Monday, June 27, 2022

1920s - 1940s: The photographs mentioned in _Biscuit_

 Currently, there are three photographs mentioned in Biscuit:

It was a photograph, and it captured her perfectly. Her head was cocked slightly to one side and the top of her short hair was pulled sleekly back from her face, with short loose strands curling around her cheeks. She was wearing a dark dress and the heart pendant he’d given her for her birthday earlier that spring. She was looking up at the photographer with a small, secretive smile. 

My grandmother, Roma Neufeld, 1927 (about).
She was about 15 years old here.

As it turned out, Arthur’s mother didn’t have a photograph he could send to Roma. But Masia arranged for a photographer to take one. Arthur got a haircut from his father’s barber, borrowed a suit, and wore a black bowtie. He thought he looked rather grown up.
My grandfather, Arthur Lubinski, 1927 (about).
He would have been about 17.

Arthur retrieved his camera, and asked to take a picture of Roma, Paul, and Liliane.  They agreed, happily posing, though Roma asked him to frame the picture so that  her belly didn’t show. Arthur snapped several pictures, then put his camera away.

Great-Uncle Paul (Lubinski), Aunt Lilly (with the bow), and Grandma Roma,
Probably taken in December 1945.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

1940s: I have a copies of my manuscript

I ordered six proof copies of my manuscript and they arrived on Wednesday, and all I can say is WOW. It's impossible to describe how exciting it is to hold an actual physical copy of the book I wrote. 

I do wish the "Not for resale" banner was about an inch lower, and didn't go RIGHT THROUGH MY GRANDPARENTS' faces, but it's still really quite sweet.  I put a copy of it on the coffee table, and as I watched TV, I just kept glancing down at and grinning at it.

Four of the copies have been shipped to various beta readers, one was handed to my daughter (she's a beta-reader, too) and the final one is going to my last beta reader when he visits in a few weeks.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

1940s: The Book Title is: "Biscuit"

Ok .... Biscuit.  You might be wondering why I used that as the title. Well, it's simple: "Biscuit" was my grandfather's code name during WWII.  Seemed like the perfect title for a book that is primarily about his experiences during that time.

Two things:

  1. It's not pronounced "BISS-cut" like it would be in English. Rather you should use the French pronunciation, which is "Biss-KWEE."   
  2. In France (and England for that matter), a biscuit isn't a savory quick bread that you slather in gravy. Rather it's a dry dense crispy sweet dessert. So in essence, they called my grandpa "Cookie." (He was the radio operator, and was named after the metal tin his radio was packed in -- the radio itself was commonly nicknamed the "biscuit tin radio" by the Allies.)

It was my husband Chris who came up with the title.  

I had been thinking about calling it "The Maquisard," or "The Armband."  I like calling the French Resistance "the Maquis" and I kind of like calling Maquis members "maquisards" (which is what they were actually called). And I have his actual armband that he was given a few weeks after D-Day hanging on my living room wall.

Anyway, I told my husband the titles I was considering, and he looked thoughtful and said something like, "I dunno... I think maybe you should call the book Biscuit."  And I considered it for about two seconds and knew he was right, and that was that.  

Friday, June 17, 2022

1940s: Well, I have a book cover (sort of)


This is the cover of the manuscript draft

Well, I uploaded the book to Kindle Direct Publishing today. It's saved as "draft" so it won't go for sale, but it did allow me to order 5 proof copies (grrr... I need 6), for $5 each.  That's unbelievably inexpensive. Printing it through Barnes and Noble would have been $9 per copy. Lulu was going to cost $16.    Office Max would have cost (gulp) $40.  The latter two would have allowed me to have it spiral-bound which would have been nifty (and easier for beta-readers to mark up), but it wasn't worth $11 per copy, so it's being bound like a regular paperback book. It's also big, 8.5 x 11", and 342 pages (171 sheets).

Because I was trying to make it as inexpensive as I could to print, I didn't start each chapter on a new page ... there's just a triple-line-break between the end of the chapter, and the numeral that heads the next chapter. So that means I have a lot of "widows" and "orphans" and stranded chapter headings and stuff like that. Definitely not formatted nicely for printing, but that's OK for a galley proof for my beta-readers.

I also had some fun with the cover. It's been 20 years since I used Photoshop regularly, and I was REALLY out of practice, both with graphic design, and using the software. But I had some fun with it, and the lack of professional artwork is OK for an early draft of the book.

Here are the original pictures of my grandparents: The pictures of Roma Neufeld and Arthur Lubinski and were taken in the late 1920s, when they were still teenagers, well before they got married, in 1935. For the cover, I was trying to make them look like they were standing together, but the photos were very likely taken in different countries. The photo of my grandmother was probably taken in Poland, and the one of my grandfather was taken in Brussels, Belgium.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

1944: My grandfather's FFI papers

 My aunt (thank you!!) found a treasure trove - a bunch of papers and letters and documents all concerning my grandfather's time in WWII.  

This is the first:  His FFI (French Forces of the Interior) ID cards that show that he volunteered for and fought in the French resistance during WWII. This is the equivalent of a military ID.

Front of FFI ID

Back of FFI ID