Change is a normal state of affairs. I’m sure you’ve noticed this, especially these days. Nothing stays the same. So, in keeping with that idea, this blog is about two changes. One has to do with Squeaking Pips and the other is about how change moves throughout the Saint Maggie series.
Here’s the big one: I decided to close down Squeaking Pips Press, Inc. It was an S-Corp, which seemed like a good idea at the time I started the company. But the company brought in a limited income and the requirements to keep an S-Corp running were a financial strain. So, I decided it would be wiser to close the S-Corp down and open a Sole Proprietorship. Now, a Sole Proprietorship means that all the money goes to me, the owner, and I must include that income, as well as deductions, as part of my personal taxes. Making the change also meant a slight change in the company’s name. We’re now Squeaking Pips Books, rather than Squeaking Pips Press, Inc.
When I floated the idea with Dan (my partner in life), he said, “But what if a film company takes out an option on Saint Maggie? Selling the rights to film production can bring in $350,000. The taxes would kill you!”
After I finished laughing, I told him that the chances of such a thing happening are slim. And if by chance it does happen, I’ll change Squeaking :Pips Books into an LLC, probably not without a lot of stress. But I’ll do it.
So, farewell Squeaking Pips Press, Inc.! You served me well as I began my journey as a published author. And hello Squeaking Pips Books! Go forth and kick butt. Or at least be a moderately pleasing little entity.
The concept of change holds true for the Saint Maggie series, as well. Maggie and her boarding house have seen a number of people move in and move out. Among the boarders with whom we are most familiar are Jim “Grandpa” O’Reilly, Maggie’s “fictive grandfather”; Chester Carson, a writer who had fallen on hard times, but now is the senior reporter at The Blaineton Register; and Patrick McCoy, a young man who started as the undertaker’s apprentice, but now is a sergeant in the Union Army and serves as a steward (physician’s assistant) at Mower US General Hospital in Philadelphia.
Other regular occupants of the old boarding house are an African American couple, Nate and Emily Johnson. Emily originally was hired by Maggie as a cook, but over time the two women have become as close as sisters.
Another boarding house denizen is Eli Smith, who becomes Maggie’s husband in the first book. He has lived in the Second Street Boarding House proper and later in the small outbuilding where he also established his little weekly newspaper, The Gazette.
Things constantly change in the stories. Babies are born. People die. And there is a flow of people in an out of Maggie’s life and dwelling.
In 1863, Maggie and her extended family were forced to leave Blaineton and move to Gettysburg. Now, we know that was a big mistake, but they had no idea what was heading their way in the form of the battle between Confederate and Union forces. Afterward, Maggie, Eli, Nate, and Emily move 12 miles north to a house in Middletown (modern-day Biglerville).
In 1864, some good news arrives, along with more change. Tryphena Moore, the grande dame of Blaineton, hires Eli as editor-in-chief for her newspaper, The Blaineton Register, and everyone relocates back to New Jersey.
This time, though, they make their home at Greybeal House, a large residence. Maggie proceeds to fill it with people. Because she sees that she and Emily need help with the cooking and cleaning, she hires two Irish immigrants in their teens: Moira to help with the cooking and Birgit to clean and later help care for Maggie and Emily’s children.
Eli’s new reporter, a young man of color by the name of Edward Caldwell, moves into Greybeal House. Then come two African American girls, Addie and Mary Brooks, who are orphaned and adopted by Nate and Emily. Following on their heels is Rosa Hamilton, a black woman of eighteen years, who had befriended Frankie in The Enlistment.
In the most recent book, A Good Community, a school originally created to give an education to children of color is expanded when the Brennan’s mother shows up with their siblings, and board at Greybeal House. And after the Great Fire of 1864, Maggie opens her doors to shelter temporarily homeless black families.
Why does Maggie do this? It’s simple. She believes that she should treat others the way she would like to be treated. And so, she befriends people unlike herself and happily gives shelter to those labeled as “other” by the larger community.
At the beginning of my new work-in-progress, Maggie’s home is stuffed to the gills with African Americans, the Irish as well as people with ancestors from the England, Scotland, and Germany. The situation is not permanent, and after two months, most of the families from the black community on Water Street will move into new homes soon and the permanent members of Greybeal House will get a bit of breathing space.
But the change continues as Maggie decides to throw her hat into the ring and run for Town Council. It is not an easy decision for her. In fact, it frightens her, but she feels called to do it.
Change is the one constant in life not only for Maggie, for us, too. If she is strong enough to turn and, as the late David Bowie sang, “face the strange,” perhaps we should as well during these unsettled and disturbing times.
I’ll leave you with a link to Bowie’s song. The video is lyrics, not photos or motion. But just look at them as you listen to the song. See if it makes sense to you the way it does to me.
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder