Tag Archives: history

History Becomes Legend

Hello everyone!

What do you think of when you hear the name Johnny Appleseed? How about Pocahontas or St. Nicholas? They were real people, but what they are most known for has been exaggerated or altered so much that it is more legend than reality.

St. Nicholas DecorationWriting Prompt: Your writing challenge is to legendize a historical figure.

  1. Choose a historical figure and write a legend about him/her.
  2. Create a holiday celebrating that person or his/her legendary deed. What traditions mark this holiday? What are typical foods and decorations?
  3. Commercialize the celebration. How does commercialization affect the celebration and meaning of the holiday?

Happy writing!



Presidents’ Day: Controversial Decisions in Hindsight

Hello everyone and happy Presidents’ Day!

In our society, criticizing leadership has become the norm.  Maybe it always was.  If we look at any U.S. President, we will see that he had his share of critics and flaws.  It can be easy to say that we would have done a better job.  But is that really the case?

Hindsight Storm TrooperWhen I was in college, I took a wonderful history class about the Vietnam War.  The professor knew that most of us didn’t know anything about that war (I certainly didn’t), and he started off the semester by asking us not to read ahead or look up anything about the Vietnam War.  Then, whenever we reached a turning point in the history of the war, he gave us the information which would have been available to the population at that time and asked us to choose what we thought should happen.  We each kept a record of our choices.  Then, he told us what actually happened and the consequences.  It was humbling to see that without the gift of hindsight, I made a lot of the same mistakes as the people who actually made the decisions.

Writing Challenge

  1. Choose a president (it can be one you know well or one you didn’t even realize was a president) and research his time in office.
  2. Choose one of the big and/or controversial decisions he made and do a little research about the events surrounding that decision.
  3. Write a journal entry as that president about the decision he made and his reasons for making it.  (Remember to limit yourself to the knowledge which the president had available to him at the time.)

Kindness Month Challenge

Write an e-mail to the president, your congressman/woman, representative, or a state or local official, and thank him/her for a decision they made that you approved of.  Remember, they hear plenty of requests and complaints, so why not make their day by saying “thank you”?

Happy writing!


Seven Books that Shaped Who I Am

Hello everyone!

The other day I had a conversation with sci-fi and fantasy author Olivia Berrier about the seven books that have had the greatest impact on us.  I was able to come up with two lists of seven books: seven that shaped who I am as a writer and seven that influenced who I am as a person.

Your challenge is to come up with a list of the seven books that have had the greatest impact on you.  Think about how and why they influenced you.  Then, send each author a short message letting them know what their book meant to you.  You will make their day!

To help you get started, I have included my list of the seven books that helped shape who I am as a writer.  (I cheated a little – If the series as a whole influenced me rather than a specific book from the series, I listed the title of the series.)

Cover of The Lion, the Witch, and the WaredrobeThe Lion, the Witch, and the Waredrobe by C.S. Lewis – This was the first story I ever fangirled over.  It established my love for allegories and fantasy worlds.

Cover of Flight of the EaglesThe Seven Sleepers Series by Gilbert Morris – It built upon the foundation Narnia had laid.  My love of allegories and fantasy worlds was solidified.

Box Set of The Inheritance CycleThe Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini – The Inheritance Cycle showed me how to explore different belief systems in a fictional setting and introduced me to the idea that magic can have rules.  From a technical standpoint, I learned a trick for minimizing use of the auxiliary verb “had” when relating something that had happened before the story began.  (This only applies to books that are narrated in the past tense.)

Cover of The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This book was my introduction to first-person narration.  It is my favorite go-to example for how to set your reader firmly in a world without having an info dump and for what information to include in the first chapter of a novel.

Cover of Bridge to TerabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – This book showed me that children’s books can cover difficult, real-life situations which young people sadly face but society often considers too mature to discuss with children.

Welcome to Camden Falls coverMain Street Series by Ann M. Martin – This series showed me how to grow characters over the course of several books.  It also demonstrated how to write about real-life, too-mature-to-discuss-with-children situations in a tasteful way.

Complete A to Z Mysteries book seriesA to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy – This series showed me how to structure a chapter book mystery series.

Happy writing!


What’s a Sugarplum? (And Other Christmas Queries)

Hello everyone!

Have you ever wondered what a sugarplum is?  How about plum pudding?

With the controversy over the meaning of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” I’ve been wondering about the history behind some of our favorite Christmas words.  If you too have been curious about this, check out the articles below:

“9 Christmas Words with Surprising Histories” by Merriam-Webster.com

mistletoe 2Words in the order they are presented:

  • sugarplum
  • mistletoe
  • gingerbread
  • plum pudding
  • eggnog
  • bough
  • spruce
  • crèche
  • carol

“The Origins of 12 Christmas Words” by Paul Anthony Jones

Rudolf 1Words in the order they are presented:

  • bauble
  • carol
  • chestnut
  • eggnog
  • frankincense
  • gift
  • mistletoe
  • poinsettia
  • Rudolf
  • tinsel
  • turkey
  • yule

Happy writing and merry Christmas!