July in Fiction

Origins and Symbols of “July”

Julius Caesar was born in the month of “Quintilis,” meaning “fifth” in Roman times. However, after the introduction of the Julian and later the Gregorian calendars, the fifth month became the seventh month and was renamed, Mensis Julius, in his honor.

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere officially begins on the summer solstice on June 21st; thus, July introduces the second month of summer while at the same time beginning the second half of the year. Astronomically, the constellation Canis Major (the Greater Dog) graces July, resulting in the expression “dog days” of summer. The planet Sirius, the brightest light of Canis Major, rises and sets with the sun during the period from July third to August eleventh. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the summer heat, while looking skyward to see if you can trace the stars that form the constellation of the Greater Dog. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, July marks winter and rainy days for you.

How Does July Impact the Setting?

In a novel, setting a scene in July could play off this tradition of the dog days of summer. Of course, the description of the scene would vary dramatically depending on where it takes place. Chicago during July is extremely hot, thus crowds of people visit the fountains and the greenery along Grant Park. Heat, of course, can be associated with individuals’ tempers being out of control but also be linked to fun in the sun. Independence Day, usually the setting for family picnics or parades or vacations in the USA, suffered a terrible wound this week.

In the Rocky Mountains, July is a suitable time to head for higher elevations and perhaps take a slide down a glacier. But in the Southern Hemisphere, July is likely to be rainy and colder than typical tropical temperatures.

July in American Fiction

This selection from Mark Twain’s Sketches New and Old, Complete, seems particularly appropriate to quote this month given the state of the Union in the United States:

“But I must not stand here and brag all night. However, you won’t mind a body bragging a little about his country on the fourth of July. It is a fair and legitimate time to fly the eagle. I will say only one more word of brag—and a hopeful one. It is this. We have a form of government which gives each man a fair chance and no favor. With us no individual is born with a right to look down upon his neighbor and hold him in contempt. Let such of us as are not dukes find our consolation in that. And we may find hope for the future in the fact that as unhappy as is the condition of our political morality to-day, England has risen up out of a far fouler since the days when Charles I ennobled courtesans and all political place was a matter of bargain and sale. There is hope for us yet.” I do hope Americans embrace the best of our nation in the days before us.

In The Brighter the Light, by Mary Ellen Taylor, the setting is the barrier islands of North Carolina, where the tourist season depends on the months when the weather is warm. The author uses the names of the months, mentioning all but November and December, to create parallel timelines for chapters that occur over a period of generations. Ships, boats, and shipwrecks figure in the novel. One character likes to sail: “By early July the Maisy Adams would be ready to sail again, and she would move on to the next port.”

Writing Goals for 2022

Publish my second book of poetry: I am still editing this new volume.

Finish, request feedback, and send my first novel out for review:

This month, I delved more deeply into the philosophy I am integrating into this book.

Continue to work on my other novels:

I sent pages to my critique group and read those of one of the group members. We had to move our regular meeting forward by a week, so we will be discussing our pages next week.

Continue to develop a network of kindred spirits in the world of writing and publishing:

Boulder Writers Alliance: This month, I co-hosted, on Zoom, our fourth BWA Poetry Circle with Art Goodtimes, the Colorado Poet Laureate of 2013. I also chaired one Steering Committee meeting. A member of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association contacted me about sharing a common social/happy hour each month. This will be a beneficial connection.

Denver Women’s Press Club: I read the newsletter. The new president, Diane Blomberg, is encouraging members to become more active and involved in the DWPC.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers:  I read the newsletter. RMFW is preparing actively for the in-person conference in Denver in September. Also, the award-winning author, Pam Nowak is offering a workshop in August on doing research for historical novels which looks informative.

Women Writing the West:  I followed conversations in the listserv. WWW is holding an in-person annual conference in Oklahoma City in October.

Document my writing progress through my blog and post it on the seventh day of each month, one blog per month in 2022:
Today is July 7, 2022, I am posting my seventh blog of 2022. We celebrated a July birthday on Independence Day. My wish for the USA is that all citizens support safety in our public venues, democracy, independence from tyranny over our bodies, and equality for all.

Today in History: Robert A. Heinlein the author of Stranger in a Strange Land was born on July 7, 1907. Curiously, July 7 is one of the 10 statistically most common birthdays in the USA.

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