Friday, May 30, 2014

Celebrate: Book Expo America

I have spent the entire week attending the ArmchairBEA. It was the first time I had ever attended a large conference online. ArmchairBEA is an online convention for book bloggers who are unable to attend the Book Expo American conference in New York City.

This year there were close to 400 bloggers in attendance. I have been reading around 100 blogs per day this week along with taking part in the Twitter Parties and sessions on the ArmchairBEA website.

My small blessing this week is meeting and interacting with all the wonderful book bloggers. I have learned so much at this conference. Next year, I plan to attend the BEA in New York City as an author. This years Book Expo has close to 700 authors signing books. I want to be one of them next year. Who knows? Maybe I'll meet my historical fiction author heroine, Margaret George.

#ArmchairBEA: How I Became a Writer and Middle Grade/Young Adult

Passion! It is the heartbeat of any writer, the insatiable hunger from deep within an author’s soul to write. Lord Byron once said, “If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.” I know how he feels; the flow of words that clutter your mind, urging you to pour out your heart and soul onto a blank piece of paper. The longer you ignore it the more you think you will go insane. Your only relief lies with pen and paper or your computer. Letting go of reality, you allow your characters to tell the story. You draw so close to them and dig so deep into your story you forget time and place. You begin to talk about your characters as if they weren’t fictional but members of your family. The story unfolds before your eyes. Lost within, you are consumed by the story and forget the pen, paper or computer. You know the story is over when you feel it. The journey has ended. Sorrow fills your heart. 

I have felt compelled to bare my heart and soul into the written word from an early age. The only child of a single mother, I would often spend most of my time at my grandmother’s house. One afternoon after she picked me up from Kindergarten, I had showed her a tiny book I had made in school. I was excited about my new book. A few days later, my grandmother surprised me with paper, pen, crayons and construction paper. She wanted me to make her a book. I couldn’t have been more elated! My grandmother had recognized my passion for writing and decided to foster that. For years I would write her a story then I would read it to her.

As I grew older, I tried my hand at keeping a diary but my diary ended up being more of a journal. I began to discover I could write pages upon pages of material in one sitting. I also enjoyed reading. There was never a day that went by where I didn’t carry a book, a notepad and a pen with me. There was just so much to explore and write about! In upper elementary, I was placed in advanced reading classes. By middle school, I discovered I had a love for research and writing reports. I continued to write fiction and poems but felt a need to further explore the world of writing. In eighth grade I was reading at a freshman college level and was writing reports at a High School level. I was even getting in trouble at school on purpose so I would be sent to Saturday School in order to write reports. That worked well until the principal and my mother learned why I wanted to get in trouble. By the time I was in High School, I had written over 20 books, 2 movie scripts, and over a dozen research papers on my own. I was poet for the literary magazine, a newspaper reporter and a member of the Yearbook in High School.
My thirst for writing never left me after High School. It was only intensified as I discovered the English Department at Sul Ross State University. There I was taught how to compile a writing profile. Every English professor required one for their class. In my advanced English 101 class, my professor noticed my talent and told me I should pursue a writing career. She urged me to keep writing and to take as many English classes as I wanted. I eventually accumulated enough hours to have English as my major but never sought the degree. Instead I graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts and a minor in Anthropology. Yet I never lost my passion for writing.

My professional writing career began six years ago when my husband and I moved from Texas to Kentucky. I felt the urge to write a story. I spent the entire summer researching and writing Calico. My story was over 500 pages long. At the advice of a publisher, I split Calico into several different stories that eventually lead me to a complete series of 11 books.  I named the series, Children of the Shawnee. 

I have recently returned to my notes and changed the series so that some of the books have their own series now. My idea is to create a family saga, known as the Turner Family Saga, that is comprised of four series. The Turner Family Saga begins with Bailey's Revenge. The first series, Irish Twist of Fate, is the story of Calico's grandmother in Ireland. The second series will cover Calico's mother's, Anne, life and will be titled New Hope. The third series is the Children of the Shawnee series and the last series will cover Calico's daughter under the leadership of Tecumseh. 

A Little House Memory

Of all the authors I ever read as a child the one that stuck with me the most was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I could never get enough of reading her books. Laura had a way with words that was pure entertainment for my eyes. The best thing about Laura's books was that they were all based on actual events. She was able to tell her life story in a way that has lasted for generations. 

I have always wanted to visit all of her homesteads and last year I was granted the opportunity to visit upon the Little House on the Prairie site outside of Independence, Kansas. My husband and I arrived at the site in time to enjoy a picnic lunch in the same prairie where the real Laura Ingalls Wilder had ran and played with her sister, Mary. It was surreal to think that the character in the books and on the TV show was a real person. A little girl who could have well stood in the same place where we ate our lunch. I always knew that Laura was a real person.

Charles Philip (Pa)  and Caroline Lake Quiner Ingalls (Ma) arrived in Kansas with five year old Mary Amelia Ingalls and three year old Laura Elizabeth Ingalls in 1869. They had arrived on the Kansas plains with other settlers who thought the land was open for settlement. The small family lived in their one room cabin for little over a year. It was during this time that the family had contracted an ailment that would have killed them had not Dr. Tann stumbled upon the family. Dr. Tann was a black doctor that Laura mentions in her book. It is also at this Little House where the family meets Mr. Edwards. Mr. Edwards is actually Edmund Mason. Both Dr. Tann and Edmund Mason are buried in Independence, Kansas but in different cemetaries. Another major event for the Little House family occurred on this site as well. It was here that Caroline Celestia Ingalls (Carrie) was born.

