NO LIFE BUT THIS: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
It is biographical fiction based on the life of Emily Warren Roebling considered to be the first female field engineer and highly instrumental in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Monday, August 23, 2021
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
A NOVEL OF EMILY WARREN ROEBLING
BY DIANE VOGEL FERRI ‧ RELEASE DATE: DEC. 10, 2020
Poet Ferri offers a historical novel about the life of real-life Victorian engineer and women’s rights activist Emily Warren Roebling.
After the sudden death of chief engineer John A. Roebling in the summer of 1869, the ambitious construction of the Brooklyn Bridge fell to his son, Washington. However, only a year later, the younger man would be incapacitated by caisson disease, leaving him physically unable to oversee the project in person. As a result, Washington’s wife, Emily, rose to fame as a devoted defender of the bridge and a skilled engineer in her own right, acting as liaison for her husband and handling daily supervision of the project. In this decade-spanning novel the author delves into a tumultuous period of American history as well as the mind and heart of her narrator. Ferri focuses on Emily’s internal life as she navigates the expectations placed on her as a wife and mother as well as intense public scrutiny over the bridge. She also bears witness to the inequities of women throughout American society, observing abuses as well as the disproportionate favor that’s placed on those in positions of privilege. Throughout the novel, Emily is beset by bitter discontentment over legal and social constraints, but she persistently reinvents herself and becomes a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Some sections involving invented characters or events can feel saccharine or overly convenient, but Ferri’s prose does a marvelous job of highlighting her protagonist’s exceptional mind and the restrictions she faced. Emily is shown to be loving, compassionate, insensitive, and bullish, by turns, resulting in a well-rounded and empathetic portrait of a woman whose ambition was greater than any single life could hold.
A sensitive and comprehensive exploration of an exceptional historical figure.
Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2020
Page Count: 415
Publisher: ATBOSH Media Ltd.
Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021
Review Program: KIRKUS INDIE
Friday, January 29, 2021
So I Write
I’ve always loved this quote by Stephen King: If God gives you something to do, why in the world wouldn’t you do it? So I write.
Does Stephen King think we need yet another book in the world? I guess he does because he’s still cranking out dozens of them. Does anyone need a book, poem or work of art from me? I don’t think so, but I do have a strong sense that God gave me these things to do. So I write. I love the writing and hate what comes afterwards—the months of sending out queries, the rejections, being ignored, feeling like I had wasted my time—every writer knows this feeling—except Stephen King, of course.
Whenever something I’ve written is published I think of my grandmother. She raised six children, lost much during the depression, and became a widow in her sixties. I remember her dwelling alone in a small apartment above a hardware store across the Ohio River from a steel mill. She wrote novels and some poems. I relate to the need to create and accomplish something once your children are raised and you finally have the time. She dreamed of being published but her dream was never fulfilled and so sometimes I feel like I’m living her dream or at least doing it in her honor.
Long after she was gone all of her handwritten manuscripts were found in a relative’s basement. She was so short on money that the words were crammed on every page from top to bottom, front and back, to save paper. I set about sifting through the thousands of pages, some out of order or missing, and put together six complete novels and some pieces of others. They were full of good people struggling through life, just as she had. There were also letters from “vanity presses” expecting large amounts of money in exchange for publishing her work, which was an impossibility for her. I put them in 3-ring binders, and after re-reading them, I presented them to my mom. So much for the dilemma of what to do with them—until my mom died and I was left to clean out her home of sixty years.
At that point I laid them out at a family reunion and offered them to my cousins. They took them all but it made me think about all the unread copies of my three novels and three poetry books (so far) that are languishing in my house. What to do with them? Will one of my children have to throw them out at some point or should I make a bonfire in the backyard and do that now? Because, you see, even though my books are published they are not in demand. Yes, I feel the sense of accomplishment and I am proud of all of them, but all I ever wanted was for them to be read—maybe by more than my family and friends, too.
