Maybe you’ve seen these little library boxes in your neighborhood. They started popping up in 2009 and have spread throughout the country. Anyone can borrow a book or donate books. With the Covid crisis, many schools and libraries are closed. These small libraries can help kids (and adults, too) continue to read through the coming months. I ordered a bunch of my books and placed them in my communities’ libraries. Check out the map on their website to find a library in your neighborhood.
With the outbreak of Covid19, so much of media coverage is quick to point out how little is known. Events are unfolding quickly, and guidance is becoming more and more fine-tuned. I wondered if anything could be learned from the past. In the recent past, I can recall reading only one book set in the time of the 1918 flu pandemic. It is the first one I list below. From what I remember, the author did a good job setting the stage with what was going on during that crisis. My grandmother would have been 12 then and I wish I’d had the foresight to ask her what she remembered of the time. Certainly, no one anticipated how the disease would spread or how devastating its consequences were going to be. Below are some books to spark your interest in another time this nation faced crisis.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds- Cat Winters
“In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. At her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love–a boy who died in battle–returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?”
Pharmacy Girl: The Great War, Spanish Influenza, and the Truth About Billy Detwiler- Kate Szegda
“Everyone likes Josie, except the spoiled and arrogant Billy Detwiler. He calls her Pharmacy Girl, but it is no compliment. As the hazy days of September 1918 drift into the deadly autumn of Spanish influenza, twelve-year-old Josie Winslow’s everyday problems of school and friends, even the war effort at home, become insignificant as everyone battles the epidemic. Josie’s parents try to isolate her from the flu, but Josie is no slacker. She faces Billy in a class election, raises money for the Liberty Loan, and steps up to help the family when her mother comes down with influenza. Josie catches the flu after helping the people she loves—and hates—to survive.”
This Time of Dying-Reina James
“It is October 1918, and England is gathering its dead. For Henry Speake, of Speake & Son Undertakers, laying to rest the shattered bodies of young men sent home from the front has become a grimly familiar duty. But then a country already reeling from war faces an unexpected shock: an epidemic. The Spanish influenza will kill more people than World War I, and more people than the fourteenth-century bubonic plague. There is no cure, no help from the government, not even a clear sense of what is happening—but more and more people keep getting sick, and strangely enough, it is often the young and healthy ones who die.”
Fever Year- Don Brown (Graphic Novel)
“New Year’s Day, 1918. America has declared war on Germany and is gathering troops to fight. But there’s something coming that is deadlier than any war.
When people begin to fall ill, most Americans don’t suspect influenza. The flu is known to be dangerous to the very old, young, or frail. But the Spanish flu is exceptionally violent. Soon, thousands of people succumb. Then tens of thousands . . . hundreds of thousands and more. Graves can’t be dug quickly enough.
What made the influenza of 1918 so exceptionally deadly—and what can modern science help us understand about this tragic episode in history? With a journalist’s discerning eye for facts and an artist’s instinct for true emotion, Sibert Honor recipient Don Brown sets out to answer these questions and more in Fever Year.”
As Bright as Heaven- Susan Meissner
“In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters—Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa—a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without—and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.”
The Last Town on Earth- Thomas Mullen
1918 flu epidemic-
“Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, the adopted son of the town’s founder, it is a haven in another sense–as the first place in his life he’s had a loving family to call his own.
And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loyalty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities.
When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itself against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired–and apparently ill–soldier presents himself at the town’s doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value–love, patriotism, community, family, friendship–not to mention the town’s very survival, is imperiled.”
To find my books, click on the link below.
Publishers Weekly has reported on several bestselling series which concluded this fall. It might be a great time to dig into one of these since you’ll no longer have to wait for the last book. Although I’ve read Neal Schusterman and Kendare Blake, I’m unfamiliar with their latest works. I must admit, these seem pretty dark but maybe winter calls for these dark tales…
Neal Schusterman- author of Unwind, Everlost, and Downsiders, and many others. He also writes screenplays for movies and TV (including Goosebumps & Animorphs).
His latest series is called Arc of the Scythe (trilogy). In a time when humanity has solved hunger, disease, war, and death, only the Scythes can end life and keep the population under control. Two reluctant apprentices, Citra and Rowan struggle to learn their craft and requisite lessons.
Kendare Blake- author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Antigoddess.
Her latest series is titled the Three Dark Crowns. On the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplet sisters is born. Each possesses a special kind of magic. The night the sisters turn sixteen, a battle to the death for the throne begins.
Holly Black- author of The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest.
Her latest series is called The Folk of the Air (trilogy). Jude and her two sisters are stolen to live among the fey. Eventually, Jude becomes entangled in royal faerie matters.
To find my books, click on the link below.
Hey, gang! I’m Lydia. In Ellis’ book, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds- A Ghost Story, I was the fourteen-year-old moving to Upstate New York dealing with the ghost of a Dutch girl from the 17th century. At the time, I thought ghosts weren’t real, but first-hand experience has a way of shattering your reality. Today I have the chance to grill the writer— I mean ask a few behind the scenes questions. Some I have an inkling about, others I’m just as clueless as the reader is.
