Featured Post

Become a Better Writer Today!

Become a better writer today! Today? Yes, today! How? By reading my book full of writing tips and tricks. Get your copy. My best to...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Life of Peace

“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we're frantic, life will be frantic. If we're peaceful, life will be peaceful. And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace.”
― Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writer Wednesday- National Geographic


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today, I'm departing from books to discuss magazines. National Geographic, with a history spanning over 100 years, is a wonderful magazine. When I was young, I had a subscription to National Geographic World (now called National Geographic Kids) from my grandparents. Last year they bought us a subscription to National Geographic and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

History, art, culture, science and nature combined is the perfect magazine- at least for me!

It's beginning to look like early Autumn, but earlier this summer, I was able to take the National Geographic issues to the beach and read about the world as I soaked up some sun for the long winter ahead.

Dear salons, waiting rooms, etc, please stock with quality magazines like National Geographic.

My best to you all,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writer Wednesday- The Last Runaway


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today, I'm discussing Tracy Chevalier's, The Last Runaway. This is Ms. Chevalier's first work set in the United States.

Following the story of Honor Price, a Quaker, who journeys from England to Ohio, the American wilderness with all of its problems and challenges is confronted. Quilts make up a big part of this story. At the heart of the story is freedom, standing up for what one believes in and following one's heart. Just like those who followed the Big Dipper, also known as the Drinking Gourd, had to forge a way into freedom and a new life, Honor must as well. She even meets some of those who followed the drinking gourd on the Underground Railway. Caught between relying on charity of family and forming unlikely friendships, Honor is deeply changed by her new life. Even her quilting, that she's always taken pride in, must alter in light of the new experiences.

Quilts, for American history, chronicle pieces of lives that crossed the prairie and assembled a new start, just like the patchwork pieces that are sewn together. My great-grandmother journeyed in a covered wagon at the age of six from Illinois to Oklahoma, with her family. Quilts were an important part of her life and I even have a bear made from one of the quilts that she made. Do you have quilts in your own family that tell the story of the American spirit, of love, of family and of friends?  For some examples of Quaker quilts, visit here.

My best to you all,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deciphering Secrets! Medieval Manuscript Citizen Scholar!


Part of writing (a big part, especially when you write historical fiction) is research. I read a ton of books to research, visit museums, look up documents online, watch documentaries, recall lessons from school and genealogy. If you read Past is Prologue, you also know that I'm a big Coursera fan. It's wonderful getting to research from top universities in the world in a wide variety of classes and subject matters for free. It's the equivalent of strolling into the campuses of these prestigious universities and taking a seat with students around the world to learn whatever you want to. I've always loved school and learning and Coursera is a great way to continue this.
Image Source

One of the courses that I'm currently enrolled in is Deciphering Secrets: Unlocking the Manuscripts of Medieval Spain with the University of Colorado. As well as learning about Medieval history, particularly Spanish medieval history, this course has meant examining Medieval Spanish documents and their nineteenth century transcriptions. Specifically, it means unlocking the secrets kept in Cathedral records from 1399-1453.

I'm excited to report that I too have now assisted in helping to transcribe these documents. This week marked the first transcription assignment. Unlike other Coursera courses, where the instructor sets a syllabus and the student does the assignments, readings and watches the lectures to retain whatever information is expected to complete the class, this course involves actually actively participating in the transcription of documents that no one has transcribed before. It involves producing real information for the historical record. I'm excited to be a part of this!

Have you ever participated in historical projects or in the creation of new material for the historical record? Or, maybe you've done some really interesting research in the past. I'd be delighted to hear from you!

My best to you all,

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Project #ReadandStayWarm

Today I'm very excited to announce that I am participating in the project #ReadAndStayWarm. The information below is provided through a writer friend and if you'd like to participate, feel free to pass on this information as well. Everyone deserves to be warm with a good coat and a good book!
My best to you all,


In the midst of the August heat, keeping warm this winter is probably the last thing on most people's minds. But the reality is, "for the now nearly 15% of Americans living in poverty, a warm winter coat is a budget “extra”, and an estimated 671,850 Americans experience homelessness on any given night." (source)

That's why we're excited to announce a new initiative starting this fall at the Pennsylvania Library Association conference in Lancaster, PA, to help donate coats to those in need.


In hopes of helping others keep warm this winter, The Combined Book Exhibit is launching project #ReadandStayWarm . At six of our Fall and Winter library shows, CBE will be collecting new and lightly used coats for those who need them most. Below please find a schedule of the shows where CBE will be taking donations, and please help spread the word on twitter, FB and any social media you have by using #ReadandStayWarm.

 * Please note, all coats donated at ALAMW will go towards our second Fall/Winter 2015-2015 campaign. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writer Wednesday with Nubian Pharaohs

It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book.

Today, we're diving into archaeology and ancient history with Nubian Pharaohs: Black Kings on the Nile by Charles Bonnet.

Pharaohs normally conjure images of Egypt and pyramids. In this book by the leading French archaeologist, Charles Bonnet, another version of pyramids and Pharaohs is explored. These belong to Nubia- to the city of Kerma- and to the region that rests in present day Sudan. Here the kings looked more like southern Africans than Egyptians. Here too the pottery, the tombs and the statues were different. It's fascinating exploring the similarities and differences that these Pharaohs shared with their Egyptian neighbors. At times, these statutes were purposefully destroyed, at other times the cultures were heavily influenced from each other. Nubian history is not only a story of Nubia, but of Egypt and what Egypt wanted remembered and forgot.

My Coursera Certificate for
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Nubia
I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Coursera. One class that I recently completed was "The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Nubia" through Emory University.

This book was the perfect companion to that class and provides many beautiful full color photographs to help bring this little known history to life!

Happy Exploring!

My best to you all,