To Write or Not To Write Historical Short Stories? What do you think?

Calling all historical fiction fans: I need your help with something!

I mentioned in May 1, 2023 blog post, Some of the Books I Read in April 2023 that I was toying with the idea of writing some historical short stories related to the historical novel I’m working on. I’d read that suggestion in Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels, by Rayne Hall as a way to create interest in the characters in one’s novel before that book’s publication.

Since I need to grow my mailing list greatly before I publish the novel, it appears I’ll have plenty of time to write a few short stories. The process should produce various benefits to me and my potential readers.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In addition to my novel readers getting a head start in learning about some of the book’s characters and the 18th century world in which they live, such writing will help me flesh out the characters and get better acquainted with them. You and I can both get a good grasp on what makes them tick.

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the stories. If it all works out like I envision, I will self-publish the stories in an ebook collection. My timeline is written in pencil with a big eraser nearby. If nothing else in the last year of self-publishing two local history books and trying to self-publish a family cookbook, I’ve learned that flexibility is a necessity.

Readers, what do you think? If you’re a fan of historical fiction, let me know what you think of this project. Would you enjoy getting acquainted with some of the characters in my novel(s) and the world in which they live in the 1760s and 1770s before getting to read the novel(s)?

Characters such as Elizabeth Steele who had tavern in Salisbury, North Carolina? George, who was a slave in The Waxhaws in South Carolina? Oliver McNair, who was educated at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and ended up in The Waxhaws? Betty Jackson’s story of family obligations in The Waxhaws?

Would you be interested in reading such short stories while I continue to work on my novels?

In the meantime… if you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter yet, please visit my website at and click on the “subscribe” button. In return, you’ll receive a free downloadable copy of my first historical short story, “Slip Sliding Away” and you’ll receive my e-newsletter every other month. Do it right now!

Since my last blog post

My research last week for my historical fiction writing focused on how food was cooked in the southern colonies in the 1760s and 1770s. I have a growing appreciation for how time consuming it was to prepare a meal then.

A funny thing happened to me at the public library the other day. I had been given some soft mountain mint and was eager to find a book with good information about how to root it. I typed, “how to grow mint” in the library system’s search engine. The response I received was, “Nothing found for how to grow mint. Did you mean ‘how to grow marijuana’? View 13 results.” It’s sort of a sad commentary that the system has no books about how to grow mint, but 13 books on how to grow marijuana. a sign of the times, I suppose. (Before you try to enlighten me, yes, the library had plenty of books about growing herbs. I just started by looking for one specifically about mint.)

Until my next blog post

Take time on this Memorial Day in the United States to remember and give thanks for those who gave their lives in the military service of our country.

I hope you have a great book to read.

Take time to enjoy friends and family.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Don’t forget to give me some feedback about my short story plan!


A Wake-Up Call: Let’s Talk about Sleep!

Does this sound like an odd topic for a blog about my journey as a reader and a writer? Please keep reading.

Just as reading The Bill of Obligations, by Richard Haass, prompted me to dedicate an entire blog post to that one book a couple of weeks ago Taking a look at The Bill of Obligations, by Richard Haass, I’ve since read a book that deserves its on post:  Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker, Ph.D.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker, Ph.D.

This is a fascinating book! Who wants to read about sleep? We all should. Most of us don’t get it right. I’ll just hit on some of the highlights or items I found most interesting – or frightening – in the book.

Studies have proven that humans need eight hours of sleep a day. The last two hours of our sleep is when our brains get a memory boost. When we jump start our day by getting up after just six hours of sleep, our concentration and physical limits suffer. Getting less than six hours of sleep is equivalent of going without sleep for 24 hours.

Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

Dr. Walker states, “You do not know how sleep-deprived you are when you are sleep deprived.” Driving while sleep-deprived is as dangerous – or even more dangerous – than driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Falling asleep at the wheel for two seconds at 30 mph, your vehicle can completely change lanes. An alcohol-impaired driver’s reactions are slow, but a sleeping driver has no reaction.

Dr. Walker says we should not fool ourselves into thinking we can force ourselves to stay awake while driving by turning up the music or opening a car window. Those – and all other such coping practices we’ve probably all used more times than we want to admit – are all myths.

He says we are also only kidding ourselves when we think we can “catch up” on our sleep on the weekend. If we’ve lost sleep during the week, it takes more than three nights of eights of sleep for our brain to get back to the level of performance it had early in the week.

Photo by Brian Matangelo on Unsplash

Although professional athletes team decision-makers can be told how important it is for players to get eight hours of sleep a day in order to be at peak physical and mental performance, few athletes get the sleep they need. Furthermore, getting adequate sleep after a game is even more important than it is prior to a competition because sleep is necessary for a body to recover from the toll a game takes on a body.

Also, Dr. Walker says that getting adequate sleep for several nights or a week prior to getting an influenza vaccine is necessary for a person to get the full immune benefits from the shot.

