Carolyn Porter | Carolyn Porter: Blog
Learn more about the book "Marcel's Letters" and the font P22 Marcel Script, which is based on the handwriting of conscripted WWII laborer Marcel Heuzé
Carolyn Porter, Marcel Heuzé, Marcel's Letters, Graphic Design, Font Design, P22 Marcel Script
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Page 135: Meet my “always-sunny” client

Early in the editing process of Marcel’s Letters I was given a rule by my developmental editor: people only got a name if they “walked on stage” more than once.

Let’s unpack that rule: It’s true, there are a lot of people in the book. Since the book is non-fiction, I couldn’t combine characters to simplify the storyline as I might have if the book had been fiction. So, my editor introduced the rule to help readers distinguish characters they would ‘meet’ again from characters they would only ‘meet’ once. Unnamed characters were akin to movie extras with titles such as “man in car” or “woman in restaurant” or “child on sidewalk.” In this case, the character was my “always-sunny” client.READ MORE

November 10, 1943: “I’m still afraid for you”

eight page letter brown paper, written November 10, 9143

This is the first letter I’ve found that was mailed from France to a French laborer in Germany. The letter was addressed to Serge Brodig, who was in a lager (a barrack) in Berlin. The postage stamps bear Petain’s profile.

I was eager to have this letter translated because I hoped it would provide insight into life “back home.” At first, the content (a cheese slap!) seemed funny, and the translator and I chuckled. But, as the translation came together, we both began to feel sorry for Elise, the young wife and mother who wrote this letter.READ MORE

November 6, 2018: Paperback Release Date!

Today’s the day: the release of Marcel’s Letters as a paperback! I made a video to tell you about some of the differences in the paperback — and to share a special extra. Take a look!READ MORE

Jowl Puddle

Someone recently asked to see a photo of Hoover, so I went through old photos looking for one showing his gray jowls puddled on the floor — it was a common sight in his last years. Looking through the old photos made me miss our sweet old boy. We still miss him so.

photo of old black lab with grey jowls sleeping on carpeted floor

 

Four French POW postcards

Over the years I’ve acquired four French WWII POW postcards. The cards are different from letters men like Marcel wrote in that they seem rigid, rule-wise. The handwritten messages strictly align to the lines provided. The mailing side of the postcard is formal and practical: lines are provided for the recipient’s address, for the sender’s name, the sender’s rank, prisoner number (e.g., 48930), and the camp name/number (e.g.  Stalag IID, No. 353). Most of the cards bear an “Approved” stamp that also bears the name of the camp. My understanding is that POWs could write two cards per month; perhaps it wasn’t worth the risk to try to bend or break the rules.READ MORE

Thank you Fox Cities Book Festival!

On Monday, October 8 I had the honor of giving two presentation during the Fox Cities Book Festival. For one week each year, the festival hosts readings, presentations, and panel discussions on poetry, memoir, horror and more at libraries across the Fox Valley. This year more than 60 authors participated in 70 events across 13 venues!READ MORE

Poem: Letters Written in Longhand

I had the honor of meeting Kay N. Sanders a couple of days ago at the Fox Cities Book Festival. She mentioned this poem, and I’m delighted she has allowed me to post it here. I hope you are touched by Kay’s reflection on her mother’s handwriting.

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Page 64: Victory at last!

Not long ago I was searching through old digital photos looking for something entirely unrelated to the book when I came across photos from the January 2012 trip Aaron, Hoover and I took to Gunflint Lodge in far northern Northern Minnesota. The trip is recounted on pages 63–68 of Marcel’s Letters; this specific moment is described on page 64. I thought it would be fun to share the image Aaron snapped of the doe finally eating corn out of my hand. Victory at last!

 

Carolyn Porter feeding corn to a large doe at Gunflint Lodge in northern Minnesota.

Book Club Packing List

Not long ago, a fellow author contacted me with questions about attending a book club. It was the first time she was going to attend a book club as a guest author, and was looking for information on what to expect and suggestions on what to bring. During the previous year, I’ve had the honor of joining twenty or so book clubs to discuss “Marcel’s Letters,” and have given another twenty or so presentations. After the first few events, when I attempted to remember what I needed to bring (and inevitably forgot something), I committed those packing lists to paper. READ MORE

Marcel’s Letters is an Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

Image of cover of book "Marcel's Letters" next to Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist badge.

I was happy to learn “Marcels’ Letters” was a category finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award.

About the Eric Hoffer Award
“The Eric Hoffer Award honors freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. The commercial environment for today’s writers has all but crushed the circulation of ideas. It seems strange that in the Information Age, many books are blocked from wider circulation, and powerful writing is barred from publication or buried alive on the Internet. Furthermore, many of the top literary prizes will not consider independent books, choosing instead to become the marketing arms of large presses.READ MORE

  • Binder with class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Label on front of binder says "Drawing and Painting notebook."
  • handwritten nameplate on class notebook: reads "Charlotte Cummings, Drawing & Painting, Notebook"
  • Binder with notes from Drawing and Painting classes, made by Charlotte R. Cummings in 1921/1922 while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Binder with typed class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Top of page reads, "Class Notes, Sept. 27, 1921: Pigments and Materials"
  • Binder with typed class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At top of page read the words "Oct. 4, 1921 Technical Notes on Painting."
  • Binder with typed class notes; made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Top of page says "Jan. 10, 1922, Class Notes, Question of Painting:"
  • Binder with typed class notes; made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Top of page says "5/11/22 Landscape Painting: Sir Alfred East. Chap. III. Sketching from Nature"
  • Binder with handwritten class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Notes were made during painting classes/lectures.
  • Binder with typed class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Top of page reads, "Chap III - Color Mixture and Balance."
  • Binder with typed class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Page outlines types of paint brushes, assigns Class A, B, C, or D, and explains what each class of brushes is ideal for.
  • Binder with typed class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Page includes recipes to mix paint colors.
  • Binder with typed and handwritten class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Left-hand page was written in shorthand, the right-hand pages shows the beginning of a section on "Drawing and Painting, Second semester."
  • Handwritten class notes from September 22, 1922. Top of page reads "Art Structure" and "Lecture 1"
  • Binder with handwritten class notes from Drawing and Painting classes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Binder with handwritten class notes from Drawing and Painting classes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Binder with rectangles of green watery paint swatches; made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Binder with black chalk sketch of young boy sitting on stool; made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Binder with class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Interior page showing color study using blues, oranges and purples.
  • Binder with handwritten class notes, made in 1921/1922 by Charlotte Cummings while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Page shows reading list, which includes the Bible, Anatol France, John Burroughs, Fabre, Huxley, Tyndall and Arnold Bennett.

1921/1922 Class Notebook

My parents are engaged in the slow process of cleaning out the home they’ve lived in the last 35 years. Recently, for example, they cleared papers out of an old secretary my grandmother used (my dad’s mother). Inside the desk were unused sheets of stationery and other things that had no real value. But they also stumbled upon something precious: my grandmother’s notebook from painting and drawing classes in 1921/1922. At the time, Charlotte was a student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.READ MORE