The secret society in Cincinnatus actually exists. The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783 following the Revolutionary War. The society’s founders wanted to make sure the sacrifices made to protect our liberties were never forgotten.
Learn more about The Society of the Cincinnati here.
Tomorrow will be a day of barbecues and fireworks for most Americans. While there’s no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy the day, I think The Society of the Cincinnati got it right with their dedication to remembrance. Take a moment this weekend and remember all the sacrifices, past and present, that have allowed us to celebrate our freedom.
Have a safe, enjoyable 4th of July!
I’ve met a lot of writers who write with the expectation that one day their labor will pay off. While the thought of future success is often a great short-term motivator, you’re likely to eventually be disappointed.
I wrote Crosley because I didn’t want the lives of my great uncle and my grandfather to go undocumented. My desire to pay tribute to the family I’m immensely proud of was enough motivation for me to write. I never imagined the book would become a bestseller.
I was, and continue to be, surprised by the number of readers who care enough to read about my family and learn from them.
Success isn’t typical. If you’ve got a story to tell, and gumption enough to actually write it, that has to be motivation enough. The finished product is your reward, anything that comes of it is just a bonus.
I wrote Crosley and Coral Castle to give my readers insight into people from the past who I thought were extraordinary. These books tell the stories of Ed Leedskalnin and the Crosley brothers through meticulously gathered research and facts.
After learning so much about these three men, I decided I wanted them to be a part of my next book.
Cincinnatus also features Ed and the Crosley brothers, but this time in a work of fiction. The versions of Ed Leedskalnin, Powel Crosley, Jr. and Lewis Crosley that appear in Cincinnatus are characters, but I crafted them from what I’d learned about their actual personalities. The interactions they have with each other in the book are purely fictional, but I wrote their encounters imagining how the men would actually react.
Writing the true account of these men’s lives gave me the insight and inspiration to write them into their next adventure. Crosley and Coral Castle tell the stories of the Crosley brothers and Ed Leedskalnin as they really lived, but Cincinnatus allows them to live on in a new story.
There’s a skeptic for every theory about how Ed Leedskalnin built Coral Castle.
If we’re to believe some of the theories on the Internet, Ed was an alien from outer space, he knew the secret to anti-gravity and he levitated the stone blocks into place with his mind. While these theories are entertaining, all of them lack significant proof.
Curiosity keeps us speculating, but skepticism keeps us rational.
While the skeptic in me wants answers, part of me is happy Coral Castle remains a mystery. Many spirited debates and serious conversations never would have occurred if Ed had revealed his secrets.
If Ed were alive today I doubt he could be convinced to reveal the secret of Coral Castle. Instead, I imagine he’d leave the skeptics and the conspiracy theorists to their debates, getting a good chuckle out of both sides.
Recognition usually doesn’t come quickly for positive accomplishments. While celebrity goings on are plastered on the front of magazines and webpages, the good deeds of the average person mostly go unnoticed.
I admire those who aren’t fueled by acknowledgment.
Although the Crosley brothers eventually attained notoriety, they worked humbly for many years preceding their fame. Thousands of people now know of Coral Castle and Ed Leedskalnin, but Ed died before his creation got much attention outside of Homestead, Florida.
If these men relied on encouragement, Coral Castle and the Crosley brothers’ business empire wouldn’t exist.
Lots of people work hard for recognition. Few can work hard without it.
Roadside America lists Coral Castle on their website along with other “Offbeat Tourist Attractions.”
Some of the roadside attractions on the site are interesting, and some of them are downright bizarre. Here are a few of my favorites:
–The World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab in Blanchester, Ohio
–The World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas
–Petrified Wood Gas Station in Lamar, Colorado
–Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, Virginia
Unlike most tourist attractions, Coral Castle wasn’t built with the intention to turn a profit. Ed had no interest in making money. He often let curious visitors in for free if they didn’t have the means to pay.
