Sterling Bridge: Writing Historical Fiction (Part Two)

How do our life dramas relate to common struggles of humanity?

With my parents away on a trip to Europe to visit my mom’s parents, my dad’s parents were at our mercy. We boys had been respectful of the neighborhood to a fault, despite feeling our good nature was being taken advantage of by bullies. Our parents wouldn’t let us get away with pushing back and their parents believed we were already the problem. While our parents were away we decided we were going to mete out some justice of our own and take back the neighborhood. We had built the tree house forts, after all. We chased the occupants out. The next day their mom was talking to our half-blind grandpa to which he honestly replied, “Woman, I didn’t see a thing. Did you?” Knowing she wasn’t getting very far with that she bribed us with chocolate to keep the peace. My older brother gets upset to this day that I took the chocolate…haha. What can I say? If you know me, you know I am a sucker for chocolate.

We liked playing in the park. We told the troubled teens hanging out there to go tell their mommies if they weren’t big enough to keep us out themselves. We outnumbered them. They decided they could go smoke somewhere else.

And then there was Ricky and Nicky. They had been destroying the dirt hills that we rode our bikes on. It was time to ambush them. As soon as they thought we were gone we doubled back through the woods. Sure enough they were digging booby traps for the next unsuspecting biker. We popped up on either side of them and they were caught in the crossfire of dirt clods. Of course, they told their parents it was rocks and that they were just innocently riding their bikes on the hills. Those parents decided to tell their kids to fight their own battles. Nicky pulled off his shirt and put up his fists. A circle was formed around him and me, being that I was the oldest I guess. I mocked him to scorn, laughing at his belly fat. I couldn’t take him seriously and he went away crying.

These were three territorial battles I learned from, one way or another. Each is uniquely different. Yet, when I hear about similar stories I have these reference points for understanding some of the emotions involved in the equation in common with the rest of humanity. We all have to learn to deal with sharing our world’s and living with one another.

Do I feel bad for any of my part in such untoward behavior? Yes, of course I do. Is my description accurate? You be the judge, but I think a perspective more honestly captures reality when it reflects both the good and bad that all individuals in the story are wrestling with, while telling it from the viewpoint with the most researched details. Should I be as open about my past, especially mistakes? Maybe not. There is something to be said about not revisiting our past wrongdoings. But then again, we all are imperfect and we can learn from each other’s errors. Once we overcome a failing we can only accentuate the success if we are willing to recognize the obstacle that preceded it. And most of all, should I be worried if the way I tell the story accidentally puts me in a bad light in others’ minds? Perhaps, but I choose not to let how others perceive something, define who I am or even who I was, nor can it change who I am really, unless I let it dissuade or motivate me.

How does “Sterling Bridge” compare to other historical fiction portrayals?

If you recall, in “Sterling Bridge,” I included well-documented historic rock fights between the youth on the E(ast) Street boundary of Old Town, Tooele. That said, how exactly that went down is still anyone’s guess. I knew there were disputes about letting persons from New Town frequent shops and I knew the paperboy’s news was literally spread all over town, at least according to what was recorded from several witnesses. So I used it all and tied it all together with a bow by inserting the made-up record breaking occurrence. If you compare the infighting among neighborhood kids to my own experience with a dirt clod territorial war, Ricky and Nicky’s version will be very different from mine, just as I’m sure many in Tooele noted the rock fighting slightly amiss. Do the boys from my past remember those days? What details stand out to them? These things would all be advantageous to know in order to get the full story, however, stories are usually told from one angle. I’m not planning on rewriting “Sterling Bridge,” from a different POV like Orson Scott Card did with “Enders Game,” for example.

I believe an honest reading of “Sterling Bridge” will amount to a fair interpretation of the characters and of me. I know I did my best to make a great story with universal appeal and do the real story justice with relation to preserving its local charm at the same time. To date, I would safely say it is the best story put to the page so far that has come from any revisiting of said incidents. If put in the same situation I believe many of us would have behaved in much the same way. We would have struggled being in the middle of a conflict of no fault of our own. However, at the end of the day these are exemplary people who showed us how to overcome our biases, our disagreements, and misunderstandings. As near as I can tell they, members of Sterling’s teams, all went on to do good things in their lives. The people of Tooele can be proud of what that group did, and the greater community that supported and came together themselves. For me, they represent the best in all of us as a society and what we are capable of doing when facing today’s similar challenges. In the end, every true-to-life story worth telling should have such a great moral, theme, and outcome.

Sterling Bridge: Writing Historical Fiction (Part One)

“Sterling Bridge” is a work of historical fiction. The people, places, and events are based in truth as indicated by the front cover, where it states that it is “based on a true story.” When we read a disclaimer in books, or in films, we see little variation, but no matter how true the story is, the emphasis invariably remains on the author’s responsibility for expressing views that are not intended to be taken as reality.

How would you write a disclaimer for historical fiction?

It was brought to my attention recently that my publisher’s inclusion seems to be a standard fictional disclaimer that detaches its entity entirely, and even the work itself, from including anything based in reality. Admittedly, that conception disturbs me a little as my creation is obviously a tribute to “Sterling’s Men” of Tooele, Utah leading up to and during the Great Depression. There is no defamation intended, real or perceived, in my attempt to honor the characters who in the history annals overcame much and are credited for the triumph that led to my creation of “Sterling Bridge.”

However, I am also keenly aware that my depiction should not be used as a historical reference. I provide my references to actualities, but in truth I did not live the tale, nor do I profess to believe that my description is much more than a perpetuation of folklore in writing. I arrived at my conclusions after weeding through a conglomeration of varying sources and differing conceptions. And then I take it a step further and completely fictionalize the structure, order, and flow of a story; it is definitely not to be mistaken word for word or point by point as being anything other than my own making.

How does a good film depict historical fiction?

While watching Disney’s “Secretariat,” I couldn’t help but analyze the film’s depiction of real events. Obviously, I personally was not alive during the 1970’s, nor was anyone that I know of close enough to the events to even give me a secondhand or passed down account (though my dad recalls news broadcasts and races aired on TV). Like everyone else though, I do have access to the history books. Let’s just say I sought out the historical fiction films story over perusing the library or Wikipedia for too long. I’m too lazy to discount someone else’s wonderful research as translated into film.

The movie is great! It tells some minor events slant, such as mentioning win after win to the point that you would think one loss even outside of the Triple Crown could ruin everything, but for the most part I would say it seems to stay true to the historical timeline of main events, despite the nature of needing to condense a legendary tale–dubbed as “the impossible true story”–into the sped-up drama of a film format of just 123 minutes.

How does “Secretariat” portray the personal side of history?

Some would argue that the movie starts out rather slow, but I think it does so to provide us the necessary background that I would describe as giving us a “homey” feel only true stories can do so well. Next, enter some true-to-life drama. I think the writer picked out some gripping points. Still centered around home, the film portrays the difficulties of pursuing a dream and the support needed by one’s family of understanding and oftentimes time without the dreamer around. Did I think we saw the most trying lowest of lows with the relationship strains put on this woman’s family? Or could we really understand and ultimately feel the highest of highs experienced by them? Probably not. A film takes a snapshot of instances that depict an ongoing challenge and/or a portion of how grand the triumph really is. I remember thinking that there were many conversations and events that were only partially defined in the film version of a life’s daily toil. But that is what historical fiction is. It gives us an idea of how things could have happened, albeit in a sped up time frame that purposely gets to the point a little quicker. None of us actually experience the full depth of anyone’s story unless we are walking in their shoes or at least hand in hand walking beside them. Nonetheless, the film picks out the important highlights in the case of “Secretariat,” near as I could tell. I felt like I experienced the main events and some of the more personalized thoughts and feelings surrounding those central to this awesome point in history.

How do we portray our own lives? 

When I was a child I remember a week when my aging grandparents had to watch after us. There are six boys in the Parker family. While my memory of youth is already quite fuzzy I can remember some poignant details rather well. Ancillary details, not so much. Certainly the story being told from my perspective will be viewed from all the reference points that make up my experiences in life. At this point I might tell a story very differently from how I told it when I was younger. Different moral threads, for example, might stand out. But the main points will still be in place for an audience to interpret as they will from their current vantage point. We learn from living a story directly or even by experiencing it indirectly. Anyway, back to my personal story.

(To Be Continued: See Part Two)

Utah-BYU rivalry needs a story book ending like ‘Sterling Bridge’ (final draft)

Utah-BYU rivalry needs a story book ending like ‘Sterling Bridge’

By Chad Robert Parker

Sir Winston Churchill famously stated, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Does repeating history always have to be a bad thing? Can rivals as staunch as BYU and Utah ever learn to get along? Allow me to introduce to you a coach from Utah’s past, Sterling Harris, also known simply as “The Bridge Builder,” who proved two rival groups can meet on the common ground of good sportsmanship only when they come together to play the games.

In light of recent events with the cancellation of next year’s U of U vs. BYU basketball game, we are facing a recurring universal theme that has reared its ugly head in the state of Utah before. Overcoming differences is central to relationships. The real difference, however, is how we handle that reality. If we have gotten bad enough that we have to walk away then shame on everyone involved. The differences that divide humanity are not as great as the commonalities we sometimes refuse to allow to unite us, and yet here we are again letting vague but real divisive factors come to the forefront.

The record books in the state of Utah will forever hold a scar with an asterisk next to the Tooele High School football accomplishments of 1928, when Box Elder refused to play Tooele for the state title in football. Sure it was not as grand as college sports, but it was a title match. We can learn from it. Sterling Harris had painstakingly made efforts to get sons of emigrants to attend Tooele High School and play football with kids who didn’t get along together. Integrating them helped them get good grades and improve behaviors. The benefits certainly exceeded the costs. Then Box Elder stood in the way of progress. Only legislation could change it, but that would not take effect for another year. Box Elder’s official excuse was a nebulous reference to the death of a player from disease earlier in the season, also citing injuries and sickness of other players: a constant backdrop for many schools in days when quarantines were common. That was revised when there was talk of creating divisions where smaller schools would not have to play bigger schools for championship honors. But Tooele wasn’t the one running away from games. Despite their size they didn’t have reason to believe they would lose against Goliath. Quite the opposite, Goliath seemed to have gotten ahold of the script and feared its possible fate. It would not be politically correct posturing, but given the divisions in race, religion, and culture that already existed you would be hard pressed to still believe today that this type of pride and prejudice—this belief of somehow being above playing the game—were not the real motivating factors behind cancelling the game.

How will the state of Utah look back at the University of Utah’s current decision? Given the past, I would guess it won’t be viewed too favorably. If anything suspicion and distrust have already increased. Many feel there is more biased sentiment than is being aired. Consider who would remember the Titans if players and coaches harbored animosities enough to keep them segregated? The problem won’t just go away by ignoring it. To Box Elder’s dismay Tooele did not go away in the years to come, either. They became more of a force to be reckoned with. The oppression only galvanized a community to prove more worthy and formidable. Legislation allowed them to take the title outright in 1929.

Perhaps Coach Krystkowiak is genuinely trying to make peace off the court, his playing days on the court aside, but protesting an entire program over isolated incidences of a few comes off high and mighty. It’s as though Utah’s Athletic Department is trying to make an example of BYU, forecasting imminent doom rather than exhibiting sportsmanship themselves, and not leaving it to the NCAA to banish rivalry games as unsafe. In short, if they are trying to vilify BYU’s Athletics, the attempt has backfired. No one who is being honest with themselves thinks that all the bad in the rivalry is BYU’s fault and all the good that ever comes of it is to Utah’s credit. Whether there is an asterisk on the schedule for 2016 is up to Utah. The ball is in their court. They can still win the day.

Sports are a microcosm of life. It can bring joy or sorrow. It can bring people together or pull them apart. It all depends on how you play the game. Whether repeating history is good or bad is not up to past events, it is up to present players. The real win is not about score at all; it is about how you handled the game. The same goes for life.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, BYU and Utah put differences and disagreements aside, unite on the court, and learn how to play nice, sooner rather than later.

Endnotes:

Chad Robert Parker is the author of “Sterling Bridge,” a historical fiction film novel that was released on November 10th, 2015. It is historical in that it is based on actual people and events during the football years of a legendary coach, Sterling Harris, in Tooele, Utah leading up to and during the Great Depression. Sterling is credited with uniting two communities: Catholic miners and Mormon settlers. It is fictionalized in that some events and conversations were made to fit a condensed timeline and page length. It is a film novel in that it is easy to read and picture as you would a film. Chad studied how to write film novels at BYU as an undergraduate and later found his way back to BYU where he is currently a manager in the Harold B. Lee Library.

“Sterling Bridge” is a publication of Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing, and can be found at Amazon, Books&Things, and Barnes&Noble.

Editor’s Note: This article was accepted for publication in the Deseret News shortly after the infamous announcement from the University of Utah to cancel the game with BYU in 2016.

Utah-BYU rivalry needs a story book ending like ‘Sterling Bridge’ (draft one)

Utah-BYU rivalry needs a story book ending like ‘Sterling Bridge’

By Chad Robert Parker

Sir Winston Churchill famously stated, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Does repeating history always have to be a bad thing? Can rivals as staunch as BYU and Utah ever actually learn to get along? Allow me to introduce to you a coach from Utah’s past, Sterling Harris, also known simply as “The Bridge Builder,” who proved you can get over differences and you can unite in a common goal of good sportsmanship, when and only when the players involved are allowed to play the game together.

In light of recent events with the cancellation of next year’s U of U vs. BYU basketball game, it is perfect timing for “Sterling Bridge,” a new historical fiction film novel released on November 10th, 2015, to take the stage. If there is enough interest for the story as a book it is anticipated it will be made into a movie. The script is already written. “Sterling Bridge” is set during the Great Depression in Tooele, Utah concerning a little known history where sports overcame tensions and brought together previously divided groups: Catholic miners and Mormon settlers. Does it remind you of “Remember the Titans?” It should. And yet, it has a specific Utah appeal as well: a certain “holy war” vibe to it. Could it be that this theme is universal? Overcoming differences is central to relationships. If we have gotten bad enough that we have to walk away from it then shame on everyone involved. The differences that divide humanity are not as great as the commonalities we sometimes refuse to allow to unite us, and yet here we are again letting vague but real divisive factors come to the forefront.

The record books in the state of Utah will forever hold a scar with an asterisk next to the Tooele High School football accomplishments of 1928, when Box Elder refused to play Tooele for the state title in football. Sure it was not as grand as college sports, but it was a title match. We can learn from it. Sterling Harris had painstakingly made efforts to include sons of emigrants into the school of the main town, to keep them qualified with good grades and with changing bad behaviors, allowing them to integrate and to play football among their peers. The benefits certainly exceeded the costs. Then Box Elder stood in the way. Only legislation could change it and that would not take effect for another year or so. Box Elder’s official excuse was a nebulous reference to the death of a player from disease earlier in the season, also citing injuries and sickness of other players: a constant backdrop for many schools in days when quarantines were common. Later the reason made more sense when there was talk of creating divisions where smaller schools would not have to play bigger schools in order to lay claim to championship honors. But Tooele wasn’t running from Box Elder. Despite their size they didn’t have reason to believe they would lose against Goliath. Quite the opposite, Goliath seems to have gotten ahold of the script and feared its possible fate. It would not be politically correct posturing, but given the divisions in race, religion, and culture that already existed you would be hard pressed to believe still today that this type of pride and prejudice—this belief of somehow being above playing the game—were not the real motivating factors (to be slain) behind cancelling the game.

