An Empowered Girl

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As I wrote in a previous blog, when I first started outlining “Escape to Freedom” I previewed many books that were written about some pretty dreary illnesses and other dark topics.  Considering the weary tempo that has prevailed during the past year,  and continues to make many people uncomfortable and sort of spiritless,  I decided to write in another direction.  By the way have you noticed that western themes are now popping up on the BBC dramas? Another little fact you may not know is that a 15 year old well read girl could teach school simply by passing a test.  

So here’s another excerpt from “Escape to Freedom”  ISBN 13:9781537705507 under books   You’ll  see the cover there also

Setting the scene: Adrian and Danny have finally reached Pleasantville and Adrian is teaching school.

Adrian had walked only a few feet away from the school  when she began to have  second thoughts. Some of the children were already filing back into the school. A completely different thought sprang into her mind. It was Tuesday.  A strange cool feeling swept quickly across her shoulders. She dismissed it. The sun was warm and bright overhead. It promised to be a beautiful day!

That’s when she saw it.

Parked right in front of the new store was a two wheeled open buggy  drawn by a single horse. Adrian had seen a buggy like that before, in fact, Angus Peters had one like it, He had brought it over from England some years earlier, he had told her.

Standing beside the buggy was Mrs. Miller and her husband, the minister. They were talking to a   man seated in it. His back was turned toward Adrian. Mrs. Miller must have noticed her by the school because she abruptly raised her arm and beckoned for her to come on toward them.

Instead Adrian stopped dead in her tracks. There was something strangely familiar about the set of the man’s shoulders, even though she was looking at his back. She watched the three of them continue talking. Then the man turned slightly to the side and Adrian realized that he had seen her. Her body stiffened and her breath stopped.

It couldn’t be….but it was.  Angus Peters!

Adrian froze in her tracks.  She saw Angus flip the reins and turn the carriage toward her. It was only moments before the carriage was moving toward her, but it seemed like an hour. She didn’t move and for some strange reason wondered whether he would run over her. Abruptly the horse stopped. There was no need to run. Where would she go?

Yes, it certainly was Angus Peters all right, and he was sitting there unflustered and in control of the situation. He looked down at Adrian with a stern expression on his face and said her name.

“Adrian Morgan, I’m here to take you back.  Ezra Crump is paying a hefty reward to get you back. He said he bought your bond out of kindness.”

He pointed his finger at her accusingly. “You know you hurt his pride very badly. That was the wrong thing for you to do. Now he is angry at you and me both!”

Adrian stood as solid as a statue. She wanted to retort back but she found herself speechless.

Suddenly panic overcame her. She looked to the left and then to the right. She felt like a frightened squirrel that had just been caught in its tracks.  There was nowhere to go! She felt all of her emotions began to subside into a cold state of numbness.  She could only stare back at Angus.  Her mouth was dry and speechless.

“Where are your things, Adrian? We’ll get them together and start back.”

Angus Peters’ voice sounded as hard as metal. “Did you hear what I said?  I’m here to take you back!”

Without a word, Adrian pointed behind her at the school.  By this time the Millers had walked down to stand beside the buggy.

“Let me go with you, child,” spoke up Mrs. Miller.  From the pained expression on her face, Adrian guessed that Angus had already explained the problem to them.

Hearing her voice, Adrian’s mind suddenly spring back, alert and alive. Her head had stopped spinning and she was thinking calmly now.  What could she do? She looked up at Angus.  She didn’t want to beg, but she did anyway.  A vague plan was forming.  She couldn’t start running here in the street but maybe, just maybe there was another way.

“Mister Peters, these people have been good to me.  I can’t just leave the children sitting at their tables.  They won’t understand.  Please, Sir, I want to explain to them. Let me please do that much.”  Her voice was suddenly soft, barely above a whisper. She hoped that would help. She was fighting to keep from screaming but she could see his face ever so slightly begin to soften.  She knew that in his heart he was a good man. She was counting on that now.

“You can wait right outside the door. See the children have all gone back inside.  They’re waiting right there. They’re wondering what is happening. Please, Mister Peters, give me just a few minutes to tell them I’m leaving. To say goodbye.”

Angus Peters sat thoughtful for a few seconds, and then slowly nodded.  “All right, go ahead.”

He wound the reins around the side of the buggy and began to step down.

In that one moment panic sprang up again and rippled through Adrian’s body. Then a sliver of hope returned. On an impulse she turned and started running as fast as she could toward the schoolhouse door. It was standing open.

“Start singing!” she commanded as she ran past the children’s tables.  “Start singing.”

Adrian’s voice rang out in song!

“Are you sleeping, Brother John?  Brother John?

Morning bells are ringing!  Morning bells are ringing!”

They joined in with her.  All of their voices rising loudly together in a chorus.

“Ding, dang dong!  Ding, dang dong!”

Now her goal was to reach the last window in the building. It was open. When she reached it she kicked a bench under the window frame.  She grasped the window sill for balance, then stepped up on the bench   and boosted her body up until she was sitting in the window. With all her strength she pulled her legs up and over and out the window in one frightening motion.

Echoing in her ears she heard the children still chiming. Then one voice, a boy’s, yelled louder than all the others:

“Jump Miss Morgan!  Jump as far as you can!”

Adrian felt the wind lift her skirt as she sailed outward and then down. She knew she was falling but there was nothing she could do.

Was it seven feet?  Eight?   She felt the height and then the ground rushing up toward her. She saw clearly that she was tumbling downward right into the tall weeds and brush growing outside the window.  The bushy growth caught at her arms, stinging and scratching and slowing her descent.  But her mind was clear.

Ker thud!  Her feet crumbled under her. She felt a sharp pain streak sharply up her ankle. Panic again began taking over. She scrambled frantically to her feet and kept pushing forward. She ignored the pain. She was stumbling and sliding at the same time but somehow she kept her balance on the uneven ground.

“Ignore the pain,” she kept repeating to herself. Blindly she pushed forward.

I  hope you have enjoyed these few blogs about Adrian and Danny on their adventure. I would love to hear your thoughts.  Email be at    





“Escape to Freedom”

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Here’s the description you will find on Amazon under Books.

Flight to Freedom 
Adrian Morgan sails from England as a bond servant surviving a hurricane to reach America. As a young adult she is strong-willed and determined to earn her freedom and start a new life in Baltimore City.
But when her bond is sold to a possessive lawyer, she decides to run away to Indian Territory where freedom is guaranteed. She teams up with Daniel Dunn another bond servant who shows initiative and confidence. They combine their skills to escape but Adrian breaks her arm fighting off a horse thief. When wanted posters for them appear they take refuge traveling south on the “Trail of Tears” with Cherokee Indians forced from their homes in Tennessee. Challenged by a flood and caught up in a tornado they finally reach Pleasantville, a town that needs their help rebuilding. Adrian begins sharing her English schooling as a teacher. It seems like a dream come true! But Daniel yearns to see what lies over the next mountain. Is this what they both really want? Are those wanted posters still following them and complicating their lives? Out of Adrian’s past an unexpected threat suddenly draws them together again strengthening their friendship and renewing their bond as partners. Now they must decide whether to part or face whatever dangers are ahead. What’s beyond the next mountain tops? Alison wonders whether to take the risk, and whether she might, just maybe even find a flicker of romance in a future beyond the horizon.

Read an Excerpt

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As I mentioned a while back I took a break to finish my next book, “Escape to Freedom.”      It’s  for young adults and over. Again it’s based on American historical touches. You might say I am growing up a bit in my writing. One clue is it is wholesome,  what you might call Christian but it is about a strong willed young woman growing up. So many of the teen books I reviewed were about an illness or had  dark and sad elements.  So I wrote in another direction. Anyway, it has kept me busy.  Here are a few words from the beginning.

Excerpt from “Escape to Freedom” soon to be available on Amazon and Kindle.                ISBN 13:978-1537705507 (Registered LOC)

“What was going  to happen to her now? It was a foggy, cold day in the English village of Ipswich and even colder in the small attic room where Adrian sat by the bedside of her Uncle Matthew.  A week ago yesterday he had fallen down a flight of stairs into the basement of the tavern where he worked and where they lived.

