A Tribute To Martin Luther King Jr.

Normally my post today would be called, Manic Monday. As we all know Mondays can be pretty manic and generally I look forward to Mondays nonetheless. Today marks an important time in our American History. Its Martin Luther King Jr Day. I wanted to post a tribute and honor to Him. I have always admired and respected King. He is an inspiration to everyone. If you do not know much about him, I highly recommend you look into his life and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. In the United States Public Schools, His speech, “I Have A Dream” is widely known. You may read that powerful and profound speech HERE.

Here is a book he wrote called, “Strength to Love” that I promise you will find life changing.


“If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is Strength to Love.”

So wrote Coretta Scott King. She continued: “I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life. That insight, luminously conveyed in this classic text, here presented in a new and attractive edition, hints at the personal transformation at the root of social justice: ” By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils.”

In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jails and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint today for Christian discipleship as it was then. 

Individual readers, as well as church groups and students will find in this work a challenging yet energizing vision of God and redemptive love.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was among the twentieth century’s most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in U.S. history, King also authored several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, and Why We Can’t Wait. His speeches, sermons, and writings are inspirational and timeless. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968


Many thanks and gratitude, Martin Luther King. Our world still needs and should follow your shining example of strength, vision, love, peace, moral compass and philosophy of life.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


Review: Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris

Good Time Coming IIA powerful tale of the survival of the women and children left behind during the American Civil War by the author of the Sebastian St Cyr mysteries.”

It’s the beginning of the American Civil War and the Union army is sailing down the Mississippi, leaving death and destruction in its wake.The graceful river town of St. Francisville, Louisiana, has known little of the hardships, death, and destruction of the War. But with the fall of New Orleans, all changes. A Federal fleet appears on the Mississippi, and it isn’t long before the depredations and attacks begin.

For one Southern family the dark blue uniform of the Union army is not the only thing they fear. A young girl stops a vicious attack on her mother and the town must pull together to keep each other safe. But a cryptic message casts doubt amongst the town s folk. Is there a traitor in the town and can anybody be trusted?

Twelve-year-old Amrie and her family have never felt entirely accepted by their neighbors, due to their vocal abolitionist beliefs. But when Federal forces lay siege to the nearby strongholds of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the women and children of St. Francisville find themselves living in a no man’s land between two warring armies. Realizing they must overcome their differences and work together to survive, they soon discover strengths and abilities they never knew they possessed, and forge unexpected friendships.

As the violence in the area intensifies, Amrie comes to terms with her own capacity for violence and realizes that the capacity for evil exists within all of us. And when the discovery of a closely guarded secret brings the wrath of the Federal army down on St. Francisville, the women of St. Francisville, with whom Amrie and her mother have shared the war years many deprivations and traumas, now unite and risk their own lives to save them.

My Thoughts:

Good Time Coming constitutes far more than a work of fiction. It is not often talked about- the southern women’s struggle during the American Civil War. The shelling of towns, churches and homes, burning, destruction, plundering, murder, rape and sheer terror commented by the union soldiers against women of the south. Not only that but the starvation they experienced. It’s not a comfortable subject and most of the time no one wants to be honest and open about it, but it is a reality that needs to be told. Women and children (black and white), poor and rich were unprotected, brutalized, starved and often left homeless. More times than not, they received no mercy from the union army. That is a fact. The story, Good Time Coming focuses on many of these things and what a telling it is! Harris has meticulously researched for this story and has brought to life, the voices of the past.

I feel so connected to the characters and their life. This story has touched my soul and impacted me in such a way that has taken me to an era gone by. There were so many emotions running through me while reading this story.

Harris truly captures the diversity of people and social standing and shows different views of the war. Her prose is often times lyrical and she really brings you to the heart of these characters and their plight.

I want people to realize how important stories like this are and how we need to openly talk about what really went on.

An American novel of the war between the states everyone should read. This by far is the best book I have read this year and the best of C.S. Harris work.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

Rated this book five stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War by Thomas DiLorenzo

One of my current writing projects is a thriller based historical events that take place during the Reconstruction of the South in Georgia. I have always been interested in the American Civil War (War between the States) and have always wanted to go further in-depth with my research. The American Civil War is so much more complex than many people realize. Much of my research takes me back much further than I expected to go. All the way back to our Founding Father’s-whose sacrifice and passions forged a great nation. A nation for the People. Anyhow, to get back on what I was saying before-My story’s setting I’m working on takes place in Atlanta and Madison, Georgia. I won’t go into great detail about it just yet but it does take place in the modern times and reveals families in the past torn apart by war, betrayal, and murder while trying to put their lives back together during the Reconstruction.