How will the state of Utah look back at the University of Utah’s current decision? Given the past, I suspect it will not be viewed too favorably. Consider how there wouldn’t be any Titans to remember if players and coaches who harbored animosities remained segregated. Many from both schools already feel there is more biased sentiment to the story to consider. If anything suspicion and distrust have increased. The problems will not just go away if ignored. Interestingly, to Box Elder’s dismay Tooele did not go away in the years to come, either. They became more of a force to be reckoned with. The oppression only galvanized a community to prove itself more worthy and more formidable. Legislation allowed them to win the title outright in 1929. Perhaps Coach Krystkowiak is genuinely trying to make peace off the court, his playing days on the court aside. He has seen many basketball games and has surely learned to control his own temper. But protesting an entire program over isolated incidences of a few comes off high and mighty. It seems as though Utah’s Athletic Department is trying to make an example of BYU, forecasting doom rather than exhibiting sportsmanship and letting the NCAA deem rivalry games unsafe should they need to be banished. In short, if they are trying to vilify BYU’s Athletics, the attempt has backfired. No one who is being honest with themselves thinks that all the bad in the rivalry is BYU’s fault and all the good that ever comes of it is to Utah’s credit. Whether there is an asterisk on the schedule for 2016 is up to Utah. The ball is in their court. They can still win the day.

By and large the games have been epic. The series stands at 129-128 in favor of BYU. Each game has been a learning moment for new players, and there have been moments where players from either side were not mature enough to handle the spotlight of a seemingly threatening environment. But for the most part, as Coach Krystkowiak once put it, “it’s just playing basketball” (His affable reply after being asked about throwing an elbow during a basketball contest.). Most of the time games are filled with good basketball moments and most players end the day shaking the opponents’ hands having gained a new found mutual respect for intense tough competition. Next year could end that well, or, if history is any indication, cancelling the game under heated circumstances will grow the tension and add fuel to the fire, the legislature might have to get involved, and the missed game will essentially be viewed for years to come as an unnecessary loss for everyone.

Fact is sports are a microcosm of life. Sports can and should bring more joy than sorrow. It can and should be more entertainment and diversion from daily toils than it is stress and grief. Generally, it can be safely monitored by coaches and referees without blowing disputes out of proportion. It is a playing field that can and should allow players to play out what they practiced. Are we really all that different in our present lives than our ancestors of lives gone by? Do we always act well our part? Can we look past shortcomings, forgive, and forget? Do we even get in there and play the game at all or boycott the experience altogether? Or is the playful use of the term “holy war” as bad as the actual thing? It took actual war, after all, the last time the rivalry came to a halt, and in that case the state of Utah was on the same side toward the effort (some of whom won and lost many football and basketball games for or against Sterling Harris). The difference between whether a repeat of history will be good or bad is not whether or not history itself (of people’s choices before us), was good or bad, it is whether or not we learned from the past, good and bad, to now choose the better part and repeat desired outcomes with new players. To win the game you have to play the game and the real win is playing the game well whether you win or lose in the score column. The same goes for life. It’s open ended, so play on.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, BYU and Utah put their differences aside, unite on the court, and learn how to play nice sooner rather than later. Here’s hoping there is a happy ending to whatever disagreements exist between the two. In the meantime: How about a nice inspirational book?

Sterling Bridge was published by Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing. It can be found at Amazon, Books&Things, and Barnes&Noble.

Editor’s note: This article was submitted to the Deseret News on January 11th. A shorter revised version was accepted for publication.

Sterling Bridge: Tackling how to live among Mormons

Utah is a unique place. It is distinctly American. Yet its makeup, around 60% Mormons, is its biggest cultural identifying factor. It’s not just Utah that has its quirks though, plusses and minuses. I have lived in several states. Each had its own flavor. Everywhere I have been has things I liked more than others. These experiences helped me understand how to write “Sterling Bridge,” my novel based on the true story of Sterling Harris, who is credited for bridging to rival communities, making them as one despite stark differences, during the Great Depression. Living among Mormons is not as different a challenge today as you might think.

I have lived in California with its sunny coasts, active lifestyle, spendthrift exuberance, and frantic pace. It is a little too much city for me, but that’s just a personal preference as much of the rest of this paragraph will be. I liked Indiana more than I expected I would. The country life isn’t my style either, but I learned to enjoy the casual laid-back pleasures. I was in the minority there, being a part of the only Mormon family in town at first, still Christian but not of the predominant protestant born-again persuasion. What kind people they are in the heart of America’s farm country, who embraced us as one of their own. “Once a son of Covington always a son,” as my friends tell me when they beckon me to return and visit. We loved Texas as everyone does if you are there for any amount of time at all, but I was a little young. I just remember “the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” It seemed everyone we met there wanted us to love Texas as much as they do. Great branding! I have also lived briefly in Idaho, a more frigid “little Utah” with very down-to-earth people and great outdoor vistas. My favorite state is Minnesota. Yeah, I know the first thing you think is that it is way too cold there. But the people in Minnesota embrace the unique differences of their setting. They are progressive. They get out and enjoy every distinct season. They celebrate winter with ice festivals and snow games, but they know spring and summer will come with hotter days–more than most realize–to go camp in its forests and enjoy its 10,000+ lakes. Oh, I also lived in the Philippines for two years serving a mission for my church. I love those people with a charity beyond all explanation, but I suppose it mostly originated out of serving them. They are a humble people. They have a distinct culture in their food, their climate, and their ways. They are a happy people. They taught me much to know about coming together as a people to love life and friends and family (and food), under any and all circumstances.