I’m like totally over this, but how was it that Annika became your favorite?
Yeah, about that. You were always intended to be the main character but by the end of the story, it was obvious Annika had taken over. Partly, it was the history of the period that was so captivating and interesting. 17th century Holland and what Annika’s family goes through during the boom and bust of the tulip market grips us. That’s not to say what you experience is to be trivialized. Lydia- your world changes alongside Annika’s. You both make moves and go through things neither of you expect.
That’s for sure! And now that I know Annika’s whole story, I get why she acted the way she did. It was just so scary and aggravating at the time. But, like I said- I’m over Annika being more of the focus of the book.
Speaking of our connection, how am I like you? What makes us different?
You deal with the same mother/daughter issues but with a maturity I didn’t have. We both are “book” people and have a love for animals. Both of us struggle to find our place in the world. Don’t we all?
What was the toughest scene in the book to write?
You know this one.
Yeah, but I gotta ask.
The incident when Mom had to call the ambulance.
Because it really happened that way.
Right. That scene was written from experience. It was just before Christmas and I was starring at the Christmas tree. The lights started to behave strangely. I witnessed a bizarre and beautiful phenomenon, I later learned was called “aura”. Events intensified where I lost my ability to speak and access language. My brain shut down. Some people call this a stroke in slow motion. Very scary. In fact, it was and is the scariest thing to ever happen to me. And these incidents continued for twelve years. Imagine, experiencing unpredictable, stroke-like symptoms for a dozen years… That’s why this scene was so hard to write and re-read.
Would you say this is your most personal book?
Absolutely. We’ve already talked about the migraine connection but there are other elements as well. In the dedication, I mention being a toddler and talking about a ghost I would see at night. This book also explores mother/daughter issues I myself experienced. Lydia is far more perceptive and processes these topics with insight I didn’t possess at her age. In many ways, the book was cathartic in allowing me to explore themes of illness, emerging spirituality, healing, and personal power.
Can I have a sequel?
No way! Sorry, my dear, your story has been told.
Is Annika getting a sequel?
This is starting to sound like whining. I’ve already given you credit for being mature. Now, what impression are readers going to be left with?
Oops. I just want you to know that I’m available should another plotline jump into that writer head of yours.
Anyway, thanks for hanging out today! Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds is out in print and e-book. Follow the links below.
E- book: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP
AMAZON LINK: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP
Two worlds collide in this haunting tale. When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to Upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease. When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia has to contend with what she may have inadvertently brought home with her.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“YA Author Ellis Nelson knows how to thread a carefully spun tale with some little known, wildly interesting, historical facts and wonderful family dynamics. She paints memorable portraits of the different countries and eras – including the scents, fragrances, smells and stenches that so clearly define those ancient times in Holland . . . right into the New World! As an avid reader, I enjoyed the love for details, the historic research, and the way the author stuck – with unwavering rhythm – to her theme. . . ”
“… author, Ellis Nelson, accomplishes so much more. She ties the old world (Amsterdam) and the new world (New Amsterdam/New York) into one intriguing thread. Then she weaves that thread into a present day story of a young visionary, Lydia, who stumbles upon the unfinished business of her invisible counterpart, Annika, from the 17th century. The stories of both girls are complete, one illuminating the other. Through these points-of-view we experience the everyday angst of adolescence in both natural and supernatural ways. Mystical insights, historical realities, and future possibilities gild this lily of a story (or I should say, this prizewinning tulip) into a work of art.”
“Timeless Tulips is the third novel I have immersed myself in by gifted author, Ellis Nelson. As with her other books, this story is exciting, suspenseful, and definitely unique. The plot twists in unexpected ways and is filled with shadowy circumstances. A wonderful read!!”
“Speculating on tulips was a twist. Nelson brings the setting, characters, and events to life with a deft hand.”
“… loved the Amsterdam, Dutch heritage aspect, since I’m of Dutch ancestry. Wonderful ghost story!”
If you follow my blogs, Facebook, or Twitter feeds, I’m sure it looks like I’m not doing a whole lot. But since being back in country (since late Oct.) things have been very busy. Personal challenges continue— my mother died in April and the house hunt continues.
Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds, my new book was released this spring. Since the publisher does not have ebook rights, I’ll be releasing an ebook this fall. It will be an expanded version of the print book with additional material. My goal is to release this in time for Halloween since it’s a ghost story. Stay tuned for more on that.
Additionally, I’m working on a new novel that’s about three quarters complete. No title yet. This has been a fun book to work on. It’s required some research into the history of Colorado’s start and the history of tuberculosis (the White Plague). The book is a visionary tale about girl who grows up in a 19th century, Colorado town known for its dry climate and healing waters. With a father in the mortuary business, Tallulah has always been around TB and death. Tally’s mother died when she was born, and she longs to know more about the woman who should have raised her. Two peculiar town residents, who Tally is warned to give wide berth, sisters Dottie and Lottie (rumor has it) can speak to the dead. Can Tally persuade them to help her? I’m hoping to finish this by the end of the year. Add your title ideas in the comments section. PLEASE!!
