I don't know exactly how I came up with this idea but it involved Laura Linney, one of my favorite actresses. Perhaps it was an article about her that I read, or an interview I heard, but she talked about her role as Abigail Adams in the HBO miniseries "John Adams" and how reading about our founding fathers was learning about American History. Maybe she said something about reading biographies on all the presidents or maybe she didn't, but I decided that's what I would do. I would read a biography on each president, in order, so I could get a history lesson on America. 

The idea came at a perfect time. I had received my MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa and my historical novel, "Bee King", about the first person diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in the United States, was published. I had put all of me into that book and into achieving my MFA that I needed a writing break. One richly deserved after writing novels for over thirty years, studying the craft of writing, teaching writing, and feeling I was improving my writing with each word, with each sentence, but never cracking the publishing safe. I had also finished the final book of my Forbidden Trilogy. With both of those published, I was ready for a new project. One that didn't involve 90,000 words. Thanks to Laura Linney, I found it.

It's a magnificiant plan for me, not least the education I am receiving. (I am already on Madison, including a detour to read about Ben Franklin). As I crest past middle age and read articles about maintaining cognitive health, this educational pursuit feels particularly ideal. Plus, my plan to blog not just about the books I read, but also about the podcasts I listen to, the series I watch, the letters I peruse--all related to American history--gives me an excuse to blog at a manageable 200 words or so. Or perhaps it simply gives me something to do while I wait for the seeds of my next novel to root.

I hope you will join me on this journey into American history. I am unsure what the posts will look like but believe they will vary. Sometimes book reviews, other times streams of consciousness, perhaps social commentary, maybe a play or two. No poetry, I promise.

As I wrote in my last blog post on the Forbidden Trilogy, as a historical novelist I dive into the past to figure out the present. That quest continues.

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In the words of Abigail Adams in a letter to John, circa 7 January 1797 (including a modern day spelling miscue): 

I shall write again by the next post. I am now in much haste.

Yours affectionatly.

Joanne Lewis Blog

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joanne lewis

When Joanne Lewis is not practicing law, she is writing. She pens murder mysteries, historical fiction and historical fantasy books and is the author of several award-winning novels. As an author, she hopes to entertain, to educate, and perhaps to enlighten. As an attorney, she is most proud of her work as an assistant state attorney and as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children.

Her books are available on Kindle, as paperbacks, and as audio books.

Her latest release is Bee King, a historical novel that is about the first person in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and takes place from the start of the Civil War until 1910. Just like the people who inhabited Five Points in lower Manhattan during the 1800s and the turn of the century, Bee King traverses the pentagonal streets where abolitionists battled copperheads, immigrants clashed among social, religious and political strife, and doctors and psychologists strained to help patients. Told in Five Points (sections), Bee King is dramatized through conventional literary devices as well as through newspaper articles, a manifesto, and other non-traditional tools.

The Forbidden trilogy consists of the novels: Forbidden Room, Forbidden Night, and Forbidden Horses. Forbidden Room is her best-selling novel.

In Forbidden Room, the first book in the Forbidden trilogy, new attorney Michael Tucker has few clients, yearns to be like his famous grandmother and cannot afford to move out of his parents' home. Sara Goldstein is an heiress accused of killing her uncle. When Sara hires Michael, he gets the chance to defend an innocent person, a beautiful lover and notoriety like his grandmother. But is it more than he asked for? Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer?

Forbidden Night, the second book in the Forbidden trilogy, delves further into Michael and Sara’s complicated relationship, as well as into Soldier Boy’s psyche, into their family histories, and into the creation of the carousel horses. The question posed in Forbidden Room, the first book of the Forbidden trilogy—Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer—is answered.

Forbidden Horses, the final book in the Forbidden trilogy, travels to the eighteenth century and takes place in Austria to reveal the troubled history of the creation of the carousel horses.

Michelangelo & Me is a series of five novellas in the genre of historical fantasy.

In the first book of the series, Michelangelo & the Morgue, seventeen-year-old Michelangelo defies religious and political powers in order to capture a serial killer who is murdering the artists of Florence. In Sleeping Cupid, the second book, Michelangelo’s believed-to-be lost statue narrates his journey from fifteenth century Florence, Italy until the present day where he lives in an attic in a sleepy Florida town. Future books in the anthology include Space Between, School of the World and Michelangelo & Me.

The Lantern is a historical novel about a modern-day woman's search to find a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi's dome. Across time and space, three lives collide as they battle abuse, disease, fear and prejudice in pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, they intersect with some of the most famous figures of the Renaissance including members of the Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and a young Michelangelo.

Wicked Good, a different kind of love story, begins in Bangor, Maine. Fifteen-year-old Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his adoptive mother, is Rory's biggest fan. Rory searches for his birth parents to find out why he is the way he is. He discovers his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where the Salem Witch Trials had occurred, and in Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishermen went down with the Andrea Gail during the Perfect Storm. He also learns his true roots are closest to his home in Bangor. As Rory discovers truths about himself, Archer learns about herself too.

Make Your Own Luck is the unforgettable and moving novel of Remy Summer Woods, a young attorney who refuses to believe thirteen-year-old Bonita Pickney killed her father, Patrick Pickney. Remy risks her relationship with her own father as well as her life to prove Bonita's innocence. Along with learning what happened the night Patrick was murdered, Remy discovers hard truths about her family and herself.

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