“He has broken at least three ribs that probably have punctured a lung,” said the doctor. Before the week was over he came again.

“He has pneumonia,” pronounced the doctor, shaking his head. His voice was harsh and unsympathetic.  “There’s nothing more we can do for him now.  Make him as comfortable as possible,” he instructed Adrian. “He won’t last long!”

Adrian was instantly in shock and sat down hard in the chair she had pulled next to his bed.  In silence she picked up his hand.  It felt so cold. She imagined she could feel his life slowly draining away, but he was still breathing. She felt his chest moving slowly up, then down. As she waited, she let her mind wander because it made her forget the present. What should she do?

She had been fourteen when her mother died. Now that seemed like such a long time ago. She considered herself lucky to have been invited to come to Ipswich to live with her Uncle Matthew. She had met him only once when she was about eight and didn’t remember him very well. But, her mother had spoken of him so often that Adrian felt that she knew him. He was her only relative.

Adrian thought fleetingly of her mother and how little she knew about her family. Except for Uncle Matthew she had spoken very little about other relatives. Once she had said that the name “Adrian” was really a boy’s name but when she was born a girl, the name was kept anyway.

Shock turned to fear. Now she would be an orphan!

She closed her eyes to think.  But it didn’t matter because the room was already filled with darkness. Where could she go? What experience did she have? She could wash dishes and pots and pans. She could peel potatoes. But where would she sleep?

Click!  Somewhere she heard the faint click click  of a clock marking the hour. The sound broke into her thoughts. She had never heard it before. It sounded suddenly louder, and she realized she was  stroking her Uncle’s hand in rhythm. The feel of his skin was soft but the palm of his hand felt damp.  She felt her heart beating with the same rhythm.

Adrian opened her eyes. It was still black all around her. There was nothing to see. She rubbed her knees with her free hand, they felt cramped and stiff.  Should she pray? Why?  Maybe just saying the words would give her courage?

“Be with me.  Guide me, no matter what.”  She whispered into the silence and empty darkness.

Now her feet felt numb. Her shoes were too tight so she wiggled her toes. They felt cold too.

Earlier she had placed a damp cloth across her Uncle’s forehead.  She stood up and carried it to  a small basin of water setting on the dresser.  She dipped it in and wrung it out, then replaced it across his brow again.

She couldn’t escape thinking about what might happen when the morning came. The night seemed to be continuing forever. For some reason she remembered once seeing an old lady, wrapped in a blanket and  sleeping on the curb with a tin cup in front of her. No, she wasn’t going to go begging on the street; she felt resolute about that.  So, where would she sleep? That thought frightened her the most.  The Sisters of Mercy had told her she could work at the hospital and board with them. She felt weak at the thought of helping another sick person.

She took a deep, deep breath. Now, she felt calmer, content to sit there and listen pensively to the night sounds outdoors along the road and those invading the little room.  She listened again to the sound of her Uncle’s breathing.  Evenly for a moment, then a harder short gasp.

Once he mumbled in his sleep and she leaned closer to hear whether he was saying words. It must have been her imagination.

Don’t cry she told herself sternly.  Still she felt as though a drop of moisture was moving slowly down her cheek. She blinked. Her eyelashes felt wet.  She realized she was holding his hand again. It felt the same.  Toward morning his breathing become very low and labored.  Minutes passed. Then he breathed a deep sigh and was quiet. Total silence filled the room.  His hand in Adrian’s hand went limp, but she continued holding on to him.

One tiny tear, then another rolled down Adrian’s cheek. She felt completely alone. The walls around her seemed to narrow in on her and the temperature in the room fell, turning incredibly cold.

Solemnly she laid her Uncle’s hand on his chest and walked over to the door. Quietly she closed it behind her and went to find the landlord.

As part of his salary at the tavern her uncle had been given this small attic room that held a narrow bed and a high chest. There was just enough room left over for one chair, a chamber pot and a space where Adrian had spread down a bedroll each night.

Despite the tight quarters, Matthew had invited his niece to come and live with him. To pay for her meals he had arranged for her to help out in the evenings washing dishes and waiting on the tables.  Sometimes she had worked in the kitchen helping the cook. She especially liked cutting up liver and onions, making cabbage rolls and rolling out the dough for meat pies.  These were the hearty foods served at the tavern.

