Thursday, June 27, 2013

The First #American #Moundbuilders: Poverty Point

Mound at Poverty Point
By:Michael Homan
The First Moundbuilders:
Poverty Point pt.1

Welcome back. On Tuesday I introduced you to the first mound builders north of Mexico, the Watson Break Culture of Louisiana. Today we're going to take a look at another early mound complex located in Louisiana, Poverty Point. Poverty Point has been described by the National Historical Landmarks Program as "the largest and most complex Late Archaic earthwork occupation and ceremonial site yet found in North America." The site is being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Poverty Point was constructed between 1750 to 1350 BC on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River Delta and the Bayou Macon. Bayou Macon did not exist at the time of Poverty Point's occupation instead a small lake was there that provided raw material, wood and a transportation route to the Mississippi and beyond.

The Poverty Point site is comprised of six rings and six mounds that stretch over 910 acres. The largest mound, The Great Mound, measures 80 feet high. Anthropologist T.R. Kidder, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri believes the Poverty Point complex was constructed within 90 days with about 3,000 laborers. His theory contradicts what is generally believed about Archaic man. Kidder stated to Live Science on February 4, 2013, "Given that a band of 25-30 people is considered quite large for most hunter-gatherer communities, it's truly amazing that this ancient society could bring together a group of nearly 10,000 people, find some way to feed them and get this mound built in a matter of months. These results contradict the popular notion that pre-agricultural people were socially, politically, and economically simple and unable to organize themselves into large groups that could build elaborate architecture or engage in so-called complex social behavior."

The Poverty Point Site

The mounds and rings at Poverty Point were probably higher than they are today. The tops of the mounds and ridges are flat because they have endured 100 years of farming and 3000 years of erosion. There is evidence that the Poverty Point culture had faced erosion of the site during there time as well and did everything they could to prevent it. During the Civil War, soldiers dug into the Great Mound to form trenches and after the war Jonesville residents leveled many of the mounds by building on top of them. In 1931, Louisiana used what remained of the Great Mound to build a ramp to the Black River. There are probably more mounds that have been destroyed throughout the years. The ridges would have stood 10 to 12 feet high but today they are barely noticeable.  Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne has requested $750,000 in emergency state funding to limit erosion at Poverty Point.

According the researchers, it would have taken at least 300,000 cubic feet of dirt to construct one mound. So how did these Late Archaic move so much dirt without a dump truck? Kidder believes they were able to move that much dirt in short amount of time by using the "bucket brigade system." According to his theory, over 9,000 prehistoric Native Americans passed soil down a line of people using a crude container such as a hide sack, woven basket or wooden platter. That's alot of man power for the Late Archaic period.

The Poverty Point Culture thrived in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas between 1730 to 1350 BC. Unlike the Watson Break site, the Poverty Point site was occupied year long and was a highly sophisticated city. Archaeological evidence shows the site contained anywhere between 600 to 800 huts that housed between 1,200 to 4,000 people. That's alot of people in one settlement for the Late Archaic Period, especially for a hunter-gatherer culture.

Join me Tuesday as we discuss more about the Poverty Point site and culture.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Allison's Top Ten #Books of All Time

This week on the MSH Blog Tour I was asked to give my top 10 best and worst books I've ever read. I don't really have a list of worst books I've read so I'm going to share with you the best books I've ever read and tell you why I loved them. Here it goes.

Top Ten Best Books Ever! 

 (These are in no given order. I just listed my favorite books. )

1) Mary called Magdalene by Margaret George

Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute, a female divinity figure, a church leader, or all of those? Biblical references to her are tantalizingly brief, but we do know that she was the first person to whom the risen Christ appeared—and the one commissioned to tell others the good news, earning her the ancient honorific, "Apostle to the Apostles." Today, Mary continues to spark controversy, curiosity, and veneration. In a vivid re-creation of Mary Magdalene's life story, Margaret George convincingly captures this renowned woman's voice as she moves from girlhood to womanhood, becomes part of the circle of disciples, and comes to grips with the divine. Grounded in biblical scholarship and secular research, this fascinating historical novel is also, ultimately, "the diary of a soul."