One of the books I came across on my research Journey is The REAL Lincoln. I am thoroughly intrigued with this book and the authors perspective. Take a look at the book blurb. If you are an enthusiast of American History, I highly recommend this book.

 Stephanie M. Hopkins

The Real Lincoln

A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War

Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln were false? What if, instead of an American hero who sought to free the slaves, Lincoln were in fact a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in american history in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britain’s? In The Real Lincoln, author Thomas J. DiLorenzo uncovers a side of Lincoln not told in many history books and overshadowed by the immense Lincoln legend.
Through extensive research and meticulous documentation, DiLorenzo portrays the sixteenth president as a man who devoted his political career to revolutionizing the American form of government from one that was very limited in scope and highly decentralized—as the Founding Fathers intended—to a highly centralized, activist state. Standing in his way, however, was the South, with its independent states, its resistance to the national government, and its reliance on unfettered free trade. To accomplish his goals, Lincoln subverted the Constitution, trampled states’ rights, and launched a devastating Civil War, whose wounds haunt us still. According to this provacative book, 600,000 American soldiers did not die for the honorable cause of ending slavery but for the dubious agenda of sacrificing the independence of the states to the supremacy of the federal government, which has been tightening its vise grip on our republic to this very day.

You will discover a side of Lincoln that you were probably never taught in school—a side that calls into question the very myths that surround him and helps explain the true origins of a bloody, and perhaps, unnecessary war.

Book Description from Amazon.

Interview with Stephen E. Yoch

Stpehen Yoch

I’d like to welcome, Stephen E. Yoch to Layered Pages today to talk with me about his book, Becoming George Washington. Stephen. to start, thank you for chatting with me today about your book, Becoming George Washington and how delighted I am that you have chosen to write about his younger years. I adore America History.

Thank you.

Please tell me why you chose George Washington as your subject to write about?

I’ve always been fascinated by Washington. His ability to repeatedly give up power makes him truly unique. December 23, 1783 should be celebrated as much as July 4, 1776.  It was the day that Washington returned his commission to Congress at the end of the Revolution.  His willingness to give up power in 1783, and, at the end of his second term as President, makes him one of the most important leaders in world history.

To understand Washington’s unprecedented actions, my research drove me into his youth where I found a story that few people know and that compelled me to pick up my pen and share it.

For those who don’t know, who is Sally Fairfax?

Sally Fairfax was the wife of George William Fairfax. The Fairfax family was connected to the Washington family through George’s older half-brother Lawrence Washington.  George first met Sally as she joined the Fairfax family.  Virtually all historians agree that George fell in love with Sally and most agree that she loved him.  The question which no historian can really answer, is whether their affair was ever consummated.  Certainly neither Sally nor George ever admitted to anything in their lifetimes.  My book presents one possible story, but the Extended Author’s Notes in the back of my book discuss the views of the leading non-fiction historians on this controversial topic.

Is there a defining moment in Washington’s life that has left an impression on you?

As discussed above, his return of his commission to Congress was perhaps the greatest act of his life, and one of the turning points in American history. However, in his young life, which I cover in my book, it is the Battle of the Monongahela.  That event transformed Washington into a national figure and hero, cemented his leadership position in Virginia, and positioned him to lead the Revolutionary Army twenty years later.

Could you please share an excerpt?

See “The Battle” Excerpted below.

In your research did you discover anything about him that-maybe-most people do not know? If, so can you please share?

Washington’s young life was incredibly hard. We have this misperception caused by the invented “chopping down the cherry tree” story, which created the impression of a loving father and an idyllic childhood.  In fact, Washington’s father was largely absent and he died when George was only 11.  George’s mother was a very difficult person and they had an extremely strained relationship their entire lives.  With his father’s passing, George lost any ability to obtain a classical education in England and his financial resources were limited.  Far from an “ideal” childhood he had to overcome great challenges to become the George Washington that led the Revolution.

Stephen Yoch photo

What is your overall feeling about the American Revolution?

It is a watershed moment in world history. Because of Washington, and our other Founding Fathers, we avoided the typical pattern of revolution which includes violence followed by an anti-democratic counter revolution.  Washington, arguably more than anyone, helped establish the most enduring and robust democracy in history.

 Will you continue to write stories that take place in this era?

Absolutely! I am writing a series of books that deal with the American Revolution.  Upcoming books are (in order of publication):

Becoming Benedict Arnold

Becoming Alexander Hamilton

Becoming Benjamin Franklin

Where in your home do you like to write and how often do you write?

