"Roundheads and Ramblings"
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Recent Posts

A Quick Announcement (Details to Follow)
Did the Earth Just Move?
Charlotte or Charley? Whose Web Is It, Anyhow?
19th Amendment Becomes the Law of the Land
A Belated "Happy Happy Day!"

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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

A Quick Announcement (Details to Follow)

The Grenville Trilogy


First came Damned Yankee, published in 2014. It told the story of Jonathan Grenville, a Northerner, and his wife, Susan, a Southern cotton heiress, following them as they tried to hold their marriage and family together while the world around them exploded into Civil War. It covered the years 1861 to 1867,

In January, 2016, came Yankee Reconstructed, set amid the turmoil of the post-war years of Reconstruction, from 1867 to 1877. In the second volume, however, our focus turned to the Grenville children who were now grown up and establishing lives and families of their own within a framework of racial tensions and government corruption.

And now, waiting just off-stage is the third generation of Grenvilles--eight girls, the daughters of Jamey Grenville, the youngest son of Jonathan and Susan. In Yankee Daughters, the time frame is 1886 to 1920. Historians might refer to it as "The Progressive Age," but for the Grenville daughters, it is a time of clashing values. They are being raised as 19th-century girls, but they will have to learn how to live in a 20th-century world. 

The new book is due out in December, so check back here frequently to check on its progress.

Did the Earth Just Move?



One hundred and thirty years ago on this date--August 31, 1886--Charleston, South Carolina experienced the worst earthquake ever known to hit  North America. It came at 9:20 PM, a 7.0 quake centered in Sommerville, just on the outskirts of the city. Nearly every house in Charleston was damaged. Trains were thrown from their tracks, while the rails themselves twisted into S-curves. Little sand volcanoes erupted all across the area. The shaking was felt as far west as the Mississippi River and well beyond the Canadian border.

That horrendous event sets the stage for the third volume of my Grenville Saga--"Yankee Daughters." The book won't be ready until sometime near the end of the year, but while you wait, here's a small taste from the start of Chapter 1:


It was only a small sound at first. Becca Grenville had been headed to bed, but she hesitated at the foot of the stairs as she listened. It had sounded like a wagon rumbling over the cobblestones outside. Could someone be arriving at this time of night? She shook her head at the very idea, but she wouldn’t put it past her brother Johnny, she decided. She waited for his knock.

Then an explosive boom slammed into her whole body. It was not only a sound. It had weight and strength to thrust her backward against the stairs. She couldn’t seem to breathe. Her chest hurt with the effort. She stumbled as the floor rocked beneath her feet and she fell backward. The kerosene lamp she carried dropped from her hand and shattered on the parquet tiles of the hallway. A small tongue of flame licked at the edge of the puddle of kerosene. The rest of the world had grown very dark, and the sound went on and on.

Am I dying, she asked herself. Is this what dying is like—a pain without cause, a lack of air and light, whirling vision, nausea, fear, and above all, the sound? She somehow had expected dying to be quieter. Then the acrid kerosene smell aroused her, and she struggled to her feet, stamping out the flames that were beginning to spread. Still disoriented in a world that would not stand still, she grasped the newell post at the foot of the stairs and clung there, only hoping that something—someone—would make this heaving, rocking motion stop.

As if in answer to her prayer, the movement did stop, although she could now hear other discordant sounds. Bells were clanging without reason or harmony from church steeples. Invisible people were screaming. Periodic crashes echoed from all sides. Glass shattered. Horses whinnied in terror. Dogs barked and howled.

And then the roaring came again. Becca sank onto the bottom steps, wrapping her arms around her head to blot out the sound, but it did not help. The noise seemed to come from every side, from above and below, even from inside her very soul. Another odd smell—like wet ashes—made her open her eyes. She watched in disbelief as the parlor fireplace spewed dust and smoke and then sank from view, leaving only a gaping hole in the floor.

Stay tuned for further publication updates as they become available.


Charlotte or Charley? Whose Web Is It, Anyhow?




I have a curious l drama going on outside my window today involving a huge black and yellow garden spider . She has spun a wide web that spans the sidewalk and extends from the branches of my crepe myrtle tree to the hedge underneath the windows. I have resisted the urge to call her Charlotte, no matter how interesting her web is.

But today has been windy, and the crepe myrtle is shedding the last of its snow white blossoms. The little flowerettes have been drifting down and getting caught up in the spider web. It made a lovely blossom-decked veil and I found it charming, but my spider-friend apparently does not agree. She has been viciously attacking the flowers, one by one, pulling them off the web and dropping them to the ground. I can understand that, if she’s not a vegan spider. She hopes to catch a little insect meat, not a flower petal (maybe they taste like broccoli!). Still, it bothers me that she cannot appreciate the free room decorations.  

Or maybe she’s not a Charlotte. Maybe he’s a Charley, who does not want his man-web to be all gussied up.

19th Amendment Becomes the Law of the Land

Today -- August 26 -- marks the formal adoption of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. The year was 1920. I find it rather remarkable that Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the amendment, thus giving it the requisite number of states voting in favor.

It had been a long fight, starting right after the Civil War.  During the research for my upcoming book, I found a pamphlet distributed by suffragettes in Pittsburgh in 1914. It illustrates some of the arguments for and against allowing women to vote. The second one, in particular, makes me shake my head a little.

Some Say: The majority of women don’t want to vote, and women will not vote when they are given the right.
We Say: The number who want the vote is always many times greater than the number who don’t, and official figures show women DO vote largely wherever they have the right.

Some Say: Women have enough to do without voting.
We Say: Voting only takes a few minutes and can be done on the way to the market.

Some Say: It would double the ignorant vote.
We Say: One-third more girls than boys attend high schools, and women are rapidly becoming the more educated class.”


A Belated "Happy Happy Day!"


I was so busy yesterday (and so frustrated) that i completely forgot to acknowledge the importance of the date.

I was trying to convince my computer programs that (1) Yes, I really did intend to write one line in English and the next in German; and (2) Yes, I really can spell both languages correctly, even without automated assistance.  When my word processors proved to need continual preference-changing in order to accomplish my purposes, I switched to the simplest plain text editor I could find, only to discover that it, too, thought it knew what I was doing better than I did. it was more insidious, however. It would ignore a suggested error when I asked it to, and then, in the final printed version, a telltale red line would once again appear under every German word i used. I ended up wiping out an entire Pinterest board and going off to read a good book.

That does not excuse me, however, from celebrating the 96th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment -- an event extremely important to one of the characters in my next book. So here, just a little late, are the greetings I forgot:

"Thank You!"  to all those suffragettes who worked so long to get their state legislators to pass the necessary ratifications.

"Way To Go!" to all the millions of women who have demonstrated their political acumen by voting in local, state, and national elections for the last 96 years.

And "Don't Stop Now!" to every woman over the age of eighteen. Go register and then follow up by casting your vote. And don't forget how many of  your predecessors fought to make that possible.