Speaking in Local Schools

One of the most rewarding things that I do as a historical fiction author is speak about the Revolutionary War in elementary and middle school classrooms.  It gives me the opportunity to connect with kids on a personal level and then tell them about my books.  I present a program called “Revolutionary War in a Trunk,” and at the end dress a couple of students in period clothing.

Today I had the privilege to join four of my SAR Compatriots at our local Intermediate School (5th grade).  We spoke to about a hundred students and their teacher generously agreed to send home order forms for my student books.

I sold a couple of books, and definitely had some more interest from other students.  There’s nothing quite like making that personal connection.

Here is a snapshot of me with one of the students.

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Awesome Afternoon at East Calloway Elementary!

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Yesterday I had the honor of visiting with the 5th graders at the East Calloway Elementary in Calloway County, Kentucky.  Teacher Keri Simmons invited me to come and present my “Revolutionary War in a Trunk” talk to all fifty-six of her kiddos.  They were so amazing, interested, and interactive!

Mrs. Simmons bought an entire class set of Little Hornet … so all of the kiddos will be reading, studying, and enjoying my story about the Hamilton brothers of North Carolina.  Several kids bought copies of both Little Hornet and Little Warrior.

Altogether, it was a great day of living history in the classroom!

Secondary Characters -The Fun Part of Writing Historical Fiction

I’m pretty new to this entire writing thing.  I just released my first novel in April, and am shooting for another in October.  It’s been amazing to discover the stories that are inside me and to get those stories in print.

My writing of Revolutionary War historical fiction focuses on my own ancestors (or those of my wife).  The books are the products of my own genealogical research.  I have sought out all of the Revolutionary War Patriots that I could find in my family tree, discovered every possible document and element of their life stories that I could find, and then used those facts as the “skeleton” for a novel that tells about their Rev War experiences.

Of course, it’s all fiction … but it is EXTREMELY historical.  I want to place them in the life situations where they actually lived.  I want to have them in the battles where I know they fought or at least highly suspected that they fought.

But as I’ve moved further into my adventure in writing I am discovering the extra-special joy of secondary characters.  These are sometimes real people (names that I have discovered on historical records), or people that I construct to help bring the story to life.

One such character in my upcoming novel, Partisans and Refugees, is named Frank.  I discovered Frank while researching my 5th great-grandfather and Revolutionary War Patriot Robert Hammock.  Frank was a slave who belonged to this ancestor of mine.  He received Frank from his maternal grandfather at almost the same time that he was married to his wife, Milliner Jackson, in Virginia.  The grandfather’s will describes the bequest … “I leave my grandson, Robert Hammock, the negro boy named Frank.”

As far as I know, this is the only mention … the only known record in the entire universe … that Frank even existed.

But as I have developed my story, Frank has grown up into a man.  In my story Frank, at the age of 18-20, plays a prominent role in the Hammock family.  And as an homage to the untold hundreds (perhaps thousands) of men of color who served the Patriot cause in the American Revolution, I place Frank in the center of the action.  And before it’s all over … Frank will do something amazing, life-changing, and heroic.

And I can do that, you know … because it’s my story.  It’s coming out in October.  Partisans and Refugees.  The incredible story of the Robert Hammock family, a clan that suffered incredibly at the hands of the British and Tories in Georgia, but overcame tyranny to reclaim their freedom on the frontier.

With the help of an incredibly brave man named Frank …

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Little Hornet Goes to School!

LH AmazonSo I was set up this weekend at a local craft fair … the Cadiz Spring Fling.  I was offering my books for sale to interested locals.  It was almost time to wrap things up on Saturday and head for home when I had a pleasant visit from an interested boy named Ethan and his brother.

Ethan was checking out my books when he exclaimed, “I know this book!  I’m reading it right now!”

Extremely curious, I asked him … “Where did you get my book?”

He double-clutched for just a moment and then explained, “Well, our teacher is reading it to us out loud in class every day.”

“Really?” I asked.  “And do you like it?”

“Oh, yeah,” he responded.  “I like it a lot!”

Needless to say, my heart almost exploded.

Today, I followed up on my conversation with my young friend.  I contacted his reading teacher, Mrs. Crystal Hancock at Trigg County Intermediate School.  She assured me that the kids love the book.    Depending on how the oral group reading goes, she may recommend it for purchase as a “class set.”

Pretty awesome.

Also this weekend I got six copies to Christy Harrison (my sister-in-law) who is a fourth grade teacher in a suburb of Memphis.  She is going to make a pitch to her fellow teachers to include my novel for kids in their reading plan when they’r studying the Revolutionary War!

I must admit that I had not thought of making these kinds of contacts.  I’m going to try and look for more avenues into local schools!

Patriot’s Day – Hopkinsville, Kentucky

This past Saturday author Geoff Baggett served at the Master of Ceremonies at the Sons of the American Revolution “Patriot’s Day” celebration in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  Over fifty men of the SAR joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord … the “shot heard round the world,” … and to honor the seventy-one Patriots named on the commemorative monolith at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West.

Here’s a photo of Geoff beside the monument … he’s sporting his brand new Continental Army uniform in the French “lottery coat” style.  This uniform is in honor of his 5th Great-Grandfather, Richard Priddy, who was Quartermaster Sergeant for the 1st Virginia Regiment at Valley Forge.  He received one of these beautiful French-made coats in the Spring of 1778 while on duty at Valley Forge.

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