Upcoming Engagement: Pulp Studies Symposium, James Madison University, October 7-8, 2016.

Exciting announcement here! I will be one of the plenary speakers at the 1st Annual “Pulp Studies Symposium: Sensational Scholarship” at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, being held October 7th and 8th, 2016. I’ll be speaking about Daisy Bacon and LOVE STORY, of course.PulpSymposium-TeaserDigitalDisplay

Here is some background from the Call for Papers:

“Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, James Madison University’s Special Collections hosts one of the finest publicly accessible collections of pulp magazines in the United States, including a recent acquisition of over eighty issues of Street and Smith’s romance pulp Love Story.

There has been a recent explosion of scholarly interest in pulp magazines and popular print culture. This conference builds upon emerging scholarship in this exciting and expanding field.”

The university did indeed just acquire over eighty issues of LOVE STORY. I took a quick look at the catalog and it appears that it covers a wide range of years, beginning with a few in the 1920s, with more issues for the years 1935, 1936, 1938, and then many more for the 1940-42 years.

So I’ll print more information as it becomes available.

Many thanks to David Earle, Associate Professor with the University of West Florida and the author of RE-COVERING MODERNISM: PULPS, PAPERBACKS, AND THE PREJUDICE OF FORM. David recommended my name and the subject of Daisy Bacon and LOVE STORY to the committee at James Madison University. Thank you, David!

PulpFest 2016: In One Word: Spectacular

Going to PulpFest is always a great experience. I get to see friends that I usually only see once a year. The room is full of great reading material for sale. There are informative panels and an auction that is always fun. It’s usually the only place where I can find copies of LOVE STORY MAGAZINE all in one room, for reasonable prices that are usually much better than any price you can find on eBay.

This year was extraordinary for me though, because for some crazy reason, I won the Munsey Award, which is awarded every year to a person who has been of service to the pulp community. The past winners of the Munsey, the Lamont Award, and the Rusty Award vote from a group of nominees. And they picked me this year.  I was shocked to hear my name, to say the least.

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The award is a print of a David Saunders painting. It’s being shipped right now, but here’s a photo of me receiving it. Barry Traylor, a good friend and one of the first friends I made at PulpFest, presented me with the award. Thank you, to everyone, for your friendship, your support, and for sharing your knowledge with me over the years.

If that wasn’t enough, I presented a talk on Daisy Bacon on Friday night, and I was pleased with how it turned out. Presentations are always nerve wracking for me, and I was a nervous wreck over this one because the audience was made up of so many experts. But I had a lot of positive responses afterwards so I assume it went well.

The new edition of LOVE STORY WRITER debuted at PulpFest, and the copies I had on my table sold so fast, it was as if they walked off the table. The new edition was done by Bold Venture Press, and I think they did a fantastic job. You can get a copy of LOVE STORY WRITER as their website, and on amazon.com.

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I also scored some great pulps. Besides the LOVE STORY issues, I bought a few copies of two magazines that are very rare finds: REAL LOVE from 1931 and the second version of AINSLEE’S from 1935 and 1936. Both of these magazines were edited by Daisy and they are as hard as the dickens to find. Thanks to my friend Sheila Vanderbeek who showed these to me and “allowed” me to buy them from her.

I also found a 1920s CUPID’S DIARY for a reasonable price, which I was delighted to find because they are usually priced very high on eBay.

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There are a couple of places where you can read good reports about the con. One is Walker Martin’s Con Report at the MysteryFile blog. The photo above of me with the award was taken by Sai Shankar from Pulp Flakes blog, a new friend I met this year and spent an enjoyable dinner with. Sai’s got some great photos over at PulpFlakes of the con.  And Bill Lampkin has posted several reports and more great photos over at the Yellowed Perils blog on ThePulp.net website.

There were so many good experiences, and chats with old friends that to write about them now makes me a little depressed. I don’t want to wait another year to see these people again. Moving to the east coast is looking better and better.

 

Now available: LOVE STORY WRITER by Daisy Bacon

DAISY BACON’S own book LOVE STORY WRITER is out in a new edition by Bold Venture Press! You can buy it at the website below, on amazon, and if you’re coming to PulpFest, I’ll be selling copies at my table!

Here is their press release:
BOLD VENTURE PRESS LIVES UP TO ITS NAME HERE AND NOW: Presenting the true voice of Romance, a long-overdue reprint of the definitive nonfiction book on romance writing
“Love Story Writer”
by pulp fiction’s own Daisy Bacon
For nearly twenty-five years, Daisy Bacon was editor of Street & Smith’s Love Story Magazine, arguably the most successful romance-themed pulp fiction magazine of all time. In her words, Miss Bacon shares insights and experience in managing a successful publication and authoring romantic fiction. Her advice gives us a glimpse into a past era, but remains as fresh today as when pulps populated newsstands across America. Introduction and afterword by pop culture historians Laurie Powers and Michelle Nolan, respectively.
http://www.boldventurepress.com/lsw.html
165 pages, $16.95; 5.5″ x 8.5″ trade paperback
ISBN 978-1534909229
also on Smashwords eBook/Kindle eBook

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Windy City Report and an Auction SCORE

Lots of pulp-related stuff going on.

