I consider myself to be mostly a "teller of stories" and I find the true stories from the adventure of history to be the ones I most enjoy telling. I have always been a reader of history. I especially loved to read biographies during my childhood. As an adult, I began reading more of the actual primary source material of history--diaries and letters and reminiscences by people who were actually involved in an historical event. The stories I found in this reading, especially the ones from the Civil War and Revolutionary War were fascinating and much too interesting to be left to just adult readers. So I became a writer of history, in addition to being a reader of it. All I try to do is to take my favorite stories from history and share them with younger readers, using the words of the people who were really there as much as possible. Over the years I have expanded the history I enjoy to some parts of European history especially anything to do with the Romans, and anything from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
However, as the years have passed, I find that all that I have learned and then shared with my readers stays with me and makes me only want to write more. This time I want to be able to speculate of what these real people were really thinking, and that means writing fiction. So be sure to take a peek at my New Titles page to read about Hannah's War and The Buckle which I have published as digital books with amazon! Still full of history, and yes, Civil War history at that! But with room for me to imagine being a young girl, afraid of everything, but caught up in an adventure that was not so uncommon for real girls at the time. Or to be a modern boy trying to adapt to his parents' divorce who finds a buckle from the past that will solve his problem.
Away from my desk ...
Kids want to know the real people whose stories come together to make up history. Hands-On History is my school program that turns students into historians in a guided exploration of the research process. Students are given an introduction to stories of the time period (usually Revolutionary or Civil War) and then are given a person from the period to research. They are reading that person's letters, diary or reminiscences--the same kinds of materials historians use every day. When their research is completed, they become their person in a skit that they create, often with costumes and props. History lives again and we all have fun being historians together.
MY TRAVELING MUSEUM
After being a University of Vermont instructor for seventeen years working with teachers on using primary source materials (letters, diaries, newspapers, etc), artifacts and historic sites with their students, I finally found a better way to get that message across. Teachers rightfully complained that they lacking the resources to actually do what they were learning, so I developed a new classroom program. Called "My Traveling Museum", I bring artifacts (from 100 years to two thousand years old) into schools, along with enough archival gloves for all the participants. After giving a short presentation on identifying and assessing artifacts, I give the students the chance to handle 20-25 artifacts from my collection. The results are amazing to see, as students handle a Civil War amputating saw, a Revolutionary War powder horn, a Roman medical tool, or play with dice used by Civil War soldiers.