The second category of findings that grabbed my attention is that a lack of sleep is fast being recognized as a key factor in whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. He cautions that sleep is not a “magic bullet” against Alzheimer’s Disease, but there are some interesting associations.

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

A study found that those people with the most amyloid deposits in the frontal part of the brain also had the least deep end-Rem sleep and, therefore, had the least sleep state in which new memories are cemented.

The lymphatic system sanitizes the brain during sleep. Amyloid protein is removed – as well as tau – in this process which takes place in the last two hours of an eight-hour sleep cycle. Amyloid and tau are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. This becomes a vicious cycle if you’re not getting enough deep sleep:  more amyloid and tau build up leads to Alzheimer’s Disease, which leads to more amyloid and tau buildup, which leads to worsening of Alzheimer’s Disease, etc.

Dr. Walker addresses those individuals who claim they can get along well – even perfectly – on as little as four or five hours of sleep a day. He says they are only fooling themselves. He points out that US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher both made such claims. They both ended up with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The book also talks about sleep and its relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. He says, “Sleep is the bedrock for health.” Sleeping less than six hours a day increases one’s chances of heart trouble by 400%.

Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash

The third area of study explained in the book that struck a chord with me was the section about melatonin, electric lights, LED lights, and the short-spectrum blue lights given off by our electronic devices.

The advent of the electric light bulb enabled humans to change night into day in many respects. By doing so, we’ve forced our naturally-made melatonin (which signals our bodies that it’s time to start winding down because it’s getting dark and it’s time to go to sleep) to be delayed by several hours.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Dr. Walker warns of the harm looking at an electronic tablet late at night is doing more damage to our sleep patterns than we realize. If we look at a tablet until 11:00 pm and then go to bed, our natural melatonin might not kick in for two or three more hours instead of when it should have kicked in – say around nine or ten o’clock.

Have I gotten your attention?

I hope I have hit on some things that made you stop and think. Do you get adequate sleep?

I don’t. I haven’t had a night of restorative sleep since I became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1987. My circadian rhythm is way out of rhythm. I paid for a number of appointments with a sleep specialist a few years ago. Dr. Walker’s book reiterates everything she told me. She told me to dim the lights for 90 minutes before going to bed, to keep my distance from a TV during that time, and to not under any circumstances use the computer or my tablet before going to bed.

The instructions Dr. Daley gave me were tough, but they worked. Eventually, after working on my bad habits for months, I was able to usually go to sleep by 1:00 a.m. instead of 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. I gradually fell back into old habits, though, and now I rarely fall asleep before 2:00 a.m. It’s a daily battle for me to fall asleep. Once I’m asleep, it’s equally as difficult to wake up.

Listening to Dr. Walker’s book – parts of it several times – has reminded me about the damage I’m doing to my health – to my brain, heart, and other organs – in the short term and in the long term.

It won’t be easy, but I must once again train myself to stop sabotaging my health.

I don’t expect or even aspire to ever being someone who goes to bed by 10:00 p.m. so I can wake up refreshed by 7:00 a.m. My physical maladies will never allow me to have restful sleep, but some of my late-night habits aren’t helping matters.

Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

I need to get back to the light dimming practices, etc. that Dr. Daley recommended so I’ll at least have a chance to get eight hours of sleep every day.

Since my last blog post

Being a writer of historical fiction gives me excuses to do things I wouldn’t otherwise do. If I’m going to have characters in my 18th century novels cooking in a fireplace, I need to know what that was like. I spent the day on Saturday at Hart Square Village near Vale, North Carolina, learning how to cook over an open fire in an 1800s kitchen (which wasn’t easy after only three hours of sleep!).

If you want to hear about my adventure, sign up for my newsletter by visiting my website ( and clicking on the “Subscribe” button. I’ll write about Saturday’s experience in my Janet Morrison Books Newsletter in July. It was quite am enjoyable day, but I was happy to come home that afternoon to my electric kitchen appliances!

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a fascinating book to read. Please consider reading Dr. Walker’s book, if you tend to not get a full eight hours of sleep every night.

Make time for friends and family – and sleep!

Remember the brave people of Ukraine.


Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Revisited

Even though we can’t show you an original copy of this declaration, it is written on our hearts as the descendants of those who whole-heartedly supported it as they prepared for the inevitable war against King George III of Great Britain.

The Americans’ beef wasn’t with the people of Great Britain – many of them were their relatives and friends – their beef was with the King – and they knew their friends and relatives back in Scotland were secretly wishing them well for they were also under the thumb of the King.

The year was 1775. The date was May 20.

The people of Mecklenburg County in the backcountry of North Carolina had had all they could take of King George and the oppressive laws and taxes he and the British Parliament continued to impose on the American colonists. After all, the reason most of them had left Europe was to escape monarchs who had little or no regard for their subjects.

The years leading up to May 20, 1775 had been tense. On May 2, 1771 a group of Mecklenburg County residents had taken matters into their own hands and blown up a shipment of munitions King Charles had ordered to be transported from Charleston, South Carolina to Rowan and Orange counties in North Carolina to put down The Regulator Movement.

