The Silenced



THE BOOK: The Silenced.

PUBLISHED IN: Re-printed 2015

THE AUTHOR: James DeVita.

THE EDITOR: Jill Santopolo.

THE PUBLISHER: Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis MN.

SUMMARY: In the aftermath of the Millenium War, the new Zero Tolerance government focuses on the safety inherent in homogeneity of political thinking, ethnic origin, and appearance. A wall has been constructed around the southern part of the country and suspected families relocated into a “re-dap” community in which the young people can be educated into right-thinking. But within her Youth Training Facility, Marina has found some kindred souls: an art teacher who encourages her, a boyfriend with whom she sneaks out at night, and a rebellious newcomer. As she gradually retrieves her memories of her mother’s death, Marina determines to honor her spirit, starting her own resistance movement, the White Rose. This leads to a horrifying discovery: the tool the party uses to silence wrong-thinkers permanently.

THE BACK STORY: I came across the story of Sophie Scholl by accident. I saw a notice on a board in a college hallway about a lecture being given, something about this a woman being arrested and executed for writing and passing out leaflets in Nazi Germany. I couldn’t shake the idea of someone being executed for putting what they thought into the written word. It struck me then how powerful language is, the written word, and free thought. The Nazis were so scared of what this young woman was writing (she was 22), that they mobilized a special task for to find her and her fellow resistance fighters, and destroy them.

I researched just about every totalitarian regime in the world, and there are elements of them all in the book. I needed only to read the newspapers to have my ideas for the day. I also read tons of collateral research: the history of the Balkans, Nazi Germany, the Hitler Youth movement, Korea, China, Columbia, and more.

The book took me a good three years to write, and just as long to get it published. It was a tough road to getting it published, but I am very pleased and flattered that the book has been reprinted by Milkweed Editions and has also made its way into many high schools in the Midwest. It is taught during Holocaust studies, often with Elie Wiesel’s Night. It is also used in some ethics classes. WHY THIS TITLE?: The book is inspired by the real exploits of Sophie School and The White Rose, a resistance group against the Nazi regime in WWII. In my research I found a quote in which someone said: once we see a wrong, we give up the right to be silent about it. If we are silent, we are complicit.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? First off I think of this as a ‘bridge’ book, suitable for mature adults as well as mature YA readers. I like to say that The Silenced was dystopian before dystopian was cool, as it was first published in 2007. What’s distinct about this novel is that the world it is set in is not science-fiction, it is not fantastical – it is a few years in our own future. A world very much like ours. Recognizable. A world which echoes the front pages of the newspapers today. It is shocking to me how timely the book is now, given the political disparities in our country today and the level of intolerance, ignorance, and hate-mongering. The book feels like it was written about today. It is also inspired by a real woman in history and real events. Those interested in history would find the real life story of Sophie Scholl fascinating.


“This is far and away the best young adult novel I have read for years. It was assigned to my daughter for 8th grade summer reading, and so I read it. And couldn’t stop. It has a marvelously vibrant and courageous young heroine, and friends who may betray or help — hard to predict. Best of all it is based on one of the most ultimately tough young women to grace this earth.” Louise Erdrich, National Book Award Winner

“The Silenced is unique…I would recommend this book to students and libraries for its unique approach and readability, and I believe it could be well used in a literature or social studies class to approach an introduction to Holocaust Education.” Elizabeth Kirkley Best Phd., Shoah Education

“This surrealistic and grim world, wherein children are recruited to spy on their parents, lobotomized resisters are turned into unquestioning guards, and painting a rose can get you murdered, is hauntingly well developed, serving as the perfect challenge for the irascible and resolute Marena.” “… compelling protagonist, terrifyingly realistic (sometimes only slightly exaggerated) setting, and gripping pace.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“James DeVita’s grim and sure-to-be-controversial novel of adolescence in a police state… excellent, though troubling, novel.” Bookpage Notable Title

AUTHOR PROFILE: James DeVita, a native of Long Island, NY, is an author, actor, and a theater director. He is a core company member and literary manager at American Players Theater, a classical repertory theater in Wisconsin. He has worked as an actor in Japan, Germany, Australia, Ireland, and around the United States; and also worked as a fisherman on Long Island for five seasons

Along with his novels, A Winsome Murder, The Silenced and Blue, Jim has also worked extensively as a playwright for young audiences. His work in the field has been acknowledged with The Distinguished Play Award from The American Alliance of Theater and Education; The Intellectual Freedom Award by the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts; the Shubert Fendrich Memorial Playwrighting Contest, and The American Alliance of Theater and Education honored his body of work with the Charlotte B. Chorpenning Award.

His adult and produced plays for the stage include: Learning to Stay, Babylon, Gift of the Magi (a musical adaptation); In Acting Shakespeare; The Desert Queen (the life of Gertrude Bell); Dickens In America; and Waiting for Vern.

Jim is also a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Fiction.

His education began as a first mate on the charter boat JIB VII out of Captree Boat Basin, NY, where he worked for five seasons. He then studied theater at Suffolk County Community College. Long Island, where he received an AS degree, then the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he received a BFA. He also attended Madison Area Technical College where he was licensed as an Emergency Medical Technician

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “When I first started researching this book (early 2000) there was talk of building a wall between our country and Mexico (a wall dividing a country is a major image in my book), there was talk of implanting rice-sized computer chips beneath out skin for medical reasons, there were arts programs being removed from schools; there was talk of the government tracking our reading habits at libraries, prisoners in China had to write daily ‘thought reports’, and many other murmurings about our privacy and freedom of speech being infringed upon, and growing intolerance of those considered to be different than us. Many of these things have come to fruition, or are still around, or are on the verge of becoming real. The book is both a cautionary tale of the dangers of indifference and intolerance, as well as story of hope. Hope of how one person, doing what is right, can change the world.”


Marena hurried down the street, past the long stretch of identical home-units, the winter air needling her awake. Outside the open perimeter gate a green YTF bus sat huffing its exhaust into the chilly morning. Marena quickened her pace, trying to zipper her coat between strides. An electric bell buzzed, and the tall gate shuttered, creaked, and began to inch its way closed. She broke into a run, waving her journey permit over her head and shouting at the blank-faced Stof in the guardhouse, “I’m here! I’m here!” He didn’t stop the gate. “Hold up. I’m right here!”

The thin doors of the bus closed, and its hulking frame clunked into gear. Marena sprinted the last few steps, scooted sideways through the gate, and held her permit up for the Stof to see.

He stared at her with dead eyes and waved her through.

The bus braked to a stop, the doors flapped open, and Marena climbed up the thick rubber steps. She pressed her hand into the digiprint which flashed blue. The driver let her pass, and she headed down the aisle.

Sitting in the front seats to her left were a couple of nukes—newly-culled kids whose parents had been recently convicted of crimes against the state. Marena knew what a joke the cullings were. All the big legal words—inherited guilt, associative responsibility, the Filial Internment Act—were just a bunch of lies made up by the Zero Tolerance Party. It was how the ZTs made it legal to arrest anyone for anything at all: wrong color, wrong religion, wrong ideas.

