Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Recent Visit to Aliceville

Back in May, when friends visited from California, they asked if we would take them down to visit Aliceville. Having read Guests Behind the Barbed Wire, they wanted to visit the museum and explore the town where the story took place.

Museum Director Ann Kirksey and museum volunteer Martha Horton (pictured at right) greeted us warmly, as always, and provided lots of information. The museum displays offer a truly vivid depiction of what Camp Aliceville life was like during World War II. The museum has expanded its collection well beyond just the Camp Aliceville displays, too. Other adjacent buildings offer even more glimpses of the lives of American service men and women and their families during that era.

The Plantation House restaurant was closed for renovations the day of our visit, so instead, we enjoyed a good lunch and visit at the local Mexican restaurant. Former Museum Director Mary Bess Paluzzi, who now works with the City of Aliceville, joined us. Because of her help and dedication to the story, Guests is dedicated to her.

Below is a picture of Barney and me with our friends, Sue and Dave Kjome, of Rancho Murieta, California, during our visit to Aliceville in May.

Chapter One Nineteen Book Club Reads North Across the River

At right is a picture of charter members of the Chapter One Nineteen Book Club who gathered on Tuesday evening, June 3, to discuss my first book, North Across the River. This was a real treat for me because many of those in the picture are good friends I met through the water aerobics classes at One Nineteen. It was so much fun to discuss the story and how the book came about.

Hats off to Becki Reardon for putting this group together. I'm sure many more good book discussions will take place in the coming months. If anyone in the North Shelby area is interested in this activity, please e-mail me at, and I will give you the information.
In case anyone else would like to use them, I've posted the study questions we used for our discussion below. Other book clubs are welcome to use them and/or to contact me for more information about the book:
1. Were you aware, before reading this book, that civilians in the South had been deported by Union troops for supporting the Confederacy with their labor?

2. If you had been Synthia Catherine Stewart Boyd, making a phonograph recording for her grandson in the 1940s, what would you have wanted him to remember most about the tale of your experiences during the Civil War?

3. Why do you think the Kendley brothers and sisters chose to remain in Indiana rather than returning to Georgia after the war?

4. What do you think is the significance of the sub-title, “A Civil War Trail of Tears”?

5. Based on this book, how would you compare and contrast the lives of the textile mill workers at that time with those of the antebellum mansion owners we normally think of in connection with pre-Civil War Southern towns?

6. Although this book is non-fiction, dialogue has been created in some places, based on tales handed down in the families of the descendants. Do you think this contributed to or detracted from the narrative?

Guests Wins Bronze Medal in History!

On May 23, Independent Publishers announced the winners in their Outstanding Book Awards competition, and Guests Behind the Barbed Wire received a bronze medal in the History category. The awards were announced at BookExpo in Los Angeles last week.

If you'd like to visit the Independent Publishers website and see the entire list of books (a great summer reading list!), here is the link:

My thanks to all out there who helped make this book possible.