The perpetrators of that gunpowder plot had been declared traitors and were still being hunted down by the Royal Government authorities when the county militias sent representatives to a convention in Charlotte to debate political conditions. The result was the writing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence more than a year before the more famous one was written in Philadelphia.

The document set out the citizens’ grievances and declared themselves free and independent of Great Britain. Sadly, the original copy of the declaration was lost in a fire at the home of John McKnitt Alexander on April 6, 1800. The Declaration was reconstructed from the memories of those who had written it and signed it.

A recreation of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

There are Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence doubters today, but I have no doubt that it existed. It was followed just 11 days later by the Mecklenburg Resolves, which was a similar document.

Captain Archibald McCurdy of the Rocky River Presbyterian Church area of old Mecklenburg County that is present-day Cabarrus County, stood at the Mecklenburg County log courthouse steps and heard the Declaration read. He went home and told his wife, Maggie, they needed to make a list of the people they knew they could trust. There were a few Loyalists in the area.

Whatever you’re doing this Saturday, May 20, take a moment to reflect on what the brave people of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina did 248 years ago. If you live in the United States of America, ponder the stand they took on that day. The King proclaimed them to be in a state of rebellion, and the men who signed the document risked their very lives by proclaiming they were free.

Since my last blog post

Spring is finally in full force here in North Carolina. All I have to do is put a hanging basket of pretty flowers on a hook on the side porch and I can count on “Mama Bird” – a Carolina Wren – to build a nest in it. She’s done is for decades.

Having bronchitis and no set schedule allowed me time to do some reading last week. I have some interesting books to tell you about in my May 22 and June 5 blog posts.

I continue to remind folks on Facebook to purchase my local history books. I’m trying not to be a nuisance.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read, including Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 and 2, as well as The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Don’t forget to visit my website ( and subscribe to my newsletter. I have special plans for May 20 and I can’t wait to tell you all about them in my July newsletter!

Make time for family and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Happy Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence Day on Saturday!


Taking a look at The Bill of Obligations, by Richard Haass

Once in a while I come across a book that hits on so many points of importance that I decide to devote an entire blog post to it. The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens, by Richard Haass, falls into that category.

The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens, by Richard Haass

Dr. Haass is president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations. A diplomat and policymaker, he served in The Pentagon, State Department, and White House under four presidents – Democrats and Republicans.

Here’s a quote from the book jacket: “As Richard Haass says, ‘We get the government we deserve. Getting the one we need, however, is up to us.’ The Bill of Obligations gives citizens across the political spectrum a plan of action to achieve it.”

In the chapter titled “Rights and Their Limits,” Dr. Haass states that the aim of his book “… is to focus on another, often overlooked dimension of citizenship. I am speaking here of obligations, of what citizens owe one another and the country,” and not the rights of individuals. The book focuses on what citizens should do, not what they are required to do.

Dr. Haass draws a distinction between responsibilities and obligations. Responsibilities can be shirked. He says, “What makes obligations so important is that the ability of American democracy to endure and deliver what it can and should to its citizens depends on their being put into practice.”

He points out that, “Placing obligations at the core of citizenship is necessary because the protection and promotion of political and economic rights inevitably lead to disagreements.” He likens obligations fueling a democracy to the gasoline that fuels an engine.

Dr. Haass maintains that democracy in the US “has come to focus almost exclusively on perceived rights and is breaking down as a result.”

This book was being written during our time of transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration, and the “peaceful transition of Power” enjoyed by the US for more than 200 years was in question. He wrote, “What we don’t yet know is whether what happened in late 2020 and early 2021 was an aberration or a precedent.”

Although some Americans have predicted that we’re heading for a second civil war, Dr. Haass is of the opinion that the more likely scenario is something similar to “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland where paramilitary groups target public places frequented by those people they oppose. Unlike a civil war, such violence has no set beginning and no set end because no one is in charge.

Dr. Haass reminds us that democracy is difficult. It requires informed participation from its citizens. From its leaders “it asks for good faith and restraint, and a willingness to put the collective interest before politics, party, or personal gain.”

My take on that

In my opinion, we’ve lost all of that. Too many people refuse to watch the news on TV “because it’s all bad” and few people read a newspaper now or seek out alternative news sources such as National Public Radio. Too many people say they aren’t interested in politics. It’s too easy to just say all politicians and government employees are bad people or lazy.

I’ve worked in the business world and in the government. It was my experience that government employees were more dedicated and conscientious than the ones I worked with in the business world. Let’s just stop jumping on the bandwagon of throwing everyone and everything associated with our democracy “under the bus.”

Back to Dr. Haass’ book

Dr. Haass writes about how technology has changed politics in an important way. It happened without our even being aware. Whereas political parties used to have some control over who ran for office, now anyone with enough money and technical communications savvy can run for office.

Extremists can rally vocal followers and spread their views (and their lies) through social media in ways unheard of or imagined just a couple of decades ago. The person with the loudest voice gets the attention, even if that person holds narrow or extreme views.

The book talks about how, like me, the author grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. We were taught in school that America was “a melting pot.” More and more, though, Dr. Haass says instead of a melting pot, we’re “a loose collection of separate pots” now. We live in “Red” states or “Blue” states, and few live in “Purple” states. There are divisions on every turn.

He goes on to write about history, values, and obligations not being taught in school.

The second part of Dr. Haass’ book addresses what he calls The Bill of Obligations. He writes about what he means by each one, but I’ll just list them for you here:

  1. Be Informed
  2. Get Involved
  3. Stay Open to Compromise
  4. Remain Civil
  5. Reject Violence
  6. Value Norms
  7. Promote the Common Good
  8. Respect Government Service
  9. Support the Teaching of Civics
  10.  Put Country First

Dr. Haass’ Conclusion

Quoting from the “Conclusion” chapter of the book: “The central argument of this book is that American democracy will endure only if obligations join rights at the core of a widely shared understanding of citizenship.” It won’t happen overnight, but the rewards will be reaped years from now.

Dr. Haass proposes that we turn our attention to making the ten obligations a priority because all the “hot button” issues vying for our attention will not be solved or resolved if they aren’t debated in a vibrant democracy.

In the end, Dr. Haass sounds the alarm: “The reality that January 6, and the subsequent revelations about efforts to impound voting machines and discount legally cast ballots, has failed to shock the body politic into its senses, has failed to stir us into action to protect and preserve this democracy, challenges the conventional wisdom that crises are automatic precursors of change. We get the government and the country we deserve. Getting the one we need, however, is up to us.”

My Conclusions

Regardless of your political leanings, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read The Bill of Obligations. There’s much food for thought in this small book. My hope is that reading it will prompt each of us in the US to be better citizens and more-informed about our democracy.

For the most part, I agree with Dr. Haass’ Bill of Obligations. I’m not as optimistic as he is, though. I recently said something to a university sophomore about January 6. She didn’t know what I was talking about!

Since my last blog post

I’ve been diagnosed as having bronchitis and asthma. Instead of sending out my newsletter on Monday, I finally got it together and emailed to my subscribers on Thursday. I’ve fallen woefully behind in reading the posts by the bloggers I follow.

My illness forced me to miss an author event by John Hart. I didn’t think Mr. Hart should have to compete with my hacking and coughing.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

Don’t take good health and supportive friends and family for granted.

Remember the brave people of Ukraine.

Thank you for dropping by my blog.


Some of the Books I Read in April 2023

April was a busy month, but I found time to read a variety of books. As is my habit, I’ll take the opportunity of the first Monday in May to blog about what I read in April. I hope you’ll find a book or two of interest.

Time’s Undoing, by Cheryl A. Head

Time’s Undoing, by Cheryl A. Head

This new novel alternates between the mysterious death of Robert Lee Harrington in 1929 and his journalist great-granddaughter’s persistent search for answers in 2019. I don’t usually enjoy novels written in alternating timelines, but this one worked.

Mr. Harrington is a master craftsman in carpentry in Birmingham, Alabama in 1929. A Black man, he is seen as too flamboyant by the white population. He takes pride in his work and his nice car. He presses his luck and, when he is in the wrong place at the wrong time, things go terribly wrong.

Harrington’s great-granddaughter, Meghan McKenzie, comes along 90 years later. She’s a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. In conjunction with working on a Black Lives Matter report, Ms. McKenzie decides to go to Birmingham to try to uncover the details of her great-grandfather’s death.

The danger McKenzie is in escalates the closer she gets to the ugly truth.

To be honest, I bristled two or three times when McKenzie made blanket statements about white southerners. I was, in fact, tempted early on to stop reading the book; however, I’m glad I stuck with it. Perspective is everything, and I can’t expect the young black reporter from Detroit to see things the way I do.

In fact, it would be unrealistic. I think it’s human nature for us to make blanket statements about people who don’t look like we look or who live in different regions (or countries) from where we live. Assumptions are made about the South and white southerners. Likewise, southerners make assumptions about people who live in other parts of the country.

The deeper I got into the novel, the more I was drawn into the characters and the story. I’m not a fast reader, but I read the second half of the book in two days because I couldn’t wait to see what McKenzie would find out and if she would survive to tell her great-grandfather’s story.

Code Name Sapphire, by Pam Jenoff

Code Name Sapphire, by Pam Jenoff

In this historical novel, Pam Jenoff pulls bits and pieces from World War II history in Europe and weaves a story that will keep you on the edge3 of your seat.

Micheline heads the fictitious Sapphire Line in the resistance in Belgium. The network, whose mission is to get downed Allied airmen safely o9ut of German-occupied Belgium, is loosely based on or inspired by such real operations as the Comet Line.

Micheline’s brother, Matteo, is heavily involved in the Sapphire Line. He is still in love with a woman from his past. Will they reconnect even during the war?

Hannah is a Jew who escaped from Nazi-occupied Belgium once, but the ship she is on with other refugees is turned away from the harbor in Havana. Is she returned to Belgium? Does she work with the Sapphire Line? Does she make Matteo forget about his long-lost love?

Lily is Hannah’s cousin. Lily is the only family Hannah has to turn to for help while she tries to figure out how to escape to America.

But, as in all good fiction, nothing goes as planned. Everything that can go wrong seems to go wrong.

Who will betray friends or relatives? Who will survive? You just might be surprised!

The Last Carolina Girl, by Meagan Church

The Last Carolina Girl, by Meagan Church

The author of this novel is an editor I found last October on Being from North Carolina, the title grabbed my attention. I pre-ordered the book to help support this author. The book was released on March 7, 2023, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until April.

(Rule #1 for supporting a new book:  Review it as soon as it is released to boost sales and attention for the book. The first 30 days after a book’s release is the most important time to support it and its author as far as the Amazon algorithms are concerned.) My apologies to Meagan Church for missing this window of opportunity. I really need to do better.

Back to the book… Leah Payne is a 14-year-old orphan from Supply in Brunswick County, North Carolina. The neighborhood couple who take her in try to do the best thing for her… or do they? Arrangements are made and she is taken to Matthews in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She dreams of a foster family there who will love her, perhaps even provide for her a bed and bedroom of her own.

But when she arrives in Matthews in 1936, she doesn’t receive the welcome she is expecting.

How to Read Novels Like a Professor: A Jaunty Exploration of the World’s Favorite Literary Form, by Thomas C. Foster

How to Read Novels Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster

The title intrigued me. As I read the first four chapters, I took some notes. There were a number of succinct statements about writing.

There was insight about how important the first sentence, first page, and first chapter are if an author wants to snag the interest of a reader.

The author set forth some humorous “laws” of writing, including “The Law of Bogus Locales,” “The Law of Look Who’s Talking,” and “The Law of Narrative Unreliability.”

Another example is “The Law of the Conservation of Character” which the author explained as “Thou shalt not burden the punter with needless character development.” He went on to translate that as follows: “If fiction writers are any good, they only tell you as much as you absolutely need to know.”

By the time I’d read the first half of the book, I found myself skipping pages. I decided it’s just possible that I don’t want to read novels like a professor. I want to read them as a reader.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, by Michelle Obama

The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama

I listened to this book on CD. It was read by the author, which made it extra enjoyable. This is a book of common sense and encouragement. Mrs. Obama talks about her childhood and how her parents instilled in her and her brother the merit in hard work and the value of a dollar. They instilled in the two children the value of standing up for yourself and your beliefs. She talks about the value of friendships and family. Those are the important things in life. She talks about always trying her best and often being criticized and misconstrued.

People who don’t approve of President and Mrs. Obama probably wouldn’t like this book, but they probably wouldn’t bother to read it. That would be their loss. I found the content of the book to be honest and uplifting. Hearing Mrs. Obama read it herself was a bonus.

Other books I read in April

I read Natural Color, by Sasha Duerras part of my research so I can write authentic historical fiction. I might have the main character in The Heirloom know a bit about using items in nature to dye fibers, yarn, or fabric.

Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels, by Rayne Hall struck a chord with me. If you’re writing a novel, too, then you might want to take a look at this book. In a nutshell, it takes you through a step-by-step model to assess the kind of book you’re writing. Then you brainstorm for ideas of a short story or multiple short stories you can write that have a connection to your novel. By publishing those short stories, you not only introduce your potential novel readers to your style of writing and your genre, you can also introduce them to one or more of the characters in your novel. It really got the gears in my head turning!

How to Find Book Reviewers: How to Get Reviews the Easy Way, by Werner Stejskal gave me some ideas for finding book reviewers I’ve not stumbled upon yet. I tend to shy away from book titles that include the word “easy,” but I decided to read this one.

Book Review Banzai: The Unknown Author’s Ultimate Guide to Getting Amazon Reviews, by Jason Ladd, Julie Gwinn, and Tom Morkes. Are you picking up on a pattern here? Book reviews on Amazon are extremely important, especially for authors just arriving on the literary scene. (Hint, Hint!)

Since my last blog post

Amid some fairly substantial computer problems, my sister and I took a trip to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. I wrote all about it in my May newsletter. A highlight for me was visiting Hart Square Village in Vale, North Carolina. The village is a source of inspiration for my historical fiction writing.

That’s just a little of what you’re missing if you haven’t subscribed to my mailing list/newsletter. Here’s the link to my website where you can subscribe: I plan to send out an e-newsletter every other month.

Until my next blog post

I’ll try to do a better job of writing book reviews on Amazon and

I hope you have a good book to read. Perhaps one of the books I read last month has piqued your interest.

Wherever you live, you’re probably experiencing a change of seasons. Here in North Carolina, we’re entering my favorite time of the year – seasonal allergies and all!

Make time for friends, family, and a hobby.

Remember the brave people of Ukraine.

Thank you for dropping by my blog.


Have you signed up for my newsletter?

May will be here in a few days, and that means it’s time for my second newsletter. The last two months have flown by!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In case you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, it only takes a minute. Go to my website,, and click on the “Subscribe” button on any page on the site. Verify that you are a human being, and fill in your name and email address. That’s all there is to it.

What’s in it for you?

In return for signing up for my newsletter, you will receive an email from me containing a link for you to use to download a copy of my short story, “Slip Sliding Away: A Southern Historical Short Story.”

Then, every other month you will receive my newsletter in your email inbox.

Why in the world would I have a newsletter?

Come on. Admit it. That question is bouncing around in your head along with, “What could Janet Morrison have to put in a newsletter?”

I’ll address that in a minute, but first let’s discuss the “Why?”

In an effort to get my name out there as a legitimate writer, I’ve spent a good amount of time reading up on author websites and author newsletters. All the writing craft books, free webinars, and courses I’ve taken emphasize the importance of a writer being able to communicate with her audience.

I’m early in the process of finding my audience. My website was redesigned a couple of months ago. In conjunction with the development of the website I now have a way to compile an email list of people who are interested in my books.

I will never send you spam and I will never give away or sell my email list. It is my intention to only email you six times a year to deliver my newsletters to you.

“What could Janet Morrison have to put in a newsletter?”

I primarily want to keep you up-to-date on my writing projects. I’ll include the titles of books my subscribers have recommended, field trips I go on – some for research for my writing and others just for fun or information, my author events, reviews my books have received, and trivia questions that can be answered by reading my books.

I will tell you about short stories and books I’m working on, so you’ll be the first to know how those are coming along and when you can expect them to be published.

You’ll find out that I don’t tell everything I know in my blog posts!

I’m a work in progress…

and so is my author’s platform. I blogged about an author’s platform way back on April 15, 2016 in Update on sorting out social media. I blogged about this subject again on November 29, 2016 in My Author Brand Progress Report – Part 1 (with CORRECTION). The list goes on and on. You’ve seen me struggle with various forms of social media and failing at most of them.

I’m still trying to find my niche. I’ve invested time in Twitter and other social media platforms. I’ve found a few kindred spirits out there, but not a big following.

I’m committing myself to this newsletter. I much prefer that to social media I’m expected to spend hours on each day. I’d rather be writing or reading or a host of other things, so let’s plan to continue with the blog every Monday and then in May, July, September, November, January, March, etc. let’s get together over my newsletter to dig a little deeper into what I’m writing and reading and what you’re reading. And, if you’re also writing, please share that so I can include it. Let’s have some fun with a trivia question in each newsletter. Hint: you’ll probably need to read my books or short stories to find the answers.

What have you been reading lately that you’d recommend?

I want to share your reading recommendations with others on my newsletter list. Join the list and then send me your book recommendations. With your permission, I’ll add your name and recommendations to my next newsletter.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have at least one good book to read.

Make time for family and friends. Fellowship does a body good.

Remember the people of Ukraine.


Being Reminded of the Value of Friendships

You will recall from my blog post last Monday that Second Look Books in Harrisburg, NC was hosting a “Meet & Greet” for me on Saturday afternoon. I tend to see the glass half-empty or sometimes completely empty. Try as I might, I tend to expect the worst. The worst rarely happens, but I’m not to be deterred in my expectations.

I approached the Meet & Greet” with a fear that no one would come. After creating an “event” on Facebook last week and sending it out as an invitation to several hundred people, I only received “coming” responses from four people. One of them was driving an hour to get here and I was afraid she would regret making that effort if she came and the event was a big flop.

As usual, I had it all wrong. Lots of people came! Six of my classmates from high school came. I’ve known two of them since the first grade, but we hadn’t seen each other in years. Four of the classmates were there at the same time, so we had a mini-reunion.

A number of friends I know from church came. Others came who I’d never met, so I now have some new friends. Various people shared their memories of Harrisburg. Ours is a fast-growing and fast-changing small town. It was barely a village from I was born. The roads and schools can’t keep up with the growth.

Many of the changes are good, but most of us on Saturday were glad we grew up when we did – back when everybody knew everybody and traffic was nonexistent. We talked about how we used to have to drive five miles or more to a grocery store and now we have a multitude of supermarkets to choose from.

My books displayed just inside the front door on the Local Authors shelf!

It was a privilege to write the local history newspaper column for six and a half years. It was indeed a privilege to interview so many older residents and write down their experiences and memories. Having those 175 newspaper articles in book form now is a dream come true.

It was gratifying on Saturday to see and hear how excited and appreciative others are that I wrote the articles and that things finally fell into place for me to publish them in book form: Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 and Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2.

Who knows? Maybe Saturday’s event was just the impetus I needed to nudge me to get back to work on my novel! A few short days ago, I was disillusioned. I was ready to give up on it. Dear friends and new friends gave me a real boost on Saturday. I’m ready to continue now!

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you need some suggestions, I know of a couple of local history books I’d recommend.

Take time to nurture friendships.

Remember the people of Ukraine, Nashville, Louisville, Fort Lauderdale, and Dadeville. There are lots of hurting people out there.


Meet & Greet at Second Look Books, April 15th

What?        Author Meet & Greet

Where?      Second Look Books, 4519 School House Commons in Harrisburg

When?       Saturday, April 15, 2023

What Time?         2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Second Look Books, 4519 School House Commons, Harrisburg, NC

Copies of Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 and Book 2 have arrived and been autographed.

Photocopies of my 11×14-inch “Harrisburg in the 1900s” two-map sets have been made.

Business cards and bookmarks are printed.

Saturday, April 15 is the big day for my Meet & Greet at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, North Carolina! I’ll be there from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Please drop by, even if you’ve already purchased both books.

The bookmarks and Harrisburg maps are free while supplies last.

What maps?

I drew the maps based on detailed memories that Mr. Ira Lee Taylor shared with me while I was writing the “Did You Know? local history column for Harrisburg Horizons newspaper (2006-2012.)

One map covers from along NC-49 to Back Creek. The other map covers from Back Creek to Reedy Creek and where McKee Creek flows into Reedy Creek.

Mr. Taylor told me where such things as the telephone switchboard, spoke factory, two cotton gins, railroad houses, corn fields, cotton fields, and livery stable were in the early 1900s.

He told me where the various stores and post offices were. Being the town’s only mail carrier for several decades, he knew where everybody lived, so I included much of that information The map show where the roads were (and were not) before the coming of the high-speed rail.

In case you arrived in Harrisburg after the two-story red brick old Harrisburg School was torn down, this set of maps will show you the layout of the school grounds. The school property is where School House Commons Shopping Center is now.

The maps also show the locations of the Oak Grove Rosenwald School and the Bellefonte Rosenwald School that you read about in Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1.

Some things you’ll learn about in my two books

There are stories of local heroism from 1771 and the detailed memories of a World War II US Army veteran who told me about his training for D-Day through to the end of the war.

There are stories about the original Hickory Ridge School, which was a one-room school on Hickory Ridge Road.

There are stories about the Rosenwald Schools that served the black students in the early 1900s.

There are stories about the man from Russia (actually, Ukraine) who settled in Harrisburg in the 1920s to practice medicine until his death in 1960. He was a country doctor who made house calls

There are stories about the construction of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the first World 600 Race when the track was in such bad shape that chunks of asphalt broke the windshields out of some of the race cars.

There is information about the 22-mile syenite ring-dike that Harrisburg sits in. It’s what remains of an ancient volcano.

Until my next blog post

Remember the people of Ukraine – where Dr. Nicholas E. Lubchenko was born and lived until young adulthood.

I hope to see you on Saturday!

In case you don’t have a good book to read, please consider purchasing my local history books. They’re available in paperback at Second Look Books. They’re also available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

Even if you don’t live or have never lived in Harrisburg, North Carolina, I think you’ll find some interesting stories that you can probably relate to if you are of a certain age. And if you a child, teen, or young adult I think you’ll find it interesting to read about how life used to be in our sleepy little farm village of a couple hundred people in the early 1900s that has grown to nearly 20,000 people in 2023.

What?        Author Meet & Greet

Where?      Second Look Books, 4519 School House Commons in Harrisburg

When?       Saturday, April 15, 2023

What Time?         2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

I hope to see you there!


What I Read in March 2023 & My Thoughts about Book Banning

After reading three good historical novels in February, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to read as much in March. That’s just the way it goes. As I try to do every month when I blog about the books I read the previous month, I repeat that I am not a book reviewer. I merely like to share with you what I read. Perhaps your interest will be piqued and you’ll decide to read some of the books I’ve enjoyed.

The Girl From the Channel Islands, by Jenny Lecoat

The Girl From the Channel Islands, by Jenny Lecoat

I listened to this historical novel on CD borrowed from the public library. I enjoy listening to a disc late at night, even though I have to deal with an occasional scratch on the disc which causes me to miss bits of the story.

Hedy Bercu, the protagonist in this novel, flees Austria in 1938 to escape the Nazis. She thinks she’ll be safe in Great Britain’s Channel Islands but, as World War II drags on and the islands are occupied by Germany, Hedy lives in constant fear that the wrong people will discover that she is Jewish.

The author, Jenny Lecoat, was born in the Channel Islands 16 years after some members of her family were deported by the Nazis and taken to concentration camps due to their resistance activities. This is Ms. Lecoat’s debut novel. I look forward to reading whatever she has in store for us next.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Although Banned Books Weeks is six months away, the increasing attacks on books in the United States prompted me to reread Harper Lee’s masterpiece. Instead of reading it in printed form this time, I decided to listen to Sissy Spacek’s performing of it on CD. I haven’t quite finished it, but I decided to include it in today’s post so The Girl From the Channel Islands wouldn’t have to stand alone.

