Monthly Archives: November 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

Tour of Cloverdale Cemetery, led by Susan Bennett

Tour of Cloverdale Cemetery, led by Susan Bennett

October was a whirlwind of writing about cemeteries and talking about cemeteries and touring cemeteries.  You can believe I was in heaven.

Mountain View Cemetery tour, led by Arthur Kay

Mountain View Cemetery tour, led by Arthur Kay

The month started with my speech at the Death Salon about how the graveyards were removed from San Francisco. That led to a very small group tour of Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, led by Arthur Kay.  He helped me find a gravestone I was looking for, as well as the grave of one of the last Romanoff princesses and a whole lot of other locally important people.  The day was incredibly hot and I was sick with a bad cold, but it was worth making the effort to get out in the sunshine.

Cypress Lawn Cemetery at sunset

Cypress Lawn at sunset

A week later, still sick with that stupid cold, I managed to see Douglas Keister’s photos of graves in the Holy Land at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park.  That was immediately followed by his gracious and fascinating hands-on seminar on how to take cemetery photos.  The warm gold light spilling across the cemetery made me feel so much better.  I wish I’d taken more photos.

I took the weekend of my birthday off — mostly because there weren’t any cemetery tours I wanted to attend that weekend and I was still sick. The final weekend of the month, I was spoiled for choice.  I wanted to go down to Gilroy, California to see Old St Mary Cemetery, since it’s only open on days when the Historical Society leads tours, but I wasn’t sure I could make it by 10 a.m. on the day after my family had been out trick or treating.

The Carquinez Strait from Alhambra Cemetry

The Carquinez Bridge seen from Alhambra Cemetery

Instead, I dragged my daughter and husband up to Martinez to see the amazing Alhambra Cemetery.  The cemetery overlooks the Carquinez Strait in the northern part of San Francisco Bay. The Historical Society held a tombstone scavenger hunt for the kids, which entertained my daughter while I read the historic signs and marveled over all the lovely tombstones.  We’d never been to Martinez, so afterward we treated ourselves to a Thai lunch and poked briefly through the antique shops before getting one of the best iced mochas my husband has ever tried.  It was the perfect family outing.

Finally, on November 2 — All Souls’ Day — my friend Samuel came up to the northern tip of Napa County with me so we could tour Cloverdale Cemetery.  Susan Bennett led the tour in character as Gravedigger Tom.  The tour group was enormous, which did my heart good to see.  We learned about the history of Cloverdale and its surroundings through the lens of the California Gold Rush and the farming era that followed, through the days of the spas and summer camps and religious splinter groups.

Old St. Mary Cemetery represents the southern tip of my ongoing research for the Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area book.  Cloverdale is the northernmost boundary.  It would have been something to see them both in the same weekend, 161 miles as the Google maps, but I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish.

November 3 dragged me out of cemeteries and back to real life. I had to dive into revising the first book of the space opera trilogy I sold to Night Shade Books in February.  I’d been waiting for the book to come back from the editor all year, so of course it arrived in the middle of my cemetery madness.  It’s turned in at last and the book is in press now, for release next summer.  There are more details here, if Hong Kong-style revenge science fiction is your kind of thing.  I’m very proud of it.

Long story short, it’s been a while since I blogged on Cemetery Travel, for which I’m sorry.  I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle everything.  The second book of The Dangerous Type trilogy is due soon and I need to toggle back and forth from being a cemetery historian to a science fiction writer.  It feels strange to have both sides of my life converge at last, but it’s an exciting place to be.

Rhoads_Cloverdale_1725More blogs using this week’s Photo Challenge as a jumping-off point can be found here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/converge/

Cemetery Travel everywhere!

Flame-topped zinc urn, Bendle Cemetery, Flushing, Michigan

Flame-topped zinc urn, Bendle Cemetery, Flushing, Michigan

October is the time when people’s thoughts turn to cemeteries.  I’ve been chatting with anyone who will listen about why everyone should visit graveyards, whether on vacation or in their own hometowns.  I thought I would collect up all the links so you’d know I hadn’t been slacking when I wasn’t here blogging.

Last month, I chatted with Cheryl Eddy, a local journalist whose work I’ve read for over a decade at the San Francisco Bay Guardian (RIP). Our interview about traveling around to visit cemeteries and the book I edited called Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues went up on io9.com last Monday.  It’s called This is the Life of a Graveyard Tourist.

After a really fascinating email interview, I got quoted in Travel & Leisure’s list of the World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries.  That story was picked up by Smithsonian.com, the Huffington Post, and several other newspapers around the world.

Last week, I had a great phone conversation with Kristi Palma from Boston.com.  That led to her quoting me in A Fun-Filled Day in the Cemetery? Absolutely!

My exhortation to “Take You Children to the Graveyard!” (published on Scoutie Girl) has been getting some nice attention.

My essay for the Horror Writers Association’s Halloween Haunt’s blog, about the graves of horror writers, which was spun off by something I wrote for Cemetery Travel last Halloween. This version was called Where Horror Lies.

The Frugal Travel Guy site name-checked Wish You Were Here in their story Walking Among the Dead: The Art of Cemetery Travel.

Last night I vanity googled myself and found a review of Wish You Were Here in Indonesian.

And finally, Gothic Beauty magazine reviewed — and really liked — Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel in their October issue.

It’s been a rich, full month.  I’m looking forward to things settling down now, so I can get down to working on Death’s Garden.