Articles & Essays

The Right Tool for the Job
Putting pencil to paper brings out the emotional authenticity of a historical novel. Read article

“THE REAL VALUE OF THIS BOOK”: How the Sears Catalogue Shaped My Novel
Researching a novel took me through two countries, forty libraries, and hundreds of books. But the tome I consulted more than any other, the one I dog-eared with use, cost me all of $1.50. Read article

A Different Kind of Wonder Woman
It was an odd stocking stuffer—a five-inch Wonder Woman, with Gumby-esque limbs malleable enough to achieve super-human, joint-defying positions. I tossed my husband a baffled look . . . Read article

Name that Character
“We called him Barney for short,” Mark Twain relates in Following the Equator. “We couldn’t use his real name, there wasn’t time.” Read article

Tricycle Dreams
A child misses the nuance in an adult’s sarcasm, and the heartache lasts a lifetime. For children of all ages who have ever loved—or yearned for—a tricycle comes a grandmother’s century-old remembrance of a heart’s desire unfulfilled. Download PDF

My Navy Blue Hawaii
A free trip to Hawaii has deeper meaning than beaches and umbrella drinks. A follow-up to Too Soon. Download PDF

The Stories Behind the Brick Wall: Maternal Mental Health—We Can Do Better
There’s always one. In every family tree, there’s one nobody will talk about. Why the silence–and is it fair? Read article

The Fadoodlin’ Etymology of Sex
The quest for historically accurate language in The River by Starlight brought to light some hilarious misconceptions about . . . fadoodlin’. Read article

Fearless Female Fridays: Courage That Has Said Its Prayers
As a child, little bored me more than sitting through religious services. But perhaps it was worth it for the one sermon that has remained indelible in my memory, the one that wove a steadfast thread through the writing of my novel, The River by Starlight. Read article

A Tombstone Tells Its Story
My story about the 1893 murder of a police officer that outraged an entire county and reverberated for decades sprang from a chance encounter with a very unusual tombstone. Download PDF

Too Soon
A family’s loss of a 20-year-old WWII Navy aviator resonates across six decades.  Download PDF

The Report of My Death was an Exaggeration
Obituaries can open doors for any family historian. You can find dates, names, relationships, and residences. But what do you do with the obituary that was written before a person’s death? Download PDF