Friday, November 26, 2010


by Donald B. Anderson

First-time author, Donald B. Anderson, took a risk in tackling a hot-button topic in his debut political suspense novel, Hanging By The Thread. The premise is a chilling race to thwart a plot to topple the U. S. Constitution by a secret, underground group who calls themselves, “The Thread.” This entity has been weaving members into key roles in government and law enforcement, and with one final, unthinkable act, played out in front of numerous, powerful witnesses, the last player is positioned, and The Thread’s plans to reform the United States are initiated.

And that’s only page three.

The plot would have proceeded flawlessly, except for one random blunder that brings a critical document to the attention of an unlikely hero—Colton Wiser—a twenty-something, recent college grad, clerking at the Utah State Capitol Building. Curious about the eerie file that contains strange economic jargon and a disturbing blood smear, Colton seeks advice from two equally-unlikely heroes—his roommates. Jeff is a security guard at the Capitol, and Pete is a grad student with a few economics classes under his belt. Pete eventually draws in his Economics Professor—Dr. Harold Isaacson—and Colton confides in his FBI Agent/ uncle, named Jim. But before the five are even assembled together, danger and mayhem erupt, and the plot’s velocity increases until the end of the book.

Anderson displays his creative chops, employing some slick tricks as his characters attempt to elude and escape The Thread. The author's research into law enforcement, government and economics also adds to the book’s tension and suspense. This first-time novelist shows great skill with plot and pacing. I rose early one morning and went straight for the book, unable to put it down until I had reached the end. His writing style could be tighter and more fluid in places, and the friendly banter between the three roommates’ occasionally slows the read, but these small issues don’t impact the quality of Anderson's pulse-pounding novel.

But it is the economic storyline, the crux of the plot, that will determine readers' opinions of the book. In addition, the last sixty or so pages is a second, extended and didactic epilogue called “The Thread Lectures,” where the book's professor, Dr. Isaacson, explains the dangers of The Thread’s economic policies. While they are more thought-provoking than entertaining, they may be the most valuable part of the book for readers unfamiliar with the economics behind freedom.
The Thread’s plans will seem familiar to anyone who listens to conservative newscasts or talk shows. There’s a Glenn Beck-like feel to the book which strives to instruct as it entertains. In a day when the philosophy of “redistribution of wealth” is bantered about, Dr. Isaacson's character is used to illustrate how such seemingly kinder, generous paths can lead to onerous consequences. Conservatives will love the book. Liberals will likely dismiss its black-and-white economics as too simplistic. Regardless of political persuasion, readers will close the last page of Hanging By The Thread with a renewed understanding of how interconnected political freedom and economic freedom are. And whether readers agree or disagree with the book's point of view, they will get a glimpse into the philosophies and fears driving those of an opposing position. The message that came to me as I read was James Madison’s caution that the Constitution was written to guide a moral people, and that includes how we manage and share our money.

Anderson set Hanging By The Thread up perfectly to accommodate a sequel. I, for one, will be looking forward to reading it.

Hanging By The Thread is available at at The author can be contacted at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


These tender messages from those who attended the first Thanksgiving are provided by PILGRIM HALL MUSEUM. Other lovely letters, and information is available at their web site as well.

This evocative painting, titled "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," was painted by Jennie A. Brownscombe (1850-1936), in Honesdale, PA, or New York, in 1914.


There are 2 (and only 2) primary sources for the events of autumn 1621 in Plymouth : Edward Winslow writing in Mourt's Relation and William Bradford writing in Of Plymouth Plantation.

Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation :

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.

"In modern spelling"our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation :In the original 17th century spelling:

"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports."

In modern spelling:

"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."

NOTE : The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth in December of 1620. No further ships arrived in Plymouth until immediately after that "First Thanksgiving" - the Fortune arrived in November of 1621.

One of the passengers on the Fortune, William Hilton, wrote a letter home that November. Although he was not present at that "First Thanksgiving," he does mention turkeys.

4 MARRIED WOMEN : Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Elizabeth Hopkins, Susanna White Winslow.5 ADOLESCENT GIRLS : Mary Chilton (14), Constance Hopkins (13 or 14), Priscilla Mullins (19), Elizabeth Tilley (14 or15) and Dorothy, the Carver's unnamed maidservant, perhaps 18 or 19.9 ADOLESCENT BOYS : Francis & John Billington, John Cooke, John Crackston, Samuel Fuller (2d), Giles Hopkins, William Latham, Joseph Rogers, Henry Samson.13 YOUNG CHILDREN : Bartholomew, Mary & Remember Allerton, Love & Wrestling Brewster, Humility Cooper, Samuel Eaton, Damaris & Oceanus Hopkins, Desire Minter, Richard More, Resolved & Peregrine White.22 MEN : John Alden, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Francis Eaton, [first name unknown] Ely, Samuel Fuller, Richard Gardiner, John Goodman, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland, Edward Lester, George Soule, Myles Standish, William Trevor, Richard Warren, Edward Winslow, Gilbert Winslow.
ALDEN : John
ALLERTON : Isaac with children Bartholomew, Mary, Remember; the Allerton servant William Latham
BILLINGTON : John & Eleanor with sons Francis, John Jr.
BRADFORD : William
BREWSTER : William & Mary with sons Love, Wrestling; their ward Richard More
CARVER: The Carver ward Desire Minter; the Carver servant John Howland; the Carver maidservant Dorothy.
COOKE : Francis with son John
EATON : Francis with son Samuel
ELY: Unknown adult man
FULLER : Samuel with nephew Samuel 2d
GARDINER : Richard
HOPKINS : Stephen & Elizabeth with Giles, Constance, Damaris, Oceanus; their servants Edward Doty and Edward Leister.
MULLINS : Priscilla
ROGERS : Joseph
TILLEY : Elizabeth
TILLEY: Tilley wards Humility Cooper and Henry Samson
WARREN : Richard
WINSLOW : Edward & Susanna with her sons Resolved White & Peregrine White; Winslow servant George Soule
WINSLOW : Gilbert
Note : In Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford lists the Mayflower passengers and also tells us who died during the first winter of 1620/1621 and spring of 1621. No other ships arrived in Plymouth until after the "First Thanksgiving" celebration. The Pilgrims at the "First Thanksgiving" are all the Mayflower survivors.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


(I'm re-posting this review from October once again because this lovely book should be on every family book shelf. Read on, and hopefully you'll see why. LL)

by Anne Bradshaw

I remember the first time I watched “Roots” on television, and how Alex Haley’s triumph in rebuilding his family tree resounded in my newlywed heart. My family tree was broken in so many places—through divorce, deaths and estrangements caused by these events’ resulting bitterness. After decades of hitting roadblock after roadblock, I began to think some of these breaks could never be bridged. If you’ve felt that way, then Anne Bradshaw’s new release, True Miracles with Genealogy, will inspire you to return to work on those lines with increased enthusiasm and faith.

Anne Bradshaw’s book is not a genealogical how-to manual. True Miracles with Genealogy is a worldwide collection of astounding personal stories that illustrate the remarkable assistance available to us when we combine diligent research with help from beyond the veil.

Still, each short, unique story is crammed full of invaluable research tips from the successes of Bradshaw’s contributors, nearly all of whom attest they found priceless information by listening to promptings and acting on the messages received. Some of these spiritual whispers inspired them to think out of the box, sending them to astounding, unlikely places like eBay and Amazon, or off on excursions where marvelous, miraculous doors opened for them.

Personally, I loved the story about the elusive ancestor who wanted his wife and children found, informing his genealogist-ancestor in a dream that once his family had been located, he would reveal his own information. His sensitive family-researcher followed that prompting and pursued a more obscure family line. In the end, it revealed the elusive ancestors’ entire family, and soon thereafter material emerged that revealed his life as well. There are dozens of similar, remarkable experiences.

Bradshaw has previous experience assembling diverse contributors on pro-family themes, (her previous anthology, Famous Family Nights, was released in 2009), however, Bradshaw drew from a far more diverse pool as she collected the stories included in True Miracles with Genealogy. Many of the contributors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose doctrine on the eternal nature of families places theological importance on linking their generations through genealogy and temple work. But her non-LDS contributors’ stories are laced with spiritual threads as well, proving that the work of connecting to our kindred dead is a spiritual endeavor.

Whether your reasons for researching your ancestors are purely clerical—to create a historical record—or more spiritual, the inspiring true-accounts in this book will leave you with an increased understanding that the dead are not gone and lost, but near and aware of us. And more than that, you will hunger to not only account for your ancestors but to come to know them personally.

True Miracles with Genealogy should be on every family’s bookshelf, and particularly on the shelves of every genealogist—the impassioned and the dabblers. It would make a marvelous gift for the historian in your family. Its stories remind us all how near heaven we are. Who doesn't need a little of that right now?

True Miracles with Genealogy is available on, and at your LDS bookstore. There is a website for the book at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010



As amazing as it sounds, the site, "I AM A READER, NOT A WRITER" has done it again, but bigger and better than before with a 180-blog giveaway, all linked together and all featuring wonderful book/reading-related prizes!

My offering is a "Winner's Choice." If you win, you may choose an autographed copy of any of my books, plus a $20 Amazon gift card. That's two great gifts for yourself, or for the recipient of your choice. I'll personalize the book for whomever you designate.

To enter my portion of the giveaway, click on this link and scroll down to chapter two of my recent release, OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE? which is set amongst the events surrounding the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Our hero, Jed Pearson, is having a "conversation" with a dead man.

Who is he talking to?

1. Answer the question correctly and you're entered.

2. Do one, and then become a follower of my blog, or identify yourself as a current follower, for a second entry.

3. Do number one and two, and also post the
book trailer to your Facebook page, and win a third.

4. Do all of the above, then post this on your Facebook page to win a fourth:
"Read the first five chapters of "Oh, Say Can You See?" Copy and paste:

All entries must be posted individually to be counted--"The answer is. . ." "I am a follower" "I posted the trailer on Facebook." "I posted the link to the first five chapters on Facebook."
Here are the rest of the blogs in the tour. Good luck!

Laurie LC Lewis

Monday, November 15, 2010


Ads for "Oh, Say Can You See?" will begin popping up this week. Watch for our spot in the Books and Things Christmas spread which should arrive in mail boxes this week, soon to be followed by Seagull's December catalog where we've got a lovely ad.

With Thanksgiving upon us, we're hosting two overlapping giveaways this week--our regular weekly contest, as well as our offering in the 182-blog Gratitude Giveaway being hosted by the "I AM A READER NOT A WRITER," blog. Click this beautiful button to enter that contest.

But let's talk about this week's "Getting to Know the Characters," contest. This week the spotlight is on one of my very favorite characters, and the character that may be the most complex of all--British clergyman, soldier, savior, heir to a sullied fortune, and British patriot--Arthur Ramsey. He was the most challenging character to write in "Oh, Say Can You See?" and I think he will be the most beloved as well.

In volume one, Arthur discovers that his good life and education have been paid for by his father's unscrupulous business dealings and political machinations, including a murderous plot involving British soldiers fighting in America. Seeking to restore some honor to his family name, Arthur secure a post in the military, placing him at the scene some of the most heinous events of the War of 1812.

The most personally gruelling situation occurs when Arthur attempts to foil his father's murderous plot against the American Pearson family. In volume two, while scouting the Pearson's Willows plantation, Arthur is captured by Frannie Pearson, and worlds collide as the two staunch opponents struggle to deny the attraction they each feel.

The tension between Arthur and Frannie climaxes in the aftermath of the burning of Washington, requiring each of them to make a sacrifice more agonizing than the war itself asked. It is this dilemma that endeared Arthur to me. I think readers will walk away loving him as well.

So here is this week's question:

What have you sacrificed for love? It can be romantic love, parental love, sibling love or the love of a friend. Everyone has a story.

Now enter! This week's winner may choose any volume of the Free Men and Dreamers series, or “You Don’t Need to Slay My Dragons, Just Take Out the Trash. What Men Want Women to Know. What Women Wish Men Understood,” by Beverly Campbell.

And here's how! (You must already be, or now become a follower of this blog to enter.)

1. Share an experience and get one entry.

2. Post the book trailer on your facebook page and get a second entry.

3. Post this invitation and link on your facebook pages for a third entry: "Preview the first five chapters of "Oh, Say Can You See?" "

4. Join this blog or become a GFC follower for a fourth.

Each entry must post individually to be counted. I think this week's answers are going to be fantastic!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Click the photo to read the history of Hagerstown's City Park. I plan to set a future novel around this magnificent municipal treasure. It's one of my very favorite places. My mother and I have weekly "dates," and going to this park is one place we go often and enjoy tremendously.

Surrounded by stunning architecture on the neighboring streets, the park is reminiscent of the Victorian period. But there is also a community band shell where they hold summer concerts, and a beautiful art museum, (you can see it left of center in the photo.) This portion takes me back to the old 40's movies. It brings to mind the innocence of sweet neighborhoods portrayed in old movies like "Meet Me in St. Louis." I can imagine ladies in Victorian dresses with parasols, or soldiers home on leave walking their sweetheart around the park where geese, swans, Koi, and ducks walk right up to visitors.

And little gazebos and playgrounds dot the 1 1/4 miles around the huge pond. The parks people have created wonderful habitats for animals so it's also like a little zoo. Very picturesque. All free to any visitors. The original Hager House, attached in a corner, is a museum depicting life on the frontier, as well. So much to do, and such a perfect place to lay out a blanket and do nothing. All free in Hagerstown, Maryland.

And check out this link for Boonesboro's fascinating "Crystal Grottoes." More family adventure in beautiful Western Maryland. Come east for the history, but it extends beyond Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


A few days ago, my daughter and I were flying with her two children. Diaper changes, hungry babies, a misprinted gate assignment, and all the other confusion associated with traveling with an infant and a toddler made us arrive at our gate after the plane had been loaded. We raced down the gangway and the children, sensing our stress, began to wail, leaving us entering the plane in panicked disarray.

We knew 1/3 of the plane's seats were open, but the passengers had spread out leaving no obvious place where my daughter and I could sit together so we could each access the babies' bag and where both children were in reach of mommy. I kept urging Brady, a 21-month-old toddler, to keep moving to the back while I jostled screaming, 3-month-old Avery in the other arm while my daughter followed behind after gate-checking the stroller and car seat.

People avoided meeting our eyes. Worse, as we moved to the back we heard churlish remarks like, "Yeah . . keep moving. We don't want that crying baby near us." My daughter was hurt and angry and we kept moving back, looking to the plane's steward for some help.

A handsome, athletic-looking man sat alone, staring out the window, in the next to the last row on the plane. He appeared to be the last person on earth who wanted two women with children to sit in his row, but as he became aware of our dilemma he stood and moved to another seat so Amanda and I could be together with the kids.

He was our angel, and as soon as were were settled and calm the children calmed as well. In fact, people complimented us on the children's perfect behavior. We owed it all to this sweet man.

While waiting for the luggage a woman approached me. The man had moved forward and ended up sitting with her. As the two chatted, she discovered a few things she thought we would like to know about our knight in shining armor.

He was a Marine on his way to Afghanistan. His contemplative nature now made sense. He had likely just said goodbye to his family, among whom was a daughter who would graduate from high school two weeks after his expected return. He would miss her last Christmas home, her senior prom,and numerous events with his other children, while he protected us and upheld liberty in a faraway place.

I'm sure he wanted that time to be alone and think about those he was leaving behind, but he put his wants aside for us. It was so typical of what these military giants do everyday.

I walked up to him and offered my hand, thanking him for saving us that day. I told him I knew where he was headed, and promised I would pray for him and his family while he was away. It was the very least I could do for someone so selfless.

Today, I was looking at video tributes to soldiers. I came across this one and one of the comments beneath it was from a Master Sergeant. What he wrote really touched me:


Some of these guys have little or no support at home. Send this sergeant a note. I'm sure he'll forward them on to other soldiers as well. And thanks to every soldier and sailor out there. We love you!

I Fought For You By The Sound Tank

Thank you to every veteran and to every family member who ever waited for their return home.

Monday, November 8, 2010


One of the items that intrigued me while conducting the research for "Oh, Say Can You See?" was the emerging idea of what "being an American" meant to the people in Key's day. The concept hadn't cemented itself into the peoples' mindset yet. Following the Revolution, this was a transitional period from the intense state pride and fear that the federal government would become a new king in their lives, to the realization of the absolute need to rally as a united people. They had already lost their capital for the most part, and now they believed Baltimore loomed as the do-or-die moment to preserve their identity. And they almost learned the lesson too late.

As the bicentennial draws near, most modern historians will likely attest that destroying American liberty was never Britain's aim in 1812, but historical correspondence proves the Americans in that day believed everything was at risk.

We have similar concerns. We question whether our state is "blue" or "red," and note that the tenor in our cities leans liberal while our suburbs remain conservative. The name-calling and fist-waving is worrisome, but I suppose it's been an aspect of all political debate since the idea of freedom ignited in men's hearts. During the early cries for a break with Britain, the debate caused some Americans to shoot one another in the streets. Jefferson felt it was an understandable outcome of the step they were about to take.

So here's this week's question. What does being an American mean to you? To some, Americans are the symbol of hope and generosity. To others, we are audacious and rude. Some see Americanism as an attitude. Others, as an action. Cite some examples, or just give me your opinion. The answers will be diverse, but that's the point. And even if you're not an American, what do you think when you hear that term?

Your reply will enter you into this week's drawing. Weekly winners will receive an autographed copy of any volume from the Free Men and Dreamers series. Weekly participants will also be entered into the grand prize drawing for a signature "Oh Say Can You See?" silver necklace commissioned especially for the Free Men and Dreamers observance of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Additional entries can be earned by
1. Posting the trailer, on your blog, or
2. On your Facebook page
3. Post that you already are, or become, a follower of this blog
4. Add "Oh, Say Can You See?" to your Goodreads "books-to-be-read" list.
Each entry must be posted separately below to be counted. The drawing will be held at midnight, Sunday, November 14th.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


"Oh, Say Can You See?" hits the stores this week, and we're beginning weekly promotions to spread the word, beginning with a new game called,

I'll describe a character and the predicament they're in in the opening scenes of "Oh, Say Can You See?" You write a response in 50 words or less. Your reply will enter you into this week's drawing. Weekly winners will receive an autographed copy of any volume from the Free Men and Dreamers series. Weekly participants will also be entered into the grand prize drawing for a signature "Oh Say Can You See?" silver necklace commissioned especially for the Free Men and Dreamers observance of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner.
Additional entries can be earned by
1. Posting the trailer, on your blog, or
2. On your Facebook page
3. Post that you are, or become, a follower of this blog
4. Add "Oh, Say Can You See?" to your Goodreads "books-to-be-read" list.
Each entry must be posted separately below to be counted. The drawing will be held at midnight, Sunday, November 7th.
Here's the scenario:
"Oh, Say Can You See?" opens days after the dreadful burning of Washington. Many Americans lost their lives at the embarrassing loss at Bladensburg, the only battle to defend the Capital. Others were taken prisoner by the British.
Hannah Pearson is a young expectant mother awaiting the birth of her first child. It should be a joyous time in Hannah's life, but her joy is marred by her worry for her husband, Jed, who was wounded following the Battle of Bladensburg. Jed is now prisoner of war being held by the British, and Hannah has received no word of his situation or safety. Her only solace comes from her gift, her ability to receive spiritual promptings, which tells her Jed is still alive.
Hannah "talks" to Jed as if he were with her. In fifty words or less, what might Hannah be telling Jed at this time?
I look forward to reading what you think a woman in Hannah's situation might "say" to the husband she adores in such a situation. The people in this historic period weren't so very different from us. What what you say?

Monday, November 1, 2010

AND WE HAVE A WINNER! has spoken, and we have a winner in my portion of last week's Spooktacular Book Blog Hop! Congratulations to Linda H. who will receive her book in a week. Thanks to everyone who participated. A new contest will post tonight!