Whenever possible, I like to sit outside and read and write in the woods surrounding my home. One of my “disadvantages” has also given me great flexibility in how I write.  When I was 27, I had a cascading thoracic compression in my neck which caused me to largely lose the use of my arms for a year.  Since then, I’ve experienced significant weakness in my arms which prevents me from typing more than a few sentences at a time.  With the support of my wonderful partner and assistant, Deborah Murphy, all my books, articles, and other correspondence have been dictated.  Thus, I do not need a good writing surface or a power source to write.  All I require is a chair, my dictaphone, and an opportunity to think and write.

When I am actively writing, I follow no set pattern. That is, I do a great deal of research, and when I feel that I have reached a critical mass of understanding of facts of a particular scene, the story and narrative usually come to me in bursts.  I then feel compelled to get it all written down as soon as possible.  This can involve writing (dictating) very early in the morning, late at night, or whenever time permits.  When I reach a lull, I revert back to intensifying my research on certain scenes or areas until the words return.  It is the constant tradeoff between research, writing, and editing that I find so enjoyable.

Tea or coffee by your side when writing?

Tea. I’ll drink coffee when I grow up.

Stephens book

 Excerpt: The Battle

At about 2:30 p.m., George, still at Braddock’s side, was surprised to hear the unmistakable pops of muskets, followed a couple minutes later by the crash of mass directed fire. The column shuddered to a halt, and Braddock immediately ordered messengers ahead to determine what was happening. Within a couple of minutes, he received confused reports from young officers indicating that the vanguard had run into French and Indian troops, with volleys erupting directly in front of Gage’s men and resulting in an indeterminate number of casualties.

As updates continued to stream in, Braddock remained composed and, apparently completely at ease on his horse, made no effort to move forward. George pulled his mount next to the general and volunteered, “Sir, if you would like, I would be pleased to go to Colonel Gage and the van and provide you with a more complete report of conditions.”

Confidently surveying the troops, Braddock spoke without looking at George. “As you were, Colonel. I am receiving regular reports. Our calmness inspires the men. I can’t have you gallivanting off in a huff. My aides-de-camp must be at my side if the battle becomes hot. I am confident this is an exploratory force of French and Indians charged with preventing us from simply walking up and taking the fort without a shot.”

“Yes, sir.”

As he said it, George’s temper flared: It is more than that! And we are sitting in the middle of the road like pigs awaiting slaughter. George added, with more urgency than he intended, “Our preliminary reports say in excess of three hundred French and Indians, General.”

“Never believe the initial reports, Colonel; they are almost always wrong.” Then, Braddock muttered to himself, “Where are the goddamned cannons? Gage, what the hell are you waiting for?”

George liked Thomas Gage and desperately wanted to find out what was going on and, if possible, join the fight. Then, in apparent response to the general’s whispered plea, came the twin boom of Gage’s six-pounder cannon. A cheer went up from the British lines.

Slapping the top of his leg with obvious pleasure, the general exclaimed, “There you go, Colonel; that will put the fear of God into the savages!” Turning to Orme, Braddock ordered with calm military precision, “Please instruct Lieutenant Colonel Burton forward to reinforce the vanguard.”

Word came that Gage’s troops had executed classic formations: kneeling, firing, reloading, and firing in ranks in turn. This mass firing, along with the use of the cannons, was apparently met with some initial success. However, there were also indications that Indians were moving down either side of the column and enveloping the British’s unprotected flanks, limiting the British’s ability to bring their superior firepower to bear.

The war whoops and battle screams of the Indians began in the surrounding woods, terrifying the British soldiers. The instant the fighting began, the unarmed road builders under St. Clair began moving to the rear. When the Indians increased their battle yells, a controlled retreat by the unarmed men turned into a full sprint, unnerving the regular soldiers who remained as road builders ran past them to the rear.

George was next to Braddock when a disturbing report arrived that Gage had apparently ordered his grenadiers to fix their bayonets and form a line of battle to rush the hill on the British right flank. The grenadiers followed the first order but then, in terror and confusion, refused to move forward as the Indians appeared to materialize from all sides.

Within fifteen minutes of the first shots, the French and Indians had moved along both sides of the British line and had taken control of the hill on the British right that Gage had neglected to secure. The concentrated British formations were ideal targets for French and Indian snipers shooting from cover. Now directed fire began to rain in from all sides, especially from the hill overlooking the right side of the British line.

Around him, George could see the main body of soldiers were nervous and fidgeting. Glimpses of running Indians could be seen in the woods. It was increasingly apparent that the French and Indians were using the trees and terrain as cover to fire on the British. Periodically a French rifle would ring out, a nearby British soldier would scream, and a volley of British guns would blindly return fire at the hidden source of the shot.

A wounded St. Clair, shot in the shoulder and chest, was pulled on a gurney before Braddock. Delirious, St. Clair bizarrely shouted at Braddock in Italian. Braddock, without breaking stride, responded in the same language.

Amazed, George turned to Orme, who explained, “St. Clair laments that we are all going to die and should retreat. The general told him—rather directly—to shut his mouth.”

George then heard St. Clair switch to English and gasp, “For God’s sake, the rising on our right.” Then he collapsed onto his gurney, unconscious.

George noticed for the first time what St. Clair was talking about. “He raises a good point, Robert!” George shouted above the battle’s din. He pointed to the hill. “I believe the general should move our men there.”

A frustrated Orme replied, “The general believes in firepower, not maneuver.”

As if responding to Orme’s comment, nearby artillery began to fire, but the gunners failed to find any target and mainly contributed smoke and noise to the confusion with no adverse effect on the enemy.

Meanwhile, Gage’s vanguard retreated as its ranks were decimated by enemy fire. Gage’s men, along with St. Clair’s already fleeing road builders, smashed like waves into the main body of soldiers that, under Lieutenant Colonel Burton, were moving forward. The soldiers met each other at the base of the hill now held by the French and Indians, just as St. Clair had feared. The telescoping line was now a morass of men moving forward and backward, with units mixed in terrified confusion. Almost the entirety of Braddock’s whole army was now squeezed into an area less than 250 yards in length and about a hundred feet wide, while the rear guard was still about a half mile behind. French and Indians fired volleys of arrows and ball with virtually no chance of missing. Not only did the Indians have the advantage of cover, but they also shot with rifles that had greater range and accuracy than the British smooth-bore Brown Bess muskets.

Braddock became incensed at the disorder. He slapped men with the side of his sword, bellowing, “Get back to your standards, men! There is no retreat here. Move to your officers and return fire!”

George recognized the need to move men into the woods and engage the enemy while also presenting a less inviting target. Turning to the general, George yelled, “General, we must not crowd the men! Please, General! Let me lead some men out into the bush!”

A blazing Braddock spat back, “As you were, Colonel! We need to organize our men to attack and mass fire against these heathen bastards.” George acknowledged the order and turned back to the men to hide his disgust.

About forty-five minutes into the battle, George began to see the noose tighten as the French and Indian movement along either side of the British line had created an elongated half moon of French and Indians surrounding Braddock’s troops. The hair-raising shouts of the Indians, coupled with steadily increasing fire, left the British feeling trapped and defenseless.

As George approached Orme, a bullet grazed George’s side and hit Orme squarely in the thigh, staggering his horse. Amazingly, Orme stayed in the saddle, and, without missing a beat, he reached into his bag and pulled out a sash, tightly winding it around his injury.

“Robert, you are wounded!” George pleaded. “You should move to the rear.”

“There is no rear, my friend, and I can’t leave you and the general. It appears the bullet went straight through. Unfortunately it also seems to have wounded my horse. I’ll stay with him as long as I can.”

With George, Morris, and the wounded Orme at his side, Braddock was moving up the line toward the front of the column. They continued perhaps another twenty yards when suddenly Braddock’s horse collapsed from a shot to the head. Braddock deftly jumped from the saddle, and without any apparent concern for his own safety, he turned to Orme and said, “Down you go, sir. You are wounded, and I need your horse.”

“My horse has been injured, General, but he still seems to ride well,” said Orme as he hopped down and helped the general mount.

“It’s just a nick below the saddle,” Braddock said. “Your leg and the saddle were kind enough to absorb most of the energy, Captain. You will remain here with these troops and provide direction.”

George dismounted and helped Orme to a nearby tree. “Do make an effort to stay out of trouble, Robert,” George said with forced levity.

Grinning despite the pain, Orme retorted, “Don’t worry about me, you blasted fool. You are the largest target out here. I’d say keep your head down, but there is nowhere to hide that enormous body.”

The men’s conversation was suddenly cut short by the bark of General Braddock, “Goddamn it, Washington! You are with me, sir!”

George and Braddock trotted along the line. Periodically George would see flicks of Braddock’s uniform spray in the air as French and Indian soldiers directed overwhelming fire on the high-sitting general.

After almost an hour of battle, men all along the line continued to drop from sniping fire and Indian arrows. Nevertheless the British remained tightly packed, falling back on training that was designed to provide mass fire in the open fields of lowland Europe.

What had started as a crystal-clear day now appeared like a foggy morning, with white powder smoke from cannon, musket, and rifle obscuring targets. Shots of canister, essentially giant shotguns, were being directed into any identified concentrations of French and Indians with minimal effect, hitting more trees and leaves than enemies. A dry dust filled the air, mixing with insects and heat to create the perfect cocktail of misery for all as canteens ran dry.

