In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Picturing World War I: Getting Ready for June 2014

Tank on Main St, St Johnsbury, 1970
June 29, 2014, will mark 100 years since the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed by a shooter in Sarajevo -- touching off what would become known as the Great War, the War to End All Wars, and (ironically) World War I, since the peace at the end of this war failed to hold. In many ways, it marks the start of "modern history." And, for me, it's also the war that Claire's father returns from in 1921 in my Vermont adventure novel Cold Midnight, handicapped by the psychological illness then called "shell shock" (and rarely treated). It's also a war in which one of my great-grandfathers, Ludwig Ollendorf, was a soldier in Europe.

Regina and Ludwig Ollendorf
[TEACHERS: How far do you need to go in your life history or your family history to find a connection to World War I? How can you help your students "picture" when this happened?]

So I'm thinking about Sarajevo more this year, trying to get a sense of where it was and what made it the trigger point for this enormous conflict. I found the city's own current website,; then I browsed the Wikipedia entry for a first look at context: -- wow, this city really exemplifies a quality I think of as especially American, the determination to be independent and control your own fate ... but it hasn't had a lot of time to do that!

Somewhat to my surprise, I rediscovered that a book on my shelf, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, involves Sarajevo -- I'll have to go back to it and think again about what this means to me.

But for today, I want to focus on learning and remembering exactly where Sarajevo is now: It's the capital of the linked nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And that body of water showing in the map here is the Adriatic Sea -- which runs along the "right-hand side" of Italy on the world map. It looks like the city is surrounded by gorgeous terrain, full of rivers and mountains ... and right next to Montenegro, for which mystery fans of the Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe books will have their own inner image! Another book I loved that's associated with this region is Lawrence Durrell's White Eagles Over Serbia.

This is how I build "memorable history" for myself: I investigate for a bit, and find the parts of my life and my reading that connect to what I'm learning. Is that the way you do it, for yourself? If you are a parent or teacher or librarian, how do you show others the ways to "get history inside you"?

1 comment:

Beth Kanell said...

By the way, the United States didn't enter the Great War until 1917, as German submarines re-entered US waters; more on this as we go along. I understand that many US commemorative activities won't get underway until 2017, as a result.