However, despite her good work habits, the tavern’s owner wasted no time in removing Matthew’s body from his premises. In fact, he did it that night when the removal would not attract neighbors or possibly customers.

What does Adrian do next?  Ironically, Angus Peters comes to the tavern to recruit bond servants for his Half-Way House tavern in the New World.  Could this be the answer? In a few days I’ll be back with another excerpt.  Keep checking in!





National Dog Week

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I hope you enjoy this excerpt from  “Spirit Dog” my book last year. It’s the adventures of Jeff and his dachshund, Adolphus, in the Oklahoma Territory in the 1850.  I’ll be happy to email you a teacher’s guide for anyone that is being home schooled.   Excerpt from Chapter 10::

If the  Osage were intent upon making Adolphus a Spirit Dog, that dachshund was just as intent on not being one. Those braves that had already been nipped by Adolphus wasted no time in telling their friends to beware.  Jeff wondered what might happen to Adolphus now? 

The Ancient One left Jeff  laying in the center of the lodge.  She was gone only a few minutes before she returned leading Hawk along on a thin rope.  Without a word, he sat down too on the floor.  Minutes later Adolphus came pouncing into the lodge, immediately jumping on  Jeff’s lap and covering his face with warm wet laps of his tongue. He was dragging the  rope. He must have chewed his way free. His  tail was wagging back and forth, slowly at first, then vigorously in quick beats as he jumped just as eagerly onto Hawk’s lap.

“Let me look you over.” Hawk laughed and let the dog push him back until they both were laying on the floor again.  “They have painted circles around his eyes,” Hawk pointed out.

From his prone position Jeff gazed into the dog’s eyes. “Those must be Spirit markings.” A rope was tied around his neck with shells and an eagle’s feather attached to it.  Adolphus squirmed free, ran to the door and then looked back at them. Hawk followed him to the door and peered out cautiously. There was no sign of a guard. Still he sensed that they were being watched and guarded from a distance.

With Adolphus’ disappearance, they should have guessed that someone would miss him.  It was not long before the Medicine Man swept back the door flap and entered. He gazed down at Adolphus who was now content to lie quietly beside Jeff.

The Medicine Man stared down at the dog and then shook his rattle over their heads and vengefully under Hawk’s nose.   It-was a highly ornamental rattle that looked to have been made from a hollowed shell of a terrapin that had been dried and then filled with small rocks. Obviously it held special power in his opinion.

“He has pronounced a terrible curse on us,” whispered Hawk as the Medicine Man left continuing to shake the rattle in a frenzied manner above his head and in front of him. Jeff shivered. He didn’t feel any different.  He continued to hear the Medicine Man still rattling as he walked away. He must be pronouncing a terrible curse!

Jeff turned to Hawk for some explanation.  “The Ancient One spoke English! Is she a princess?  She seems to have some authority doesn’t she?”

Hawk nodded, although he seemed to be as puzzled as Jeff.

“Yes, she definitely is an important person to this tribe.  Maybe she will tell us.”

When the evening meal was set before him, Jeff dived hungrily into the thick corn meal mush, dipping it awkwardly out of the shallow clay bowl with a crust of flat bread. It was the first food he had eaten since he had been captured.  Even the strong pungent odor of the rendered animal fat did not kill his appetite. He was getting pretty good at scooping food up to his mouth with his fingers or eating with a smooth flat wooden ladle.

Jeff  had not quite figured out everything that had happened to him, but he did know one thing. He was grateful to the Ancient One for rescuing him, whatever her reasons might be..

Since their return to the lodge neither Jeff nor Hawk had spoken, except to say thank you in English to the Ancient One. Jeff instantly recognized that their remarks seemed to please her. He tried to smile but his mouth and lips were too dry. Apparently the Indian meal did not consist of any kind of drink. His throat felt parched and dry. He wondered if he could ask for a drink of water but thought better about it.

“Spirit Dog” is available from in paperback or Kindle.


Reading Signs

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Have you ever heard of “sandwich board signs?”  Historically they were started years and years ago, but they are still being used.

A local automotive sales company near me–named Koon’s– has one or two men wearing sandwich signs out on the highway nearly every day.  As you are driving past, how much can you read?  In many ways this reminds me of people reading texts  while driving. Now the first word or two is  “Car Sales” and then beneath runs 10-12 more other words. Unless you would turn in their drive and stop you would not be able to randomly read the other words. Maybe they hope that you will be so curious that you will turn around right there in the middle of the highway and come back to catch the rest of the message.

A few years ago I gave a talk on using signs effectively.  I suggested that to be effective a sign should carry no more than three to five words. One of the most popular signs we see are  the “Garage Sale”  signs. Maybe under it the sale day such as “Saturday.”  Then under that come the times.  Although that information is getting smaller and smaller in lettering.

Restaurants have used sandwich board signs effectively and put them out right before lunch or dinner hours.  They usually say “Lunch Specials” and then name one or two. An art store nearby also used a similar sign listing two sale items and a small meat market combined with a deli also places a sign out on the sidewalk for a few hours listing one or two specials.

Another similar type of sign is the one that hangs from light poles along the roadway.  Sometimes they will say “Class Reunion” and then under that a year date.  Or there may be some other type of special event such as “Centennial”  and a date.  Have you ever tried to read that sign as you pass.  They are posted up and over your head and you do indeed take your eyes off the road to read it.  Now you can either hit the car in front of you or skid your right side tires into the curb.  Indeed I do — so I no longer read hanging signs.

Another type of sign is the flapping banner stuck in the ground.  One near me marks  where the “State Farm” office is located.  I used one of these myself when I was with a company in Richmond, VA.  It  marked where the driveway entrance was located . However, we just used the company logo.  You’ll see these a lot lining a car lot, a gas station or more recently I saw one beckoning me into a McDonald’s.

So, I guess what I am getting around to saying, is that a point can be made in a few words. .  Is is effective?  Does it draw more sales?  Probably some is my conclusion.  .




Reggie Survives

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Hail to the first book I had published–“Reggie the Goat.”

That was in 1962 I believe by T.S. Dennison, now gone the way of all good publishers. Originally it was named Gilbert’s Goat but the editor and publisher L.M.Brings changed the name.  The good folks at Dennison returned the authors copy rights to me and I have recorded that with the Library of Congress, should I ever want to reissue Reggie again.  However, all those left over books are still up for sale on the Amazon website.

Reggie had a nice adventure, being rescued by Gilbert from a shelter, traveling in a taxi, not fitting in a dog house and finally winding up as an ambassador at the local zoo.  I noticed recently that the zoo now has many goats hanging around. They are easy to care for, eat down the grasses, and turn up in the Petting area for kids to feed. Goats are less expensive than larger animals and probably help pay for themselves by mowing the grass and weeds, and serving as a pleasant, nonviolent attraction.

See below is Reggie, chewing on a scrap of cardboard after he chewed his way out of a box that Gilbert placed over his head to hide his identity.  After all, what taxi driver would want to have a goat as a passenger. As Dennison was a supplier to libraries, Reggie was distributed quite widely.  However, I never gave up my day job as a  newspaper  writer.  But I did visit a lot of schools, and received nice fan letters from youngsters who enjoyed meeting Reggie.

When Did You Begin to Write

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I was just reading the blog of a friend who was discussing when she first began writing. As with many writers it was in grade school. One of my favorite topics was writing about dogs mushing through the snow in the Artic . I knew nothing about that topic but my imagination flowed. Then someone suggested writers should write about what they know.  Then when I was in the seventh grade I submitted one of my stories to a children’s page in the Country Gentlemen magazine and would you believe I received a letter saying I had earned a first prize certificate. I can’t even remember what I wrote about. But that inspired me to continue.  Through the years I have had a lot of fun writing for different publications such as Day Publications and Meat Processing,  Highlights for Children and others.  Many of those articles were based  on interviews, so I have many people in person or via phone that shared many interesting stories.  Now I’ve begun writing again just for myself.  What a joy!

Just as with reading, time passes very  fast.