the trip on Sunday mornings because on the way back to the house it gave me a chance to scan the college football scores. The Citizen-Times used to print them in boxes above the masthead. In those pre-cable, pre-internet times that's generally how I first learned of how my favorite teams had done the day before!

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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smitty195
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I thought your name sounded a bit familiar to me. You used to work for the Merc! I was a daily subscriber for years when I lived in San Jose. But I haven't had a newspaper subscription in years, ever since things went online.

Did you know Betty Barnacle? (Not sure if I've got her last name spelled correctly). We would talk every morning on the phone when I was a 911 dispatcher. Part of her morning duties were to make the rounds calling all of the police departments to see if we had any overnight press releases. I talked to her 5 days a week for a good 5 years---she cracked me up. I also enjoyed reading Leigh Weimers and Gary Richards with his Roadshow column.

BTW, not sure if you've driven by Ridder Park Drive lately, but WOW has that area changed. The Merc isn't out there by itself any more. Now there's a big Lowe's and other stores surrounding it.

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notelvis
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More Q&A for the author -

That photo in the Carolina shirt - where was it taken? Looks like it used to be double tracked there but what's left looks more forlorn than I would like to see the former Seaboard main looking.

Reference to Pat Conroy's 'Lords of Discipline' noted. That's one of my favorite novels and one that I have suggested to a number of students over the years.... particularly those I worked with in Fayetteville, NC who were considering the Citadel among their college choices.

THAT'S IT - in honor of the coming basketball season I believe I'll take Conroy's 'My Losing Season' along for the Amtrak ride next weekend.

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Ocala Mike
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notelvis, is that the same Mr. Conroy on whose autobiography the film "Conrack" was based (Jon Voight was in it, I believe)?
Posts: 1472 | From: Ocala, FL | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Doodlebug
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Thanks for the kind words, everyone. The idea for the free chapters came from the big bookseller sites. I used an inexpensive template I bought from the same software people that I bought my HTML editor from to create the site, a skill I've been learning in my paycheck job. My original color scheme was Pullman green background with orange and yellow -- the Seaboard's citrus colors -- but after settling on the horizontal picture, several friends said I should use colors more complementary to my T-shirt.

My wife took the home page picture out here in California while we were on a hike with friends. It is the ex-Southern Pacific, now Union Pacific spur line that runs along the coast from Santa Cruz to a quarry at Davenport. Because the foliage blocks the mountains on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right, this stretch of track looks like it could be almost anywhere in the country.

By the way, the picture of the Silver Meteor stopping in Hamlet that I used on the book cover and on the Acknowledgments page of the website was taken during my senior year of high school on my mother's birthday. I stumbled across it at http://railpictures.net/ and the photographer was kind enough to let me use it.

The Asheville Citizen-Times was my first newspaper after college, and I was there from 1973 to 1976 before moving to Charlotte. The Southern was still running the Asheville Special with its dome car during that period.

I didn't know Betty Barnacle personally, but I knew her byline. There were four times as many people in the Merc newsroom between 1985 and 2000, when I was there, as there are now. I knew Leigh Weimers. Gary Richards was an assistant sports editor who interviewed me for my job. His "Roadshow" column is now the most widely read feature of the paper. The property on Ridder Park Drive used to belong to the Merc and was sold during the course of the paper's ownership changes and decline. Very sad.

Conroy is Conrack.

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notelvis
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Any chance that you covered the last runs of Southern Railway #'s 3 & 4 for the Asheville Citizen on August 9, 1975?

It's on Old Fort Mountain that I discovered what joy a dome car could bring..... aboard Southern Railway #4 in June 1974. My mother and I connected to #6 (the 1970's pre-Amtrak Piedmont) in Salisbury en route to visit an aunt in Washington, DC. We returned via I-81 with my dad who drove up to bring us home in his Buick.

By the following summer (1975) #3 & 4 were up for discontinuance and the Piedmont had been axed south of Charlotte (and the connection in Salisbury broken) so the entire trip to visit aunt Betty was done on the highway.

So it goes.......

And regarding Pat Conroy...... he is best known for novels of 'historical fiction' but most of his fiction is probably based more in his personal experience than one might think.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

Posts: 4203 | From: Western North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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