I’m facing the same dilemma with my mother’s art. She was prolific and spent over forty years creating beautiful and unique works. She entered many shows and won awards but she never made much effort to sell her work. Everyone in the family chose pieces when she died and many are being displayed, but, you guessed it, the rest are all stored in my house and in my sibling’s houses and none of us know what to do with them. Some of the work was experimental, class work, or unfinished, but can I just throw them in the trash? Not yet. But neither do I want my own children to have to do it. (I like to paint also, but I hesitate to put another piece of unwanted art out into the world at this point.)
I acknowledge that I have a deep need for self-expression—sometimes I envy people who do not—so I know I will continue to create. As infuriating as the internet and social media can be, the upside is that there are multiple ways to publish and share all types of creative work. This is something my grandmother could have never imagined.
During this terrible year of a world-wide pandemic those in the arts have had to be especially creative to get their gifts out into the world. It seems like everyone is vying for attention for what they do to stay relevant and unforgotten. I am thankful for all that is available to me. Writers can self-publish now without stigma and, if they’re good at promotion, they can do quite well. Personally, I stink at self-promotion, but I will do the best I can for this new book and if God gives me another one—-I’ll probably have to write that one, too. Oh well.
Monday, January 18, 2021
Monday, January 11, 2021
April 24, 2020
Talking to myself about publishing my third novel, which is biographical fiction:
As of this date I have been rejected and/or ignored by 124 agents and/or publishers. They have each been well-researched ahead of time to assure that historical fiction was of interest to them. I have received a number of positive responses and comments, and asked to send more chapters, or the whole manuscript quite a few times, but no one, ultimately, accepted my book. (Meanwhile someone else has published a book about my main character after her story has been ignored for 100 years. Grrrrr. )
At the point when I began sending it out to very small publishers I realized they could not do much more for my book than I could do myself. They would only put it on their website and on Amazon.
I spent 6 months researching and writing the book, had it professionally edited, and have spent over a year submitting it. It is such a worthwhile and timely story, and biographical fiction has been popular for several years.
Recently, I began researching self-publishers. Self-publishing is much more widely accepted than it was when I self-published my other two novels. It is a legitimate way for authors to be read, and even make money, especially on Amazon, whether paperback or ebook. It is cheap and relatively easy to self-publish on Amazon, although it is not globally distributed otherwise. Amazon has a number of ways to promote books, especially ebooks, that I could not do myself. I stink at self-promotion, so this is a plus.
Am I ready? Getting this book out has been hanging over my head for over a year. I’m ready to move on to something else. Rejections, although expected, get old. I am not a trained fiction writer. I did not intend to ever write fiction again, but this story was too good to pass up.
Am I okay with only my kind-hearted friends and acquaintances reading my book as with my other ones? (If not, I will obsessively ask myself what it was all for?)
Did I love writing it? Yes.
Am I proud of it? Yes.
Do I want it to sit in a 3-ring binder on my shelf forever? No.
What do I have to lose?
APRIL 25 - One day later
In counting the number of agents/publishers I had contacted I noticed the name of someone who had expressed interest but never got back to me ––Jared Bendis of Atbosh Media in Cleveland. I thought, What the Heck, and emailed him one more time. He responded and asked for the synopsis. I felt a twinge of hope but he had responded twice before and let the communication die. He emailed later and asked when we could chat! I sent my number and told my husband I didn’t think he’d call–––but he did that same evening.
We talked for a half hour and he explained his whole process, the contract agreement and what he could do with the book. He said he would send me the contract that night if I agreed. What? Of course! Then the email didn’t come that night. ( But it did show up the next day. I’m pretty sure he’s a night person because it was sent in the wee hours of the morning.
It’s been two weeks since then. We’ve exchanged a couple emails and he says he’s putting the mock-up together but he doesn’t commit to a timeline so I must be patient. Lou took some outdoor photos of me for the head shot and it is on his website. I signed a contract so I know it will happen eventually. I thought this time of quarantine would be perfect for working on marketing and getting the book out there etc. We’ll see.