Laura described the prairie in her Little House on the Prairie book "as far as they could see, to the east and to the south and to the west, nothing was moving on all the vastness of the High Prairie. Only the green grass was rippling in the wind, and white clouds drifted in the high, clear sky." The land was paradise for the little family. But it would not remain so for long.

Little did Pa know but the land he had chosen to settle on was part of the Osage Diminished Reserve.
The Osage Diminished Reserve had been land the United States Government had set aside for the Osage Nation to use. The Osage Nation had migrated into the Kansas area during the 17th century. The Osage had been one of their hunting trips when the settlers, along with the Ingalls, had decided to settle on their lands. The Osage Nation was  constantly at war with the settlers. Laura was accustomed to seeing the Native Americans. In 1870, the United States Government bought the Osage Diminished Reserve from the Osage Nation but since Pa and other settlers had not filed a claim for their lands they were told they would have to leave or the US Army would force them to leave. Pa packed up his little family and headed back to Pepin, Wisconsin. It was easy for Pa to find a place to live in Wisconsin.  He had sold his farm three years earlier but the gentlemen who had bought it had never paid Pa for the transaction. Pa reclaimed his farm and cabin where he lived with his little family until 1874.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

#SalvationArmy #History: The Troubled Youth of William Booth

The Salvation Army began in 1852 when William Booth, a British Methodist preacher, began ministering in the streets of London to the poor, homeless, hungry and destitute. William Booth was born on April 10 1829 in Sneinton, Nottingham, England. He was the second son of five children born to Samuel and Mary Booth. The struggles he faced in his childhood would influence him into a life of ministry that would spark a movement.

It All Began With His Father

Samuel Booth was a speculative builder who had been born into poverty. He worked as a nail builder but found the work mundane. Samuel was a difficult man. He was often described as cold hearted, unemotional and cold minded. He was attracted to money and he was driven to acquire as much as possible. Samuel married Sarah Lockitt, nine years his senior, on November 13, 1797 in Nottingham and resided with her there. Sarah gave birth to their only child, William Adcock Booth, either in 1799 or 1800. Sarah died on January 13, 1818 or 1819. Samuel wrote and had the following poem placed upon her gravestone.

With deepest thoughts spectator view thy fate
Thus mortal pass to an immortal state;
Through death's dark vale we hope she's found the way.
In those bright regions of eternal day. 

Although he wrote the poem Samuel was not a churchgoing man. William Adcock Booth described his father as "religiously blind" and claimed he could "never remember him in a place of worship." 

The British Industrial Revolution began in 1770 and ended in 1850. It was during this time England's economy shifted from an agricultural to industrial. The change did not occur overnight but was created by technological advances in several fields. Although it was hard for the society to change, some men took advantage of the opportunities the Industrial Revolution allowed. Samuel Booth was one of these men. He left his life as a nailer behind him and embarked on a new one as an architect. The funds were significant enough to afford him a comfortable life. Samuel was a shrewd business man who was able to convince many he has more wealth than he actually had.

William Adcock Booth married Catherine Edwards on November 14, 1822 and died of tuberculosis on July 26, 1824. While Samuel had done well throughout his widowhood without many abrupt changes it was the death of his son that caused the most significant change in his life. 

Soon after his son's death, Samuel visited Ashby-de-la-Zouch in hopes the spas would heal him of his rheumatism. It was here he met Mary Moss, sixteen years his junior, and was smitten by her. Mary was often described as a proud woman with piercing eyes like a duchess. She was also describes as a woman of very few words that had an air of mystery about her. Like Samuel, was of Jewish descent. Samuel proposed marriage but Mary refused. He returned to Nottingham heartbroken but determined. Samuel continued to visit upon Ashby-de-la-Zouch and proposed to Mary every time until she eventually submitted to his cause. The couple were married November 2, 1824 in Ashby-de-la-Zouch and lived in Nottingham where Samuel was an architect. Mary gave him five children - Henry, Ann, William, Emma and Mary. Henry died when he was three years old leaving William the only son with an elder and two younger sisters. 

William Booth's Childhood Home

Although Samuel was not involved in his children's lives he did insist that they go to church. William Sneinton, Nottingham, Englandand his sisters faithfully went to Sunday School every week. Life was a series of financial ups and downs for the family.  Samuel was considered a gentlemen when William was born yet it would not remain. Bad times came, as so often they do, and Samuel struggled. There were a series of unfortunate financial transactions but Samuel pressed on. William had claimed the biggest part of his father's financial situation came when his father had taken employment as a bondsman. The employer went bankrupt and Booth was left to pay the debt on his own. He paid every last farthing and left his family in debt. Another bad financial decision came when Samuel pored his entire life's savings into the cottage his family was living in. In 1837, the economy crashed nationwide. William was eight years old. The circumstances plunged the family further into debt and poverty.

The stress of raising four children and her husband's financial struggles laid heavy upon Mary's heart during William's early years. William once stated of his mother during this time, "She had no time to attend to me." William had a very unhappy childhood. His father ignored him and his mother never encouraged him. When asked of his early years, William often declared is was, "a season of mortification and misery."