There were two nukes this month, and Marena nodded to them as she passed. A frightened-looking girl, about fourteen, black hair, clutching a clear plastic book bag, nodded back. The other, an older boy, looked at Marena quickly and then stared front again. Thin and freckled, he looked like he was trying to act cool, but Marena noticed his foot tapping nervously beneath the seat in front of him. She would have liked to sit with them and tell them it really wasn’t that bad, that they’d get used to things after a few months; she’d have liked to tell them which students at the youth training facility were safe and which were listeners, or who the nice instructors of public enlightenment were, or how to sneak out after curf and scavenge without getting caught, but she knew she couldn’t take the chance. It was so hard to know whom to trust that it was easier not to trust anyone.

Marena continued down the aisle. To her right, JJ-Girls—Jennifer, Heather, and Michele—stopped comparing the latest jewelry they’d scrounged and looked up. Marena turned her back to Jennifer’s whispered insults and walked past her. Behind Jennifer, Franky “Pug-face” Poyer stuck his ugly puss into the aisle. Marena pushed by him and smiled at Dex, who was in the back row, saving her a seat. Dex had been a part of her relocation group after they’d been culled from their homes and assigned to the Spring Valley Re-Dap Community.

Marena flopped bedside Dex, barely keeping the required foot of distance between them. They touched hands quickly.

“Hey,” Dex whispered, ignoring the no-talking rule. Like a ventriloquist, he and almost everyone at the YTF had learned to talk while barely moving their lips.

“Hey,” Marena whispered back, staring at the ceiling.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. Just my dad being a jerk again.”

The bus pulled away from the compound and gathered speed, skimming silently along what had once been country roads winding through the lush farmland of Spring Valley. The farms were dead now, and the roads were flat black asphalt, cutting straight across the barren fields.

Dex turned to Marena. “You get in okay last night?”

“Yeah. What about you?”


She wriggled out of her coat, leaning into Dex longer than she should have. He pressed back, and she knew he was enjoying the stolen moment of closeness.

“Wake me when we’re there,” he whispered.

Marena smiled, wondering if he felt as safe as she did when they were together. She twisted around and looked out the back window, watching the vast tracks of ruined cropland spill out behind the bus. Whatever had once thrived in the rich soil of Spring Valley was long dead. Weeds, wilted dark from the coming cold, blanketed the wasteland, and a black frost glinted under the early-morning sun.

Marena squinted at the odd beauty of it, wondering why the sun would even choose to rise on such a place as this. She tried to count the shadowy lines of old furrows ghosted beneath the weeds, but they flickered by too fast. A tree, overlooked somehow in the ravagings, still stood in one field. Scattered around its trunk lay most of its leaves, blazing in autumn reds and crimson-yellows. They looked almost fake, they were so beautiful, like someone had dumped out a box of paper cutouts. A few early flecks of snow flitted down.

A faint image came to Marena, something she’d seen before. . .White, something white. Just a glimpse, then gone. A snowman? she thought. No, no, it was moving. Clouds? She turned front, keeping an eye on the bus driver, and slid down in her seat. She snuck her hand into a hidden seam of her coat and eased out a small stapling of scrap paper she’d stolen from art class.

Dex saw the paper and shook his head. He hadn’t been sleeping at all.

Marena tapped her eyebrow twice, signaling to Dex to keep watch gave him their keep watch and then leaned over as if to tie her shoe. She slid out the small stub of a pencil she’d hidden in the cuff of her pants and, staying low behind the seatback, started to write, but the image was no longer there. She looked out the window again. Sometimes she had to trick her memories into showing themselves, cold-shoulder them a little.

It came again.

The doorbell’s ringing. It won’t stop. Footsteps on the porch. My mother walking toward the front door. They’re getting in the house. They have no faces. . .white heads. . . masked—

It’s okay, it’s okay.

It’s kids. It’s just kids. There’s laughter, my mother’s laugh. The little kids are dressed in white, dressed up like silly ghosts, holes cut out for eyes, goofy mouths drawn in Magic Marker. It’s just kids.

Marena laid her small binding of paper against her knee, pressed it flat, and wrote.

“I remember her arm above me holding open the screen door. Her dress—a tiny flower print, yellow and blue. I remember the smell of cold and the wind. Outside, the sound of dried leaves blowing. It was a holiday we used to have. . .where kids played dress-up. I had candy in my hand that I passed out to the children. Then they left, and my mother took me back inside to the living room. I knelt at the coffee table. It had a thick glass top and—”

A different memory, an uninvited one Marena knew well, cut in.

glass flashing white. . .bright, blinding white. . .explosions. . .no sound. . .blood everywhere.

She closed her eyes and tried to chase the images away.

Still she saw the blood.

She focused on the first memory again: on her mother, the dress, the flower print. Keep writing, she told herself, trying to picture her mother’s face, but all that she could see was her hair. . .

“Beautiful hair, dark and long, pooling out on the glass top of our coffee table when she wrote. But on this day, the holiday, she wasn’t writing. She was playing with me, cutting shapes out of sheets of orange paper. I had my own scissors too—blue-handled and blunted.”

Marena put the pencil down and let the memory wash over her: her mother unwrapping a new package of construction paper, clear plastic, the glint and crackle of cellophane, white glue on their fingers. She could smell the glue. She could hear the hollow flup-flup of the thick sheets of colored paper as her mother fanned them in the air. She could even feel the soft crunchy sound the scissors made as she cut out crooked silhouettes of cats and bats and—

“Hey,” Dex said, tapping Marena. “Put that away. We’re here.”

The memory vanished at his touch.

Marena hid her paper inside the seam of her coat and stuffed the pencil stub back in her cuff. She felt better. Recalling things that had happened made her feel good, like she’d accomplished something. It was one thing the ZTs couldn’t get their hands on. They had tried to erase everything or twist it into something it wasn’t. But they couldn’t touch what she kept inside her. Whatever Marena could remember was hers. Every thing of beauty, she thought, calling to mind her mother’s words, every memory of something good, is a form of resistance.

The bus idled in place within the gates of the YTF, waiting for the security sweep. A pair of black jack-boots clacked by, a Stof inspecting the underside of the bus with a mirror attached to the end of a long silver shaft. Marena pressed her forehead against the cold window and couldn’t help thinking how as a little girl she’d heard of things like this happening to other people in other countries. She’d felt so safe then, so sorry for those poor people in all those faraway places. Do they feel sorry for us now? she wondered. Is there a faraway little girl somewhere thinking, Those poor people, or is she thinking, Those people, now they know.

An electronic buzzer screeched the all-clear signal, and the bus eased through the security gate.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Arcadia Books. ( ) IndieBound ( ) .

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

PRICE: $10



Adirondack Gold

THE BOOK: Adirondack Gold


THE AUTHOR: Persis Granger

THE EDITOR: Robin Granger

THE PUBLISHER: Self (Beaver Meadow Publishing)

SUMMARY: Hollis Ingraham, a young Adirondack boy of the 1890s is forced by his widowed mother’s poverty to go to live on the farm of grandparents he hardly knows, and who, he senses, do not like his mother. He strives to earn the approval of his seemingly angry grandfather by mastering chores on the farm, and, in the process, learns more about his deceased father and the cause of his grandfather’s bitterness.