While Coral Castle often makes websites like RoadsideAmerica.com, it’s far more than just a tourist trap. Ed’s story sets Coral Castle apart from kitschy attractions like the ones I’ve listed. Coral Castle isn’t just a novelty, it’s a mysterious achievement that represents the hard work and dedication of one extraordinary man.
In early advertisements Ed described Coral Castle in broken English, referring to his life’s work as an “unusual accomplishment.”I can’t describe Coral Castle more accurately than Ed did. It is truly, an unusual accomplishment.
When the Crosley brothers were young, they watched their father lose his wealth in the Panic of 1893. Their home and their possessions were auctioned off, and the Crosley family moved north.
Powel Crosley, Sr. eventually regained his former financial status, but Powel, Jr. was still raised to work for everything he wanted.
Like his father taught him, Powel, Jr. worked hard through setbacks and losses, discouragement and failure. When this determination eventually paid off in wealth, Powel, Jr. had no qualms about rewarding himself and his loved ones.
Pinecroft was Powel’s dream house. At 13,300 square feet, every inch of the house was built to his specifications. Although the mansion was built in the style of an old English country house, it featured some lavish modern additions.
The property features a landing strip for airplanes, an enormous garage, an Olympic style swimming pool, a short golf course, tennis courts (flooded in the winter to make an ice-rink) and a man-made lake. The list goes on and on.
Powel eventually downsized his life, selling off yachts and vacation homes around the country. Even when his lifestyle settled down, Powel never parted with Pinecroft. He lived there until he died.
Pinecroft still stands today.
Find pictures of modern-day Pinecroft here.
As a writer, receiving brutally honest, constructive feedback is incredibly important to producing decent work.
Friends and family members are easy sources of feedback. If they’re not already willing to take the time to read your work, they can usually be convinced fairly easily. It’s also a lot less intimidating to hand over the product of your hard work to someone you know.
Just because this option is convenient, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
No matter how objective a friend or family member thinks they are, they’re still biased. Writers who are truly committed to improving their work will buck up their courage and hand over their draft to a complete stranger. Find a writers’ group that focuses on peer-review — not encouragement. Encouragement can feel great, but it usually doesn’t result in revision.
Constructive criticism probably won’t improve your self-esteem, but it can improve your writing if you’re smart enough to listen.
Ed Leedskalnin, by all accounts, was a friendly man. He allowed visitors into Coral Castle so they could enjoy his masterpiece. He made friends with some of his neighbors, and he was missed after he died.
For all this openness, Ed also valued secrecy.
In Latvia, Ed grew up close to the castles of German barons. His life, and the lives of his friends and family, were dictated by the whims of the wealthy. Ed grew up in a time and place where his class of people had little control over the course of their lives.
After moving to Homestead, Florida, Ed built his own castle. He curated and engineered his property to be an impenetrable fortress (when he wanted it to be). Although Ed claimed to have unlocked the secrets of magnetic currents, he chose to take those secrets to the grave.
Rather than choosing to pursue wealth, I think Ed gained personal satisfaction from holding onto his secrets. After growing up in a world where most power was held by the rich, I like to think Ed died with the satisfaction of knowing he would be respected, long after he was gone.
I don’t normally read young adult novels, but I recently came across a new book by an Ohio author and figured I’d give it a shot.
The book is Graham’s Charlotte by Drew Farnsworth. It was the winner of Columbus Creative Cooperative’s Great Novel Contest in 2013.
The plot centers around angsty teenager Madison Riley. Madison acquires an all-knowing cell phone and has to use it to save her mother from impending danger. I won’t spoil the rest.
Find Graham’s Charlotte on Amazon.com here
A lot of recent YA bestsellers are marketed to teenagers, but they actually target adults. I think Farnsworth can be praised for not trying to play both sides of the market. He knows his audience and he doesn’t stray from what will work best for them.
This probably shouldn’t be your first choice if you’ve already graduated high school, but it should appeal to the young adults it was written to entertain.