One Author's Life: A Personal Blog

Where does prejudice come from?

April 26, 2018

Whenever I hear of someone acting with prejudice toward another person, and after I get over my shock and disgust, the lyrics of an old song come to mind. It’s not a song that many people know today because it dates to a play (and then a movie) called “South Pacific” (more…)

Story of Elizabeth Jennings in “Streetcar to Justice” Is a Shock to Many

March 26, 2018

Slavery and Jim Crow in the Northern states?

Signs for “Colored” Riders in Manhattan?!

A slave market in New York City?!

That’s just a portion of the back-story I included in my new biography of Elizabeth Jennings, a black schoolteacher who refused to leave a segregated streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, setting into motion (more…)

New Book on Elizabeth Jennings, “Streetcar to Justice,” Tells Her Full Story for the First Time

February 27, 2018

My tenth book, published last month, is a biography of an all-but-forgotten American woman named Elizabeth Jennings who was the Rosa Parks of Old New York.

Why a book on Miss Jennings? Because, frankly, she needed one. She was 164 years overdue.

I had stumbled across her story and started researching it as a hobby (more…)

"Streetcar to Justice" Was Inspired by Friendship with the Delany Sisters

January 22, 2018

When you’ve had friends like the late Sadie and Bessie Delany, with whom I created the 1993 oral history Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, you find that you see life in a different way. The daughters of a man born into slavery and a mother who was mixed race and born (more…)

How an Old, Abandoned House Led Me to My New Book Topic

November 18, 2017

Every book has a “back story,” or the-story-behind-the-story of how the book came about.

My new book, Streetcar to Justice, has an especially good one. I learned of the topic thanks to an old, abandoned Victorian house.

From 1987 to 1996 my husband and I lived in Ossining, New York, a village on the Hudson River about (more…)

Why Middle-grade?

October 23, 2017

My tenth book, Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York, will be my first for middle-grade readers. Other than one picture book back in 2003, all of my books have been for adults (although, interestingly, they are appropriate for YA - young adults - and have won awards in that category.)

Why middle-grade for Streetcar to Justice? Because it’s the right audience. (more…)

Making Room in My Heart

August 23, 2017

Tags: Dogs, Boston Terriers, canine companions, grief, losing a pet

I had to say goodbye to my little canine writing companion recently. She was (we think) eleven and a half years old. Her name was Dot, and she was a tiny Boston Terrier.

If you’ve ever had a pet, you know the pain I am feeling. I miss her so.

Dot had a (more…)

On Memorial Day, a World War Two Dad’s Legacy: Never Take a Day for Granted

May 28, 2017

Tags: Memorial Day, World War Two, Fathers and Daughters

My dad always had a strange reaction to Memorial Day Weekend, or so it seemed to me as a little girl. Yes, it was the beginning of summer and we celebrated (if that is the right word) with hamburgers on the grill and root beer floats.

But I realized from an early age that the so-called “holiday” was a time when my dad, a World War Two Army veteran and normally a very upbeat person, was also quietly grieving. (more…)

Earth Day 2017: Look to Your Elders

April 22, 2017

Tags: Environment, Delany Sisters, Strong Medicine Speaks, my mother, Miss Dreamsville novels, elder wisdom

If we want to take environmental concerns seriously, most of us can start by emulating the habits of our elders. Few people threw things out the way we do today, and wastefulness is a huge part of the problem.

When I met the Delany Sisters, they were surprised that their small city – Mt. Vernon, (more…)

How to Stay Focused During Times of Great Change

March 20, 2017

Tags: Writing advice, uncertain times, staying focused

The news has been breaking at an astonishing pace since Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidential election. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Trump and the Republican Congress, it’s a time of turbulence. If you’re an artist of any sort, it can be distracting.

At the same time, it’s vital that we all pay attention. As an American citizen, (more…)