About Me

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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Viva the Revolution!

Colonial Williamsburg

This summer for our family vacation, we went on spy missions for the Colonial Army, experienced revolution in the streets, and even heard the Declaration of Independence read aloud shortly after it was signed by the first Continental Congress. We did all of this because this summer we went to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Or as my husband calls it the other Williamsburg.

Powhatan Indian Village in Jamestown Settlement
Okay, so this is several years before the actual American revolution. It's part of the living history recreations they've built at Jamestown settlement in Virginia. My son and I are exploring the Powhatan Indian village. He wasn't as enthusiastic about our family vacation this year since we visited a lot of sites that had to do with history.

We tried to see some of each of the main historic sites in the area, though you can't see everything in a week. Even though he complained about it on reflection my little guy did seem proud of the fact he'd gotten to see some of the places he'd studied the previous school year, like Jamestown and Yorktown. I was a little troubled to hear that Williamsburg, Virginia was never mentioned. But we've all seen it now. It's one of my favorite historic areas to visit.

The Govenor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

My daughter enjoyed the spy mission that kids and youth are offered a chance to complete. The spies were able to identify each other by purple ribbons and kerchiefs. I will say I saw several older kids that seemed very psyched about this mission also. My son went along the first day but was more interested in the 'hands on' living history for kids in the colonial village of which there are many to choose from. My nephew liked them as well and also enjoyed learning a new song which he still likes to sing called Yankee Doodle. Some of you might have heard of it. ;)

It's Generale de LaFayette!

There were more re-enacters this visit than what I remembered from my last visit years ago. One of my personal faves to encounter was the Marquis de LaFayette.

Another new thing I don't remember from my last visit to this area was the Yorktown Victory Center. It is currently under renovation to be expanded even more. But they have a military encampment there and a colonial farm that you can visit and walk through. They also had an army surgeon there who relished telling visitors about medical treatment colonial style. I only made it through the part where he talked about drilling into a person's skull. After that I left to explore the encampment and take pictures.

Colonial Army encampment at Yorktown, VA

All in all it was a fun filled family vacation. I hope it helped get my kids interested in the history of our country's beginnings. Below for those of you who enjoy historical fiction (especially during the colonial period) or would like some suggestions for same for your kids I've compiled a couple of lists below. Some of the books I've read but many I haven't, though I've added many of them to my reading wishlist. Anyhooo, that is my post for today.

Colonial Army Surgeon in Yorkown, VA

This guy made me seriously rethink wanting to develop time travel and sample life in the good ole days. :)

What about you? Any time in the past you'd like to visit? Any vacation adventures you would like to share?

Children's and YA Historical Fiction
1. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes                             
2. Copper Sun by Sharon M Draper                             
3. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spear    
4. Blood on the River by Elisa Lynn Carbone                
5. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson                               
6. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier    
7. Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares by Frank Murphy and Richard Walz                                  
8. The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy by Kitty Griffin                                                                         
9. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear
10. Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski

Adult Historical Fiction

1. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
2. The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins
3. Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America by Eliot Pattison
4. The Schoolmaster's Daughter by John Smolens
5. The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss
6. The Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon
7. Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane
8. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
9. The Widow's War by Sally Cabot Gunning
10. The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Future Blog Posts

I may have to limit posts to my blog over the next couple of months in order to spend more time working on other writing projects. I've recently begun working part-time at a new job that is temporary in nature. However, it will limit my available writing time down quite a bit. So that means less frequent blog posts so I can devote my available writing time to my novels and any contracted work I might have. I will stick to Tuesdays during the week when I am able to post new material to my blog. In the fall I hope to get back to a weekly schedule again once my part-time work is done. Happy writing to those of you out there who are fellow writers and I hope all of you who follow my little blog will continue to check in from time to time and leave me comments. Thanks!

Down the Rabbit Hole of Depression

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

In the last day or so I've been seeing posts on both Facebook and Twitter about the tragic loss of actor and comedian Robin Williams. Most have had nothing but good things to say and were genuinely saddened by the news. I was surprised, however, by some tweets that seemed a bit anger driven. Statements about loving yourself and understanding that YOU are important. One even mentioned something along the lines of getting a grip. While many of these fans mean well they are laboring under the same notion that many use to cope with a loss that stems in part from a mental illness like severe depression. I blame that on a lack of education on mental illness itself.

Many were aware of Robin Williams's struggles with substance abuse. Few of us knew of his battle against depression. It was something he did not discuss openly or even truly acknowledge.

As someone who has seen first hand the ravages that a mental health issue can have on a loved one I can understand why he may not have wanted to talk about it publicly. Some don't want to discuss these types of issues because of the stigmas that are attached to them. There are still people out there who do not acknowledge that mental disorders like depression are very real health problems. It is hard for us as human beings I guess to call a health issue that affects the mind a disease. Disorder seems a kinder and gentler word. Unfortunately, being politically correct or gentler in the terminology does not help those who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorders. These illnesses are not kind or gentle things. They isolate the people who suffer from them and carry with them a high risk of substance abuse and suicide. The people who love an individual with a mental illness often feel helpless and are many times caught off guard when someone they love is diagnosed with one of these diseases. While there is research out to support that some if not all of these disorders could be genetic in nature, it is hard to know for sure because of the shame attached to mental illnesses that have dogged society and continue to do so. How can a person know that something like this is in their family tree if past relatives who have suffered similar problems were hidden away or became substance abusers to deal with their personal demons.

Mental illnesses are insidious in part because the scars they leave are internal and can be masked or overshadowed by other problems. Loved ones anguished to see their friend or family member so vulnerable don't often talk about what is going on in an effort to protect them. Many can't afford proper treatment and many are diagnosed too late for family or friends to get them into treatment decreasing the odds that they will ever stay in or seek out therapy. Even worse many of the more severe types of mental illness are treated with drugs that carry side effects that can adversely affect a person's physical health and require steroid treatment and other medications to help control blood pressure. Individuals on these medications can complain about feeling zoned out or mentally foggy all the time.

It hasn't been completely confirmed whether severe depression was in part the cause of Robin Williams's death. And I like so many others wish to celebrate his life. He was by all accounts a very kind and generous person. Few would argue that he was a unique and talented comedian who used his gift to spread joy and hope to many. If it does prove to be true that severe depression helped contribute to his death then perhaps we can learn something from this loss. Maybe this will motivate us to break down the barriers to illnesses like depression before they rob us of others before their time. Instead of drawing away in fear or awkward discomfort from those out there who suffer from a mental illness perhaps this will make us want to educate ourselves and society about these types of health problems to help those who suffer cope and maybe even seek out treatment. If we can acknowledge that mental illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, among others, are diseases we stand a better chance of improving research efforts into finding better treatments and maybe even cures for these health problems. No one should have to suffer in the shadows or be lost too soon because of them.