George knew the men were petrified at the prospect of being captured. They had all seen the Indians’ handiwork on the mutilated bodies of unlucky British soldiers separated from the column. It was this fear, more than anything else, that kept them together.

Everything about this engagement—the sights, sounds, and smell—was different for George. When his men had endured the onslaught at Fort Necessity, the incessant rain and stifling humidity had deadened the sounds and smells of battle. In contrast, today the dust-filled air carried sound with horrifying clarity. The acrid smell of gunpowder stung everyone’s eyes, and the men’s faces were covered in powder from biting cartridges to refill and fire their muskets. At Fort Necessity, the Indians’ arrows were both silent and largely inaccurate. Here, George would periodically hear the twang of a bow, closely followed by the scream of the arrow hitting home. Even the perspective was different. He sat high on a horse here, whereas at Necessity, he slogged in the mud. Finally, most importantly, George did not face the burden of ultimate command in this battle. He relayed orders and observed the mêlée, but he was not the man fundamentally responsible. This detachment gave him the perspective he recognized he was missing at Fort Necessity.

While the British soldiers were a crowded, paralyzed mass of mindless confusion, the Virginians instinctively took charge and began moving out into the trees and fighting “bush style,” effectively pushing back the French and Indians. Moving in small groups, the men used the undergrowth, trees, and rocks for cover as they deftly approached the French and Indian position.

One group of 170 Virginians attempted to deploy into the woods. However, British officers mistook the blue-clad Virginians for French Canadians and directed mass fire, wiping out the officers and all but five of the Virginia soldiers, despite their screams that “We are English!”

Any soldiers taking the initiative and moving forward to engage were also almost immediately cut down by friendly fire. While clouds of smoke obscured vision, the misdirected fire was caused more by raw terror and a lack of leadership. George saw a Virginia soldier aggressively move forward to engage the enemy. Suddenly, the man’s skull exploded like a melon hit with a hammer. George knew it was equally likely the bullet came from a friend as from a foe.

The narrow road and fire coming from all directions made traditional maneuvering virtually impossible. Still, Braddock, with George at his side, rode up and down the lines, haranguing his men to form platoons. But Braddock was unable to organize movement into any particular direction. Meanwhile, men had to avoid being run over by periodic riderless horses racing to the rear—another reminder of the dwindling number of officers.

The battle raged into its second horrendous hour, and the British line continued to absorb appalling losses. Faced with an untenable situation, the English took cold comfort in the rote actions of practiced drill: biting a powder cartridge, ignoring the foul taste of the saltpeter, priming the pan, pouring the balance down the barrel, ramming the ball and wad down the barrel, and firing. Even the sting to the face of powder igniting in the pan and the slam of the butt into a soldier’s shoulder provided an illusion that “something” was being done. These soldiers could maintain this rate of fire at three to five times per minute, faster than any trained army in the world. The practiced actions had always meant victory. Reassuring as it might be, the rote motions had little effect on a hidden and protected enemy that mercilessly fired from cover on the huddled British.

The sound of passing bullet and ball became so omnipresent that George began to almost forget the air was filled with death. He was reminded of his true situation when, as the general paused to berate soldiers, Washington and Braddock were both simultaneously thrown from their horses. George, whose horse died instantly, was aware enough to jump off his saddle so as not to be pinned, but he hit the ground hard. The general’s horse whinnied and buckled, yet Braddock was able to dismount as the animal began to collapse. Again without missing a beat, the general pulled his pistol and shot the horse in the head, immediately calling for a new animal to be brought up. George’s horse was likewise replaced.   . . . .

About the Author

Steve doesn’t golf or fish and is a below average hunter, but his love of history and writing compelled him to pick up his pen and tell the little-known stories behind the men that made American history. After years of extensive research, Steve wrote his first book on young George Washington.

Steve lives in a suburb north of St. Paul, Minnesota with his supportive wife and two fantastic teenage sons. He graduated with honors from Boston College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He has enjoyed over two decades of practicing law in the Twin Cities, helping individuals and businesses solve complex problems.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 07 Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 9 Review at Library Educated

Friday, December 11 Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Monday, December 14 Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, December 15 Review at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 16 Interview at Layered Pages Spotlight at Historical Readings and Reviews

Thursday, December 17 Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, December 18 Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, December 21 Review at Bookish

Tuesday, December 22 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, December 23 Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews Guest Post & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, December 24 Review at Book Nerd

Monday, December 28 Review at Just One More Chapter Spotlight at Puddletown Reviews

Tuesday, December 29 Review at The Absurd Book Nerd Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, December 30 Review at Luxury Reading Guest Post at The Absurd Book Nerd

Thursday, December 31 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post at Let Them Read Books