Walker Martin has written another one of his great reports on the convention at Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention. You can read it over at the Mystery File blog here.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing a proposal to hopefully obtain a grant to help finance some research I want to conduct in New York City, writing the introduction to the new edition of LOVE STORY WRITER, Daisy Bacon’s how-to book on writing love stories that was originally published in 1954, and starting to compose my talk LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and the Other Love Pulps for PulpFest.

I also became the proud owner of 37 more issues of LOVE STORY, thanks to Jack Cullers who acted as my proxy at the Friday night and Saturday night auction at Windy City. Out of those 37, 11 are pre-1930, and the rest are from 1941 and mainly 1942. I know from a collector’s standpoint, the pre-1930 issues are of more value, but I’m just as excited over the post 1940 issues, and here’s why.

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When you’re writing a book about a magazine, it helps to be able to get a feel for all of the different kinds of stories that appeared in the magazine. LOVE STORY standard format was to include six or seven short stories and at least one, usually two longer stories that were broken up into installments (“serials”) and spread out over four, or five, or six consecutive issues. Try compiling six consecutive issues of a 1940s fiction magazine together, and you see my dilemma. The result has been that, up until now, I only had complete runs of perhaps two or three serials even though I had over 100 issues in my collection. Now with another 27 added to the 1941-42 years, I have a much better chance of having more serials to read.

I guess it’s official. I’m a complete pulp geek.  At least my dog is, too.

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So thank you again, Jack, for acting on my behalf at the auction. It made my inability to be there in person a little less painful.

For those of you who are interested in collecting these kinds of magazines and scoring these types of wins, check out PulpFest, which is coming in July to Columbus, Ohio.

LOVE STORY WRITER is Returning!

Very exciting news for pulp fans and lovers of the romance genre:  Bold Venture Press announced today that they will be reprinting Daisy Bacon’s book LOVE STORY WRITER and it will be released in July 2016!  Originally published in 1954, LOVE STORY WRITER is full of tips for the fledgling writer on how to write love stories for magazines. “Tantalizing bits of pulp magazine history are sprinkled between the lines, and modern day authors will benefit from Ms. Bacon’s editorial insights,” writes Bold Venture Press.

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Yours truly will be writing an introduction for this new edition.

LOVE STORY WRITER will be available both on Bold Venture Press’s website (www.boldventurepress.com) and amazon.com.

Many readers, writers, and lovers of pulp history will love LOVE STORY WRITER. Take it from me – I have read it, oh, about a half dozen times.🙂  Besides giving the reader sound and practical advice on how to write the romance story, she sprinkles stories of her own life and her career at Street & Smith throughout the book.

I’ll post updates as soon as I get them on the release of this great book.

Daisy Bacon on Exhibit

NEWS! There is now a Daisy Bacon exhibit! Daisy lived in the Baxter Estates neighborhood in Port Washington (Long Island), New York from 1950 until her death in 1986. Nora Haagenson who, with her husband Bill were Daisy’s neighbors, has built an exhibit in the Baxter Estates Village Hall in Daisy’s honor.

Included in the exhibit are Daisy’s desk she used at her last office at Street & Smith, her typewriter, photos from a magazine interview she did in 1942, and copies of LOVE STORY MAGAZINE.

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The Baxter Estates Village Hall is a historic home that was built in 1913. Nora, (who is now the mayor of Baxter Estates), told me: “The Village Hall was the John Bird House built in 1913.  He was a sea captain in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and the stucco house was built for him by his mother.  The house overlooks Manhasset Bay.”

I’m not familiar with the photograph over the typewriter. The smaller photos that appear on the left wall to the side of the typewriter were taken for an interview that appeared in PARADE WEEKLY in 1942. The theme of the interview was “a day in the life of a love story editor” and she posed in various places, like her home and on the subway.

If you’ve never been to the historic town of Port Washington, it’s definitely worth a visit. Next time you’re in the area, go check it out!

Happy Anniversary, Daisy

I missed Daisy’s work anniversary that was a few days ago. On March 13, 1926 – 90 years ago – Daisy started to work at Street & Smith. She had answered a classified ad in the New York Times that may have been this one that appeared in the February 22 paper:

“YOUNG LADY, well educated, in publisher’s office; desirable environment and personnel; state age, experience, if any, and salary desired.”

Her first job at Street & Smith was working on LOVE STORY MAGAZINE’s advice column, “The Friend in Need.” Her beginning salary was $35 a week. Here’s a photo that may very have been taken during her first few years at Street & Smith.

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And here’s a cover from an issue that may have included some of her first work for the magazine.

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Daisy would later write a 26-page essay entitled “Dear Mrs. Browne,” an accounting of her time working on the column “The Friend in Need.” This is the first paragraph from the essay:

You ought to see my mail. You would think that I was a movie actress, a philanthropist, a millionaire or at least a murderer. Every morning the mail trucks back right up my door and throw quantities of letters off. Most of them are addressed in long hand and they are postmarked from every state in the Union; all the large cities and every hick town west of the water tower.

My desk, which is a roll top model of the vintage of 1890, is always covered with disorderly piles of the country’s worst and best examples and stationery. Carelessly opened letters with bits of gold or gayly flowered linings hanging out of the envelopes greet me the first thing in the morning. One corner of the room in which I sit is taken up by a large wooden packing box piled halfway to the ceiling with letters. Envelopes of every size and color repose therein; red ones and orange ones which fairly cry aloud for attention, small pale blue ones, playing square white ones, yellow ones and occasionally one with the black border.

I first made the acquaintance of this pile of letters years ago. It was in the summer time and the hot breeze coming in at the window stirred them restlessly. Every now and then a letter fluttered down from the pile and land in the center of the room with light. That seemed to me like you cry from an anguished heart, for these for lovelorn letters and I was new at the game of answering them. According to the name and address on the envelope, I was Mrs. Louise Winston Brown, in charge of the When You Need a Friend department of Love Affairs Magazine. Mrs. Brown wasn’t entirely mythical person, whose name had been selected for its euphony. But she was a perfect oracle of worldly wisdom and her name went on forever – only the users of the name change occasionally. I was the latest recruit to give up my true identity for that privilege and in return for it, I was getting $35 a week.

Probably because she was planning on getting the essay published and she didn’t want to get in trouble with her employer, the writer of the column (the name as it appeared in the magazine is Laura Alston Brown), the name of the column, and the name of the magazine were all changed.

As far as I know, the essay was never published. The original manuscript was discovered in her personal papers.

LOVE STORY’s March Winds

LOVE STORY MAGAZINE had a tradition of running at least one “windy” cover during the month of March every year. New York City must have some really blustery winds during this month! Here are some sample covers, all of them done by Modest Stein up to 1938. I’m not sure he did either 1939 or 1940, as they aren’t signed. The tradition seems to have started in 1931, but I don’t have samples of March 1930 covers so it might have started that year.

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1931

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1934

 

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1935

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1937

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1938

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1939

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1940

 

My mom.

January was a nightmare. My dear mother, Ruth, passed away on February 8 after a devastating fracture that sent her into the hospital and caused her to decline in a horrible, shocking tailspin from which she never recovered. She was 87 and one month away from turning 88.

My mom was a sweet, gentle, woman. She could be painfully shy and never had a lot of confidence in herself.  Yet she loved to travel and had a real sense of adventure. She traveled extensively over the past thirty years, and only stopped going abroad about ten years ago,  limiting her travels to inside America. I know she was proud of me and what I have accomplished in my stupid little life. Yet she was the real hero, having raised 4 girls pretty much on her own on a secretary’s salary.

My mom always asked me about my animals whenever she called, but she especially loved my cat Chloe. Over the last few years, she would mention once in a while that she wished she could have a cat, but her living situation wouldn’t work with one. So she always got her cat fix at my house, and sometimes she would even pet-sit Chloe for me. This is her and Chloe at her little apartment a few years ago.

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During the two weeks when my mother was in the hospital, Chloe appeared to be all right,  although I noticed she wasn’t eating as much. I was gone a lot during that time, being with my mother. Well, about a half hour after I learned my mother died, Chloe had a seizure on the couch next to me. She had been suffering from kidney disease over the past year, and even though my vet and I had done as much as we could to keep her going, it was obvious that the disease was winning. I rushed her to the vet and we did blood tests, but I, in my numb state, still knew that this might be the end. She had two more seizures that night, and by the next morning it was obvious she was dying. I had her put to sleep to end the suffering.

It’s odd that it happened the day after my mother died. I like to think that she’s in my mom’s lap right now.

I am slowly coming back to being productive, but I have moments of intense grief. I have always considered myself to be a strong, independent woman, but my mother was my anchor. The death of my mother has rocked me to my core and unsettled any feeling of comfort I had about my own life and where I am headed.

I started writing again over the weekend. I was really looking forward to getting back to writing, yet I find there are still moments when I cannot function at the keyboard at all. I guess it will all take time.

Thank you, Mom, for everything. Even though I wasn’t grateful all the time. I can only hope that she knows, now, that I loved her and am grateful now – for everything. The kind of unconditional love she gave me was the closest thing to perfection this life has to offer.