THE BACK STORY: In the 1970s and ‘80s, my husband and I were subsistence farming on an old farm in the so”uthern Adirondacks, heating mostly with wood, growing large gardens and raising pigs, cows and chickens for family food. I thought about how much work it was for us even though using modern equipment, and marveled that farmers in the 19th century had done it – and more – with no chainsaws to cut wood, no central heat in bitter mountain winters, no freezer to store meat for the year, no tiller to turn the rocky garden soil, no pressure cooker to safely preserve meat and vegetables, no tractor or mower or baler to make hay. How did they do it? And how did they survive a serious illness or accident? I asked questions of older folks in the community, read memoirs and journals and soaked up local history. My admiration grew for those humble farm families of the past, and I wanted to share that proud history with youth of today whose roots reach deep into that tradition. I wanted them to understand the responsibility assumed by children early Adirondack family farms and to be proud of their heritage.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: Hollis is trying to find a way to raise money to help his mother so they can be reunited, and a legend of buried gold entices him to risk his life searching for it. After nearly losing his life in that futile search, he comes to understand that “treasure” has many definitions, and can be found right under one’s nose.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Adirondack Gold has fans in a wide age range. Children from 7 to 12 care about Hollis, and his adventures become their adventures. Adults, particularly senior citizens who remember the depression years in the Adirondacks, are touched by the authentic representation of life very similar to their rural childhood experiences. It’s history wrapped in an engaging story, peopled with characters with whom readers can relate.


“Adirondack Gold” offers enjoyable reading, the literary equivalent of the first maple syrup of spring or the first warm breeze after sub-zero weather….Except for the opening scenes, nearly all of “Adirondack Gold” is set in the town of Thurman….Although it and the surrounding country is remote, it has inspired at least four excellent writers: Jeanne Robert Foster, Paul Schaefer, Sue Halpern and Bill McKibben. Granger’s writing, vivid and full of verve, is in a league with theirs. She has the storyteller’s knack of pulling the reader into the story. She develops strong characters and captures the essences of Adirondack places…..Careful research makes the story believable… Granger includes vignettes to show the value of a strong work ethic, strong family bonds, good communication within the family and the destructiveness of prejudice. Even though “Adirondack Gold” was written for young adults, it transcends its genre. Strong writing and research makes it highly recommended for readers of any age who are interested in the Adirondacks, 19th-century New York history or rural life. (Excerpted from a review by John Rowen published in the Schenectady NY Gazette, March 2004)

I loved them (“Adirondack Gold” and its sequel, “A Summer of Strangers”) both. I spent all my childhood summer vacations on the other side of Crane Mountain on “Coulter’s Knob” off the Garnet Lake Road. Although this was the 1930’s, our farm must have been very similar to the ones in the books. At age 81, I was taken back to my childhood and loved every minute of the story. Thanks for your excellent writing. RS

I enjoyed this book more than any other I’ve read in YEARS!!!! I was completely transformed to this period in time and enthralled with the story. The setting is the Adirondacks in the 19th Century, and the characters and scenery come to life through the author’s talented words. The Christmas scene was so powerful I cried tears of joy. I’m giving it to my eldest daughter and my wife to read. Completely thumbs up. (Amazon review) A cleverly written novel that wraps the reader in the everyday existence of rural living in upstate New York at the end of the 1800’s. Through the clear prose of the author we get to share the hopes, joys, fears, and sorrows of a young boy growing up in that environment. Younger readers should also be able to easily relate to the coming-of-age realizations of the young boy. The well defined personality studies of the characters enhance the story, and the plot progression builds to an engrossing and satisfying resolution. (Amazon review)

AUTHOR PROFILE: Persis Granger has lived in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York for over 45 years and now divides her time between Thurman, New York and Trenton, Florida. She draws on her experience in subsistence farming for this book. Her log cabin home, built from scratch by Granger and her husband, Richard, stands at the base of Crane Mountain, where this tale is set. Both Richard and daughter Laurel contributed artwork to the book, and daughter Robin provided editing. Granger studied at the College of Wooster and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, earning a BA at the latter. She went on to earn a master of science in teaching degree from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Although “Adirondack Gold” is her first work of fiction, Granger edited and coauthored “Shared Stories from Daughters of Alzheimer’s: Writing a Path to Peace” (iUniverse, March 2003). “Adirondack Gold II: A Summer of Strangers” was published in 2008 and she has a contemporary novel in progress.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (This is a link to Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” – and I hope it takes you to the first page of chapter 1.)

LOCAL OUTLETS: Willows Bistro, 3749 Main St., Warrensburg, NY 12885; Some Favorite Things Gallery, 315 Old Corinth Rd, Hadley, NY 12835; Martin’s Lumber, 280 Valley Road, Thurman, NY 12885 WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: – signature and/or message available; also,

PRICE: $9.95 + tax and shipping where applicable


First Tuesday Replay, May 3



These haunting stories beautifully evoke the oppressive lives of modern women in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anis, a computer programmer, is at the end of her rope, putting up with the bullying criticism of a no-good, unemployed lout of a husband; Azar is a young divorcee, and the only person she can talk to is Reza; but she can see him only late at night when “they” are not around; Sharmin has Down’s syndrome and hopelessly loves Azad; he loves Kazhal, beautiful and blessed; but Kazhal is married off and is divorced at twenty and now awaits a hopeless future . . . For these and other characters the weight of traditional attitudes, the harassment of the religious establishment make for a frustrating, confining, and sometimes unlivable existence.


Life for Claire Swenson is good. She is a college girl with a wonderful boyfriend, a job, and a new roommate. It’s all a girl could want—until the moment she first sees the beautiful young woman with auburn hair and oddly out-of-date clothing standing outside of her apartment building.

Whispers in the Attic unfolds with the delicacy of soft, dense fog creeping in from the sea. Claire, though perplexed by the sight of the young woman—whom no one else seems to notice—has never given serious thought to the supernatural. Even growing up near Salem, Massachusetts, with its witch trial legacy failed to interest her in the paranormal in any serious way. But something has been unleashed and now forces are coming to bear upon Claire that she will not be able to resist.

A breathy voice very close to her ear whispered, “Help me, Claire.”

The decades old mystery brought forth from the spirit world through the young woman with the auburn hair will only be unraveled through the combined efforts of Claire and Mary, the spirit who is seeking her help.

Chilling dreams, visions and voices guide Claire to clues to help in her efforts to free Mary’s spirit from the evil that holds her.


Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic.  She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

“These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists. It is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and urging and crying out for someone to listen.”


After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.

While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?


Imagine not knowing who you are, until you find yourself in a statue 800 miles from home. Waving Backwards is the story of intensely passionate and fiercely independent New York college student Lara Bonavito’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery in sigh-worthy Savannah, Georgia. Adopted into an abusive and impoverished home, Lara’s quest to find her roots lands her in the Southern jewel’s historic district.

A vivid cast of characters help her unravel clues found in a cryptic letter hidden in the family bible for two decades. “The baby’s roots are with the Southern lady who waves forever.” With the help of mischievously handsome trolley tour guide Robert Taylor, Kipling-quoting florist Abel Bloom, and comically outspoken Louisiana beauty Susan Fletcher, Lara uncovers family secrets wrapped in the mystique of Savannah’s Waving Girl statue.

