How the Book Came to Be

How does a book begin?

It usually involves the imagination—or inspiration. In the case of Tillie Pierce’s story, the book began the moment I heard the story of Tillie Pierce and Hettie, Sadie, and Mollie Shriver while taking a tour of the Shriver House Museum in Gettysburg, PA, one October afternoon. Inspiration, indeed!

Nancie Gudmestad, owner of the museum, stood dressed as a Civil-War-era lady, her long dress sweeping wide due to the hoop skirt beneath as she walked through the Shriver House. She took us from room to room, telling the story of a young mother, her two little daughters, and the teenage girl next door, Tillie Pierce. The mother was Hettie (Weikert) Shriver, whose husband George had left to serve in the Union Army. Her little girls were Sadie (age 7) and Mollie (age 5) in 1863.

The story Nancie proceeded to tell was captivating. I’d taught American history for years and had read many books about the Civil War, even about the Battle of Gettysburg in particular. But I’d never heard this story—a true tale of what some civilian women endured before, during, and after this fateful battle. Tillie and the Shrivers began to feel like people I knew but wanted to know better. I asked questions, bought books, read articles, joined the Adams County Historical Society. A book was taking shape in my mind, and it was one I wanted to share with young readers across the country. Thanks to the people at Lerner Publishing Group, this dream has come true.

To read more about the book on Lerner’s website, click on the book cover above. To take a peek at the interior, click on on the image to the right. —>

Below are some icons that will take you to websites where you can learn more about Gettysburg, the battle, and the 150th anniversary events.

destination gettysburg logo

gbg conv bureau




Read More

Gettysburg’s Historic Week

Events are underway at Gettysburg to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest battle on American soil. All weekend and into next week, reenactors will be providing modern viewers an experience they won’t soon forget. In the meantime, the Civil War Trust has been busy creating online experiences. As someone who won’t get to attend the actual event, I’m happy to be able to watch via my computer screen.

gettysburg-animated-map-preloadFirst, let me highly recommend the animated, narrated battle map video. Because the battle covered more than 20 square miles, it’s often difficult to envision just where the action was taking place. This map makes it so easy to view troop movement and the battle lines. You MUST see this amazing map at or by clicking on the image above.

gettysburg-battle-app-limitedThe Civil War Trust has also created The Gettysburg Battle App for Apple and Android users. It is a FREE GPS-enabled battle guide with plenty of maps, historical content, photos, and other resources. It’s narrated by Civil War expert, Garry Adelman. Go HERE for more information. The app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or at Google Play. (You can also download Battle Apps for other battles, including Antietam, Vicksburg, Bull Run, and more. For more information about features, go here.

I’ll be adding more Gettysburg details daily. For now, though, kudos to the Civil War Trust for creating some  informative digital products!


Read More

Children’s Book Week

CBW-with-dateHooray for children and for books!

Hooray for a week that celebrates both!

In honor of Children’s Book Week, I am giving away a signed copy of Tillie Pierce to one middle- or high-school student, teacher, librarian/media specialist, or a parent of a middle- or high-school student. (A $35 value! Plus my autograph, which is worth about $1.87.)

All you have to do is leave a comment below. I will randomly choose a winner on Friday, May 17, at 4:00 p.m. EDT.

I will contact the winner to get mailing information.

Spread the word…If I get more than 100 comments, I’ll add a second book to the giveaway. Two winners!!!!

Read More