Interview with Author David Beasley

David Beasley

David Beasley was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and graduated from McMaster University with a BA in Arts. He worked, studied and wrote in several European countries for five years and then In Manhattan, New York for 35 years, where he worked as a research librarian in the New York Public Research Libraries for much of that time. He organized a union for library workers and used his experience to write a trilogy of mystery novels—The Jenny, The Grand Conspiracy, Overworld/Underworld. He earned a Masters Degree in Library Science and a PhD in political economics from the progressive New School for Social Research. He returned to Canada in 1992 and has been writing and publishing under the imprint Davus Publishing. He has written much fiction, including historical fiction novels, but has been recognized by the award of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his non-fiction and biographies. His blog on his website http://www.davuspublishing.com features the Major John Richardson Newsletter which gathers information on and controversies about Canada’s first novelist, whose biography he wrote. He returned to Canada in 1992 and has been writing and publishing under the imprint Davus Publishing in Simcoe, Ontario.

Stephanie: Hello David! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on winning the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Please tell me about your book, Sarah’s Journey.

David: Sarah’s Journey is historical fiction based on true events. Sarah, born on Brown’s Island in the Ohio River by the Virginia panhandle [now West Virginia] was the daughter of her owner, Colonel Brown and his slave whose father was a white slave named Kinney and a black slave. At 16 Sarah marries a black man, Lewis, who says he is a free man and is hired by Col. Brown. She has two children by him. When col Brown dies, her husband is captured by bounty hunters and taken back into slavery in Kentucky. Sarah and her children are sold to a neighbor who is a cruel taskmaster. Sarah is taken advantage of by white men including her owner and has three white children, with whom she escapes through Ohio to Upper Canada in 1820 where slavery has been abolished. A young Scots entrepreneur falls in love with her and brings her to Simcoe where she has his child. Her life and the lives of her children in that community of freed and escaped slaves take her through tribulations, including the Duncombe Rebellion, to her death in 1862. Her son by the Scots entrepreneur becomes one of the richest men in New York City.

Sarahs Journal

Stephanie: Many people are interested in this period of time in our American history. What inspired you to write your story?

David: I was inspired by the many aspects of slavery and freedom in the story. Sarah could pass for white and had three white children. Her black children had to be left behind but they escaped 18 years later on the underground railway, their conductor marrying Sarah’s black daughter and setting up a barbershop in Simcoe from where he could continue conducting escapees and fight bounty hunters. The relationships between the white and black communities, the loyalty of the blacks during the rebellion because of fears that American invasion would bring back slavery, the conflict among races in the mill town of Brantford, and the extraordinary success of Sarah’s youngest son, who being the son of a slave was a slave and had to hide his past.

Stephanie: I noticed this is considered, Literary Fiction. Was there any research involved? What are the factual events or people in your story?

David: The story is factual and most of the people are from real life, except for those who helped Sarah escape, who, of course, could not be revealed and whom I had to imagine. When the rich son died in an accident, curious New York lawyers discovered that he came from Simcoe and the affidavits and testimonies taken in Simcoe about the family were in the archives in the Norfolk county Museum across the street from my home. I went to West Virginia and found court records and interviewed descendants of Sarah’s owner. I also researched the history of the areas in Virginia, Upper Canada, and Simcoe.

Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?

David: I picked the illustration I wanted and my stepson Eric Rustan designed the cover.

Stephanie: What do you find most challenging about writing?

The hardest part of writing, according to Erskine Caldwell, is attaching the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. I have written for so long that it is not a problem now. But most challenging is knowing what you want to write will not be accepted by a publisher. Of course one can find out what a publisher wants and write to his measure but that is not the mark of the artist, rather of the hired man.

Stephanie: What is your next book project and will you self-publish again?

David: I have three future projects in mind and presently writing my memoirs. Since I have self-published about 20 books, I shall probably continue the practice.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

David: IndieBRAG discovered me, I think. Someone must have recommended Sarah’s Journey to it.

Stephanie: What is your favorite quote?

David: My favorite quote is a short poem by Ezra Pound:

Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens
She is dying piecemeal of a sort of emotional anemia
Round about her are the filthy, unkillable infants of the very poor

They shall inherit the earth

In her is the end of breeding
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive

She would like someone to speak to her

And is almost afraid that
I will commit that indiscretion.

This is how I remember it. Pound gives one a hint of his meaning by the epigraph from the end of first line of a poem by the French Symbolist poet Albert Samain “. . . . en robe de parade.” The full line is “Mon ame est un enfant en robe de parade.” My soul is a child in a fancy-dress costume. Thus the artist’s soul.

But when a poem becomes too strange for a listener, I like to quote the Duke of Gloucester: “Another damned, thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?”