Why I loved it:
What can I say? Who doesn't love Margaret George. I had first been introduced to Margaret George's writing when I read The Memoirs of Cleopatra. I instantly fell in love with her writing style. She made me feel as if I was in ancient Egypt with Queen Cleopatra. I also loved the way she told the story through the eyes of a strong female lead. I wanted to tell my stories the same way she did with a strong believable female lead and a description that left my readers thinking they were in whatever historical setting I brought them.
Mary Called Magdalene was the second book of hers that I had read. Once again the author drew me into her story. The one difference this story had was that it strengthened my faith. Finally, here was a book that told the woman's side of walking with Jesus.

2) Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.
Until something goes wrong. . . .
In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.


Why I loved it:
I was introduced to this book through Girl Scouts when I was in high school. I had been chosen to participate on a wider opportunity and it was required reading. I was going to meet Jack Horner, who was the inspiration for the book and I had to know about it so we could discuss the book with him. I loved this book because I love all things paleontological and anthropological. I will always associate this book with the wonderful experience I had with Jack Horner on his Egg Mountain Site in Montana.

3) Maiden Flight by Bianca D' Arc

A chance meeting with a young male dragon seals the fate of one adventurous female poacher. The dragon’s partner, a ruggedly handsome knight named Gareth, takes one look at the shapely woman and decides to do a little poaching of his own.

Sir Gareth both seduces and falls deeply in love with the girl who is not only unafraid of dragons but also possesses a rare gift—she can hear the beasts’ silent speech. He wants her for his mate, but mating with a knight is no simple thing. To accept a knight, a woman must also accept the dragon, the dragon’s mate…and her knight, Lars, too.

She is at first shocked, then intrigued by the lusty life in the Lair. But war is in the making and only the knights and dragons have a chance at ending it before it destroys their land and their lives.


Why I love it:
A friend of mine told me about Bianca's Dragon Knights series. She thought it would be a great read for me because I am into dragons, magic and had started writing a high fantasy erotica book called Passions Awakenings. Wow, all I can say is wow. You have to read this book. I'm addicted to the entire series now.

4) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

As millions of readers around the globe have already discovered, The Da Vinci Code is a reading experience unlike any other. Simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent, and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail, Dan Brown's novel is a thrilling masterpiece—from its opening pages to its stunning conclusion.


Why I loved it: 
I love a great tale that puts on a spin on something I think I know. The Da Vinci Code challenged me to rethink about things I thought were true. I love a great book that keeps me on my toes.

5) Imzadi by Peter David

Years before they served together on board the "U.S.S. Enterprise." Commander William Riker and ship's counselor Deanna Troi had a tempestuous love affair on her home planet of Betazed. Now, their passions have cooled and they serve together as friends. Yet the memories of that time linger and Riker and Troi remain "Imzadi" -- a powerful Betazoid term that describes the enduring bond they still share.
During delicate negotiations with an aggressive race called the Sindareen. Deanna Troi mysteriously falls ill...and dies. But her death is only the beginning of the adventure for Commander Riker -- an adventure that will take him across time, pit him against one of his closest friends, and force him to choose between Starfleet's strictest rule and the one he calls "Imzadi."


Why I loved it:
Ok so you knew there had to be a Star Trek book in here somewhere, didn't you? LOL! I loved this book because I have always been fascinated by the relationship between Counselor Trio and Commander Riker. They were two of my favorite characters on Star Trek: TNG

6) Q-Squared by Peter David

In all of his travels Captain Jean-Luc Picard has never faced an opponent more powerful than Q, a being from another continuum that Picard encountered on his very first mission as Captain of the "Starship Enterprise" TM. In the years since, Q has returned again and again to harass Picard and his crew. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes merely obnoxious, Q has always been mysterious and seemingly all-powerful.
But this time, when Q appears, he comes to Picard for help. Apparently another member of the Q continuum has tapped into an awesome power source that makes this being more powerful than the combined might of the entire Q continuum. This renegade Q is named Trelane, also known as the Squire of Gothos, who Captain Kirk and his crew first encountered over one hundred years ago. Q explains that, armed with this incredible power, Trelane has become unspeakably dangerous.

Now Picard must get involved in an awesome struggle between super beings. And this time the stakes are not just Picard's ship, or the galaxy, or even the universe, this time the stakes are all of creation.


