New and Improved

Friends, this is the newer updated blog, different from the old one. The previous blog can be found here:
but I will no longer be posting to it.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2017
Hi, All!
    First of all, I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and wonderful holidays and Happy New Year!  I hope all of you have a great time with family, friends, and others special to you.
     This will be a quick note, and you will soon see why.......
      Take a look at the picture attached to this post.  Yes, I really did break my leg playing soccer.  So, this brings up the question: "Why, at my age, did I think I could still play soccer?"  It's funny, but I don't feel like I'm getting older -- even though my body reminds me of this just about every day now.  Age is nothing but a number -- until a person gets hurt!  I'm posing with a baseball bat instead of a soccer ball because a dear friend of mine did some fast work on the picture to show my leg stuck out like this.  Ouch!  So, the reason this note will be short is it is still difficult for me to sit at the computer for any length of time.  I think I'm going to have to start typing while standing up!
    A soccer injury isn't a very "romantic" injury to report, so I think I should change my story to something like I broke my leg while saving some children from a burning building.  Or, how about I threw myself in front of an out-of-control car to save an elderly person who was crossing the street?  How about saying I hurt the leg while falling off an elephant?  If you can think of a better story I can use, please send it along to me.
     Again, Happy Holidays!  And a happy and blessed 2018 for us all!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Author Website Updated!

December 2, 2017
Hi, All!
     First of all, I'd like to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and wonderful holiday season!
     My note this morning is just to let everyone know my author website has just been updated.  The work on the site was done by the incredibly talented Bobbie Combs of ""  If you are an author or are thinking about starting your own website to showcase your writings, take a look at her work.  Bobbie is simply amazing -- and a delight to work with.
      Here is the address of my author website:
Please check out the site and let me know what you think of it and the changes.  I'm always trying to make it more "user friendly," so I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions you might have.
    I'm also writing to let you know I'm now deep into the background research for my next book.  This book will tell the story of some amazing events that took place during WWII, a story that has so many implications for what we do in this world today.  I'm once again writing about a pioneer and true American hero. In doing my background research, I'm currently more than a little stuck because I can't find a piece of information I badly need for this story. However, the investigation, the digging out the details, is pure joy for me.  It is the "thrill of the chase" in tracking down the details that makes this part of the writing so much fun -- and such a challenge.  I'll find the information I need, but I'm guessing I'll have a lot more rocks to turn over before I finally locate it.......
      I'll attach a picture to this post to show you an item that will be a major player in this story -- that's all the hint I'm going to give now.  Check back here from time to time for updates!
    One final note today: I also wanted to mention that my documentary film "The Story of Shelley v. Kraemer" is still showing at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.  The documentary, which was nominated for the Sundance Film Festival, is part of their wonderful exhibit: "#1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis."  The documentary will continue to be shown continuously in the exhibit until the exhibit ends on April 15, 2018. There is no admission fee for the exhibit or the film, so if you are in the area over the holidays (or next spring), you might want to stop by the museum.  The museum has quite a number of exhibits, all of which are really fun to go through.
     Again, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Choosing a topic for a book