“Sterling Bridge” tackles the challenge of living among Mormons in a time and place where I imagine Mormons made up more than 80% of the people. If they could figure out how to get along back during the Great Depression when the disparity in people and practices was even greater, we most certainly can overcome any difficulties we face now. If you don’t live in Utah, as I didn’t spend much time here, myself, until about the last 15 years, it would be largely a mystery as to what it is like to live in Utah, based on the random information and stereotypes thrown about on the internet or in the media. Although the gem that is Utah is being discovered, for more than just its skiing, after the olympics, and other highlights of the area, such as its thriving start-up business environment, and known spotlight figures ties to Utah, such as Mitt Romney.

When a film group made “Meet the Mormons,” they set out to the other side of the country, New York, with a simple question. What are Mormons? The main connecting word that came to mind was “Utah,” but there were very differing ideas about what goes on in the life of a Mormon and by extension in the land of Utah. Let’s face it, most do not know much about who Mormons really are. Fret about why Mormons serve missions if you believe its not right for Mormons to try to convert Christians to their religion, seeing how we are all Christians to begin with, but maybe getting to know Mormons is about getting to know something more. Maybe when Mormons get out of themselves they are sincerely answering the call to be less exclusive. It kind of boggles my mind that Americans know so little about a religion that can easily claim to have benefitted the most from the religious founding of America. In our short few hundred years of history as a country, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) has developed out of the religious freedoms the land of the brave and home of the free engendered. That climate led to meteoric growth for a church claiming to be a restoration of a fulness of truths, tenets, authority, and ordinances of the actual ancient church our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ established himself. That’s a bold claim. I would go as far to say that it could be attributed as the main cause for both the origins of the said church’s success as well as its toughest criticisms.

How does a people establish a unique culture that both sets them apart and is all inclusive, anyway? Answer: It can’t. But the state of Utah can do a lot more than it is. We can do more to share in each other’s unique ways, respect different beliefs and views, and if we cannot be as one when it comes to religion, perhaps as Utahns, we can be.

First, let’s identify the challenges that existed during the time period of “Sterling Bridge,” that covers, Tooele, Utah from 1926-1934. It was a simpler time (as far as lifestyle goes), which makes it easier to pull out the common basic factors that are at the center of it all, still today: 1) Mormons are the majority; 2) Mormon activities make up a large part of the cultural offering in Utah; 3) Mormons often know what is going on in the area first; 4) Mormons take it for granted that others may not have been informed; 5) Mormons don’t always know their neighbors. They don’t often see them at the activities they attend, in order to really get to know them. 6) Mormons are busily engaged with church obligations as their church is a lay ministry (not a paid clergy so members must volunteer a lot of time to serve in administering the church). 7) Mormons occupy most of the political, school, and other community positions. 8) Mormons worry about either coming on too strong or not strong enough. We want to share what our lives are about and what we offer, if others want to hear it and can respect our place in the world. 9) Fear, not faith, unfortunately is a driving force where some Mormons sometimes fear their neighbors values will rub off on them or their children, more than their desired way of life will influence others for better. 10) Hence, other citizens struggle to find ways to be involved in the mainstream playing, planning, and execution of interactions with the community as a greater whole. But not all. Some jump right in. Naturally, the main factor in all of this stems from number one. The majority makes the rules, written and unwritten. And I would argue that this is the case whether you live in Portland, Utah, California, or Iceland. When in Rome, they say…But let’s not just say that is all that is needed!

We could say it is what it is, which in some ways is how it will always be in a democratic society that favors the majority (I’m even sure some extreme Mormons might wish that they could keep Utah all to themselves forever in every way). We could say as I have heard from an extreme frustrated minority voice (shall we say anti-Mormon) that we should ban Mormons from having any involvement in civic anything. Or both groups can look for ways to live alongside each other and maybe even find important common ground to not just tolerate each other, but rather enjoy each other for those similar aspects of who we are, as I found was very possible when I was the minority in Covington, Indiana. The good news is that Utah has been trending this way for a long time. Most of the difficulties are not because Mormons and their neighbors do not want to be friendly with each other. When there is a problem it usually comes from not realizing that we are not including each other in like-minded functions and pastimes. In other words, it comes from an oversight, not from apathy or malicious intent. Both the inviter and the invitee can do better to make it successful between parties involved. Rather than blame, let’s take credit to do something about it.

In “Sterling Bridge” the main character doesn’t care if you are Mormon, Catholic, or Atheist. It doesn’t matter if you just came from Herzegovina or your great grandpa was one of the first to cross the plains and settle the frontier. Can you learn? Will you play football for him and your team, give your best, and rally around a common cause? He could care less if your accent sounds funny as long as you are trying to communicate the language of the land so that others can attempt to understand you. You see it takes a little on our part to try to fit in and a little on other’s part to accept us for what we bring to the table. Are you easily offended? You like to stir the pot and make offense? Or are you the type of person who not only can fit in where others can’t, but you lead the way to embracing others, even making others feel welcome around you. You can build a bridge of respect, genuine concern, and care and love for people of any caste, clique, or cast-off crowd.