Waving Backwards is a coming-of-age quest that reveals the healing power of family bonds and maternal love. Themes of this novel include- adoption, travel, family, love, and finding yourself.


Into Shadow looks at what the world could be like in another 200 years. There are high points (incredible advances in technology)… and low points (cities in ruins after years of world wars and climate change). It’s 2259 and the entire planet has been changed by the melting of the polar ice sheets. As the land was overrun by water, countries ran out of room for their populace. The need for more land eventually led to the 3rd World War – a global conflict that lasted thirty years and drastically changed the political landscape and the physical environment. Many countries banded together for protection and power, including the former countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America, which are now collectively known as the North American Alliance. The North American Alliance is led by President Walker: a war hero, a widower, and a father. His nineteen-year-old daughter Poppy serves as First Lady until she finds herself caught in the middle of a government takeover and dodging assassins. She is forced to go on the run and is completely on her own for the first time.

Hiding from the assassins and robotic soldiers (mechs) who want to eliminate her, Poppy finds an ally who helps her escape to the war-torn ruins of Denver. The city was bombed extensively during the war, leading to destruction so complete that the area, like many cities attacked during the war, was deemed uninhabitable and the evacuated citizens never returned. But what few people know is that the neglected cities are not empty after all. Not just dystopian fiction, “Into Shadow” is also a coming of age story that examines social issues from a near-future perspective.


Weather Report, May 2









In the aftermath of the Millenium War, the new Zero Tolerance government focuses on the safety inherent in homogeneity of political thinking, ethnic origin, and appearance. A wall has been constructed around the southern part of the country and suspected families relocated into a “re-dap” community in which the young people can be educated into right-thinking. But within her Youth Training Facility, Marina has found some kindred souls: an art teacher who encourages her, a boyfriend with whom she sneaks out at night, and a rebellious newcomer. As she gradually retrieves her memories of her mother’s death, Marina determines to honor her spirit, starting her own resistance movement, the White Rose. This leads to a horrifying discovery: the tool the party uses to silence wrong-thinkers permanently.


Hollis Ingraham, a young Adirondack boy of the 1890s is forced by his widowed mother’s poverty to go to live on the farm of grandparents he hardly knows, and who, he senses, do not like his mother. He strives to earn the approval of his seemingly angry grandfather by mastering chores on the farm, and, in the process, learns more about his deceased father and the cause of his grandfather’s bitterness.

Writes the author: “Adirondack Gold has fans in a wide age range. Children from 7 to 12 care about Hollis, and his adventures become their adventures. Adults, particularly senior citizens who remember the depression years in the Adirondacks, are touched by the authentic representation of life very similar to their rural childhood experiences. It’s history wrapped in an engaging story, peopled with characters with whom readers can relate.”


This month, we will revisit “Whispers in the Attic,” by Cheryl Alsippi;  “The Burgundy Briefcase,” by Roberta Burton; “Banana Sandwich,” by Steve Bargdill;  “Echoes From the Other Land,” by Ava Homa; “Into Shadow,” by Tara Shields and “Waving Backwards,” by V.L. Brunskill.

Making History



TITLE: Making History (Subtitle: how to remember, record, interpret, and share the events of your life).

PUBLISHED IN: 2007 (Second Edition)

THE AUTHOR: Kim Pearson. Website:

THE EDITOR: Nancy Cleary

THE PUBLISHER: Primary Sources Books, an imprint of Wyatt-MacKenzie

SUMMARY: Making History is a comprehensive, easy to use, fun method of exploring the times of your (or someone else’s) life against a backdrop of historic events. It illuminates personal power, providing an antidote to the apathetic assumption that one person cannot make a difference. It contains detailed historic timelines from 1930 through 1989; vibrant true stories full of humor, tragedy, and excitement; thought-provoking questions to help the reader discover how they contributed to and participated in the events of their time; and easily accessible information arranged in eight categories, which are: Economics and Politics, The Social Fabric (race, gender, and morality), War and the International Scene, Technology and Science, Crime and Disaster, Arts and Entertainment, Lifestyle Activities (food, fashion, toys, sports, etc.) and The Weird and Trivial (scandals and gossip, comics, slang, pets, etc.)

THE BACK STORY: In 2000 I had opted out of corporate life and was trying to make it as a freelance writer. I ghostwrote books and memoirs for others, and also taught memoir writing at senior citizen centers, encouraging folks to write their stories down. I wanted more people to know who and where I was, so I proposed teaching my memoir writing class to a big community college in my area, for their continuing education program.

They weren’t interested. They already had a memoir writing teacher. But they saw I had degrees in history, so they asked me if I could teach history instead. My first reaction was to think, “I don’t want to teach history” because my degrees were over 20 years old and were in Elizabethan history (16th century England) besides. But I wanted to teach for them, so the words that came out of my mouth were, “Okay, I’ll teach a history class.”

I guess I cheated, because I sure didn’t teach about Elizabethan England. Instead, I focused on recent history – from 1930 onward, and taught how to see one’s individual life as history. I even worked some writing tips into the class. The class has been a great success; I’m still teaching it today at continuing education programs, historical societies, genealogical societies, and other venues. The system I developed, along with many of the stories I heard in

class, are what Making History is about. The class I didn’t want to teach turned out to be a huge gift, and a book I am proud of.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  History is not just about the famous or infamous. It’s not just about the “great” things that make the news. We are all actors in the powerful drama of earth, part of the vast dynamic web circling the universe. Our actions reverberate along this web, creating consequences for all other living creatures. We do not merely react to events and historical trends – we create them. Each individual is a part of history. In fact, we make history. This book shows how this is true.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Making History appeals to genealogists, family historians, memoirists, biographers, writers of recent historical fiction, ghostwriters, and anyone who wants to remember what they (or their family members) were doing in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s. It helps readers discover their place in history, remember stories they might have forgotten, and create powerful vignettes which anchor them in “big” history.

REVIEW COMMENTS:  Some reviews are on my website:

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and the owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of polished, professional, and compelling books. She is the author of non-fiction Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life and Dog Park Diary (ghostwritten for a dog!); fiction Eating Mythos Soup, Childish Discoveries, Adult Distractions, and Creature Discomforts; and poetry, the 7-book series The Haiku Book of Days. Her Author page on Amazon is: She has ghostwritten (for people) more than 45 non-fiction books and memoirs, which tell the stories of a wide variety of people and cover a broad range of topics, from saxophones to finance, city histories to hypnotherapy, psychic horses to constipation, and many points in between. Her online program “Learn to Ghost” teaches others the fine art of ghostwriting: Her blog From the Compost shares her musings about the writing and ghosting life: To learn more about her books or services, visit

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Next year,  Making History will be ten years old. In celebration, I am currently writing an addition to the original six decades – the 1990s. My plan is to offer it as three separate ebooks as well as a print book covering all seven decades. The ebooks will cover two decades each – the 40s & 50s, the 60s & 70s, and the 80s & 90s. I am currently gathering stories from the 1990s while teaching “Making History in the 90s” at various venues. I am probably going to offer this 1990s class as a teleclass/webinar as well, so if anyone reading this is interested, please let me know. I know there are great stories out there!”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The PDF is available for download on my website:

WHERE TO BUY IT: Making History is available through online book sellers. And any chain or indie bookstore can order it. ISBN: 978-1-932279-75-7.




