Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Worm in the Apple: Part 8 of Television Interview

Here is part six of the television interview with Kevin Avard on Gate City Chronicles. Here they are talking about "Taxation Without Representation" and Worms in Apples. (If this video does not show up on your mobile device, go here.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Panning for Gold!

I finally realized what doing research for writing historical fiction is like: panning for gold!

Here is the 7th part of the television interview I did with Kevin Avard on Gate City Chronicles. If you cannot see the video on your mobile device, go here to watch it.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

True Confessions - Again!

My dad’s medical bag, probably not much different from Dr. Flagg’s in the story. It had compartments for storing medicines, bandages, etc.  Just like Clara in A Buss from Lafayette, for many years of my childhood I believed that when a doctor (my dad in particular) went to deliver a baby, it was inside this bag.  I wonder if doctors still carry these. Bublish

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lafayette and the French Alliance

Here's another bit from the interview I did with Kevin Avard on "Gate City Chronicles." Here the topic is Lafayette's crucial role in keeping the French Alliance going! (If you can't see the video on your mobile device, go here.) What I didn't get around to saying was that he also went back to France during the Revolution to help get more support. When he sailed back to America in L'Hermione in 1780, he brought the news that French troops and ships were on the way!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lafayette's Imprisonment

“Joss and I hope to glimpse him on the road tomorrow,” said Father. “After all, it is not often we meet someone who has sacrificed so much for his belief in liberty.”
Elder Putney nodded. “Yes, after helping us gain our freedom from England, the poor man did his best to put France on the path to liberty, too. Instead, he ended up imprisoned for more than five years. And his wife and two daughters chose to suffer through that with him. They stayed at his side in a dungeon cell for a couple of those years.” - A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

My Bublish discussion of this excerpt:  Lafayette returned to France after the American Revolution hoping he could help secure some "liberty" for his own country. Unfortunately, the goal he chose was a middle path: a limited constitutional monarchy similar to that of England. Because of this, he was hated by not only those who wanted no change (to keep the absolute monarchy intact) and also by those who wanted total change (to get rid of the monarchy altogether). Of course it was all much more complicated than this simple statement, but it could be said that this was essentially the reason he ended up in a dungeon cell.
To learn more about Lafayette's imprisonment, visit the Lafayette College webpage about it, here.

When was NH first called the Granite State? TV Interview #5

Here is the fifth excerpt from the interview I did with Kevin Avard on "Gate City Chronicles". Here we talk about when New Hampshire was first called the "Granite State". If you can't see this video on your mobile device, click here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A True Case of Mistaken Identity: Television Interview Part 4

Here is the fourth excerpt from the television interview I did with Kevin Avard on Gate City Chronicles. Here I tell him about a funny thing that really happened in New England during Lafayette's Farewell Tour.


So I was talking without notes and muddled something: the number of Americans who turned out to see Lafayette during his Farewell Tour of 1824-5 was approximately 3 million. This was about 1/4 of the total population!

If you are unable to watch this video on your mobile device, please go here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Television Interview Part 3: What is A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE about???

Here is the third excerpt from the television interview I did on June 21, 2016, on "Gate City Chronicles", hosted by Kevin Avard. In this bit, we're talking about the plot of A Buss from Lafayette.

If this video does not show up on your mobile device, go here.

Holding Jane Austen's Mob Cap

As those of you know who have watched my video blogs (click here), or watched my tv interview #2 (click here) or read my written blogs, I got the idea for A Buss from Lafayette while on a Jane Austen tour of England in 1997. That was when I received the "indirect" buss (kiss) from Lafayette via a woman whose great-grandmother had been kissed by him in 1824, and who passed that kiss down in the family and on to me.

I recently remembered an amusing incident from that tour which I have decided to relate to you. It is linked only tangentially to A Buss from Lafayette, but I'm writing about it anyway.

First of all, you must understand that this was the first tour put on by the Jane Austen Society of North America, of which I am a life member. For a Jane Austen lover, it was a wonderful experience. We visited Steventon (the site of the house in which she was born), London (where she stayed with her brother and where we also saw and handled the collection of her surviving manuscripts then housed at the British Museum), Bath (where parts of both Northanger Abby and Persuasion were set), Godmersham (the estate where Jane Austen's brother lived) and many other Austen locales.

One of these locales was Lyme Regis, the seaside town where Louisa Musgrove falls from the Cobb in Persuasion.  As our bus was approaching the town, I could hear the tour organizer and British tour guide chatting in the seat ahead of mine. Apparently they had been contacted by a woman who said she was descended from Jane Austen's brother, Edward, who had been adopted by wealthy relatives and subsequently changed his name to Knight. This purported descendant had told the tour leaders that she had a number of Jane Austen artifacts that had come down in her family and she wanted to show them to us. The problem was that no one knew 1) if she was actually an Austen descendant; or 2) if what she had to show us were genuine Austen heirlooms. Also, the tour was on a tight schedule and the tour leaders did not want to be delayed by someone who might be a loony tune. I heard them decide to meet with her, but to do what they could to keep the encounter as short as possible.

When we arrived in Lyme Regis, this is the woman who met us at a museum, carrying a number of bags. I don't remember her name, but I wrote down "Mrs. C." on the back of one of these pictures.

Was she really a descendant of Jane Austen's wealthy brother?

I watched the tour leaders' reaction: they didn't seem convinced.

Then Mrs. C. started pulling things out of her bags.

Something she showed us, some document or other, did seem to indicate that she was the Real Deal.

Then Mrs. C. brought out the rest of the items she'd brought along to show us:

1) A set of scrabble-ish letters like those used in Emma to spell out coded messages between secret lovers, and some "spillikins" (pick up sticks). Mrs. C. said they had belonged to Jane Austen.

2) A lace "fichu", that was worn as a collar, that had belonged to Jane Austen

3) An ebony fan that had belonged to Jane Austen. 

4. A beaded bag made by Jane Austen. (When we later went to Chawton Cottage, where Jane Austen lived at the end of her short life, there was an identical beaded bag on display there.)

5. A pair of Jane Austen's gloves.

5. And a lace cap made and worn by Jane Austen herself.


Meanwhile, the tour leaders kept trying to hurry Mrs. C. along so we could get on to see Lyme Regis. Our schedule, you know.

But I had questions for Mrs. C. Lots of questions. Every time I asked another one, however, the tour leaders did not look pleased with me.

I didn't care.

Especially when I was allowed to hold Jane Austen's lace cap.

I don't know if subsequent Jane Austen tours have scheduled in Mrs. C, or whether it was eventually decided that these items weren't authentic.

She, and they, were real enough for me.

Center: beaded bag
Upper left: fichu (collar)
Next to the beaded bag: spillikins
Lower right corner: lace cap
Center: letters from a word game like those used by Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax in  Emma. I think they came from the box of game pieces on the right.

 An ebony fan and a grooming kit.

Me holding Jane Austen's cap. Those of you who have read A Buss from Lafayette know that such a mob cap figured in my story.

Just for good measure, here is a picture of me standing on "Granny's Teeth" on the Lyme Regis Cobb. These precarious stairs down from the Upper Cobb to the Lower Cobb might have been the ones where Louisa Musgrove fell and ended up with a severe concussion.

[Captain Wentworth] advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, "I am determined I will:" he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An indirect buss (kiss) from Lafayette Television Interview Part 2

Here I am talking (again) about how I got the idea for A Buss from Lafayette and a buss (kiss) on the cheek from someone whose great-grandmother had been kissed by Lafayette in 1824!

If this video does not show up on your mobile device, you can watch it here instead!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I know "Tempus Fugit", but how shocking is THIS!

The 17th century house in Wethersfield, CT, that might have been the setting for The Witch of Blackbird Pond, one of my childhood favorites. My new story will be set in the same era, albeit in Massachusetts instead of Connecticut.

So I am starting to work on a new book for young readers, set in 1675 in the colony of Massachusetts. Its working title is "A Scalp on the Moon".  (I'll explain why later.)

I actually came up with the idea for this story a long time ago, did lots of research, took lots of notes, and wrote the first three chapters. Then, for a variety of reasons, I stopped working on it.

I knew it has been quite a few years since I did anything with Scalp, but when I found the box in which I'd stowed away what I'd done so far, I was in a for a genuine shock.

The date I found on the notes I had taken was (are you ready for this?) 1993!


Good grief.

Better get back to work before any more time fugits!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The value of historical fiction for kids: Television Interview Part 1

                                                                                                                                                               Here is a short excerpt from a television interview I did  on June 21 on the Gate City Chronicles program, hosted by NH Sen. Kevin Avard. Here I talk about why historical fiction is such a valuable way of helping young readers understand historical events. (Please note: this video will not show up on mobile devices. I'll try to find another way for you to watch it!) Hmmm. try this: TV Excerpt 1 on

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lafayette's Changing View of "Glory"

 The following quote informed my overall vision of who Lafayette was and what he became over the course of the American Revolution:

Choosing to rebuff de Grasse and insist on waiting for Washington was out of character for the man who had arrived in America four years before, but Lafayette had changed. Blooded in battle, bonded with his men, sobered by the demands of leadership, and devoted not only to the principles of the Revolution but also to its leader, he had apparently come to recognize that there was more at stake than his personal glory, or that glory was a more complex alloy than he had known before. 
-For Liberty and Glory, Washington and Lafayette
and their Revolutions by James R. Gaines

Here is part of the section in which I used this information in A Buss from Lafayette:

Mr. Gilman nodded at me and explained how after Lafayette had bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown, the French fleet under Admiral DeGrasse arrived to put the cork in that bottle. The French ships blocked the British from escaping from Yorktown by sea. DeGrasse thought that between Lafayette’s men and his own forces, there were enough men to mount an immediate assault on the besieged town.

“Such an attack could have brought Lafayette all the glory of what proved to be the final major action of the war,” said Mr. Gilman, “but Lafayette refused to do it. Instead, he waited patiently for Washington to arrive with the bulk of the American and French troops. 
    - A Buss from Lafayette ©2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Friday, July 1, 2016

Viking Attack, Part 3 (Almost the Finale)

The Shiloh: the Attacker  (37 feet long)
OK, OK, I know I fell down on the job and left readers of this blog waiting to hear what happened when we finally set off to attack some Vikings on our stretch of the Illinois River in early September, 1966. I just keep getting sidetracked by such things as book signings, tv broadcasts (will post video soon) and technical problems. (I won't even go there.)

I believe the final bit I posted before was this:

Just before we left for the boat, however, both Dad and Mom got back to the house and donned pirate garb - Dad painting a really effective scar on his chest, as I remember.  We went down to The Shiloh, hoisted the Jolly Roger, and were off to defend Chillicothe against the Viking menace!

Having assembled our crew (the local mortician who was a skilled sailor; a couple of friends of my mom, my mom herself, my sister, our dog, my dad, and me) we went out into the river channel. Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

For our prey.

There were no other boats on the river except for us, and no houses were visible. All we saw were trees along the river bank on one side, and trees on the long island on the opposite side.  It was enough like a "forest primeval" that we suddenly felt as if it could be hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and that the Viking threat could be real.

My father and sister decided to kill a little time by staging a sword fight on board the Shiloh. while they were doing this, a Viking ship (smallish) careered around the far end of the island into view. We all leaped to our feet and started screaming.

The Viking Hoard, spotting our Pirate ship, became as excited as we were. They shouted back in assorted Scandinavian languages. It was clear that capturing maidens and mayors in a P.R. manner was getting a bit old and they were delighted to see what was lying in wait for them.

As they pulled up to us, the screaming and shouting became earsplitting.

At that point, my mustachio'd sister and I couldn't help but notice that the Hoard included some REALLY good looking young men, wearing horned helmets, furry vests, leather pants, etc.

And the two of us had our front teeth blacked out. Not good.

We still managed to pull out our two major weapons: a ping pong ball gun and an m-80 firecracker on the end of a fishing pole - but these didn't seem to faze those Vikings.  Finally, we unrolled a bed sheet on which we had written "Do You Surrender" in large letters.

"Never!" was the response. Those Vikings were tough cookies.

They all laughed, then turned their boat downstream and motored away. Just like that.

 They hadn't even tried to capture us Maidens.

And they called themselves Vikings. Humph.

The Scandia: the Attackee (35 feet long)

(To be continued.)