Does it take a hardship such as the Great Depression for people to realize they need each other? Or can we learn from the past, and not let history repeat itself. A common theme in the Book of Mormon: Another testament of Jesus Christ is the pride cycle. When we prosper as a nation under God we are on the verge of a fall, unless we listen to the lessons to be learned, humble ourselves, and give credit to our maker for the opportunities, the abilities, and the blessings that have brought us to where we are. When we think we are better than others we are the ones placing ourselves on a pedestal, and the comparison could not be more far off when we see clearly–being silly in the eye’s of God who knows all men have a long ways to go. When we get complacent and don’t work on improving we are not progressing, which by the way is the whole point of life anyway, to become better. Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses. It is up to us to see each other as we are, accepting our imperfections, but also not expecting no better, in the future, from one another. We can build each other up without giving or taking offense if both people choose to encourage such behavior. We should be forever learning and always implementing those improvements. Who we are now is not who we should be a thousand tomorrows from now. We are children of an eternal God who sees endless potential in us, His handiwork. He cannot fail, if we give ourselves over to Him by having a love of God and of all men, but we can fail Him. Let’s not fail each other! Let’s see the good in the world, help each other out by lifting our sights and our heights, and be the good in the world.

 

Readers are online: The making of a blog tour

My learning curve to finding today’s vast online readership:

Most everything about being a first time author is a great learning experience. When I began writing “Sterling Bridge” some fifteen years ago, the internet was still in its infancy. Napster was still a big peer-to-peer file sharing enterprise on the verge of a landmark intellectual property lawsuit that would become one of the first to address the need to uphold copyright laws on the worldwide web, where possible. It made it a safer endeavor for artists and authors to share their work to the world, get credit, and keep earnings worthwhile. There would not be much incentive to create if the endeavor was not supported financially, after all. It was the era of the meteoric rise and also the catastrophic fall of many dotcom companies. Even the Internet required some substance behind the ethereal contributions. As we know the internet was far from dead. Google is still poised to take over the world. Okay, not really, but it does seem that the internet and a few key players, like Facebook, have an impact in our everyday lives. Today, during the explosion of the information age, eBooks are becoming all the rage.

For a writer, Amazon is a great distributor that has changed the industry. Yes, of course, there is still a place for libraries, newspapers, and physical bookstores, but here on the Internet is where every writer can best gain and interact with an audience and grow interest in quality work. It is becoming more and more the case. Some of us people today live in virtual worlds as much as we interact with people face to face. For a writer, it is becoming more effective to go on blog tours to reach people across a greater sphere than to sit across the room in readings or signing tours. Make no mistake, I still want the human interaction of sharing my book at a launch party celebration, reading to book lovers in city libraries, and/or enjoying the excitement of lines of fans or even just one on one opportunities to sign personal copies in packed stores for the holidays, but reading a book is usually a quiet moment between an individual and the pages of a book and the Internet can reach that person as well as any other way.

Recently, I caught the vision of what a blog tour can be. There are some great bloggers reviewing books and sharing their insights. I’m pleased with my book. I know it to be a great story regardless of the ability of the writer to tell it, but I didn’t spend these many years not to tell it well. And I didn’t take all of this time to not see it reach as many people as could be interested in it. The bloggers are catching on. I’m excited for their reviews. There will be lots of people looking for a good read as the weather gets colder and we gather indoors for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Maybe you are one of those persons. To wet your appetite, check out what bloggers have to say about my book, beginning November 10th, the release date of “Sterling Bridge.”

Meanwhile, there are some great blogs featured on my tour from November 10-25. Come here often and see what other blogs are out there. You might even find another book you will like to read.

Here’s my blog tour link: “Sterling Bridge” blog tour

My letter to blog reviewers of interest to me:

Greetings,

I am the author of “Sterling Bridge,” an historical fiction film novel (a short 140 page read) about a little known story of a true Utah hero during the Great Depression. It is being published by Cedar Fort in November. Although I am a first-time author, Cedar Fort tells me they anticipate a great family story like this, for all ages, will have wide appeal.

Your blog caught my attention and I would like to give you one of the first looks at my book by offering you a free copy in exchange for your honest review. We are looking for some great blogs like yours to feature as part of a blog tour. Would you be interested? Could you verify how many followers you have (blog+social media)?

The blog tour will run beginning November 10 through November 26 (Thanksgiving Day). Is there a day you prefer over another? We will hope to assign two blogs per day, and spots will fill up quickly.

Please respond by Monday. Cedar Fort will want to send you a pdf (or possibly print) copy of my book to you right away so you will have time to read it before the date assigned you.

Thank you much,

ChadRobertParker.com

“Sterling Bridge”

Submission to present at LTUE Conference

Life, the Universe, & Everything Conference (Feb. 11-13, 2016)

LTUE registration Full Professional Bio (10,000 characters MAX)

Meet the owner of WritCreate, LLC, Anecdoting.com, and ChadRobertParker.com:

Chad Robert Parker is a newly published author of a historical fiction film novel, “Sterling Bridge,” as of November 10th, 2015. Chad loves to read and write books and screenplays, as well as watch movies in all genres. He studied the art of writing a film novel primarily under the tutelage of Dennis Packard while attaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Brigham Young University in 2003.

Chad’s emphasis was in professional writing or business writing, but having not realized back then how well this suited him for studies in marketing communications, he continues to pick it up on the fly as he introduces his creations from games he played with five brothers growing up to making marketing advertisements to writing all forms of stories.