$24.95 (discounts sometimes available on Amazon)


For Love of Charity

THE BOOK : For Love of Charity


THE AUTHOR: Wanda Parker

THE EDITORS: Lindsey Marder, Saundra Kelley and Terri Gerrell

THE PUBLISHER: Terri Gerrell of Southern Yellow Pines Publishing, 4351 Natural Bridge Rd, Tallahassee, Fl. They promote southern writers and stories about the south.

SUMMARY: Charity, raised with wealth and privilege has her world shattered when her fiancé runs away before the wedding. With determination, she reinvents herself from a lady to a frontier lad, to join a trader to find her fiancé Robert. During the long journey carrying a heavy pack, and masquerading as a young boy, she learns the hardships and dangers of frontier life, from bear attacks, rogue white men, and fierce Indians. She also learns she has the inner strength to be a survivor.

THE BACK STORY: Most history is dry and lacks the colorful details of the Colonial people and their considerable strengths. My research began as a passion for knowledge about my ancestors, the Scots-Irish, and that passion developed into the many stories I have written. My research is a combination of oral history, internet research, and a vast collection of historical non-fiction books.

It takes me roughly three months to research and write the story, with another month or two of rewriting and editing.

WHY THIS TITLE: I grew up in the 40s- and 50s among many strong-minded women, all independent and full of grit. My “Charity” is a composite of women in my family, and others that I knew. A few were not particularly charitable, but they were full of grit. So I made my heroine, Charity, a combination of such strong independent woman.

WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO READ IT? This book should interest anyone who likes a good story that is historically accurate, has action, bravery, adversity and romance.

REVIEW COMMENTS: The book has not been released so no reviews have been done at this point.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in Oklahoma so close to the Texas line we could have spit over it. I was the youngest child of nine and one of my earliest memories is of me, from the time I could walk, carrying a book, and feeling grown up. I spent hours pretending to read while my siblings poked fun at me. When I finally learned to read, I devoured westerns, adventures, magazine stories, and not the normal fare for kids my age; but my passion was history. I read in between chores feeding chickens, dishes, hanging clothes and walking a quarter mile sandy road to get the mail with an evil bull watching me over the fence. I always found time to read, even when an older sister criticized me for having my “nose in a book.” This made me feel guilty for reading but I’ve never stopped enjoying a good article or book. While raising a family and having a career I wrote stories in my mind and occasionally wrote one down. After I retired I had

time to devote to writing full time and 16 stories later For Love of Charity is my first novel being published, and another is under contract.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: What I hope to show is how middle class Scots-Irish who fled from English tyranny were not the dregs of society as they were portrayed by the plantation owners, but they were better educated than most immigrants. They were God fearing, clannish, fiercely loyal to their own, contentious, and deadly toward their enemies. Ignoring settled areas they preferred the privacy of secluded hollows and lofty mountains. They might as well have invented the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me!


For Love of Charity

By Wanda Parker

Holding on to the splintery wooden rail, Charity climbed up stairs made of hewn logs. She stood outside the door, fighting the urge to throw up.

“A lady doesn’t throw up in public,” she mumbled, repeating what her mother once told her. “Nor does a lady keep going into places like this,” she said to herself, taking another deep breath. “A place like this. Ha! This is one of the nicer places I’ve been to in the past few months. I hope this is almost over and I find Robert inside. Then we can go back to civilization and have the wedding we planned.”

Squaring her shoulders, and stiffening her back, she walked into the dingy roadhouse with her head high. Unshaven, buckskin clad men nudged each other and stared at her, as the hard wooden heels of her city shoes clicked across the uneven split

log floor. Cheeks aflame, she looked around for the owner; a portly man wearing a soiled apron approached her.

Miss, you shouldn’t be in a place like this,” he said. “There’s a nice inn just down the road. I can get someone to escort you there.”

“Thank you, you’re very kind,” she answered, “but I’m already staying at that inn. Have you ever heard of Robert Larkin?”

“Robert Larkin?” He said, wrinkling his brow and scratching his nose. “Nooo, I can’t say as I have.”

Taking another deep breath, she bolstered her courage. “Then how about John Mason? I heard he was staying here so may I see him? It’s very important that I talk to him.”

“Yes miss, he was staying here until he ran out of money. Now, I think he’s sleeping in the stable out back. Sit down and I’ll send for him. It wouldn’t be proper for a lady like you to go out there alone.”

Sitting down at a rough table, Charity thought if the innkeeper knew what she intended to ask John Mason to do, he wouldn’t think that proper, either. Ignoring the stares of the men, Charity dusted off the log bench, and sat primly in the corner. She tried to look out the window, barely seeing through the wavy glass, dirt and spider webs. All the houses were similar, built of heavy logs, weathered, with no apparent thought to property lines or directions. The chinking between the logs, needed so badly in the winter, was already pushed out for ventilation in the coming summer heat. How appropriate that the name of the roadhouse was Mud Flat.

What am I doing here alone, she thought to herself. This is insane for me to even attempt. What would Mother and Father think if they were alive and saw me here? Well, for one thing, if they were alive, I wouldn’t have to be here. Now, if I can get this man to take me to Robert, maybe my life can settle down without having to chase my future husband across mountain ranges. Then I can be a proper wife.

While she waited, she thought back on the events that had brought her on this journey. Her parents owned a small farm that provided the family a modest living. They insisted Charity be raised proper so she would be able to marry well, educating her far better than most girls her age. Her manners and her clothing had to be spotless, and her father even taught her to handle finances and accounts.

Their closest neighbors were the Larkins, owners of the largest plantation in the area. A motherless child, young Robert Larkin liked to come over and spend time at Charity’s house when they were young. He said her home was warm and inviting whereas his was cold and impersonal since his mother died. With so few children in the area, she was his only friend and they spent many hours dreaming of things to come when they grew up. Robert was going off on some adventure and maybe sail around the world. Charity was going to meet Prince Charming and live in a castle.

Charity’s life was uneventful until her parents died in a carriage accident when she was thirteen. Her parents had ridden into town to get supplies for the party they were hosting for Mr. Larkin and Robert. When word came that an accident had taken the lives of both her parents, she was left in a void filled with terror.

According to workers in the fields, something spooked the normally calm horses. They started an uncontrollable gallop, veering off into a deep ditch with no thought to the

carriage they pulled behind them. Her parents had been tossed from the carriage like rag dolls, leaving her forever.

As she had no other relatives and he considered her part of the family, Mr. Larkin moved Charity into their palatial home, handled all of her legal affairs and set up a trust for when she reached maturity.

Suddenly the Larkin house came to life with the sounds of two teenagers getting into mischief and running down the long halls giggling at the latest prank they just played on the servants. With others to do the housework, Charity and Robert spent most of their time together, studying the classics or playing the piano. Charity was able to help Robert, who struggled with his lessons, until even the tutor was pleased with his progress.

Mr. Larkin hinted many times over the years that he hoped she and Robert would marry when they reached eighteen. When the day was approaching Charity, who was always fond of Robert, convinced herself that she really loved him and began to plan the wedding.