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

David: Readers can buy my books from my website: www. davuspublishing.com in paper
or as an e-book, some of which are on kindle.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview David Beasley, who is the author of, Sarah’s Journey, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Sarah’s Journey, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Interview with Award Winning Author Jo Ann Butler

Jo Ann Butler

I’d like to welcome Jo Ann Butler to Layered Pages today. She is a genealogist and one-time colonial archeologist, Ms. Butler has tapped her work in New England for her first historical fiction novel, “Rebel Puritan.” She can be reached at www.rebelpuritan.com

Thank you Jo Ann for visiting with me again and congrats for winning the B.R.A.G Medallion for the second time. It was a pleasure to interview you about Rebel Puritan and I’m delighted be chatting with you about The Reputed Wife. Please tell your audience about your book?

Thank you, Stephanie, and it’s an honor to talk with you as a second-time B.R.A.G. Medallion winner! Readers of Rebel Puritan are familiar with Herodias Long and George Gardner. In The Reputed Wife, Herod raises a burgeoning family in 17th century Newport, Rhode Island, even as she and George try to conceal their unconventional relationship. Rhode Island suffers its own growing pains when more powerful Puritan colonies try to usurp its lands. Lastly, Quaker missionaries arrive in New England, bent on converting Puritans. Mary Dyer is one of their converts, and so is Herod, who takes her protest against Puritan abuse to the whipping post.

 Jo Ann book cover

What fascinates you most about this time period your story is written in?

The New Englanders’ struggle to survive, to build homes in the wilderness, and to create their own society. Their laws and customs were based on English law, but Puritan and non-Puritan alike added their own New England flavor. Rhode Island’s own struggle is also amazing. The residents were all non-conforming outcasts from Puritan colonies, and had to learn to work together to form a viable colony of their own.

With this sequel is there anything new you learned in your research that you did not know in your first book?

I originally meant to write a single book about Herodias, so there weren’t any big surprises for me while writing The Reputed Wife. However, I’m now writing The Golden Shore, the final volume in my Scandalous Life trilogy. Just a couple of weeks ago I learned that a convicted witch from Hartford, Connecticut escaped to Rhode Island, and that Herod’s son George was involved in her escape. I paused to research the 1662-63 Hartford witch trials, and am bringing that dramatic episode into The Golden Shore.

What are your thoughts on the Puritans and the Quakers? How they lived their life and the rules they followed.

Jo Ann: 17th-century Quakers were not the pacifist folk we picture. They believed in passive resistance and street theater to make their points, and outraged Puritans with their actions. Walking into church with your face painted black in mourning for the Puritans’ damnation, or stripped naked to demonstrate Puritan spiritual nakedness did not win the Quakers any friends.

Puritans believed that God no longer spoke to man, and that only learned men should speak in church, to prevent ‘errors’ in religious beliefs. Quakers often worshiped in silence, waiting for divine revelation to put words into their mouths. Such revelation was heresy to Puritans, and they couldn’t decide whether Quakers were witches, possessed by Satan, or both.

I might feel sorry for Puritans, who felt beset by Quakers berating them in church and court, except for the methods used to encourage those Quakers to leave Puritan colonies alone. Those Quakers were jailed, branded, and whipped, including Herod Gardner, who walked sixty miles to protest the torture. Four Quakers went to the gallows for defying their banishment, including Mary Dyer.

Please tell me about some of the places you visited to research for you book(s).

In the last 30 years I’ve spent weeks in libraries and archives in Boston, Newport, Providence, and Salt Lake City. On my first trip, I nearly fainted when I was handed Rhode Island’s original record book dating from 1638. Newport’s historian showed me the 1651 record authorizing William Coddington as Rhode Island’s governor-for-life. I’ve also visited places I know that Herod must have seen, like Smith’s Castle, a trading post in Wickford, and camped near Herod’s home for a week to get a feel for her world. Google Earth has also been invaluable.

Will there be a third book? Will you tell me a little about it?

My first draft of The Golden Shore is about 20% complete. I hope to print it next year, but realize that’s a very, very ambitious goal. Herod and her maturing Gardner children all move to the west side of Narragansett Bay, and her messy personal life takes yet another turn which I won’t spoil here. New England’s Indian tribes are losing their land in gigantic chunks, and King Philip of the Wampanoag Indians leads the tribes in war against encroaching settlers. Slavery is on the rise, so I have plenty of social issues to explore.

Please tell me about any of the challenges you had while writing your story.

I have a historical framework for my books, but everything else is seat-of-pants writing, waiting for my characters to tell me where they are going. Deciding what to include and what to omit is always tough. I throw all my ingredients into the kettle, produce a massive first draft, then start pruning.

Tell me a little about Herodias Long and George Gardner.