It baffles me why people in 2023 want to ban To Kill a Mockingbird from school and public library shelves because it portrays the discrimination black people suffered in the 1920s or 1930s and, because at the same time, it portrays a white lawyer defending a black man who has been wrongfully arrested and charged.

I am against all book banning. One only needs to look at what happened in Germany in the 1930s to see what the results are.

If you don’t want your child to read a certain book, that’s your prerogative; however, you don’t have the right to dictate what anyone other than yourself and your children read.

Just because you are offended by a word in a book doesn’t make it a bad book. If you think you can erase the history of slavery, prejudice, and civil war in the United States by removing those references from books, you are mistaken.

If you think by removing sex education from school curriculum you will end all teen pregnancies, you’re only fooling yourself.

People who are afraid of knowledge and try to force their fears on the masses are the most dangerous people in the world.

Since my last blog post

I’ve tried to start overcoming the toll the challenges of the last eight months have taken on my limited energy.  Getting my two local history books published and working toward the publication of a family cookbook have been fun, challenging, frustrating, draining, and rewarding — all at the same time. April 25 will mark the 36th anniversary of when I first became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Please don’t laugh. It’s a real illness. I have pushed myself too much since last July to accomplish some long-term dreams to get my local history writings published, and now I’m paying the price.

I’ll continue to push myself because that’s what I do and I don’t know how to live otherwise; however, in the coming weeks I’ll try to be a little kinder to myself and take some time to smell the roses.

Until my next blog post

I’ll start preparing for my Author Meet & Greet scheduled for April 15 at Second Look Books in Harrisburg, North Carolina.

I’ll reevaluate the family cookbook my sister and I have compiled. I’ve encountered a problem in the formatting for a paperback edition, so it might just be an e-book. That would be disappointing.

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’ve purchased Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1 and Book 2, I hope you’re enjoying them.

If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter and, therefore, downloaded a free copy of my southern historical short story, “Slip Sliding Away,” I hope you’ve enjoyed that small sample of my fiction writing.

Remember the three children and three adults murdered in that private school in Nashville, Tennessee. Remember how your local, state, and national politicians vote on assault-style weapons designed for war when the next election rolls around.

Remember the people of Ukraine.


Local History is Revealed in National Archives Holdings

The first documented gold discovery in the United States was here in present-day Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1799. The discovery by a little boy playing in Little Meadow Creek led to gold fever in the area. Numerous gold mines were dug and mined to various levels of success.

In fact, there was enough gold found in the southern piedmont of North Carolina that a branch of the United States Mint was built in Charlotte in 1836 and 1837. It opened for the production of gold coins in 1837.

A trip to the National Archives at Atlanta (which is in the Atlanta suburb of Morrow, Georgia) a few years ago gave me the opportunity to look at ledger books from the Mint in Charlotte. Within those pages I recognized names from my community.

Register of Gold – Branch Mint – Charlotte

I’m blogging about some of that information today to give you an example of the type of documented local history I included in Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2. Although the book (and Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1) concentrate on Harrisburg, both books do include articles about other communities in Township One.

One of the communities rich in history in the township is Pioneer Mills. Little more than a quiet crossroads now, it was a center of activity in the mid-1800s after the discovery of gold and the opening of Pioneer Mills Gold Mine.

I recognized names such as John C. Barnhardt from the Pioneer Mills community as taking 123 ounces of amalgam to the Charlotte Mint on August 31, 1843, for which he was paid $2,340.33. That was no small sum of money in 1843!

Robert Harvey Morrison, on whose land the Pioneer Mills Gold Mine was located, was paid more than $4,000 for the gold bars and amalgam he took to the Mint from late in 1846 into early 1850.

Other names I recognized in the Mint ledgers included two other Barnhardts,  Robert R. King, three men with the surname Treloar, and R.B. Northrop.

Comparing US Census records, Charlotte Mint records, and various years of Branson Business Directories helped me get a better idea of what the Pioneer Mills Community must have looked like 150 to 180 years ago. There was a general store, a dry goods store, a blacksmith, a school, and a post office, In 1869, Pioneer Mills Community had three physicians.

Gold mining brought people from Canada, Great Britain, and New York to Pioneer Mills. Gold mining, no doubt, brought some undesirable people into the community, which led the wife of the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church to say in the early 1870s that Pioneer Mills “is no place for a preacher’s son!”

If you’d like to read more about the history and people of Cabarrus County, North Carolina, you might enjoy Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 and 2. They are available in paperback at Second Look Books in Harrisburg and in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

By the way, you can visit the research room at the National Archives at Atlanta (in Morrow, Georgia) by appointment only. Visit the website for more information:

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

I hope you spend time with family and good friends.

And, as always, remember the people of Ukraine and count your blessings.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.