October 14, 2017
Hi, All!
     Other than waiting for the galleys of Plague in Paradise: The Black Death in Los Angeles, 1924 to be sent to me for final review, I'm now finished with that book.  It will be published in 2018, and I can't wait because the topic is so timely right now.  It seems like every day another report appears in the national newspapers about the Black Plague outbreak happening right now in Madagascar, where over fifty have been killed by this dreaded disease and over five hundred are still being held in its grip.  And it isn't just Madagascar that has been in the news lately because of plague; an outbreak happened in our American west just a couple months back.  Yes, this scourge of the Middle Ages is still with us to this day, and more and more outbreaks are being reported around the globe. For as far as medical science has come in its knowledge of how to fight the plague, there is still so much to learn about how these outbreaks happen and what to do about them.  Plague in Paradise tells the story of the last major outbreak of the Black Plague in the United States, which happened in 1924.  In this book, readers will see how past history is influencing the present, especially through the trials and tribulations of the outbreaks happening right now.
    With that book finished, it is time to move to the next project.  This is both an exciting and, at times, frustrating time for authors.  It is an exciting time for me because I know whatever topic I choose, I'm going to spend the next year of my life researching it -- and then six more months writing it.  I absolutely LOVE doing the research -- the digging through archives and records centers, the travel to interview people associated with the topic, reading everything I can get my hands related to the story -- and finally starting on a storyboard for the book.  On the other hand, because there are so many topics from which to choose when deciding on a project, the frustrating part is narrowing down the choices to just one that I want to invest my time in during the research and writing.  Put more simply, I usually end up with three or four topics I'm interested in, and whittling these down to the one I'll actually work on is so tough for me.  I'd like to do them all!  Right now, for my next book, which will also be literary nonfiction, I've narrowed my choices down to three.  One would be a story about another group of heroes who served during World War II.  The other two would be about "pioneers" who helped advance medicine and quality of life in our country.  I'm going to do a little more research into the three before making my final decision.  I have to decide which story I'd most like to write, but it isn't just that easy. I also need to check to see what material is out there to draw from when doing my background research.  In other words, not only do I have to chose what I'd like to do -- I also have to make sure I can find enough information to do justice to the story and stick to the code of literary nonfiction.  So, stay tuned.  I'll be making my decision soon!  In the meantime, I wish all of you happy reading!
P.S. The attached photo is me with John Pertzborn of the St. Louis Fox News affiliate when I was on to talk about the documentary film I put together last year, "The Story of Shelley v. Kraemer," which is still showing at the Missouri History Museum through April 15, 2017. John Pertzborn is one of the best news anchors I've ever worked -- and a wonderful human being

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Plague Book Finished!

June 28, 2017
Hi, All!
     One of the best and most satisfying moments for an author comes when the boxed-up manuscript is finally sent off to the publisher.  I got to do that late yesterday, and I feel so lucky and blessed to have completed another book.  This one is titled Plague in Paradise: The Black Death Comes to Los Angeles, 1924.  Literary nonfiction is my area, so this is the true story of the last major outbreak of the Black Plague in the United States, which took place in Los Angeles in 1924.  It is a story that is part mystery, part suspense -- and is also highly emotionally-charged at times -- because of how this outbreak was handled by doctors and officials in Los Angeles
.  In the book, we see the best in human beings -- and the worst.  In the end, it is a story of the triumph of the human spirit in times of terrible tragedy. 
     This was a very challenging book to write.  In order to accurately present the medical side of the story, I had to pour over what seemed like countless medical books and journals.  At the same time, I had to research what life was like in 1924 Los Angeles; to do that, I read hundreds of newspapers of the era to get a good feel for everything from what music was like then to what transportation was like to what people wore and how they spoke.  While doing the background research, I was shocked by the prices of goods and services in 1924 -- some much cheaper than today, of course, but others much more expensive because of "supply and demand" issues.  I also had to travel all across the country to acquire just the right pictures for the "Photo Section" that will be at the back of the book. One of the highlights of my travel to gather information came when I was able to have lunch with Father Arturo Corral N├ívarez at Our Lady Queen of Angels ("La Placita"), the church that was the hub of the neighborhood involved in the story back in 1924. From Father Arturo, I learned so much about the history of Los Angeles and its residents.
    I'm going to attach to this note the current draft of what the front cover of the book might look like.  I really, REALLY like this -- because it shows the skyline of Los Angeles in 1924 (the "Paradise") and a rat (the Black Death).  I also like the lettering, which helps create an eerie tone.  I'm sure this cover will be changed some before a final version is put together, but I wanted all of you to see this one now.
     I get questions all the time about the steps a manuscript goes through before it ends up in final form -- and a book actually shows up on the shelves of a bookstore or is made available for e-readers.  I'm going to be posting in the future as the manuscript goes through all the steps so that this part of the publishing process can be seen.  I hope you enjoy this "step-by-step" account.
      Summer is in full bloom now, so I wish all of you a wonderful time, good health, and happy reading!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Plague Book Update