Three months before the wedding, however, they woke to find Robert gone. He had packed a small valise, took what money he had from his mother’s inheritance and left home, leaving no note, no explanation, nothing. Mr. Larkin’s health seemed to deteriorate from that day on.

She had begun her search by questioning Robert’s acquaintances and that was where she first heard of John Mason. It appeared Robert had a partner and John Mason was a man she and her future father-in-law knew nothing about.

It took weeks of asking questions at frontier settlements to track down anyone who knew how to find John Mason. Mostly, she got only blank stares, or disgusted looks

at the mention of her search for two men who evidently didn’t want to be found. She kept going from settlement to settlement, each one smaller than the last, until by a stroke of good fortune she stumbled on Mud Flat. It was her first hint of luck. Grimy floors and judgmental stares were nothing to her now if only John Mason would point her in the right direction.

Now, remembering the embarrassment of having her fiancé walk out on the eve of their wedding, she thought it strange that she did not think of it so much as losing a fiancé, but of losing her best friend.

The wait seemed like hours. Ignoring the stares of the other customers, she waited patiently until the innkeeper re-entered, guiding a drunken man with one arm around the man’s waist, holding the drunk’s arm over his shoulder. When he plopped the man down right across from her, the stout log table wobbled when his body bumped against it.

“Here he is, miss. I knew he was drinking but I didn’t expect him to still be this drunk. I’m sorry about this, but you did say it was important that you speak to him, and I couldn’t let you go talk to him in the stable! Get some coffee in him and maybe he’ll sober up, but it may take awhile. That rotgut he’s been drinking would kill a mule.”

Watching the man go limp, then start sliding slowly toward the table, her eyes widened. When his head slammed down on the hard wooden tabletop, his dirty blond hair tumbled way too close to her, but the table held him in place.

Instinctively, she sprang back from him, taking out a dainty handkerchief, which she held close to her nose. Unfortunately, it couldn’t block the smell of alcohol, unwashed hair, horse manure, dirty straw, and chicken droppings spilling toward her. Again she wondered, what am I doing in this situation?

Just then, the innkeeper waddled up with a huge pot of coffee and two beer tankards and plopped them on the table in front of her.

“Here you go miss. I’ll let you pour this down him. I gotta wait on my other customers.”

“But…but how am I supposed to get him to drink it when he’s out cold?” She asked.

“Just lift him by his hair and pour,” was his response as he walked back behind the bar to his customers.

“Fill him up ‘til he pukes!” Said a man at another table. “That should sober him up. Say, ain’t that the feller that’s always trying to hire men to go into Cherokee territory with him? Stupid fool, I ain’t crazy enough to get in the middle of them Injuns.”

Charity’s ears turned red and her cheeks flushed as the men called out; she fought the instinct to run, but she desperately needed information. Holding her breath, she slid next to the inebriated John Mason and with shaking hands she poured a liberal amount of coffee into one of the tankards. Grabbing a handful of his dank hair, she poured the scalding hot coffee into his half-open mouth.

“Holy Hell! I’m on fire!” he screamed, then his eyes rolled up and he passed out again. Well, at least I had his attention for a little while, Charity thought with a smile.

She blew on the coffee to cool it, and then, begging and cajoling, she forced almost a whole gallon of coffee into him. When his eyes finally stayed open, he started gagging. Knowing what was coming, she moved quickly to get him outside, but his deadweight was more than she could handle.

Seeing her struggle, the innkeeper helped Charity to get the man named John Mason to his feet and out the door. They got him outside just as the coffee shot out his mouth and nose. John held on to the rail and retched for several minutes, amid laughter from onlookers crowding the door, watching his misery.

“Isn’t there a gentleman among you who will help us?” she said, hoping someone would take the hint.

“Mam, there ain’t ary a gentleman around here,” said one of the rough-looking men. “We’re all just common hard-working folk, but we’ll help you with him if’n that’s what you mean.” A man with long hair and beard walked over and put John’s arm over his shoulder. “Where do you want him, miss?”

“Over by the well, if you please,” she said with real gratitude. “Maybe some cold water will bring him around.”

Together they helped John Mason to the well, sitting him beside the stone trough. Charity’s helper drew water from the well, and using the gourd dipper hanging on the side, poured water over his head.

“There you go miss,” her helper said. “I don’t know what you want with him. But, now he’s cleaner and a little more sober. Good day to you.”

“My thanks for your help sir.” Charity said, watching him leave with dismay. Now, she was left with a drunken, sodden and barely coherent, John Mason, who was sitting in a mud hole in front of her. She sat still watching cautiously as he tried to focus on her, shaking his head occasionally. She figured he was trying to place her among the women he has known.

Suddenly, he shook his head hard, sending spray, bits of straw and other stuff that had been clinging to his hair all over her. Then he grabbed his head in pain, saying, “hey ladies, why’d jou make me shober up? Who are you three anyway?”

“My name is Charity,” she said, thinking quickly. “My…my husband is Robert Larkin. I’ve been told you are his partner and you know where he is. I need your help to find him.”

“Well, he ain’t lost, sho…sho which one of you ladies need to find him?”

“Me! I’m trying to find him, Mr. Mason,” she said with more force. He’s my husband so will you take me to him?”

Mason’s eyes started to roll again when he hollered, “hell no! I ain’t takin’ shome

helplessh woman out in the woods full of Injuns, wild animals and sssuch. You wouldn’t last a day out there, a del…a deli….” He took a deep breath, “ a delicate woman like you.”

“I can pay you to take me to him.”

“Pay me! Hail, you ain’t got ‘nough money,” he paused, again trying to decide which of the women is speaking, “to pay me to…to…to…” His tongue seemed to stick to his teeth, “take you where few white men hasss ever been. There’s danger all around,” he swung his arm in a wide circle and nearly fell over, “ever step of the way. Beshides, I don’t think Robert wan’s to be found.” His energy depleted, he slumped back down.

“Why do you think that?” She asked trying to keep her voice calm.

“I have my reasons,” He tried to look mysterious, but he leaned too far to one side to keep it up for long.

“So, you hate Robert?”

“Who shaid I hate him? He’s my partner and, an, my bestes fren’. Who shaid that? I’ll whup the bastard!” His eyes closed and he leaned his head against the cool water trough thinking, Wife she said! Robert never mentioned he had a wife back home and he never acted like he had one either.

“And yet you refuse to help me find him?” There was that cool, insistent voice again.

He sat with his eyes closed, wishing this pushy woman would go away and let him sober up in peace.

“We all have our reasons for doin’ what we do. Jus’ tell me what you want Robert to know, an, and when I see him, I’ll tell him.”

“No, Mr. Mason, I have to see him and talk to him myself,” she said. “I must convince him to come home. I promised his father before he died that I would find Robert and …and bring him home. He can’t waste his life out here in this God forsaken wilderness, living with heathens. He should be home where he belongs. Please help me. I’m not used to having to beg, but I’m begging you.”

“Lady, I’m telling you for the las’ time, I ain’t takin’ you nowheres. You wouldn’t last a day carrying a heavy pack and I don’t have time to waste babying you all the way, what with Injuns and all. Beshides, it’s indecent for you to even aash me. Shame on you, a lady like you, wantin’ to traipse off into the woods with me. Now, that’s downright sscandalous. So, you go home and if you wanna send a message to Robert, I’ll take it to him. Now, ‘scuse me, I gotta get ready to leave. Good day to you, miss, and good-bye!”

Charity watched him rise painfully and stagger toward the livery stable. Resting her head against the cool rock of the well she thought, what a disagreeable man. But, he’s my last hope to reach Robert. If he won’t help me then I’ve failed to keep my promise to his father. Failed miserbly!

She watched Mason enter the livery stable to find the stable boy. She followed and stopped just outside the door to listen.

“Did you get word to your cousin? Is he goin’ to be here afore dawn? I need to know he’ll be here for sure since I want ta get an early shtart.”

“Yessir,” said the boy, Charity saw his fingers crossed behind his back. “He promised he’d be here. He’s anxious to earn the money you promised him if’n he carries a pack for you.”

“None of the men aroun’ here has ‘nough guts to leave the clearing, let alone travel for hundreds of miles into Injun country. Jus’ a bunch of gutless wonders all of ‘em. I even off… offer…” he belched, “offered a bonus when we came back loaded with furs, Nooo takers. You sure your cousin is comin’? He’s reliable, you say?” John sat on a pile of straw holding his throbbing head.

“Yessir, he’ll be here.” His hands back on his pitchfork, the boy watched Mason begin dividing his wrapped packets of trade goods into two piles.

Charity waited until John Mason finished dividing the packs and then lay down in the hay to sleep off his hangover. An outrageous plan formed in her mind that made more and more sense to her. What if, what if she went with him, not as a woman for sure, but what if she didn’t appear to be a woman?

Walking over to the stable boy she softly asked, “Excuse me, I overheard you talking with Mr. Mason just now. May I ask you a question?” She watched Mason to make sure he couldn’t hear their conversation.

“Yes miss, can I help you? Having never seen a well-dressed lady on this side of the settlement, he looked her up and down.

She fixed him with a steady stare and asked, “Is your cousin really going west with Mr. Mason?”

His face turned red, he glanced at Mason before giving Charity a sheepish grin and slowly shaking his head. “No miss, I ain’t even got a cousin. I just told him that so he would stop pestering folks about going with him. I was going to make sure I wasn’t anywhere around in the morning when he got ready to leave. Are you going to tell on me?”

“What’s your name?” Charity asked, her excitement growing. This might work after all, she thought.

“My name’s Levi, miss,” he answered, his face grim. What she said next came as a surprise to the boy.

“All right Levi. This will remain a secret between us on one condition.”

“A secret between you and me, miss? What’s that?” Sweat formed on his upper lip, how do I get myself in these messes, he wondered.

“I want some buckskin clothes my size and in the morning I want you to introduce me as your cousin to Mr. Mason. I’ll pay you for that and for the clothes, but you can’t tell anyone else about this. Is that a deal?”

“How much are you willing to pay me?” His already wide eyes widened even more at the thought of having actual money of his own.

“I’ll give you two shillings. One now, and the other when you deliver on your part of the deal. You have to promise not to tell anyone about our arrangement, since this is very important to me.

“Two shillings?” His mind reeling, he thought I’ve never had that much money in my life! “Don’t worry miss, I won’t tell anyone here that I have any money or they will take it from me. I’ll bring you the clothes early so you’ll be ready before dawn, but you’ll have to pay for them.”

“I’ll pay for the clothes and your second shilling after you introduce me as your cousin. If Mr. Mason sees through my disguise the deal is off. So, outfit me to make a long journey, as if I really am a young man instead of a twenty-year-old woman. It’s a good thing I’m taller than most women or this might not work.”

Accepting his shilling from Charity, Levi thought to himself, I wish I could go with them. He looked at Charity with longing in his eyes.

“When my indenture is up, I intend to head for those hills. I want to see what’s behind that mountain, that one, and the one way over there. I ain’t ever coming back to be a servant to anyone.”

Charity watched the boy run off on her errand, she smiled, satisfied with the deal she made. Suddenly very tired she made her way to the inn. Built of stout logs and rustic with few amenities, the inn was run by a respectable family, and suitable for ladies traveling alone. She had to wonder how respectable the family would think her if they

knew what she planned to do. Cornhusks in the mattress rustled as she climbed into bed in the tiny room thinking how different it was from her home.

Dreading the thought that Levi might renege on their deal Charity barely slept. She had been awake, dressed, and on pins and needles for hours, waiting to see if he’d keep his part of the bargain. It was still dark outside when she heard a soft knock on her door.

“Here they are, miss, Levi whispered, knowing the outrage it would cause if he were discovered inside a lady’s room. “I even found some moccasins for you. You won’t look much like a boy if you wear them shoes you got on.”

“Thank you Levi,” she said. From now on don’t call me miss. Call me…ah, Charles, yes, now I’m Charles. And thanks for the moccasins, I hadn’t thought of my shoes giving me away. Remember now, I’m your cousin. Tell John Mason that I’m thin but I’m strong and I don’t talk much. Do you have it all straight?”

“Yes, mi…Charles.”

“Now turn your back. I know it’s pitch black in here but I’d feel better knowing your back is turned.

“Yes mi…Charles.” Still scared by the prospect of being found in Charity’s room, he turned and pushed against the stout, split plank door to keep it closed while she dressed.

Quickly, Charity dropped the long petticoats and long heavy dress she wore, then pulled on the unfamiliar leather clothing. The soft buckskin pants and shirt clung to her body as she slid them over her bare skin, and she felt almost naked without all the

petticoats and long skirts she was accustomed to. Twisting her long blonde hair into a long rope, she tucked it up under the hat, jamming it down low on her forehead.

“All right, Levi,” she whispered, “I’m packed and ready. I’ll leave my valise downstairs with a note on the table that I met my friends, and I’m checking out early. I will send for my clothes when I find Robert. Now, let’s see if we can convince Mr. High and Mighty John Mason that I’m a strong healthy boy, and just the person he needs as his helper.”

Slipping into the inky darkness of the stairwell, Charity hoped the stairs wouldn’t creak and give them away. She and Levi felt their way to the front door, lifted the latch, and slipped into the night.

They found John busy with his skin-wrapped packets of metal arrowheads, knives, tomahawk heads, ribbons, cloth and beads. He was mumbling to himself, saying, the more I carry now, the more wealth I can bring back in prime pelts. I should’ve asked Levi to find more than one helper.”

“God! I wish my head didn’t hurt so much,” he said, checking his rifle and powder. “That old coot’s white lightning is powerful enough to kick like a mule, and I think the mule is inside my head, still kicking.” He stopped to rest, hoping the pounding would stop. “Not only do I have a horrible hangover, but my tongue is burned raw. That stuff would eat your guts out. When are them two boys getting here?”

Griping about Levi and his cousin being late, he looked up to find them standing beside him. He jumped up in surprise, which increased the pounding in his aching head. “Holy Damn! If we were in Indian country, you’d have scalped me before I knew it. Damn this hangover!”

“This is my cousin…Charles, Mr. Mason. He’s kinda wiry and skinny, but he’s strong. He don’t talk much so he won’t talk your ear off.”