Chad always knew he was either going to be a professional baseball star, adopted into the Parker Brothers board game enterprise, or freelance as a Published Author/starving writer.

My Journey to Publication (Part Two)

On my family’s trip to Palmyra, New York, we passed over the Mackinac Bridge and I was intrigued to learn of Mackinac Island. Having just served the people of the Philippines for two years amidst several islands it was interesting to me to learn of an island in America, and it being so far inland. My parents remembered that a movie, “Forever Young” was filmed there and I started thinking of the timeless quality of the island and the blue collar history of Michigan. I could relate to from my experience living in Indiana. Since my imagination was already flowing I jotted down a few notes for what would soon become my idea for another novel, “The Whatever Plan.” That book is in the making. I think it will be my best novel to date. The concept still has so much literary potential. Since I had barely started on the first novel idea, however, I returned back to the concussed soccer player theme. Except the more I thought about it the more I envisioned it as a film, not as much literary. The genesis of my film novel expertise was forming.

It was 1999. With my families help I was already enrolled in most of my classes for that semester at BYU. It was funny how I had signed up in 1997 by way of touch tone telephone. The world had changed while I was away. The internet was in full swing now. I had much to learn. That first week of school I was still trying to tie down a couple of classes. I remember I wanted to take a voice lessons class as a diversion for one. The other class I wanted to take was a screenwriting class, but I did not really have room on my schedule. I determined I would ask around to find a professor who could direct me in the right direction on the side, to learn and develop this talent on my own. My mission in the Philippines had given me more confidence and encouraged me to develop and use my talents. Singing classes did not turn out quite as encouraging. Voice teachers were too academic about it then I much cared for. They made me sing what they wanted and I had fun singing other more enjoyable tunes rather than practice the stuffy Shakespearean inspired song I was assigned to master. I never became a great academic singer.

I may have fallen into the same trap with my other course work. I certainly had a talent for writing. I was uncertain, however, if writing was an appreciable skill or that it could even be gained through academia. Now I realize there are many great academic articles and publications, but my love of writing was much more literary than that. Most authors of literature do not focus on academic writing as a career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my school career, but I knew that writing was too fun to take as seriously as an academic would. Writing did not seem like it paid either. In fact, even after the validation of publication to know that your writing is good, there is still no guarantee of monetary success. But that’s beside the point. Point is, writing is a tough road a person must be committed to if he or she is going to get anywhere.

At this time I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life and I was still strongly under the impression that I was in complete control of planning how my life would go. I opted to pursue a business major. Then I learned the hard way the hoops required to even be allowed to enter the business program. One guidance counselor even told me that “perhaps school wasn’t for everyone.” I thought he was crazy to think that an Academic Honors student in High School was not fit for college. It never occurred to him that the Humanities program could use some work if it wasn’t turning out students fit for employment. Although looking back now I would have to agree that there is most definitely an end to academia (It would not be for me indefinitely) but never an end to learning when it comes to practical knowledge and its application. Before I had  honestly thought that by being accepted to BYU I could study any field of interest that I chose. I was wrong about that. Perhaps, my greatest learning has come when I have been wrong about something. Throughout my college career I fought the urge to write for fun while learning to write for academic purposes. I tried extra hard to study principles of business, but I found I learned more from the entrepreneurs that visited who mostly admitted never completing business school either. In college I learned there is a balance between creativity and organization and a balance between learning, doing, and teaching others. There is a time and season for everything and everything must be done in its proper order if progression is to be had.

In the middle of my Sophomore year I made the decision to get back to the writing of that book that started on my vacation trip. I asked one of my English teachers if there were any professors in the department who knew the format for writing a screenplay. She did. That is when I visited Dennis Packard. That is when I shared some of my writing and he liked it. That is when he asked me to take on another project, which eventually became known as “Sterling Bridge.” That is when I decided that maybe writing fiction could take me somewhere. That is when I got in over my head and I am sure glad that I did.

See “My Journey to Publication (Part One)” here.

Categorizing Genres and Authors

To create you must be organized. Our minds are both analytical and creative. The trick is finding the proper balance. Most never find it.

In the library world we focus on categorizing and compartmentalizing everything, especially in the Cataloging Department. It makes sense. In order to have order, items must be classified, rules to house information in a database must be followed, and then materials must be lettered and shelved in a locatable fashion. This is the editing side of the brain. It is an important and necessary function, but it is secondary, even tertiary; it must be silenced long enough to let the creative side originate new thoughts, ideas, and ultimately creations.

When writing there is a cognitive approach to organizing your work. Perhaps the toughest balance of them all is knowing how much credence to give to knowing your audience and outlining your work. The writer in you wants to be free flowing and allow the creativity to have a life of its own. The editor is constantly trying to chime in and make sure you don’t get too off track. Every writer must find their own balance in their schedule and in their heads. Writing is neither an exact science nor a complete art. I imagine most writers realize they and their work are easier to relate to if they are more readily quantifiable. In other words, most writers stick with one genre and find a basic formula for their story lines that work, in order for their readers to keep better track of them. If readers know what to expect and readers like that genre then they are more prone to keep reading from that author. J.K. Rowling found out how hard it is to switch genres on your adoring audience.