Why I loved it: 
I loved the interactions between Captain Picard and Q. What I loved most about this book was the way the author was able to take something that happened in Star Trek and merge it with something that happened generations later. A cause and effect kind of thing. I love it when authors are able to explain why and how something in the past can affect the present.

7) Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.


Why I loved it:

Ah, the book that started my addiction to the Inheritance Cycle. Reading this book was like a drug for me. I couldn't put it down. I have always been fascinated with dragons and the supernatural. The most amazing part of this story was that the author had written this book while he was still in high school. His writing ability was well above his years. I have always admired young people who chase after their dreams. The thing that impressed me the most with this young author was his world building skills. He had developed this world so intricately that anyone reading the book would believe that this world and its people would have existed.

8) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

They open a door and enter a world.


Why I loved it:
I had fallen in love with the Chronicles of Narnia series as a child. What I love best about the series, as an adult, is how the author is able to tell the story of salvation through the use of fantasy and without saying the name of Jesus. The author is able to reach children and new believers through symbolism. I love that. It opens the door for anyone to ask questions about God and Jesus without causing offense to others.

9) Little House on the Prairie

When Laura Ingalls and her family set out for Kansas, they travel for many days in their covered wagon until they find the perfect place to call home. Pioneer life is sometimes hard, but Laura and her family are busy and happy building their new little house.


Why I loved it: 
The Little House on the Prairie series are a timeless classic to me because they tell the story of a pioneer family from an author who lived it. Laura wrote her children's books from her childhood experiences as a pioneer. She was able to fictionalize her memoir without losing the flavor of someone who had experienced it.

10) Twilight by Stephanie Meyers

Bella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.


Why I liked it?
Twilight wasn't your typical vampire story. Normally I don't like to read about vampires but I had heard some good reviews about this series and decided to try it out for myself. I really like the way the author was able to bring several different vampire myths together and place her own spin on everything. I was so addicted I had to read the entire series.

Well there you have it. My top ten books. What are your favorite books?

To #Write in First Person Narrative or Not? #IAmWriting

Hey everyone. It's been awhile since I've posted on my blog because I have been sick for two weeks with a Lung Infection. Thankfully, I am on the mend and am strong enough to get back to work. I have missed all of you.

Last week on the Mountain Springs House tour participants were asked to write about what their pet peeves are when writing. These posts were supposed to be on a guest blog. I was unable to host and post last week due to my illness. I thought I would share with my readers what I would have posted.

My Writing Pet Peeves

What a great topic for discussion. One of my greatest personal pet peeves when it comes to writing is noise. I use to be able to write with music in the background but I have found over the years that I work best when there is silence. Writing takes alot of hard work because in order to make a story successful I have to make sure the story stays on track. Inspiration is great but it can only lead you so far. I have to keep in mind not only the character arc but the story arc as well. Sometimes my secondary characters will want to hijack the story. I have to pay attention to the outline to make certain that doesn't happen. When my secondary characters get out of control I will often write down their ideas and save it for another writing piece. You just never know where their stories will take you.

My other pet peeve is first person narrative. I don't like to read first person very much. When I had first written Calico I had written it in first person. I had shopped Calico out to several publishers and agents but everyone of them had denied me. Then one day a publisher, whom I had sent Calico to, contacted me with these words, "You have a wonderful story here with plenty of promise. The only problem I see is that it's written in 1st person narrative. If you would change it to 3rd it would stand chance of publication because it will deepen the story." You know what? She was right. After I changed the narrative,  Calico was picked up by a publishing house in Indiana and became a bestseller on Amazon almost overnight.

 First person narrative is great when the author and the characters are trying to get to know each other but it's not a good device to use when trying to write your book. Third person narrative allows the reader to dig deeper into the mind of the characters. It's also easier to follow the characters when you are in third person because you are not hearing the story from just one character's point of view but are able to form your own opinion about the characters based on what you see in their thoughts and actions.

I generally do not like to read anything written in first person narrative because I feel the author has done me a disservice by not allowing me the opportunity to get know all of his/her characters on a deeper level. Yet, there are a few 1st person narratives I have read, such as the Hunger Games books and The Host. That doesn't mean I will read just any 1st person narrative. I only read those books because there were alot of people telling me how good they were.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to reading or writing?

