One Author's Life


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…)

“Freedom! Freedom! I Am Free!”

February 4, 2017

Tags: Black History Month 2017

Although he was only a little boy, Henry B. Delany, the Delany Sisters’ beloved Papa, would never forget the day in 1865 that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union at Appomattox Court House. Henry Delany and his family were slaves in St. Mary’s, Georgia.

“He remembered being in the kitchen and wearing a little apron, which little slave boys wore in those days,” the Delany Sisters recalled in the book we created together, Having Our Say. “It had one button at the top, at the back of the neck, and the ends were loose. And when the news (more…)

My Word of the Year for 2017

January 6, 2017

A friend just posted that her personal word for the new year is “confidence.”

I’m not sure if she’s feeling confident or hoping that she will. Either way, that would not be my word for 2017. (more…)

Saying Goodbye to a Dearly-Loved Father through Storytelling and Song

October 27, 2016

Tags: fathers and daughters, greatest generation, tribute

My beloved father died earlier this month at the age of 92. Thank you to all of you who prayed for Dad and sent condolences on his passing. My mother, who turns 91 in a few days, is doing as well as can be expected. She is very settled in their apartment and has lots of attention from her extended family as well as devoted aides who love her and loved Dad, too. Dad's life is proof that people who are happy and kind spread happiness and kindness (more…)

What Holocaust Survivors Can Tell Us About the Use of Language

August 26, 2016

Tags: American culture and politics, language, elders, Holocaust survivors

Eighteen years ago I interviewed a brilliant Holocaust survivor named Leo Petranker. He shared many observations about life, democracy, and the nature of human beings. One of his comments, in particular, sticks in my mind:

"Always watch the language of a people," he said. "When people use extreme words, like 'assassinate', this is a sign of trouble to come."

In the years since I interviewed Mr. Petranker, American culture has become much more coarse. (more…)