Another manuscript I’ve been sitting on for a while, I think I’m going to self-publish soon. The Greening of the Laurel is a visionary, YA book in thriller mode. Ryan’s junior year is turned upside down by a series of bizarre visions and freaky encounters with fire. Eventually, Ryan ends up in the ER. He finally comes face to face with the man who claims to have all the answers. But how can quantum physics and timeless spiritual mysteries be colliding with Ryan at the center of it all? Can he really believe he had a past as a medieval heretic where he hid what has become known as the lost Cathar treasure, a manuscript containing the hidden truth underlying the universe? Can he trust a secret society that claims to need his help if science is to move forward?
Not at first, but as events threaten his family, Ryan returns to southern France to find the document he once allegedly hid. In 1244, he watched two hundred of his countrymen burn as he and two others slipped away in the night carrying a manuscript the world desperately needs. Surrounding Ryan are members of the Green Laurel, back to ensure his safety. Also, back are the dark forces of the Church who want nothing more than to exterminate the remnants of the Cathars and the truth the future requires. Without the manuscript, science cannot advance. A single unified theory will never be found and, all along, Ryan’s very existence remains in peril.
And although I’ve never had any luck with picture books, I’m currently circulating a manuscript with agents starring Mona Lisa. A cute story, but no bites yet!
Click below to find my published books.
Look for these books at your library or purchase from your favorite vendor.
THE GOOD FIGHT by Anne Quirk
“George Washington vs. King George. Benjamin Franklin vs. his son William. John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton vs. everyone!
Join author Anne Quirk and illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley as they referee four fascinating historical throw-downs between the founding fathers . . . and prove that the United States of America is a place worth fighting for.”
ALEXANDER HAMILTON- THE OUTSIDER by Jean Fritz
“Acclaimed biographer Jean Fritz writes the remarkable story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s most influential and fascinating founding fathers, and his untimely death in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Born in the British West Indies, Hamilton arrived in New York as an “outsider.” He fought in the Revolution and became Washington’s most valuable aidede- camp. He was there with Washington, Madison, and the others writing the Constitution. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury as the country struggled to become unified and independent.”
IN SEARCH OF MOLLY PITCHER by Linda Grant De Pauw
“When Peggy McAllister learns about the Rattletop Award for “excellence in eighth grade social studies,” she is determined to win it with a research paper on a Great American Hero. But when she chooses Molly Pitcher, the famous Revolutionary War heroine of the Battle of Monmouth, as her subject, she runs into difficulties. With the help of her Greatgramps, a retired private investigator, his lady friend Mrs. Spinner, a local historian and secret author of historical romance novels, and Ms. Guelphstein, a dedicated reference librarian, Peggy sorts through a maze of confusing and contradictory evidence to identify the “real” Molly Pitcher.”
JOHNNY TREMAIN by Esther Forbes
“Fourteen-year-old Johnny Tremain, an apprentice silversmith with a bright future ahead of him, injures his hand in a tragic accident, forcing him to look for other work. In his new job as a horse-boy, riding for the patriotic newspaper, The Boston Observer, and as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty, he encounters John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Soon Johnny is involved in the pivotal events shaping the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the first shots fired at Lexington.”
BACKYARD BALLISTICS by William Gurstelle
“This bestselling DIY handbook now features new and expanded projects, enabling ordinary folks to construct 16 awesome ballistic devices in their garage or basement workshops using inexpensive household or hardware store materials and this step-by-step guide. …This book will be indispensable for the legions of backyard toy-rocket launchers and fireworks fanatics who wish every day was the fourth of July.”
Check out what author and reader, Bianca Gubalke, has to say about my recent release.
There was a time in seventeenth century Holland when the tulip was a hot commodity. The most sought-after tulips suffered from a virus that broke the colors into streaks. Eventually, a whole speculative trade came into existence in which people who bought the bulbs never saw and never possessed them. Traders sold bulbs from catalog drawings like those presented here. Tulip fever reached its height in the winter of 1636 when a single bulb traded as many as ten times in a day. One bulb might sell for as much as a grand house in Amsterdam. Then abruptly in February, there came a day when traders just stayed home. The bubble had burst. Fortunes had been made and lost. Today tulips are a common garden flower seen in spring everywhere. But once they were treasure!
My new book, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds, has half of the story take place during this fascinating time. https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX
Buy historic bulbs for your garden: https://oldhousegardens.com/
Check out my books by following the link below or visit the book page above.
NOW AVAILABLE !!!
TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS: A GHOST STORY
When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to Upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.
When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia has to contend with what she may have inadvertently brought home with her.
Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX