Thursday, February 15, 2018

Durham, NC: Manufacturing Power Subverted to Ambience

Historic American Tobacco Campus

by Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


Just remember, as you peruse these photos, that every brick was put into place to process tobacco and make cigarettes, which have caused so much disease, suffering and early death. 

But this factory campus has been turned into a marvelous rabbit warren of shops, businesses, restaurants and coffee shops. There's a radio station here, too.
A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Here's a bit more spectacular brickwork from Brightleaf Square. The windows are reflecting the blue sky beautifully.


A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Now we're at the American Tobacco Campus, a huge former cigarette and tobacco processing complex that's been made into shops, restaurants, and relaxation space. Above, the chess set, which uses the Lucky Strike tower as the pawns.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
You can sit and watch people play the game of kings.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Fantastic brickwork here, too.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The tobacco processing required lots of water. A huge water feature meanders through the entire complex. Here you can cross it via stepping stones.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
More of the water feature.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A conveyor belt became part of the ambience.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Conveyor belts, brick chimneys: raw American manufacturing power--and cancer-inducing power-- turned into a feature for ambience.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Here's the Lucky Strike cigarette tower, almost a symbol of the city of Durham.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Writer's Dream: A Studio in a Historic Space

Durham, NC, home of Brightleaf Square, formerly a tobacco factory

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


I visit my offspring in North Carolina as often as I can, especially since there is a bouncing baby boy involved.






A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The men of the family, in plaid.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
We visited Brightleaf Square in Durham. Please note the excellent brickwork details, especially under the eaves and above the windows. 

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Inside, a spectacular staircase. How would you like to climb this every day to go to your studio?

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Tucked under the staircase is the romantic entry to a restaurant.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The windows have their original shutters, which show some signs of wear and tear.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
I'd like to look out of my studio at this beautiful tree with bright red berries.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Brightleaf still has all of its historic shutters. How about you? Do you enjoy American historic architecture? Comment below!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Unexpected in Brooklyn: A Brooklyn Writer Explores

In Search of the American Dream: A Brooklyn Writer Wishes for a House

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


On the coldest day in several years, January 6, 2018, with the temp at approx 4 degrees F and the wind chill sending the temp to -20 degrees, I happened to be in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

I did not expect to see stunning brick mansions, one after the other, on President Street. 



In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
The sun was going down behind buildings on the opposite side of the street. But isn't this house glorious?

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
These places are big: baronial.

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
I bet it's got beautiful rooms, with wainscoting, wood floors, beautiful proportions, high ceilings.

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
Those bricks were warmer than the people that day.

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
Look at this huge house! I want it all for me and my family!!

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
Lovely brick details.

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
Best for last. Gimme! How about you? Would you like to live in a beautiful house? Comment below! 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream: To Write during a Blizzard

An American Dream: See Brooklyn in a Blizzard
By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


Today I'm in North Carolina with my new grandson, and it's snowing in a way that this part of the country rarely sees. It's nearly a white-out outside and has been for hours. The snow will continue until late tonight. 

It reminds me of the blizzard we had 12 days ago in the Northeast. In Brooklyn, I went for walks in the blizzard and enjoyed seeing my neighborhood blurred and ambiguous behind curtains of snow.




American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
The wind blew snow between the bricks in the pre-war apartment buildings of my neighborhood.


American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
I would have preferred being the only person out walking, but that never seems to be possible in crowded Brooklyn.

American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
Aaah, I almost have Prospect Park all to myself.

American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
But no, a jogger in red Santa Claus tights...

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
A cross-country skier...

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
The grass under these shade trees would be mobbed with family picnics if it were summer. Now it seems as though I am alone....

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
But no, they're plowing the ring road around the park. Then my phone/camera died in objection to being out in all weather. 

In Search of the American Dream: Brooklyn Writer
But I have one more pic for you anyway, me holding a book I'd written, with my name on it, for the first time ever.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: To Live and Write in Paris

Brooklyn, I Left My Heart in Paris

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


Aspiring writers, I aspired for 30 years to not have to juggle earning a living and writing.

And my dream came true. I got a one-year creative writing sabbatical in Paris. I extended it for 3 months by signing up to be a nanny in Barcelona.

I wrote the first draft of a novel in that time and began revising: click on the cover to your right to read a sample. 

You could do a writing sabbatical, too. My Higher Power orchestrated events, and I leapt at the opportunity when it presented itself. I didn't have anything more than that influencing events on my side. 

PS: If you like my blog, would you Retweet the tweet that brought you here? Thanks!


Brooklyn writer goest to Paris
The Pont Des Artes, before the chain link fence was covered with sheets of plywood, as it is now.  I used this scene in The Paris Writers Circle to portray a divorce--an unravelling of a love relationship, a hole left in one's life.

Brooklyn writer goes to Paris
This is a picture of the Institut de France and the Pont des Artes. This kind of beauty is everywhere in Paris.

Brooklyn writer in Paris
To be honest, I'm not sure which church this is. But isn't it glorious? There are buildings like this all through Paris and throughout France. A patrimony of architecture. This is woven into The Paris Writers Circle as well.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: A Blizzard to Write In

Writing in a Snowstorm

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


How cool, to write clearly while being ambiguous, as E.B. White said, in a snowstorm. And in Brooklyn, no less. All the millions of buildings and people are still here, and as real as ever, but they're ambiguous behind a curtain of twisting snow.

I saw this first scene, below, two weeks before Christmas. Santicon was on that day in Manhattan. While walking in snow through Prospect Park to the Brooklyn Central Library, I saw Santa behind a tree. Red suit, green bicycle, black tree, white snow. 

He may have been using his cell phone to check on how to best get from the middle of Brooklyn to Manhattan on a bicycle in a snowstorm. But Santa can do anything, including slip down chimneys, so I'm sure he made it.



Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
Santa with a smartphone checking who's naughty or nice

Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
Grand Army Plaza as seen from the steps of the Brooklyn Central Library

Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
Prospect Park's ring road

Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
Same shot, only broadened to reveal that, no matter what, there are always people around in Brooklyn

Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
A rather lovely tree in Prospect Park

Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
A playground in Prospect Park. Note the elfin figure silhouetted on the gate.

Brooklyn writer in Prospect Park
Look how the man walking reflects the figure on the gate!
How about you? What are you doing in the Nor'easter we're experiencing today? Comment below!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Writer's Dream: Friends Who Help Get the Word Out

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: The Hard Edges of the City Softened by Snow -- and Friends

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


Today, a snowy day in Brooklyn (more on that later), I'd like to welcome a generous friend to my blog.

She's Elaine Stock, and she sets an example for me of steady, continuous effort not only to write but also the other part of a writer's job, which is to get the word out. She helps many authors to do this. Very generous of her!


Elaine is not only an interesting blogger, she is also an author of contemporary fiction that fuses romance, family drama, suspense and faith in a "clean fiction" style. Her debut novel, Always With You, is a 2017 Christian Small Publisher Association Book of the Year Award Winner. Her short story "The Forever Christmas Gift" is part of the #1 Amazon Kindle anthology Christmas Treasures and another short story, "In His Own Time"--nominated for the People's Choice Award--is included in The Story, 2014 Anthology. Connect with Elaine on Twitter https://twitter.com/ElaineStock and on FB https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaine.... Check out her books and blog, Everyone's Story, at www.elainestock.com. The link to her blog is also below, to the right.


A quick view of Brooklyn's Prospect Park in snow is in order.



a Brooklyn writer in Paris