In the harsh northwestern frontier of Ohio and Kentucky, a prophecy has been told. A man whose heart appears pure shall deceive her. The power he holds over her will lead her to evil. She shall denounce the ways of Our Grandmother. Another man comes, whose pure heart beats for her alone, and who has a pure spirit devoted to the goddess, Our Grandmother. He shall defeat the evil and set her free. Calico Marie Turner, a white woman raised by the Shawnee and destined to become a great medicine woman, must trust the one man who hates her the most. How can she trust Chief Little Owl Quick as the Wind to save her from his best friend and village shaman, Hunting Bear?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

#How Do You #Write? #author #IAmWriting #Inspiration

How Does She Do it?
This week on the Mountain Springs House Blog Tour I've been asked to write about my writing routine. To be honest I try to write a chapter or two a day but sometimes its next to impossible to get this done. You see I'm the type of writer who needs silence, absolute silence. That is really hard to get when live next to the playground and the pool. I also don't like to write with my husband around. I'm easily distracted and well after 12 years of marriage the man can still distract me from anything I am doing just by his presence.

I have found the best way to get my writing in on a daily basis is to create a routine. I learned to do this by following the FlyLady system. I've been flying for a four years and love it. My morning routine usually ends up being an entire day routine but I am able to get all my work, school, cleaning done and still have time to write on most days. Monday's are the hardest for me because I usually take the weekend off from work unless there is a book signing or speaking engagement I am scheduled to do.

My husband's work schedule has recently changed to weekends only. His new job is in Owenton, Kentucky, which is an hour from our house. My writing routine has started to change a bit. Since he is away on weekends and has our only car this has left the weekends open for me to explore my creative side. I have found Saturdays are perfect to just sit back and write all day. I love it! I usually spend Sundays doing something else creative wise. Right now I'm in the middle of creating my Shawnee costume for several re-enactments and seminars where I have been asked to present Calico, the main character of my book.

Join me Thursday as we continue our look into the Woodland Period Native American in Ohio. Until then, have a great week!

Monday, June 10, 2013

MSH Blog Tour - What #Inspired #Merlin and Martha?

Hello followers of the Mountain Springs House Summer Blog tour!

If you are new to the tour, please like and follow us.

 Many thanks to Allison Bruning for hosting me for our first traveling week! My name is Tammy Young Coté. I am a children’s author and librarian, mom to three children and pet sitter for furry friends. I am working these days on the second book in the Merlin and Martha series. I was inspired to start writing this story when I was teaching at a Catholic school in 2006. My middle grade students loved to read fantasy and adventure. Teachers at the school complained that there were few books that supported our Catholic teachings and also entertained the kids. So I took on the challenge! The result is an inspirational fantasy story about a girl on a mission. She has to juggle school and friends, playing on the basketball team and training with Merlin. Every day brings a new test, right up to a showdown with a demon and his shadow army just before the big game! The second edition of first book, Merlin and Martha: The Calling, will come out this month from Mountain Springs House (MSH). See MSH page on Facebook ( or on the web at And stay tuned for book two in the series, already under construction with the working title of Merlin and Martha: The Way of the Warrior. Thanks for reading, stay with us on our tour this summer and please support our talented community!

Who is Tammy Young Coté?

Tammy Young Coté loves to read with her family, whether stories from the library or from her own imagination. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, three children and a beloved poodle.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Catching Up With Allison #New #Vlog. Winners Announced.

Catching Up 
With Allison
I hope you enjoyed the Shawnee Feast last week. Here are the winners of the contest. If you are a winner please message me at to receive your prize. 

    Shawna has won the ebook of Calico: Children of the Shawnee series: Book 1.
    Sharon Lathan has won the ebook copy of Reflections: Poems and Essays.

    Congratulations ladies. 

    Tomorrow I will be hosting Tammy Cote as part of the MSH tour. I hope you visit again to learn what inspired her to writer her Middle School Fantasy series, Merlin and Martha. My posting can be found on Aya Walksfar's blog at:

Well it's almost Sunday and what does that mean? It's time for my weekly blog. 

I've Gone Native! 