May 28, 2017
Hi, All!
     I hope all of you have been well and your lives full of joy as summer begins.  I've been on the road quite a bit of late.  One of my stops was in St. Louis at the Missouri History Museum.  There, I met up with many of the individuals who helped with my documentary film: "The Story of 'Shelley v. Kraemer."  The film will be showing at the museum for a whole year, until April of 2018.  It is running "on a loop" in a theater area of the museum within the Civil Rights Exhibit, so if you are in the area, please stop in and watch it and enjoy the whole exhibit. We all had a wonderful day.  We went through the exhibit together and watched the film.  After that, we all went to the Shelley Home, now a National Historic Landmark, and were able to visit with the family currently living there.  I want to thank Deshon and Mr. and Mrs. Moore for inviting us all into their home.  We all had a wonderful time and a great visit. Note: one picture is of us all at the entrance to the exhibit at the museum; the other photo is of us all in the front yard of the Shelley Home - next to the monument explaining the home's significance.
    I've also been wrapping up my book about the last major outbreak of the Black Plague in the United States.  The plague was spread by way of fleas on rats and squirrels.  I've been able to take several good pictures of squirrels for the Photo Section of the book, but I'm having a difficult time figuring out how I'm going to get pictures of rats that I can use in the book.  If any of you have any suggestions about that, please e-mail me.
   I wish you all a wonderful summer full of adventures and great reading!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Civil Rights Exhibit Open!

March 19, 2017
Hi, All!
    This is just a quick post to let everyone know the *ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS* exhibit at the St. Louis History Museum is now open -- and to encourage all of you to visit it over the next year.  The exhibit, which is in the main exhibit area at the museum, is called "#1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis."  It is a HUGE exhibit devoted to many of the milestone events in the fight for justice and freedom for all -- all of which took place right there in St. Louis.  There are tons of pictures and artifacts to explore, and they even have a special area where actors have been hired to portray historic individuals and interact with the groups that go through.  My documentary film, "The Story of 'Shelley v. Kraemer'" is also in a special viewing theater in the exhibit, so please stop by and watch it if you get the chance.  The exhibit is, in my judgment, the best exhibit of this type I've ever seen.  So, if you are anywhere near St. Louis and can stop by the Missouri History Museum in Forest Part to see the exhibit, I think you will really enjoy it!  The exhibit runs now until April of 2018, so you have plenty of time to go through it, hopefully many times (because you will see something new each time you go through).  The exhibit is also free and open to the public during regular museum hours.
    I'm going to post two pictures from my last visit to the exhibit.  One is of me at the opening to the exhibit area.  Another is of me with some of my pals in the theater area where my film is showing.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Documentary Film Premiere

February 27, 2017
Hi, All!
     The premiere of the documentary film "The Story of Shelley v. Kraemer" went wonderfully!  The premier took place in the theater in the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri (in Forest Park). The publicity for the event had been great (NBC, FOX, newspaper articles), so the theater was absolutely packed.  Before the event started, we had a reception for family and those who helped with the film, and that was a great time for many of them to meet each other for the first time!  Then, after the reception, everyone moved to the theater, where the general public had already started to gather. By the time everyone was seated, more chairs had to be brought in.
    There were several speakers before we moved to the viewing of the film, and some of these were Gwen Moore from the Missouri History Museum; Art Holliday from KSDK Channel 5, and Charles Bryson (representing the Mayor's office) of the St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency.  All were wonderful speakers and delivered powerful messages.  After our speakers, I then gave some "background and context" for the film, including some "little known facts" about the "Shelley v. Kraemer" U.S. Supreme Court ruling.  We then watched the film, and after it was over and the credits rolled across the screen, those in the crowd started standing -
until a standing ovation filled the room.  That was a nice way of thanking all of those who stood bravely in the fight for rights and justice for all in the Shelley v. Kraemer case!  As soon as all were seated, members of the Shelley family and the Olivia Merriweather Perkins family came to the stage.  Previously recorded film clips of them talking about what their relatives went through were shown, and each in turn gave more information about the case.  All of the speakers were, in a word, WONDERFUL!
    For those who could not attend the premiere, not to worry -- the documentary film will be the centerpiece of the new exhibit at the Missouri History Museum that will open officially on March 11, 2017 -- and will run for a whole year there!  The exhibit is called "St. Louis #1 in Civil Rights," and the exhibit will be there for the whole year as well.  If you get a chance, I encourage you to see the exhibit; it is both educational and entertaining -- and appropriate for all ages.
    I'll attach to this note a couple of pictures from the evening.  The first is me with Chatlee Williams, the last surviving child of J.D. and Ethel Shelley (she did a wonderful job in the film!).  The second is me with several members of the Shelley family (from left to right, Deb Davis, Donald Beckham, me, and Monica Beckham).  All of them are some of the best and nicest people I've every known.
    One final note: I want to give a special "Thanks!" to Douglas Hartley, who did such outstanding photography (both still shots and film footage) for the documentary film.  Douglas Hartley is an incredibly superb photographer, and the film would not have been such a success without his great work.
     Again, if you are in the St. Louis area after March 11, you might want to stop in the Missouri History Museum to see the film and exhibit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Documentary Film Premier

