Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Know You're a History Geek When......

I reached another milestone in the book process yesterday. I have been wanting to tour the Lotz House for awhile now, so I told myself I could go once I finished this part. It's a Civil War era house that was under fire in the Battle of Franklin.

The house belonged to Johann Albert Lotz, pictured at the top.

From the Lotz House site ( )-
In 1855, German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz purchased five acres of land from Fountain Branch Carter. Three years later in 1858, after doing most of the work himself, Lotz completed his home. By trade, Mr. Lotz was a master carpenter and a piano maker. He also repaired guitars and violins. His home served as his “show house” to demonstrate his carpentry work to potential clients. The three fireplace mantles demonstrate his range from simple to very complex designs.

There are also several battle scars including the charred, rounded indention in the wood flooring where a cannonball flew through the roof, a second story bedroom, and then landed on the first floor and rolled. In addition, the home has an impressive solid black walnut wraparound handrail that starts on the ground floor and wraps all the way around to the second floor.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Okay, So That's One.

The fine folks at Landmark Booksellers agreed to host a book signing!! I will share the details once I know when the book will be released.

Thanks to my favorite bookstore. They share my fascination for all things Fitzgerald, Hemingway and London. They even have a special section for them, which they politely share with Twain.

They feature signed copies of the beautiful coffee table book, Historic Franklin, with photos by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Robin Hood. Stop in and get one.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Edit and Forget It

Yeah, that's right. A Ron Popeil reference. I'm titling a blog post with a mutated infomercial catch phrase. Does that tell you anything? This blogger's on the edge.

I am currently trying to edit the book while collecting the last bits of material I need to make it flow. Flow. Simple word for what's turning out to be a murky concept. My problem is being too familiar with the text. It's not always easy for me to assess it objectively. Thank goodness for my fairy godmother, Joslyne. Her no-nonsense approach and notes like, "This doesn't make sense", or "too long" are exactly what the doctor ordered. She's convinced me she likes the book, so her advice is easily taken.

So, if you see me in the Brentwood library with a serious look on my face, now you know what's up. Shhh, I'm in my editing mode. Move this, cut that, clarify, organize and polish!

Then submit it and hold my breath.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tell Me Again!

I interviewed Lynn Foster this morning. Her son, Matt, died ten years ago.

She talked about the importance of sharing our memories with the family after a loss. "Even if I've heard the story before", Lynn said, "I want to hear it again."

She has moved on and accomplished a great deal since Matt's death. She's a talented artist. She's writing a book. She also sits on the board of Compassionate Friends, a group for parents who have lost a child.

Still, she finds comfort in hearing, one more time, about the time her popular-senior-Matt took a scared, young freshman under his wing at a party.

She adds, "It's nice when you think of something the person did, but it's wonderful to share it with the family. If you have something good to say, that family needs to hear it."

A year later or ten years later, it's never too late. Did you tell them that story already? It doesn't matter.

They want to hear it again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Ask ten people and get ten definitions. I'll give you an example instead.

My friend Stephanie married a kind and loving man named Jason. They had a little boy just before our daughter was born. Life was good and filled with afternoons at the playground, family dinners and baby milestones. We took the kids trick-or-treating together. Jason worked, wrote and played guitar.


Jason's beloved Uncle Jeff was found dead. He had been part of the group known as Heaven's Gate, near San Diego. It was 1997. Thirty-nine bodies were discovered in the house where they had lived, all wearing purple track suits and new Nikes. Their leader, Marshall Applewhite, had told them they needed to exit their bodies in order to survive. The timing was tied to the Hale-Bopp comet.

As Jason struggled to deal with his uncle's choices and his own grief, the late night shows were full of jokes about the group. Journalists hounded the families, waiting outside their homes with cameras and mics. Jason remembers one well-known anchor in particular. She had become frustrated with their refusal to comment. She told Jeff's brother, "Well, we'll just go with what we have, then, and it's not going to be flattering to your brother."

Curiosity in such a case is understandable. Reporting a major story is expected, but re-victimizing the grieving relatives? This was no shock-talk personality. It was mainstream primetime news. Shameful.

This morning, Jason broke his silence. His insights are sure to help other families who suffer a similar nightmare. For readers needing guidance when reaching out to families of high-profile victims, his words will give you a place to start.

Remember who they were, respect their gifts, honor their memory and their family.

Compassion is always welcome. Jason still remembers the loving words of friend Betty Edgar, "They had good intentions. They just got anxious."

To re-open wounds just to help someone else? That's bravery.

Thank you, Jason.

When someone dies, (other than attending the service), I do this for the family-