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.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Be safe! Stay well!

 October 30, 2020

    Hi, Everyone!

     I hope this note finds you well and navigating these very odd and unsettling times.  I think the toughest part of all this for me is not seeing friends and loved ones.  I've been isolating pretty much of the time because I have the underlying kidney situation, so, like so many of you, I've tried to limit my time with others.  Instead -- again like so many of you -- I've resorted to Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, BlueJeans, and old-fashioned phone calls to keep in touch with everyone.  Still, that just isn't the same. There is a real "lonely factor" here that I think sometimes gets forgotten during this age of Covid.

    In terms of my writing, I *am* continuing to research and write my next book, but there is a great irony (weirdness?) that I think about all the time: the book I'm working on now will probably be out before I can do any book events for my last book!  My latest book, Lt. Elsie Ott's Top Secret Mission, came out March 15, one day before most bookstores and similar venues started shutting down because of the virus.  So, my 12-city book tour for the book was immediately called off.  At the same time, I was scheduled to go to the United Kingdom this past summer to do more book events (for reasons I'm not completely sure of, my books are very popular over there), and all that was shut down as well.  I was able to do a couple of NPR programs about the book, and I appeared on the Armed Services Radio Network twice, but other than those, I really haven't had a chance to do any book readings/events because of the current situation here and around the world.  I'm NOT complaining.  Problems with a book are absolutely nothing compared to the suffering that has fallen on so many because of Covid and related issues.  Still, for an author, this is a living example of "If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it -- does it make a sound?"  Well, the book came out, but because of the situation, it didn't make a sound at all.  My publisher tells me we will try to do a book tour once the circumstances change, but who knows when that will be.  Plus, as most authors will confirm, if events are not done when a book is released, LATER events just won't create the same publicity and readership.  Again, I'm not complaining.  This is just an observation that this may be a book that never finds a readership because of the current circumstances.  If that happens, it happens.  All I care out, honestly, right now is that everyone stays safe.  Like my Grandma Dunavant always used to say, "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything."  The older I get, the more I see just how much she was right.

     So, I'll sign off by again saying, please stay well.

     Take care!


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lt. Elsie Ott's Top Secret Mission

April 16, 2020
Hi, All!
     Today I also wanted to post the link to the radio program I did about my newest book, Lt. Elsie Ott's Top Secret Mission.  I also did this program for Veterans Radio (and the Armed Services Radio Network) for veterans and those who are currently serving.  I'm hoping that this book will provide a good distraction for everyone while so many of us are in isolation because of Covid-19.  I know so many of our people in the service right now are being told to stay where they are, and the opportunities for entertainment are small.  Hopefully, this radio program will lift spirits.  This book is the story of a true American hero, a person who literally changed the way we live.  This year is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote and other rights as well.  Lt. Elsie Ott is considered one of the most important women of the 20th Century, and when you read the book you will see why.  She was an amazing person, and her legacy will live on forever.
   Here is the link to the interview.  I hope you enjoy it!
   Take care -- and stay well!

Covid-19/Plague Interview

April 16, 2020
Hi, All!
    First of all, I hope this finds you well and doing your best to stay safe at this terrible time. I know better days are coming, but right now these are tough times for us all.  However, we will get through this.  We WILL!
  Several of you have asked me to post the link to the program I did for Veterans Radio (and the Armed Services Radio Network) that was broadcast worldwide to our veterans and those who are still serving now.  I'll provide the link below.  The interview basically get into how the Black Plague outbreak in 1924 in Los Angeles and what we are going through today are so similar.  Actually, what we learned about dealing with a pandemic in 1924 has served as a model for what we are doing to stem the increase of Covid-19 now.  In 1924, the officials, both medical and with the government, went to strict isolation, self-distancing (forced), and a "tracking" of the spread so that it could be stopped.  If you haven't read the book Plague in Paradise yet, you might find some answers to what is going on today in those pages.
     Here is the link:

Please -- PLEASE, everyone take care -- and stay well!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

March 22, 2020
Hi, All!
   I'm sorry I haven't posted recently, but the world around us has sure been unsettling. I also teach at the University of Northern Iowa, and we have been busy night and day getting everything ready for our students to complete their coursework online for the rest of this semester, this summer, and if necessary, next fall as well. Just telling instructors and students to "go online" is one thing, but the reality of the situation is still another.  Through this crisis many of us have learned that our students don't have their own computers and other electronic devices -- that they rely on the technology here on campus to do their work.  In plain-English, this means not all students can continue their work online because they do not currently have the means to do so.  Our students have all been instructed to go back to their homes for at least the remainder of this term, but many do not have Internet at home or electronic devices there. In addition, many faculty members have never delivered instruction by way of the Internet before, so there is a steep learning curve on this end as well.  Most will likely end up using Zoom, Skype, Panopto, or other visual means of interacting with students and others, but this will be a challenge if many do not have access to the Internet or appropriate devices.  In short, this is going to take all of us working together for this to work.  I also urge everyone, wherever you are, to be kind, understanding, patient as everything in our daily lives changes.
    Right now, we must all concentrate on keeping our health.  The virus is continuing to spread at alarming rates, so many cities, and even states, have instituted "stay at home" policies to try to stop the exposure.  My mom, who is in her 80's, lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and where she lives there has a "stay at home" order that goes into place today and will last a minimum of thirty days.  Other places are following suit.  That is a long time to be isolated, but it is what is needed right now.  We haven't gone to those measures yet here in northern Iowa, but I could see that happening soon here as well.
   I know many sites on the Internet have suggested that people read while isolated to help keep busy.  For many, reading will help fill a small part of the void in daily lives caused by the "stay at home" mandates.  I hope reading does turn out to be a nice way of relaxing for everyone.  My new book, Lt. Elsie Ott's Top Secret Mission, was "officially" released two weeks ago, but because of what is going on, all of my book readings and events have been postponed indefinitely.  That's the way it should be because the last thing we need is groups getting together right now.  However, it is available in e-book format for those who would like to get it from your favorite book e-tailer.  I wrote the book to have a "cliffhanger" at the end of every chapter, so I hope it provides good entertainment for everyone during this very difficult time. I also did a podcast about the book on Veterans Radio.  If you go to the Veterans Radio website, you can click on a link there to hear the discussion.  I think you will enjoy listening to this.
   At the same time, my last book, Plague in Paradise: The Black Death in Los Angeles, 1924, is currently being read my many because the events surrounding the Plague outbreak in 1924 is so, so similar to what is taking place with the Corona Virus right now. If you would like to see how health and government officials dealt with a deadly outbreak in the past, you might want to read this book as well. It is a literary nonfiction account, so the story will take you behind-the-scenes to see exactly what happened to everyone -- those who were ill, those who governed the area, and the medical professionals who put themselves at great risk to help stop the spread of the disease.  We learned a great deal from the 1924 outbreak, and much of that knowledge is being used right now to fight the spread of the virus.  I'll attach a picture of the book cover for you to see.

     I wish all of you good health.  Take care -- and please stay well!  I'll try to be better about posting once we get organized here.