William was sent to the Biddulph's Academy in Nottingham, which was owned and operated by a Methodist minister, when he was six years old. Not much is know of his education except that he studied here for seven years. William's father was forced to declare bankruptcy and could no longer afford the luxury of sending his children to a private school. In 1842, Samuel withdrew his son from the academy and was sent to be an apprentice pawnbroker in the poorest area of Nottingham. William hated the job. William had known poverty from his own experience but here he was a witness to starvation, homelessness and other symptoms of extreme poverty. It was an experience that would forever change his life. 

#ArmchairBEA: Giveaway and Beyond the Borders

It's party time!!!!

I can't believe the Armchair BEA conference is almost over. I've had so much fun meeting new people and reading all the blogs. It's been great! 

Today marks the start of the giveaway portion of the conference. Over 300 bloggers will be hosting contests on their blogs and giving away great prizes. I can't wait to see what everyone will be offering on their blog.

My giveaway will start today and end at midnight on June 1st. You could win a PDF copy of one of my books. All you have to do is do whatever is in the table below. I will pick one winner per book on June 1st. a Rafflecopter giveaway Beyond the Borders
The hardest part for any author is to write a literary piece from outside his or her comfort zone. I love to read books that take me into another culture, time and place. In yesterday's Author Spotlight I introduced you to one of my literary heroine, Margaret George. What I love best about her books is the way she is able to capture her character's culture and transport her readers into their time and place. I want to do that with all my books. I want my readers to view history from the eyes of those whose stories are rarely heard. I want to go beyond the text in our history books and present a real world with with people. In other words, no matter the culture. I want my readers to see that everyone, from the least to the greatest, are only human. Let's remove our heroes and monarchs from their pedestal. I want to know who the real human figure was not just the two dimensional image we have of them. I want to hear history from the viewpoint of the Native Americans, the slaves and other forgotten minorities. I want to preserve their culture and heritage. For if America was created for a diversity of people then why is it we only read about historical events from the white man's perspective? 

Answer this question in the comments section below with your name and email. One lucky winner will win ALL 6 of my books in PDF format! Winners will be chosen by those who answer correctly. I will announce the winner on June 1st.

My book, Calico (Children of the Shawnee: 1), is best known in the Native American community because ,although the main character is French/British, the story is told through the viewpoint of which Native American tribe?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#AuthorSpotlight: An Author's Inspiration from Margaret George

Have you ever read that one book that changed the way you viewed life? Those are the books that are a dear treasure for any reader. There have been many books that I have enjoyed reading but one of them stands out from the rest. It opened my eyes and challenged my faith.

She was a woman surrounded in mystery, intrigue, and controversy. Mary called Magdalene by Margaret George traces the life of Mary Magdalene from her childhood in the remote fishing village of Magdala to her death. Margaret George asks her readers to imagine life with Jesus through a woman’s eyes. This controversial approach seeks the reader to have an open mind while journeying through first century Israel.

Mary called Magdalene was the second book I read from Margaret George. The first novel read being the Memoirs of Cleopatra. I had fallen in love with the strong female perspective written within an accurately detailed historical setting. Once again, Margaret George did not disappoint with Mary called Magdalene. As a historical fiction author, I love strong female leads that push my readers to think about historical events through the unheard voices of that time. I admire Margaret George’s ability to do this well. It is a hard skill to master in that it often times pushes an author to write about things they may not believe.

Mary called Magdalene is a richly detailed novel that could have only been written after an intense level of research. To understand Mary, Margaret first had to understand the life and times of a woman during that period of history. Mary Magdalene is only mention briefly within the bible. The bible states Mary was cured by Jesus of seven demons, was a prostitute, was financially able to help support Jesus’ ministry and followed him even to the crucifixion. Mary was mention in the bible as one of the first women to be approached by the risen Jesus at his tomb. Recently debates have arisen to suggest Jesus and Mary had a more intimate relationship than is mentioned in the bible. Others have suggested Mary had become one of the first leaders of the church and Jesus had trusted her with sacred information more than the other apostles. Scholars have argued she was never a prostitute but was depicted as one because of her rise to authority within the church. With very little information to go on, Margaret George had to turn to outside resources for further information. George not only travelled to the holy lands several times to understand the setting, she explored this amazing woman’s life by reading Mary’s Gospel called the Gospel of Mary, which was discovered in 1896. She also explored the early church writing from the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh centuries that mentioned Mary of Magdalene and researched traditional legends. Through the combination of her sources, she was able to accurately depict the life of this first female disciple.

Author Margaret George

Margaret George’s depiction of life in Israel is very realistic. She brings tidbits of information that would not have been possible unless she had a through knowledge of the culture. The reader is confronted with Hebrew mysticism. The Israelites struggles through the very dangerous social-economical times are very apparent to the reader. Jesus’ ministry as seen through Mary’s perspective brings the reader to question what they believe they know about Jesus and his ministry, especially how he treated women. When I read the book, it not only was an interesting read but also strengthened my own faith. Mary became a leader among the women. In the story she was a mother and wife who lost not only her husband but daughter as well. She had been exiled and accused of prostitution because she chose to follow Jesus. The pains and struggles of any woman who has been abandoned not only by her family but her husband resonate in the book. She is a mother who wants to be reunited with her daughter and husband but is never given the chance to do so. Jesus comforts and ministers to her. After his death and resurrection, she travels with John and Jesus mother to become one of the leaders of the church. She is able to continue Jesus’ ministry to women and children because she understands them. The story is engaging and fast moving with plenty of interesting plot developments. The reader feels for Mary Magdalene. She is a fascinating character that the reader wants to succeed.

As an author, I look to bring the culture of my characters to the forefront of my readers’ minds. I admire Margaret George’s writings because I want my books to illuminate the unheard voices of the historical times I write about.

#ArmchairBEA: Expanding #Blogging Horizons and Novellas/#ShortStories

Expanding Blogging Horizons

When I started blogging four years ago my blog was a mess. I had no idea what I was doing. I would sit there and just stare at the screen. How could I write 700 pages for a novel in two months but have such a hard time coming up with one single 350 word post? It just baffled me. 

In 2012, I hired a social media coach to help me with my blog. She taught me to chose two days a week. One the first day I would post an article about something related to my most current release and on the other day I would post about a topic that is of interest about my WIP. She also taught me I could break up a post into a series but the series should not go past 5 postings. I've been following that formula ever since. I also participated in my first blog hop with her. I learned how successful they could be for any blogger. Since leaving her I have participated in blog hops and have won several blogging awards.

My blog has recently expanded to include two monthly blog hops, two weekly blog tours, and a special series that highlights authors and those working in screenwriting. I still like to participate in special blog hops as much as I can. I've also recently redesigned my blog so that it includes links to all my books and my readers can see the books I plan to write. These can be found in the pages. Another page on the blog includes all my interviews, reviews and guest postings. I linked my website to my blog on the side bar where my logo is and have listed my blog in three major blog networking sites. 

Novellas/Short Stories 

I love writing short stories! 

I had a hard time at first with writing them because I tend to write epics. Short stories challenge me and I love a great challenge. I tend to write short stories or participate in a short story anthology while I am in between novels. In fact, my publisher, Mountain Springs House, is in the process of releasing the short story I wrote that inspired my current WIP. I have a few other short stories on the back burner just dying for me to finish and hand them over to the editor. 

Here are two of the short stories/anthologies that I have written. 

Reflections: Poems and Essays doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. It's a collection of historical essays from my blog and poetry that I have written over the years. It's a little gem that those who have read it have absolutely loved. 

The waters of time never lie. Wisdom drifts down through the ages for all who dare to listen. History teaches us through honesty. Are you bold enough to hear the truth?

Reflections: Poems and Essays wraps you in the untold stories of the past. Sit next to the waters of time and listen to the wisdom of the past. What if John Wilkes Booth hadn't been killed at Garret's barn? Who are the Shawnee? Why did the Cherokee accuse Sequoyah of witchcraft?

These stories and more await you within this inspiring book.

Who is the Real John Wilkes Booth is an essay that I originally wrote in high school with Nate Orlowek. Does that name sound familiar with you? It should. Nate Orlowek has been on many television shows throughout the years for his theory that John Wilkes Booth did not die at Garrett's barn but had died an old man in Oklahoma. I first met Nate when I was sixteen years old. We have been great friends ever since. I updated my essay and Mountain Springs House released it this year. It's a great read that will leave you questioning everything you learned about the death of John Wilkes Booth. I have obtained the rights from Nate Orlowek to use his research to write a screenplay and novel about John Wilkes Booth's deception.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Be #Shawnee: Band of Brothers: The #Kickapoo #NativeAmerican #history

The Shawnee and the Kickapoo

 Welcome back to my series on Shawnee culture and history. Last week we talked about the relationship between the Delaware and the Shawnee. Although the Delaware and Shawnee people shared a closed relationship, it is with the Kickapoo they resemble more closely in culture and language. Both the Kickapoo and Shawnee people assert that they are related. This comes from a shared myth describing how the Kickapoo and Shawnee had split from a larger tribe. The story is known as "Roasted Bear Feet".

The Shawnee used to be a part of the Kickapoo Nation. One day ten hunters went bear hunting together. They had killed the bear, taken it back to their camp and decided to celebrate their victory by roasting and eating the bear's feet. So the men placed the feet to roast. As the feet were roasting all the men fell asleep. Later three of the men awoke very hungry. They decided, instead of waking their comrades up, they would eat some of the meat. After they ate some of the meat, their friends awoke from their sleep only to find the hind legs had remained. The seven hunters were very upset. They drove the three hunters who had eaten the meat away telling them to get their families and leave them forever. The three hunters and their families became the Kickapoo.

When most people hear the tribe Kickapoo they often think of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Northern Mexico. The Kickapoo are not native to those lands but moved to those areas during the mid - nineteenth century. The descendants of the Kickapoo are scattered throughout regions I mentioned above. Their ancestors were members of a larger tribe that once inhabited the Great Lakes region. The French first encounter the Kickapoo in the early 1640's between Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. There is strong archaeological evidence to support that the Shawnee occupied the same area as the Kickapoo, Delaware and other groups along the Great Lakes region during the first French contact. When the Kickapoo had encountered the French, like the Shawnee, they were very independent and self-sufficient. At the time of contact the Kickapoo were members of a confederacy of tribes known as the Wabash Confederacy. Like the Shawnee's conservatism that sets them apart from other tribes the Kickapoo also had an attitude that set them apart. They were self-reliant. It is a characteristic that continues even to this day. And like the Shawnee, they established trade relations with the French. The Shawnee did not remain by the Great Lakes for long and moved southward.