    I've started something interesting with my Children of the Shawnee book tour. I think all of you will enjoy it. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Shawnee Feast #NativeAmerican

 Welcome to the Feast of the First Nations! 

Wait. It's Monday morning. What is Allison doing writing to me on a Monday morning? Well, I'm glad you asked that. This week is going to be a bit different. I've been asked to participate in the Summer Banquet Hop. The Summer Banquet Hop is a one week event where I and other authors will post about food that is related to their books on their blogs. The other authors who are participating in this blog tour are: 

Allison Bruning

 I will be giving away an ebook copy of Calico and an ebook copy of Reflections: Poems and Essay to two lucky winners. How do you win? Just leave a comment below this posting. The contest will run from now until June 7th. 

A Shawnee Feast
Welcome to my cabin. I cannot tell you my name because anyone who knows my real name has power over me. You may call Christine, for that is how the white people know me.  I was born the daughter of the Peace Chief and married a French Fur Trader. You know my people as the Shawnee but we call ourselves the Shawano. Shawano means southerner in our language. Please sit and let me tell you about my people and the feast I have prepared for you. 

My people are part of the Eastern Woodland Tribes and shared many culinary traits with the other Woodland tribes.

 Our men are highly skilled hunters. They are highly skilled in imitating the calls of a wide variety of animals. One time a man in my village imitate a panther and not soon after the panther pounced on him. The man lived but he never tried to hunt down the panther ever again.

On your plate are a variety of meat that my husband and brothers hunted this morning that represent the kinds of animals we hunt in different seasons.  The raccoon is our principal meat during the winter season. Our men watch for when the frogs come out of their hiding places. When that happens we know the raccoons are not that far behind because the raccoons will hunt for them close to the ponds. Our men trap the raccoons by placing a long pole over one of the logs that the raccoons use to hunt.  The pole has stakes on the side of it so it won't move. On the end of the pole is a sinew noose. When the raccoon walks across the log it triggers the trap and the pole falls on top of the animal with the noose around it's neck. The other meat on your plate are deer, turkey, rabbit, and fish. Here is my recipe for the baked raccoon on your plate.

On the left side of your plate you will find Hominy. Hominy is one of our favorite dishes and we eat it
Indian Corn by Thomas Quine
on a daily basis. Hominy is made from flint corn. You know flint corn by another name, Indian Corn. Flint corn is just one of the varieties of corn that we grow in our community garden.

 We, like other Native American groups, plant our crops using the Three Sisters. The Three Sisters are corn, squash and beans. I have made you a wonderful Three Sisters Stew that you can find in the bowl beside your drink. Here is my recipe for that stew from the Oneida Nation. I'm keeping my recipe a secret.

We, Shawnee women, use digging sticks to plant corn kernels. We wait until the corn stalks are about a foot high then return to the garden and plant squash, beans and pumpkins between the stalks. The squash and pumpkin vines will attach themselves to dead trees and stumps. We hoe the corn stalks from time to time with blades made from shells, stone or elk shoulder blades. The bowl above your plate on the right is corn and bean stew. I have placed some pumpkin and squash slices beside your hominy. Beside that is Succotash. You can find my succotash recipe at 

On a separate plate, in the middle of the table, are two types of breads that are very common among my people. The one on the left is Sour Bread and the Blue Bread. Here are the recipe for the Sour Bread. I can't share with you the Blue Bread recipe because it's a Shawnee secret.

Sour Bread

1teaspoon baking soda
2 cups white cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups lukewarm water

Mix the ingredients together then let it sit for two or three days. Stir it thoroughly and add cup of flour. Stir again to make the dough. Pour the mixture into a well greased bread pan. Cook at 350 degrees until well browned.

Are you enjoying the meal so far?

Great!  Here let me pour you some bread water in your cup. What's bread water? It's a corn drink that we learned how to make from the Creeks.

Time for desert.
Not only do my people hunt and farm but we also gather berries and fruits. We usually eat these uncooked but sometimes we will dry them. I've made you one of my people's favorite dishes. Take a look at the dish I just laid before. These are wild grapes that I have slightly scalded. The thick, rich juice they lie in is from pressing the grapes. I heated the juice up and when it boiled I added dumplings and sugar.

Thank you for visiting my cabin today.