 Any woman who marries at thirteen like Herod did in real life must be ferociously impulsive. Herod takes responsibility for her acts and does her best to live with, and learn from the results, but her headstrong nature sometimes gets the best of her.

George Gardner is a solid citizen and a hard worker, but like Frank Kennedy in Gone With the Wind, George has taken up with a little more woman than he can manage. He is happy just farming and planting to provide for his family, but Herod’s ambitions push George way beyond his comfort zone.

After you are done writing this series what will be your next book project?

The 1662 Connecticut witchcraft outbreak is very tempting, but I may try a modern thriller first. When a geologist is killed and his laptop goes missing, who wants him dead? A jealous boyfriend? Frackers? Lake Effect would also let me bring in our local meteorological headache – snowfall above and beyond belief – into play.

I also have an idea combining birds, magic, and history into multiple story lines, but I’m not doing anything with it until after The Golden Shore is done.

That sounds interesting. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Don’t dream it – be it! If you have an idea, start writing. Also, I sold single-page, and then longer articles to Equus and Birds and Blooms magazines while I was finishing Rebel Puritan. It was great practice for writing queries, and also for creating a tight tale with introduction, body, and conclusion – exactly what you need for a book.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Jo Ann Butler, who is the author of, The Reputed Wife one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.comTo be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Reputed Wife merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Interview with Author Barbara Ann Mojica



Stephanie: Hello Barbara! Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your book, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE.


Barbara: Little Miss History Travels to Mount Rushmore is the first in a series of books using the Little Miss HISTORY character as a guide. She looks like a wannabe park ranger with pig tails and hiking boots three sizes too big. With her as your child’s guide learning about people and places of historical importance will be fun and educational. The aim of these books is to whet your child’s appetite to learn more about history and perhaps even visit these landmarks with you. Little Miss HISTORY presents information in a whimsical and factual way while amusing your child. I hope you will invite her into your home and enjoy this first adventure, and those to follow, with your loved ones.


Stephanie: What genre does this fall under?


Barbara: This book is children’s non-fiction. In the US it would be generally be aligned with fifth grade core curriculum which studies American history.


Stephanie: What inspired you to write children’s books?


Barbara: I am a historian with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in history who has New York State teaching certifications in elementary, special education and educational supervision. I spent several years as a principal of a special education preschool special education supervisor. Now that I am retired, I write biweekly historical articles for a local news magazine, but I also wanted to stay involved with children. So I married my love of teaching with history by using the Little Miss HISTORY character to inspire children to learn about historical people and visit landmarks such as the one covered in this book,

Mount Rushmore.


Stephanie: Are there any challenges writing children’s books?


Barbara: There are two challenges. The writer needs to make the text clear and concise. In my books, the pictures are really important in displaying the message as well as adding a level of humor and fun.


Stephanie: Is this your first published book?


Barbara: This is my first published children’s book. Previously I have published my master’s thesis and historical magazine articles.


Stephanie: Is there a message you would like your readers to grasp?


Barbara: I would like children to understand and appreciate our connections to our past history and its relevance to our future. At the same time, I want them to appreciate them as part of our heritage not a dull collection of facts.


Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?

My husband, who is a talented illustrator and writer, designed the cover, the illustrations and all the computer set up for the book. We sit side by side and align the text with the illustrations.


Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?


Barbara: My second book in this series in which Miss HISTORY visits the Statue of Liberty will be released shortly before this interview. I am already working on final editing of the third book to be released before the end of spring 2014.


Stephanie: Will you submit it to indieBRAG?


Barbara: My second book is already on its way to indieBRAG, and I do plan to submit the third book when it is released.


Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?


Barbara: I discovered indieBRAG while surfing online and doing research on independent authors and websites. So glad that I did!


Again, I would like to thank you Stephanie for the time you took to chat with me and get to know more fellow indie readers and writers out there on the internet!


Barbara, it was a pleasure! Thank you!


Barbara Ann Majica


About Author:


I have two children and four stepchildren. My husband and I are also blessed with six grandchildren including two sets of twins! We live in Columbia County, New York where we write and draw daily in the studio located in our home. I spent many years studying history and have traveled extensively. My teaching career has involved working in the classroom and being a principal and administrator. Being able to combine my love of history, travel, and teaching in writing children’s books with the Little Miss

History character is a dream come true for me.


Author website: http://www.littlemisshistory.com

Author blog: http://bamauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Littlemisshistorycom?ref=hl

Twitter. https://twitter.com/bamauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6851359.Barbara_Ann_Mojica

Linked in: http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_tab_home_top

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/bamauthor/

Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/112118587425339968389





A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Barbara Ann Mojica, who is the author of,   Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as,  Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE  merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.