The Kickapoo lived a transitory lifestyle that mirrored the lifestyle of the Shawnee. Both groups would move from village to village according to the seasons. The lifestyle suited the Kickapoo well.

By the 1660's the Beaver War with the Iroquois had driven the Kickapoo away from their ancestral homelands into Wisconsin. In Wisconsin they formed a loosely based alliance with other displaced Algonquians. Some of these may have been Shawnee. The Kickapoo had always enjoyed a close alliance with the Shawnee. The Kickapoo participated with the Shawnee and other Algonquian groups in Pontiac's Rebellion. They played a large role in aiding Tecumseh during the War of 1812. Their participation in these efforts not only affected their relationship with the white man but also splintered their own tribe. By the mid-19th century there were three distinct groups of Kickapoo, each living in different areas. These were the Oklahoma Kickapoo, Mexican or Texas Kickapoo and the Kansas Kickapoo.
Kickapoo women in Texas 1900

The Shawnee have always kept a close alliance with the tribe. In 1900, when the Shawnee chief Big Jim had led some of the Absentee warriors to scout for land in Mexico they had encounter an epidemic of smallpox. The Mexican Kickapoos offered to aid the Shawnee but Chief Big Jim decided he would return with his men to Oklahoma. After he left the Mexican authorities quarantined the Shawnee party. Big Jim and all but two of his men died from the disease in September of 1900.

Kickapoo Chief Babe Shkit ca. 1894 - ca. 1907
One of the cultural aspects that the Shawnee share with the Kickapoo is a society known as "Miseekwaaweekwaakee." Unlike most Algonquin groups the Shawnee did not employ societies (secret men's clubs) into their organization. But there is one society that did exist. The Man Eaters. The Man Eaters were also found in the Kickapoo culture. The Man Eaters were a military society yet unlike any other military society membership was inherited and the group was led by four women. The Man Eaters would get rid of the body of a male captive by eating it.

#ExpressYourself: Genealogical Insights from an Unlikely Source #genealogy #history #research

This year I was the first year that I participated in the A to Z Challenge. I met some wonderful bloggers while participating. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the challenge because I was moving. I really enjoyed reading the blogs that had to do with genealogy. To be honest, I had never heard of blogs for genealogical research. I have been researching my family's tree since I was nine years old. I still have some members of our family that are unknown to me and have been hard to track down. One of those members has been the woman Elva Russell. I never knew who she was until a few years ago. Her life's story inspired me to write Elsa and the other books of The Secret Heritage series.

One of the genealogical blogs that stuck out the most to me was the post H is for Hospital Records on the blog Anne's Family History. In all my years of conducting research I would have never thought of looking up hospital records. When I read her blog post it was like "Duh, why didn't I think of that before?" It was such a great moment.

#ArmchairBEA: Author Interaction/More Than Just Words

Author Interaction

I love all of my fans. One of the most memorable experiences I have ever had with a fan is when Sarita Love turned from fan into my personal cheerleader. She was so excited after reading Calico (Children of the Shawnee series) that she ask for book 2. I am currently working on the second book of the series. Every time I was on Facebook she would ask me "Are you writing? When is the next book coming out?" One day she told me, "Write! Write! Write! I need more." Sarita has become my number one fan. If I had a fan club she would more than likely be the president of it. She reminds me to never give up no matter how hard having a writing career can be. 

More Than Just Words

Transmedia. I had never heard of the word until I was in graduate school working on my MFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. Our world has drastically changed since the Internet came online in the 90's. There use to be a time when a writer's story would only be in books.  No longer. If a writer's story is to be successful then they must be able to present that same story as transmedia. Transmedia means the same story is told in game, television, screenplay, book and comic formats. Writers can no longer sit back and just write a novel if they want a successful writing career. They need to understand how to write in each of the formats. Every time you take a story and adapt it from one form to the other the story will change. Writers need to be flexible enough in their thinking to allow these changes to occur and for other people to make changes to their story. Agents, managers and publishers tend to favor the writer who can write effectively in all media formats because they know that a story is more likely to be profitable if it is presented in more than one market.

 I am so grateful I learned how to write in all media forms with my MFA. The education I received at Full Sail has changed my writing process for the better. It has opened my mind to expressing my creativity in new forms that has opened new doors for my writing career. I am currently writing the screenplay for my book, Calico, and the novel form for my screenplay, Field of Grace. I want all of my stories to be transmedia. That takes hard work and stretches my mind. But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

#ArmchairBEA: Introductions and #Literature

The Armchair BEA has finally arrived!
I'm so happy!

This year is my first year attending the Armchair BEA and if you couldn't tell I'm very excited about it. The Armchair BEA is an annual online event for book bloggers and authors that is held at the same time as the Book Expo America and BEA Blogger Convention in New York. Hundreds of bloggers and authors from around the world are participating in the online convention. You can learn more by visiting the Armchair BEA website

Every participant in the Armchair BEA has been given an agenda to follow. We will be posting topics based on the same theme. I will be doing this in conjunction with my normal posting routines. 

So let's get the party started! 


I was given ten questions and asked to answer five of them. It was so hard to chose just one because they were all great questions. But after some thought I chose the following: 

1) Who is Allison Bruning?

I am a historical fiction author who hails from Marion, Ohio but lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Most of my novels take place in Ohio, especially in area of Marion County. My novels tend to have strong female protagonists with strong family values. My readers are taken into worlds that are usually not heard from in historical text. For example, my first book, Calico, is written from the Shawnee Nation's viewpoint not the white man. 