February 15, 2017
Hi, All!
     This weekend is the premier of the documentary film I put together titled "The Story of 'Shelley v. Kraemer'."  The premier will be held this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri -- because the major events described in the film took place right there in St. Louis just a few miles from where the museum stands!  Also, the good folks at the Missouri History Museum asked for the premier to be at the museum because the film will be shown for a period of one year in their upcoming exhibit "Civil Rights St. Louis."
    The background story related to the "Shelley v. Kraemer" U.S. Supreme Court decision was the backdrop for my book Olivia's Story: The Conspiracy of Heroes Behind 'Shelley v. Kraemer.'  This ruling, perhaps more than any other modern ruling, helped change the face and color of America.  Up until 1948 (when the Supreme Court ruling happened), people could be denied where they wanted to purchase a home because of issues such as race, color, creed, and national origin.  In St. Louis, a group of five individuals, called "The Conspiracy of Heroes," got together at that time, and through a carefully crafted ruse as good as anything one could find in a mystery movie, worked together to end the horrible practice of "restrictive real estate covenants."  The documentary film shows how these "conspirators" worked together to help all of this come about.
    I'm going to post here a link to a story that was just done by Art Holliday, from KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis, for his one of his projects related to Black History Month.  Mr. Holliday is one of St. Louis' true treasures; he truly *is* the voice of the people in that city.  He was also a pleasure to work with in the interview process.  Here is the link -- and a picture of Art and me standing in the Channel 5 studio during the intereview:
     If you are in the St. Louis area this Saturday night, please consider attending the premier of the film, which will be at 7:00 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.  The event is free and open to the public.  Note: If you are unable to attend this Saturday night, the "Civil Rights Exhibit" that the film is part of will officially open on March 11, 2017 -- and will run at the museum for a period of one year. So, you will have the whole year to see the film.
     More soon.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Black Plague!

January 11, 2017
Hi, All!
     I suppose it is time for me to give a little information about my next book.  Currently, I'm right in the middle of writing a literary nonfiction account of the last major outbreak of the Black Plague in the U.S.  -- and I'm loving every minute of bringing the story to life.  Oh, it's a gruesome story and quite a medical thriller, but it is also a story that shows a triumph of the human spirit on many levels.  However, on the other side of the coin, the story also illustrates the worst in human behavior, especially when it comes to ethics and fairness. I think readers of all ages and backgrounds will find people they know as they turn the pages of this story -- and may even begin to question some of their own beliefs and values.  
     The background research I had to do to get ready to write this story was also quite interesting and exciting
.  I had to read everything I could get my hands on about the Black Plague.  In doing so, I read about the "symptoms" associated with the plague, and I swear I started feeling like I was coming down with it!  This is why years ago I stopped reading magazines that had stories about different illnesses.  Every time I read a story about *any* illness, the next day I'd swear I was starting to get symptoms!  Once I finally decided I wasn't coming down with Black Plague, I got right back to the keyboard and moved into the story again.  I know, I know -- I'm silly, but when a person digs this deeply into a subject, sometimes the subject comes to life in ways that weren't expected!
     I'm going to attach to this post a picture of a page that will appear right before Chapter 1 in the book.  This is an illustration that was put together by the renowned artist and illustrator Maryana Britt, and I think it will set the perfect tone for the book before readers turn the page to begin Chapter 1.  Many times throughout history, whenever medical outbreaks have happened, children's rhymes have popped up.  Three such rhymes are listed in this illustration, with the last one representing a popular "jump rope rhyme" of the era depicted in my book.  If you get a chance, I'd appreciate it if you could jot me a note and let me know what you think about this illustration.  I'd especially like to know if you believe it has the "creepy factor" that we're striving for in it!
    I hope the new year has started off well for all.  Here's to a happy and healthy 2017 for us all!
    Happy reading!