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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: The #NYT Sparks a Literary Discussion Most Fine!

“I busied myself to think of a story, a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror . . . to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” --Mary Shelley

Well, hello December! What better way to begin this final month of the year than with a juicy, literary debate on the origins of the science fiction genre! Twitter went ballistic on November 20th when a book review tweet by the NYT on The Young H. G. Wells, Changing the World by author Claire Tomalin, suggested the esteemed, bio'd author (with fellow author, Jules Verne and publisher, Hugo Gernsback) was the inventor of SciFi (Gasp)!

Twitter went into full viral mode, with thousands of tweets 'correcting' said NYT tweet headline on the 'true' queen of SciFi, author, Mary Shelley:

"Mary Shelley published Frankenstein, considered the first true science fiction novel, in 1818. HG Wells wasn't born until 1866."

"mary shelley and edgar allen poe would like a word"

"This is incorrect. Mary Shelley popularized science fiction with Frankenstein, well before H.G. Wells published. Stop erasing women from the narrative."

On and on the tweets went with claims to the NYT of misogyny, gender bias, etcetera etcetera...

It was refreshing to see a literary discussion trend after weeks and months of politics, trials and left vs. right vitriol. This was a topic I could sink my little gray cells into! I enjoyed reading the tweets ( a search for Mary Shelley/H.G. Wells, a few tweets on the topic are still trickling in) and see the passion writers and readers had on the subject.

It gave me hope that perhaps, the spirit of literary, intellectual curiosity and debate were in fact, alive and well, they just needed a catalyst to break through the daily spew of gloom and doom that seems to be so prevalent these days. The controversial Twitter title was just the thing to ignite the spark of debate. For me, that day, it was a very, refreshing change as people from around the world chimed in, giving their views and perspectives.

To the NYT's article's defense, it was a great book review of author Tomalin's book (I even picked up a copy for my TBR). I've always been an H.G. Wells fan--his work is imaginative and so forward thinking. I reached out to author H.E. Wilburson, an esteemed H.G. Wells knowledge/subject matter expert in the Twitter #WritingCommunity to get his perspective. I think he summed up the literary controversy/debate from an assumed, author Wells point of view brilliantly:

"I'm sure H.G Wells didn't name himself 'the father of science fiction' and would probably be quick to acknowledge that inspiration or an idea can come from any source. Mark Twain put it really well – “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.”

As an avid reader, I imagine H.G Wells would have read the science fiction books of his time and earlier. The first edition copy of The War of The Worlds, has this dedication:

"To my brother Frank Wells, this rendering of his idea."

I have read that the two brothers discussed the British invasion of Tasmania and pondered what might happen if England was invaded by 'aliens' of some sort. And so, an idea took hold. Wells' own writing genius was to mix the every day with a touch of science in an unusual and unsettling way, and there's no doubting the legacy he has left behind."

H.E. Wilburson – author of The Martian Diaries – an award-winning continuation of The War of The Worlds

Picture courtesy of Amazon Prime Video👇

Ten days have passed since the NYT tweet came and went. We're now back in political and trial gloom and doom mode with the Twitter trends. There's even a new Covid mutation, Omicron, that appears to be shutting down the world again. (We're gonna need a bigger alphabet...) I won't even go into the new CEO of Twitter's restrictions (careful posting pictures!).

One thing for me has changed though, and that's the knowledge that creative, literary minds are out there and woe to the tweet that gets it wrong, LOL! A little part of me wishes these type trending discussions would become the norm--the world would be a much more inspiring place to be.

It has me thinking---would a tweet proclaiming the best actress to portray Miss Jane Marple (Joan Hickson gets my vote, sorry Margaret Rutherford, Geraldine McEwan, Angela Lansbury, Helen Hayes, Julia McKenzie et al) get the same reaction in the cozy mystery world? It's a mystery I'd like to pursue--bring on the debate! BTW, who was the inventor of the cozy mystery genre? Enquiring minds want to know...this story is developing...

It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Writing Zone Update...

Book 7 is slowly but surely coming together. I've had a few false starts but luckily the muse seems to be back on track. The book cover is completed and Morgan Wright is working her animation magic. I'll be doing a cover reveal at the New Year...stay tuned! If all goes as planned, the edits begin in January and I'll be on the way to a March release. Get your flapper attire ready, we'll be pouring some delicious Bees Knees and mur-dah most foul your way soon! Dun-Dun-Dun 🍇💀🍷

A poignant night of Christmas magic this week from the writers of Twitter...

Author Rhys Bowen, What Child Is This, 5

Wartime tragedy strikes as Maggie and her husband, Jack prepare their celebrations for Christmas Eve. Memories of their lost child, rationing, and the realities of living in London during the Blitz have taken their mental toll. When a bombing raid targets their neighborhood, they escape in the nick of time as the city endures yet another fiery night.

The seeds of despair set in for the couple as they wander the cold streets of London. Hungry and freezing, they seek refuge in an empty house. Their spirits are lifted as they sit by the fireplace and enjoy the food and drinks left in an abandoned hamper. Their joy turns to surprise when a young boy emerges from upstairs. Hungry and abandoned, they learn he's been alone in the house for a while, his mother disappeared. They vow to stay by his side and find out what has happened, bringing a bit of Christmas hope and joy to the youngster. Little do they know the danger that lurks outside---will yet another tragedy doom their kind intentions?

Author Bowen weaves a poignant tale of Christmas magic in a time of wartime turmoil. The spirit of the holidays turns strangers into friends, offering a glimmer of hope for a better future. What Child Is This is a heartwarming tale that evokes the spirit of giving in the holiday season, a highly recommended read!

Next up in the #reading queue:

Visits of Christmas Past...

I was thinking about our Christmas tour of Hearst Castle this week that we took before lockdowns began. The picture of the famous outdoor pool still sends me swooning and believe it or not I can just hear the crickets chirping in the background as the sun began to set. The castle looks magnificent at night. Unfortunately, with the bad storms that hit central and northern CA a few months back, the castle is closed for the next 6-9 months due to road repairs, so, no Holiday Twilight Tour this year it seems...In the spirit of the season, here are a few of my fav pics to get you in the Christmas castle spirit! Do you have some scenic places you'll be touring this Christmas season?

Welcome to my world. Enjoy your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. We're heading to the Ritz tomorrow for our first holiday treat this season🎀🎄---an afternoon, Christmas tea! Pics next week, can you say #yummo!? Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑

This pic is from our afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria--will be interesting to see how the Ritz stacks up to the Fairmont! #TeaShade 😋☕💖👑

33 views4 comments


Dec 01, 2021

Well, well, well- what a lively way to start my morning! Coffee with Mary Shelley! And Mary and I would both live to have tea with YOU! And a special place for Christmas joy in Beautiful Ohio can be found at Enjoy the Season Veronica!

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
Dec 01, 2021
Replying to

Good morning, Jena! Your link to the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens is gorgeous! This is my absolute fav time of year--can't wait to have some holiday fun, and someday, we will have tea. Enjoy your week #HoHoHo! 💖👑


Dec 01, 2021

What a lovely post!

Mary Shelley would be grateful to know that after all this time... book lovers still remember her. incredible contributions. How could we not?

Congrats to Rhys Bowen and Cathleen Maza for being front and center on the TBR. I can't wait to read " Blood on the Vines." Hearst Castle looks as dreamy as I've always imagined it. Happy December and Happy Holidays!

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
Dec 01, 2021
Replying to

#HappyDecember UberHappy! I loved reading the Mary Shelley posts--very inspiring and a tribute to her legacy for sure. It's my most wonderful time of the year, bring on the #holidays! 💖👑

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