I have been blogging for four years. I started my writing career in 2008 when my husband and I moved to Kentucky from Texas. Calico was published two years later. An author friend of mine had suggested that I start a blog and write about topics that pertain to my books. I have been writing interesting historical and cultural anthropological posts ever since. 

2) How would I describe my blog in just one sentence?

Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning is a journey into little known worlds of historical places, people and events. 






3) What genre do I like to read the most?

I love to read historical fiction because I have a strong interest in history and cultures. 

4) What does your ideal reading space look like?

I think this picture I found on Pinterest says it all except I would want to be deeper in the woods. It was created by English painter Sir Luke Fildes (1843-1927) and titled Reading in the Woods. 

5) What book would you love to see as a movie?

I would love to see my book, Elsa, as a movie. Elsa is about a young woman in 1905 Marion County, Ohio who unconditionally loves a man with Aspergers Syndrome in a time when Aspergers had yet been discovered. All Elsa Garrett wants in life is to be Franklin’s wife. He’s asked her father for her hand and knows he has permission to ask her. Yet when and how would her boyfriend with Aspergers Syndrome ask the question?

When Franklin has a diabetic seizure all hope seems lost once Elsa learns Franklin can no longer marry her due to an obscure law in Ohio relating to his seizure. With the help of Franklin’s parents, Elsa has a plan. But will it work?

Lost in a society that doesn’t understand Franklin or why she would ever choose to be with him, Elsa comes face to face with death, destruction, and misfortune as she tries to clear her boyfriend’s name. With each step towards progress Elsa falls two steps behind. One simple task shifts her entire life towards a direction she could have never imagined. Alone, pregnant, and without her Franklin, is despair all she has to look forward to in her new life, or will fate finally bring them together?


What do I think about when I hear the world literature? Well first off, you have to understand one thing about me. Well, ok, maybe a few things about me. 

1) When I was in school I was considered an accelerated reader because I was reading three grades higher than I should have been at.
2) I took so many literature courses in college because I was obsessed with the written language that many of my professors thought I should become an English major. I did for a brief time but ended up obtaining a BA in Theatre Arts. 

So when I think of literature my mind instantly goes back to the thick William Shakespeare book that I had fallen in love with in college. I also think about the classics like Mary Louise Alcott, Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harriet Beecher Stowe. 

But, now this is where the linguistic part of me comes in, you can't forget the ancient texts. I LOVE ancient texts. To me, the most amazing part of literature is how different cultures can tell the same story without having ever come into contact with each other. It's the same theme and/or circumstances but with different characters. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

#AuthorSpotlight: Understanding #Autism

Hi! My name is Elsa Garrett and I have no idea how I came to be here. I went to bed last night in 1904, Wyandot County, Ohio and woke up to find I was in another state in 2014. Thankfully, a nice woman named Samantha found me wondering around her town. Everyone was looking at me as if I was strange. But I thought they were all strange by the way they were dressed. I mean, why don't the females wear dresses like me? My father would have never approved of the way men and women dress in this time.

Samantha graciously escorted me to her home and introduced her family to me. It took me awhile to
even notice them because I was in shock with everything in her home. It was nothing like my family's farm. I had been to the city of Marion before but even this city and these homes didn't compare to Marion.

After I was over the shock I realized there was something different yet familiar with her son, Jaime. Jaime acted much like my boyfriend, Franklin. I told her about my Franklin and how hard life was for him and his family. She was interested in how his life is like as an adult as much as I was interested in knowing how life is when your the parent of someone with Autism. I've always been close to Franklin's parents and had thought about how life must have been hard for them raising Franklin. Especially since Franklin is the eldest son and our society expects Franklin to head the family business someday. I was so delighted with Samantha agree to answer all of my questions.

ELSA: What is the hardest thing you have had to face with a child who has Autism?

SAMANTHA: The ridicule of the outside world. People who don’t understand Autism aren’t willing to look past my son’s Autism and I have to remind myself to be polite to those few people who act on their fears.

ELSA: How has your son changed the way you see life?

SAMANTHA:  He has taught me to see the bigger picture in life. Jaime makes me think outside the box.

ELSA: If you could, would you ever cure your child from his Autism? Why or why not?

SAMANTHA: There’s nothing to cure. So my answer would be no, I would not cure my son of Autism. He has different ways of doing things that’s not a diagnose that is bad. It’s just how he thinks. That’s where in my opinion people get it wrong. Autism isn’t the enemy ignorance is.

ELSA: My boyfriend has a form of autism and I’m scared I will have a child with Autism. What advice can you give me?

SAMANTHA: Be patient. Don’t treat them like they are stupid. Give them expectations just like any
other child. But most of all just love them.

ELSA: What is a blessing that having a child with Autism has given you?

SAMANTHA: A new outlook on things. Everything he experiences it’s new to him. And the joy on his face when accomplishes something is enough for me.

It can be hard to see life through the eyes of someone with Autism. Have you ever tried to life through your son’s perspective? If so, how did it look?

SAMANTHA: I’m always trying to understand my son. That is the only way to help him in his time of need. His world is very logical and hands on.

ELSA: What’s it like to try to have relationship with a man when your child has Autism?

SAMANTHA: It can prove to be a challenge if the man is not willing to stick to a routine. But after a while everything smooth’s out. I remember when his father and I started dating again. Jaime had a hard time dealing with Jonathan being around. But once “we” found our groove it’s a great experience.