But what if creativity is more dynamic than can be classified? What if in all of us is the complexity to desire flavors, experiences, and customs beyond what we have tasted before?

For me I have a wide array of interests in life. It is not easy to fit me in a box. I suspect this is true for most people. If you are a wood worker who has made a great chair in the past, you don’t see yourself making that chair over and over again the rest of your life. And yet, if you want to make the most money you find the product your customer likes best and you recreate it again and again. I suppose I am going against all conventional wisdom.

I wrote a book that is historical fiction. “Sterling Bridge” has elements of popular fiction. It has every bit the same appeal and all of the drama. It is a story of courage and inspiration in the face of all odds. At the center of the story is central theme in all stories, with the struggle of good and evil. It is the epitome of a coming of age story where the characters learn and grow and the reader learns with them. The difference is that “Sterling Bridge” is a story based on lives that actually happened. Thus, it is in the history category, but it is written in a way that highlights all of the important moments that characterize a town and tell their story in a logical condensed form. It might not be what you get out of Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Popular writing that you are used to reading. It’s not of the picture book mold to be read in 5-10 minutes, though it also isn’t of the lengthy Charles Dickens prose or “Lord of the Rings” series meant to be digested by course over several days. No, what it is is a great story. Place it in a genre as you will, but at the end of the day there is something for everyone in the pages of “Sterling Bridge” because we are all living our own stories with very similar challenges and natural themes that arise.

When someone asks me what genre “Sterling Bridge” is in and who the intended audience is naturally I am thinking that the story is for everyone, but not just because I want readership. Its main characters are teenage boys so it would appeal to them. Boys need more books to read when you think of how most books know boys don’t read as much and therefore most books are not written with them in mind. The story itself will draw in the most avid reader of fiction with its pacing, rise of conflict, and intrigue in resolution. But you will find it on the adult fiction shelves for its richness in historical value and for the adult’s typically more developed palette. Although I’m hoping to break the mold a little bit and make history interesting for everyone, make our daily lives as important in time as our lives truly are. If you like stories of triumph in life you will like “Sterling Bridge.”

It is a story for everyone even though I didn’t make it into the form that is most read. No, I stayed true to the story. I let the story decide what genre it fits in. For now the field of study will decide where I fit as an author, but I am determined to stay true to my works. The next book won’t be historical, but it will be true to life and fictionalized enough to make it interesting for the reader to escape from their own life for a while and take in a different set of circumstances. Hopefully I can break you out of your mold of your editing brain and organizing each day the same as the last. Have you ever read a film novel, for example? Let “Sterling Bridge” be your first offshoot genre experience with reading a book meant to become a film.

Anecdoting Press Release

Anecdoting.com Announces Social “Story” Networking

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah-February 7, 2015—WritCreate, LLC, a Utah based workshop that develops writing creations, from children’s books to full length film novels, recently rolled out a unique concept where storytelling meets social networking. Anecdoting.com was born on January 1, 2015. How it grows will largely depend on what the owner describes as “stories like yours and mine, where everyday people share fun and/or interesting memories of tales from everyday lives.” If nothing else it is a great place to read and relax while enjoying other’s fun blurbs. The idea is something between blogging and “facebooking.”

12423037-anecdotingfb

The founder is Chad Robert Parker, a new author, who is set to publish his first novel, Sterling Bridge, on September 8th through Cedar Fort Publishing in Springville, Utah. Chad is also getting married this year, a story in itself. Chad comes from a family of six boys and lived in six states. When they had nothing to do they always had each other as built-in friends. Boredom is often the father of creativity and the Parker boys made and played a lot of games together. When Chad started writing he learned that “the short story format is a crash course for gaining writing skills and learning the Art—as well as the Science—of writing.” In coming up with various short tales he realized he drew much of the inspiration from actual experiences he had in life growing up. He knows others have similar great stories that live on in their families today. That was the genesis for creating “anecdoting,” to share in the fun of common human experience between friends, families, and society.

Anecdoting.com is free entertainment; it is a getaway experience; it is communal blogging about common topics of life at its best and worst. You can read about anything from a girl learning what a bidét is to a boy trying to outdo his older brother with a trick on a rope swing that would have been perfect for America’s Funniest Home Videos (though luckily for him was not caught on tape).

Stories have always been at the center of socialization. When people gather around a campfire or for any social function it has been the norm for persons to share about the events in their lives. Societies are built on the stories of its members. The best stories get passed down from generation to generation. Depending on how true the story is determines whether it can be categorized as folklore, legend, or maybe even considered actual history. In any case, the stories give a sense of a people and a place. What will the information age reveal about the people of today? Only time will tell, but if anecdoting.com is any indication we have much in common with our forbearers, only the method for sharing our story is a little different—electronic and universal.

Anecdoting.com is striving to take the experience to the web purporting a vision “to connect the world through storytelling.” Anecdoting.com is family friendly; it has a “come one come all philosophy” with wholesome content but parental guidance advised for children under 13, of course. If you are looking for an option, other than Facebook, to browse and enjoy a break from the routine in your daily life, take a moment to check out anecdoting.com. It might be the perfect cure for your boredom, or even the place you go to share about that “quirky pet,” “worst job,” or “first date.” You might even win a prize in the “weekly winner” category or in other monthly and quarterly giveaways.

Source: http://www.prlog.org/12423037-anecdotingcom-announces-social-story-networking.html