John Mason peered at the new boy in the predawn light, doubtful of his thin, wiry frame. Knowing that beggars can’t be choosers, however, and that he needed the help too much to be picky.

Struggling under the weight of his over-stuffed pack, he said, “Damn! They weigh too much. This will wear us out the first day. Damn! Damn! I got greedy and bought too much! Damn! Come on boy, shoulder this pack and let’s get on the trail.” Charity’s knees nearly buckled when he put the heavy load on her shoulders, but she managed to stay on her feet.

Levi, standing nearby, watched them with envy, knowing they were going in the direction he wanted to go and that they needed more help. He knew few would miss him, especially not the stable owner who wouldn’t leave his still that long. Stepping next to his newfound cousin, he made the most momentous decision of his young life.

“Mr. Mason, my employer said I could go with you as long as he gets a fair price for my services and a share of the profits when you return. I know where there’s another pack we can use. If I carry one, would you let me go with you?”

“You’re hired, boy! Go get that pack, and make it quick, we have a long way to go.” Relieved beyond words the trader took his and Charity’s packs and got to work redistributing the goods into three stacks.

“If you’ll pay me now for finding Charles for you,” said Levi, “I could leave it with my employer. It would ease his mind some about me leaving.” Mason agreed, and adding the pay from John Mason to the pay given earlier by Charity, Levi ran back to the

stable. On his return, he brought a leather carry pack, and set to work helping load the bundles for their trek.

When they were ready, the trader looked at his young helpers and said, “You two will be weak at first. The second day you’re going to be so sore you’ll think you can’t walk. By the third day we should be making good time. Come on boys step lively.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Book store, tourist outlets, two libraries and one museum.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Southern Yellow, Amazon paperback, Kindle e-book, Nook and ePub.

PRICE: $12.95



Them That Go

THE BOOK: Them That Go

PUBLISHED IN: March 2016

THE AUTHOR: Becky Mushko

THE EDITOR: Several Beta Readers provided input regarding events in the story, but Sally Roseveare was the final proofreader.


SUMMARY: A secret revealed, a mystery solved, a life forever changed.

In 1972, seventeen-year-old Annie Caldwell, who has the “gift” of animal communication, wants to be normal, but she’ll settle for being unnoticed. Annie’s brother died in Vietnam, her mother is depressed, and her father drinks. Her only friend is elderly Aint Lulie—who lives in the same holler and understands the gift because she has one, too: “The first daughter in ever’ other generation has always been blest with a gift, though some think it a curse.”

As they sit by the fireplace in the evenings and tell each other stories, Aint Lulie shares family history with Annie, including a relative’s mysterious death and how some of their ancestors came to settle in the area: “There’s always been them that go and them that stay in ever’ generation.”

When a local girl goes missing, Aint Lulie’s and Annie’s gifts can help solve the mystery—but if Annie speaks up, she can no longer go unnoticed.

Them That Go is an Appalachian coming-of-age novel rich in tradition, superstition, family ties, and secrets.

THE BACK STORY: Eight years ago, Them That Go started as a YA novel about a rural 17-year-old girl in 1972 whose ability to communicate with animals sets her apart from her peers but helps her solve a crime. I submitted the first few pages to a panel of agents and editors at a writing conference and was told YA readers don’t care about the early 70s and my characters were stereotypes. I abandoned the project until a few years ago when I changed it to a book about an animal communicator who solves mysteries both as a teenager and an older woman. That version was a disaster. Finally I realized the story needed to be about more than just a girl’s isolation or special ability—it needed a stronger sense of place, a sense of her ancestors’ lives, a connection to past and present. It needed a richer texture, with more Appalachian flavor. Some minor characters became important to the plot, superstitions and traditions became more significant, a few new plot twists appeared, and Annie grew and matured as a character. I also realized Annie was not only a product of the 70s and a rural area, she was also the product of the generations before her. Aint Lulie, with the family stories she told Annie, became a more important character.

On Facebook last July, I mentioned the 104th anniversary of my great-aunt’s mysterious death that older members of my family wouldn’t discuss, and the Botetourt County Genealogy group provided her obituary that gave a clue. With a little help from cousins and FaceBook friends, I figured out a possible reason for this great-aunt’s death. One cousin said I should write a book about it, but it wasn’t enough for a book. However, the incident fit nicely into Them That Go, so I fictionalized this ancestor’s story and based a character on her.

Them That Go—which evolved into a coming-of-age novel, a mystery, and an Appalachian novel with paranormal overtones—now appeals to a much wider readership than just YA.

WHY THIS TITLE: When I became interested in family genealogy last year, I learned a lot of my ancestors had moved across Virginia—the English ones came westward from the Tidewater area, and others came down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania or diagonally across Virginia from Maryland. Some stayed where they originally landed, but some in each generation moved a little farther. After the Revolutionary War, some received land patents and moved their families to the new territory. But in every generation, some would stay and some would go. I used the staying/going idea in Them That Go, when I had Aint Lulie explain to her great-niece how some of their family ended up in the mountains while others stayed back in Botetourt County: “There’s always been them that go and them that stay in ever’ generation.” While the novel has characters who stay, it also has some who go in one way or another.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Them That Go will appeal to those who like Appalachian culture, who enjoy storytelling and folklore, and who like a paranormal twist. Although set in the early 70s, Them That Go deals with issues that are currently important: parents protesting curriculum, the influences of literature on life, a girl’s disappearance, a presidential election, decision-making, and the importance of taking responsibility.

REVIEW COMMENTS: An Amazon review: “Was inspired to keep reading to see what happened next. . . . It reminds me of being back home on the mountain. Check it out!”

Another Amazon review: “A novel that speaks truly of the times and the places in Southwest Va. For anyone familiar with this area, the novel really strikes home.”

From Goodreads: “I believe this book is comparable in quality to Baldacci’s Wish You Well and would be enjoyed by the same readers. I rated Them That Go with five stars and hope others will find this book and have the same positive reaction to it.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Becky Mushko, a retired teacher, is a three-time winner of the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest and a five-time winner of the Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest. Her first novel, Patches on the Same Quilt, won a 2001 Smith Mountain Arts Council contest and was self-published with a generous grant from SMAC. Cedar Creek Publishing published her Appalachian folktale, Ferradiddledumday (2010), and her middle grade novel, Stuck (2011). She has e-published several collections of short stories. Her work also appears in A Cup of Comfort for Writers, Vols. I & III of Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and many other publications. As vice-president of Lake Writers, she’s served on the editorial committee for all three of the group’s anthologies—Voices from Smith Mountain Lake, Nekkid Came the Swimmer (the worst book about Smith Mountain Lake ever written), and Reflections on Smith Mountain Lake.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Them That Go was influenced by my interests in genealogy, old-timey stories, Appalachian culture, fairy tales, folktales, ghost stories, and Shakespeare. Although set in the early 70s, the novel involves issues that are still relevant today—a girl’s disappearance, literature’s influence on life, parents protesting a curriculum, a Presidential election, and a student using skills learned in class.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link).

LOCAL OUTLETS: The General Store and Southern Roots at Westlake (Moneta, VA); Virginia Office Supply in Rocky Mount, VA.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Kindle version available at; print version available at

PRICE: $10 for print; $3.99 for Kindle e-book.


becky.mushko (at)