A Root Beer Float and a Box of Crayons....

Aug 31, 2014 by

Today would have been my mom’s 87th birthday.  She posed for this photograph when she was six years old. When I think of her, I remember things like the nights she stayed up making costumes, especially the long, white princess dress with violets on it.   I remember the times we rode the bus into town (my mom didn’t drive then) to have root beer floats at the Woolworths lunch counter. As a child, I wanted to be just like my mom. Once, she made us look-alike dresses – orange bodices with blue and orange print skirts. I was thrilled. My father took a picture of us standing in the front yard. That was a good day. My mom was my playmate. When I was bored, she played “Go Fish” with me.   Later, she...

read more

My Personal Hero – Samuel J. Reader, Pioneer Artist and Diarist...

Aug 28, 2014 by

I learned about  Samuel J. Reader early on in the research for my book.  I believe our paths were meant to cross-his diary entries provided me with inspiration as an artist and writer.  Once I saw Reader’s journals, I knew we were kindred spirits.  Watercolor sketches have been part of my own journals for years and I had always hoped to illustrate my book on Kansas.  A copy of his self-portrait is pinned to the bulletin board above my computer as a reminder to paint and write, even in the toughest of times. Samuel Reader began keeping a diary at age thirteen.  His inspiration came from the diaries of explorers Lewis and Clark who documented their travels, accompanied by maps and drawings.  Reader’s journals, now at the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, contain...

read more

Happy Birthday Hope Amid Hardship!...

Aug 21, 2014 by

One year ago the stories of the sixty men and women in Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices from Kansas Territory made their first public appearance.  The journey I have taken with these incredible pioneers as I share their personal diaries and letters has been a wonderful experience.   I have traveled through Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia relating, in their words, their experiences in early Kansas from 1854 to 1861.  I have met dozens of interesting, friendly people including Tammy, the Register of Deeds in Jackson County, Kansas and Jim Stickler, a land surveyor in Topeka, Kansas.  Others have shared stories of Kansans in their family tree.  At book talks, historical sites, museums, research rooms, and in book stores, the people I have met, without exception have been gracious, helpful, and incredibly friendly. In one...

read more

Where Does Your Writing Take You?...

Jan 10, 2014 by

January 10, 2014 Like me, I’m sure you have seen colorful posters in libraries and schools that proclaim reading can take one to exotic places and introduce one to fascinating characters. If you are a reader, I’m certain you would agree. But consider for a moment the authors who aim to fulfill that promise. What about their own journeys? After I began writing, I realized that an author embarks on an adventure as well, that begins before the keys are struck or the pen moves across the paper and continues long after the pages are bound together. Sometimes the journey leads us inward to explore our own mind and heart. Other times we set out to explore locations – investigating characters, settings, and facts. As we research, we travel over miles of information in...

read more

Journaling for a New Year

Jan 1, 2014 by

January 1, 1856: “Sunrise -8 degrees . . . Sundown 14 degrees. A Happy New Year! 2150 miles from my former home.” This is how Isaac Goodnow, a resident of Kansas Territory described New Year’s Day in his diary. I wanted to start the new year off with the first in a regular Wednesday blog. After a busy autumn traveling in Kansas on book tour, I have settled down for a bit and wanted to share some diary entries from some Kansas “friends.” John Henry Deering, a favorite from my Kansas research, had a very busy New Year’s Day in 1858. He wrote that he got up at sunrise, had corn cake bread and sorghum for breakfast, then walked to the store and finished writing diary entries for the year. That was just in...

read more

Food Chains, Food Webs, and Words-Oh My!...

Jul 31, 2013 by

July 13, 2013 I needed to write my blog post tonight, but I just wasn’t quite there yet. So, I did what I usually do when I need an idea-I went for a walk in the woods near my house. Like many writers, I have a connection with the outdoors. I think it’s a chlorophyll thing, because I have always loved plants and trees. They soothe and refresh me. As I walked tonight I thought about plants and trees, energy and words. As an environmental educator and writer, I love making that connection between nature and creativity. For just a moment, think about the concept of food chains and food webs. (Stay with me here.) In a food web, green plants are the producers. Pulling energy from the sun, they make food using photosynthesis....

read more

Ordinary Words Become Extraordinary...

Jul 3, 2013 by

July 3, 2013 As I have written here before, I believe in the importance of the written word and its role in our history, whether the author is a famous leader or a woman writing a birthday invitation. Two weeks ago in England, I had a chance to see an example of such a birthday invitation, written in Latin, found at Vindolanda, the site of a Roman fort. The fort, first settled in 80 A.D., guarded the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire in England and housed soldiers and their families. When Claudia Severa wrote the words, “I shall expect you sister. Farewell, sister my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail,” to Suplicia Lepidina, she could never have imagined that 1900 years later so many people would see them and learn...

read more

Dream Another Dream

Jun 5, 2013 by

Hardly believing it was already June, I turned the calendar page and read the quote for the new month: “You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.” C. S. Lewis As I am currently fully engaged in preparing for the release of my book on Kansas Territory, I find myself thinking about things as they might relate to the pioneers that I wrote about. Not all of the people who went west were young and adventurous. Some were more experienced, but still had a dream of the frontier. David Creek, an Iowa farmer, fulfilled that dream at age sixty, as did George Chapman from Kentucky. Mechanic F. Leitzinger’s dream took him all the way from Germany to Kansas at the age of sixty. But Iowan Hilsey Goble has them...

read more