It seems like one more surreal and unbelievable occurrence right now, just like the rest of life. But I am thankful, relieved and proud.
Friday, December 18, 2020
Under My Mask
there is no lipstick
on my pale thinning lips
under my mask
no celebration of birthdays
we are bleached out
beached out like whales
who have lost their way
there is no deep breath
into my aging lungs
under my mask
or tricks or treats
we are as weary
as a mother of babes
and there is no rest for the weary
there is no singing
from my silent throat
under my mask
no community of praise
or writing on the calendar
for a future together
Thursday, November 5, 2020
If tomorrow comes
and we, who love the world,
whose vested interests are in the stranger,
in liberty and justice for all,
we stakeholders who yearn for decency,
empathy, even propriety—
if tomorrow comes and we are soul-crushed
it won’t be because we are the losers,
it will be for another human who has lost a choice,
a job, a loved one, a physician, a civil right, a home,
it will be for the mother who fled from danger
and the imprisoned child who did no wrong,
it will be for the flooded homes and incinerated towns.
If we, the stakeholders in this game of chance
are given a harrowing verdict, we will carry on
because God brought another baby here today,
because people will still teach, heal, and donate,
people will still protest, hope, and pray, because
time will pass and the world will keep turning
and evolving, because restoration is possible,
and our love for humanity and creation
can never be voted out.
Friday, October 23, 2020
I voted today. I voted for common decency, respect for all human beings, and compassion for those less fortunate. I voted for the principles we learned in kindergarten and the virtues we taught our children. I voted for the common good of all Americans—not just my best interests, not my 401K or my stock portfolio or my personal religious beliefs. I voted for kindness and truth and love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
At some point in our lives we have probably all learned about forgiveness. The lesson is that the one who has hurt us may not deserve it, or be sorry, but forgiving them is something we do for ourselves. We understand that what we hold inside hurts us more than it hurts them. We forgive to let go of the power that pain has over us or how it consumes us.
The same principal applies now. I think we need to let go of the power the stress, anger, and frustration with our country and the pandemic has over us right now. We can’t let it ruin the good things or the relationships we have worked for with our families and friends. We all have reasons to be angry, but personally, I feel like it is consuming us on most days.
When I speak to friends and family we are having the same conversations over and over. We still can’t believe this is happening. We have no control over our lives and do not know when this will end. We don’t understand what happened to our country. We fear for the future of our children and grandchildren.
Here are some things that I feel outrage over almost every day: the mishandling of the coronavirus and what it has taken from all of us, conspiracy theories and lies, outright hatred between Americans, continuing systemic racism, the election vitriol, social media comments, climate change, the widening division of America.
Sometimes we talk about nothing else. It’s all negative. It’s all frightening. The children are listening. This is their childhood, when they should feel safe and look forward to their future. I am angry and sad about what the year 2020 this has taken from them. Not just school, birthday parties, and playdates, but stress free adults in the background talking about whatever it is we used to talk about—sports, music, movies. All they hear now is politics, masks, protests, people ranting.
How do we block it all out once in a while? How do we stop caring about what is happening in the world? How do we take a break from being informed and aware and give our hearts a rest?
Winter is coming and I think we should prepare. We should treasure being in our homes with those we love. We should focus on our health and safety and know that there are millions of humans who have lived through worse than this. I worked with children all of my life and I don’t entirely agree with the notion that children are resilient. In some ways this is true, but their psyches can also be damaged in childhood by seemingly small events or words or things they don’t have the capacity to understand. Children get their emotional cues from the adults around them and if we are constantly raging, eventually they will feel the same—they just won’t understand why.
Give the children a break. Give your heart a break. We cannot completely ignore the mess we are in now, of course. But we can try to contain its control over us and not let it ruin our otherwise beautiful lives.
Friday, September 18, 2020
This week my husband became very ill. Immediately, we were afraid of Covid-19, of course. I was frantic with worry since I’d spent the previous day with my small granddaughters. I laid awake at night imagining everyone that could be adversely affected by our plight— like a row of dominos.
My husband was so sick that I needed to make arrangements for him. I went on the Cleveland Clinic website and found multiple options that were unclear and confusing. (Why isn’t there just one phone number to call?) Getting an appointment with your primary care physician appears to be almost impossible now. Only virtual and phone visits are offered.
I sent an email to his doctor, and later in the day a nurse called. My husband was answering her questions for 15-20 minutes. Mind you, he had fever, chills, headache, dizziness, lack of appetite, and fatigue, and that didn’t appear to be enough to warrant a Covid-19 test. If he was offered a test it would take 5-7 business days for a result.
What could happen in 5-7 business days? He could deteriorate and need hospitalization, he could have something else being untreated, I could be careless and spread it to someone else since surely I had been exposed (I had kissed him goodbye that morning), we would not be able to inform people we’d been near if they were exposed and they could possibly spread it as well. See the problems here? It also makes sense to me that if someone appears to have Covid-19 that the people they live with should be able to be tested as well. That’s definitely not going to happen.
Meanwhile, his company let him know they were under contract with a laboratory that could do the test the next day. I drove him 30 minutes to the laboratory the next morning. After a lot of paperwork, waiting, and questions, they gave him the nasal swab. The results would be 5-7 days as well. We left, but while on the highway they called and said they’d just noticed where he worked and that he could get the saliva test and receive results in 1-2 days. We drove back and were then informed that neither the company or our insurance would cover the $225 test. We looked at each other and agreed it would be worth it to find out sooner. I said, “How lucky we are that we can afford it—unlike most people in this country.”
A day and a half later we learned that his test was negative. While I was relieved and grateful, he was still very sick and had spent four days not being treated for anything. I had spent a lot of time trying to navigate all the different options and talking to family members about the situation. People were calling, giving advice and showing concern. Why? Because this pandemic has consumed our lives—all of our lives. Even if we have not had a loved one sick or die from it, we live with the stress and fear everyday.
So now my husband has spent four days not being treated for anything and he’s still very ill. I spent another frustrating hour on the phone trying to get help from a doctor or get lab tests ordered. After 15 minutes of questions I was mysteriously cut off from the appointment person on the other end of the phone. I had to start all over with an email that may or may not be seen by the end of the day. A nurse called and I went over all his symptoms again. She had to get the doctor to order lab tests so she had to call back. She did and also arranged a Zoom meeting with a physician (not his). Later, I took him to get lab tests that took 30 minutes of waiting even with an appointment.
He received another call before the Zoom meeting to repeat all the information once again. The nurse wanted him to take his temperature and blood pressure (we have a BP machine). When he got on the virtual meeting with a doctor they chatted for two minutes and the connection went dead. She called back and it was another 15 minutes until she said there was really nothing she could do for him—he could go to an urgent care. Really? What would they do? My husband said it had all been a waste of time and she laughed.
I used to feel sad about all of this, but now I just feel angry. A government exists to protect and guide its citizens in times of crisis and the current administration has failed us in every way. Eliminating a pandemic team in 2018 was only the first mistake. When a new one was formed under the vice president their only tact seemed to be to push off the responsibility on the state governors. What do governors know about pandemics and viruses? Nothing. It’s laughable to think that a virus can distinguish state borders and somehow each governor will do the right thing. Experts were our only hope and they continue to be disparaged and ignored.
We all know the “hoax,” the “downplaying,” the political division. We’ve all heard about former White House officials who’ve said the president doesn’t care about the 200K Americans dead. I blame him for this disaster. It has affected every part of our lives and there is no end in sight. Even one of the best hospital systems in America can’t get it together, in my opinion. You cannot even see a doctor when you are sick now. The nurse told me he should be “seen” by a doctor, but that meant over a computer screen. I guess they have to save themselves. Many reports say people are not even trying to get medical help because they don't want to deal with all of this or enter a facility.
Then my husband found out that the saliva test was not accepted by his place of business. So were we scammed out of $225? When the nasal test comes back it will go to his doctor, which will send it to his company before he can go back to work. He already missed two weeks of work because someone he worked with had symptoms and exposed co-workers anyway. I, too, had to stay home for two weeks that time, of course.
Well, that’s just one tiny story in a million of much bigger tragedies and losses. Just remember that because of this out-of-control virus you may not even get medical attention when you need it—so take care of yourself.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Of an Aesthete
For love of the Cleveland Museum of Art
What the museum is not—
crowding, touching, breathing sometimes,
just free easy looking,
distancing and whispering.
But my back won’t concur
and there is nowhere to sit now,
no place to contemplate
the overwhelming proof
of God on every wall, every
gallery a devotional to creation.
The Christ Child sleeps alone in heavenly peace
on a bed of marble, obeying the rules,
his illustrated life surrounds him,
from angelic innocence to piercing agony.
What would we know otherwise
if not this promise of preservation
in this stone pantheon, light swelling
through the open-sky atrium, so near, so eternal.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
I do not need a monument of Hitler to remember the horrors of WWII. I can read about it in a book or remember my father's service to his country. Nothing can erase the past.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
So this poem is about a very small, innocent pleasure I am missing this summer among all the tragedy and needless suffering. In northeast Ohio we have a large outdoor concert venue called Blossom Music Center. Every famous band and musician has been there over its 50+ years, but it is also the summer home of the world famous Cleveland Orchestra. I sang in the Blossom Festival Chorus behind that orchestra for over fifteen years.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Well, I have neglected you once again. You were born in September of 2007, and you were a brand new thrilling way to have a voice in this world. (You came along before Facebook.) There were many other bloggers out there and we constantly encouraged each other and seriously considered everything the others had to say. We consistently wrote thoughtful comments to each other.
But after a few years of glorious self-expression, I realized that other bloggers were the only people reading my posts. I also realized that I only read theirs so they would read mine. This made me sad. No one was truly considering my deep thoughts, reading my sappy poems, or otherwise caring about me as a writer. They were racing through the post to write what might pass for a significant comment––just like I was––so I would read their post.
So, I got discouraged. I got distracted with writing novels, poetry collections, and essays. I spent time taking classes and learning about the craft of writing. I retired from teaching and had time to volunteer, help with grandchildren, and write to my heart's content.
I would like to let you go, dear old friend, but you are all over Google. If someone (like a publisher or agent) Googles me to see what I've written recently they will be disappointed at this old blog. I've had essays published and two poetry books. I've written my third novel.
My poetry is SO much better than in 2007. My writing is SO much better than in 2007.
So what do I do with you? I want to rant about politics and climate change and the 2020 election and the horrible state of the public schools and on and on.... but no one wants to read that. Opinions and rants and complaints are rampant everywhere you look, thanks, in part, to social media. On some days I slam my laptop shut with anger over everyone's self-righteous (and often uninformed) opinions on Facebook. I'm sick to death of opinions even though I have so many myself.
I have a Facebook Author Page for news about poetry readings etc. I try not to post too much on Facebook, but when I do it is very clear what my stance on the subject is. So I don't need a place to vent opinions any longer, do I?
I guess I'll try to pop in once in a while and write something thoughtful–––just in case someone is out there.
Monday, September 2, 2019
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Thursday, August 8, 2019
"But by the early decades the twentieth century, with the rise of fascism in Europe, nationalism had come to mean something different from patriotism, something fierce, something violent: less a love for your own country than a hatred of other countries and their people and a hatred of people within your own country who don't belong to an ethnic, racial, or religious majority.... but hating immigrants, as if they were less than human, is a form of nationalism that has nothing to do with patriotism.
"Patriotism is animated by love, nationalism by hatred. To confuse the one for the other is to pretend that hate is love and fear is courage."
The current president has proudly announced that he is a nationalist at his rallies and we are seeing the results of this now.