ELSA: What do you think your son’s life will be like when he’s an adult?

SAMANTHA: Full of order and preciseness. He will be a happy successful man because of how we are raising him now.

ELSA: How do you handle the moments when he is so overwhelmed but can’t express his feelings to you?

SAMANTHA: I have what’s called a talking stick. I got the idea one night watching an old western where the Indians were having a meeting and who ever had the stick could talk. It makes Jaime calm down and think.

ELSA: What is the worst fear you have for your son and what is the greatest blessing he can give to the world?

SAMANTHA: My worst fear would be that society not accepting him for him. But blessing, well he can show others that Autism is only a part of him. It doesn’t control him.

Elsa opened her eyes and stared at the familiar ceiling. It was all just a dream. But how could it be when it had felt so real. 

"Elsa, Franklin's here to see you," her mother's voice echoed from the hallway behind her closed door. 

Elsa smiled.


Alisha Guenzel, is a new author. Unspoken Dreams is her first book to be published. Besides writing her family is her passion, she lives on her five acre horse ranch with her husband and five children. When she's not writing or blogging she is spending time with her family or her horse, Peanut. Unspoken Dreams is just the beginning, since writing Unspoken Dreams she is working on a Cowboy series that has to do with a family of three son's and how they find their true love's, it's called "The McGregor Saga".

Finally! A Virtual Assistant!

Happy Friday. This week I have been blessed once again by my manager, Craig Michael Lewis. Craig introduced me to my virtual assistant, Shantae Gonzalez. Shantae owns Virtual Care Assistance. She provides virtual and personal assistance to artists and companies. 

Shantae is a wonderful person whom I look forward to having on my team. She will be working closely with myself, my manager and my blog tour coordinator with my writing career. Shantae will be helping me with checking my emails, social media marketing, maintaining my blog, calendar management, taking business phone calls for me and anything else that might arise in my writing career. Now that I have an assistant I can free up more time in my schedule to work on my writing projects.

One small blessing can turn into larger opportunities for this writer. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#MarionCounty, Ohio: What In The World Is A Township?

 Marion County, Ohio: The History and Culture

Welcome back to my blog. Last week I introduced you to a small village in the Green Camp Township of Marion County, Ohio known as Green Camp. Green Camp plays a vital role in my latest book, Field of Grace.

Whenever someone is learning about government we usually learn the hierarchy works like this:


Most of the times, unless you are from an area that has them, you rarely hear about townships. 

Townships are all over the place in Ohio and it's hard to forget if your from Ohio that some states don't have them.  Marion County, Ohio has fifteen townships. 

  • Big Island
  • Bowling Green
  • Claridon
  • Grand
  • Grand Prairie
  • Green Camp
  • Marion
  • Montgomery
  • Pleasant
  • Prospect
  • Richland
  • Salt Rock
  • Scott
  • Tully
  • Waldo

So what is a township?

It depends on the state. In the United States, there are two ways to define a township. 

1) A survey of land within the county that is defined by the Public Land Survey System.

2) A unit of government. The township acts as a municipal corporations and is subordinate to the county they reside in. How much governing power a township has depends upon the state. 

Marion County, Ohio's townships actually fit both of these definitions. The map above shows the location of the townships and the towns located in each one. There are some very interesting historic maps of each of the townships from 1878 located here

Marion County, Ohio was a part of Delaware County until 1820 but wasn't officially recognized until 1824. The City of Marion was platted north of Jacob's Well in 1822 by Alexander Holmes with Eber Baker as his agent. Mr. Holmes sold lots of the city to settlers. My family was one of those who moved into Marion when it was established. The city and the county were named after the Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion (aka: The Swamp Fox).

A local legend claims Jacob Foos, a surveyor for General Harrison's army during the War of 1812, woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible thirst. He told his companions he was going to dig until he either found water or hell. Foos found a spring on top of a small hill. He established a well known as "Jacob's Well. The location was used as a stopover for soldiers along the trail between Fort Franklin (Columbus) and Toledo. Jacob's Well is located where the Marion Towers stand on Delaware Avenue. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#Author Surprises: The @ArmchairBEA

I am so excited I just had to share the good news with all my fans today. This year, I have been asked to join the BEA Armchair Conference. I proudly accepted the offer and have posted the badge to the event on my blog.

The Armchair BEA is an annual conference that is held in conjunction with the Book Expo and the BEA Blogger Convention in New York City. It's a large event that draws hundreds of book bloggers/authors. I will be participating and sponsoring the event. I've never attended a virtual conference before. This should be fun.

Be sure to watch my blog all next week as I will be blogging daily with over 700 other bloggers on the same theme. The Armchair BEA blogging themes are an addition to my regular posts. Other events I will be participating in are Twitter Parties, Instagram Challenge, and more. The event keeps surprising us with activities. I never know what they may come up with.

I'm so excited! This is going to be great.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

#ExpressYourself: Grandma's Dorothy Lamour #family #creativity #Hollywood

Welcome back to the Express Yourself Weekly Blog Hop. This week I was asked the question if I have ever known someone or dated someone who could be a celebrity twin. That's a hard question because I rarely notice things like that. I'm not into fashion, makeup or stuff like that. Don't get me wrong I do wear makeup. LOL!

My grandfather had names for all the grandchildren. To him I was peanut. I have always cherished that but what I cherish more is the nickname my grandmother gave me. Grandma Carr didn't nickname her grandchildren but she did give me one. When I was little my grandmother use to compare me to Dorothy Lamour. She said she could listen to my singing all day long because my voice sounded so much like hers.

My grandmother always called me her little "Dorothy Lamour." When I was older she told me I not only sang like her but looked like her as well. It wasn't any surprise to her that I chose to pursue a theater arts degree in college nor that I was accepted into the National Honor Society for Theater Arts my senior year at Sul Ross State University. I had been singing and acting on stage since before I could remember. My grandmother recognized that I was a creative soul and she encouraged me to explore my creativity. I was her little Dorothy Lamour until the day she died. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

#LiteraryBlessings: I'm on my way!

Happy Friday!

This week has been a week of changes for me. As with any of life's changes, I have had a hard time adjusting. I have always done the best when I am on a strict routine and when changes occur it throws me for a loop. I've been getting better at accepting change in my life. The changes that occurred this week are for the best and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Last weekend I was accepted by a literary manager. I have always dreamed of having my books with a Big 6 company and my stories on the big screen, television, games, and in comics. I learned at Full Sail that if I wanted a successful career as a writer I needed to build a great team to surround that included a manager, agent and entertainment lawyer. I was also taught the first person you want to seek out is a literary manager. The manager finds the agent and the attorney for you. I took the lesson to heart and began my search.

My small blessing this week are the changes that have occurred since Craig Michael Lewis became my manager. As many of you know I own Mountain Springs House. Craig immediately took control of my company so I could have more time to devote to my writing. He combined Mountain Springs House and our graphics company, Mountain Springs Graphics together then made some major changes to the company. These changes are for the best. The best part of having a manager has been the new found freedom that I have. Craig's interest are in my best interest. He not only runs my company now but also manages my writing career. I love having someone who can guide my wayward literary thoughts into something productive. I love that I don't have to worry about handling the business side of my writing. I'm still involved in my writing career. I still market my books but with Craig by my side I am able to reach farther with my literary projects.

God sent me an angel this weekend and I can just be me. What a blessing!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Where In the World is Green Camp, Ohio? #OhioHistory

This week I decided to merge my first Shawnee History post with my Marion, Ohio post because I want to tell you about an important Native American site in Marion County, Ohio. Green Camp.

Most of you have probably never heard of Green Camp, Ohio. This small village with a population of 374 people plays a significant role in my new book, Field of Grace.

Green Camp was established as a village in 1838 where the Little Scioto and Scioto Rivers merge. (The Scioto River has played a significant role in Ohio history. We will cover more about the Scioto River in a future blog posting.) Marion County, Ohio is divided into fifteen townships. Green Camp lies in the Green Camp Township and is the only Green Camp Township in Ohio. Green Camp Township borders the following Marion County Townships:

  • Big Island Township - north
  • Marion Township - northeast
  • Pleasant Township - east
  • Prospect Township - southeast
  • Jackson Township, Union County - southwest
  • Bowling Green Township - west 
Most native Marion County residents will refer to a township such as "Over in Green Camp....,"Out towards Pleasant...." She lives in "Prospect....." You rarely use the name township. All of the townships are located relatively close to county seat, Marion. Green Camp is 6.2 miles from Marion.

Although Green Camp was established in 1838, it has a long history of human occupation. The oldest known human occupancy was sometime during 8000 BC to 1000 BC. Twenty-five graves of the Glacial Kame Culture were discovered close to Green Camp in 1963. The site, known as The Old Blockhouse Site, also contained the remains of six white settlers, seventeen War of 1812 Veterans and eight others.

The Old Blockhouse Site
By: Charles Carper
The Old Blockhouse Site was given its name because it is the site of a blockhouse that was built during the War of 1812. A blockhouse is a small, isolated fort built to serve as a defensive unit. The blockhouse in Green Camp had been established to protect settlers and defend the Treaty of Greenville Line.

 The Treaty of Greenville had been signed by various Ohio Tribes and Anthony Wayne after he defeated the Blue Jacket at the battle of Fallen Timbers. Several tribes who lived in the western Ohio region realized they could not win a war against the settlers and sued for peace. Wayne met with the tribal leaders of the Shawnee, Delaware,  Wyandot, Ottawa, Miami, Eel River, Wea, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Kickapoo Indians,  Piankashaw Indians, and the Kaskaskia at Fort Greenville. The tribal leaders and Wayne negotiated for eight months.

According to Ohio History Central, "The natives agreed to relinquish all claims to land south and east of a boundary that began roughly at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. It ran southward to Fort Laurens and then turned westward to Fort Loramie and Fort Recovery. It then turned southward to the Ohio River. The Indians, however, could still hunt on the land that they ceded. The whites agreed to relinquish their claims to land north and west of the line, although the natives permitted the Americans to establish several trading posts in their territory. The United States also provided the Indians with $20,000 worth of goods for signing the treaty. The American government also agreed to give the natives $9,500 every year in goods. The Indians were to decide how the goods would be divided among them."

The settlers believed since the tribal leaders had signed the Treaty of Greenville that all of the members of the tribes would comply. They didn't understand that the nation was made up of several chiefs and a chief did not speak for his entire nation. Many tribes did not agree to the terms and continued to attack settlers in order to persuade them to leave Ohio forever.