James Monroe

November Update--Book Festivals and More Presidents sites

October took me to book festivals in Williamsburg, Virginia and Fort Worth, Texas. The book festivals are great places not just to showcase A Presidents Story but to meet other authors and the locals who come and book shop. I learn something new about marketing my book and have several great conversations at each event. I’ve added a few pictures below of the events as well as from some of the historical Presidential sites Kay and I visited along the way. All of the President sites I visited were for Presidents that figure prominently in my book, so, if you’ve read the book, here are some shots for the movie!

At the Williamsburg Festival. I was given the table right by the entrance which I thought was great. I learned that you actually want to be somewhere in the middle…

At the Williamsburg Festival. I was given the table right by the entrance which I thought was great. I learned that you actually want to be somewhere in the middle…

This is John Tyler’s home at Sherwood Forest Plantation. I highly recommend visiting this site near Charles City, Virginia. It is the only President’s home that has remained continuously in the same family right up to the present day.

This is John Tyler’s home at Sherwood Forest Plantation. I highly recommend visiting this site near Charles City, Virginia. It is the only President’s home that has remained continuously in the same family right up to the present day.

As described in my book, Sherwood Forest was filled with Tyler’s many children and their numerous pets. So there is a fairly extensive pet cemetery which includes President Tyler’s long time horse.

As described in my book, Sherwood Forest was filled with Tyler’s many children and their numerous pets. So there is a fairly extensive pet cemetery which includes President Tyler’s long time horse.

Berkeley Plantation is also near Charles City, Virginia. It is where William Henry Harrison (9th President) was born. His father Benjamin Harrison was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of Virginia’s most prominent citizens. The delightful tour guide said that no less then ten U.S. Presidents were in this house at one time of another.

Berkeley Plantation is also near Charles City, Virginia. It is where William Henry Harrison (9th President) was born. His father Benjamin Harrison was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of Virginia’s most prominent citizens. The delightful tour guide said that no less then ten U.S. Presidents were in this house at one time of another.

John Tyler’s gravesite in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

John Tyler’s gravesite in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Somewhat to my surprise, James Monroe’s tomb was just a few steps away from Tyler’s in Hollywood Cemetery. Jefferson Davis is also buried in the same cemetery. Not shown here is Elizabeth Monroe’s modest plot at the side of President Monroe’s impressive structure. Not sure how that’s going over in the afterlife.

Somewhat to my surprise, James Monroe’s tomb was just a few steps away from Tyler’s in Hollywood Cemetery. Jefferson Davis is also buried in the same cemetery. Not shown here is Elizabeth Monroe’s modest plot at the side of President Monroe’s impressive structure. Not sure how that’s going over in the afterlife.

We moved on to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where Kay got chummy with this fellow.

We moved on to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where Kay got chummy with this fellow.

I don’t know if I just don’t have high testosterone levels or what, but I’ve never been much of a war history buff. I’ve always preferred the personalities and issues of the day than tales of strategy and slaughter. Nonetheless, Gettysburg is impressive and sobering.

I don’t know if I just don’t have high testosterone levels or what, but I’ve never been much of a war history buff. I’ve always preferred the personalities and issues of the day than tales of strategy and slaughter. Nonetheless, Gettysburg is impressive and sobering.

Our 15th President, James Buchanan, graces the cover of  A Presidents Story . We visited his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The estate was called Wheatland and it is a very well maintained historical site. The older gentleman who led us on a tour of the home was funny, knowledgeable and, in Kay’s words, “adorable.”

Our 15th President, James Buchanan, graces the cover of A Presidents Story. We visited his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The estate was called Wheatland and it is a very well maintained historical site. The older gentleman who led us on a tour of the home was funny, knowledgeable and, in Kay’s words, “adorable.”

Wheatland is filled with many original items from Buchanan’s life. This is the room where he died.

Wheatland is filled with many original items from Buchanan’s life. This is the room where he died.

Buchanan’s grave in Lancaster at Woodward Hill Cemetery. He was not a popular figure by the time he left the Presidency but his gravesite is well manicured befitting a man who held our highest office.

Buchanan’s grave in Lancaster at Woodward Hill Cemetery. He was not a popular figure by the time he left the Presidency but his gravesite is well manicured befitting a man who held our highest office.

My table at the Fort Worth Book Festival. One of the things I learned early in this process is that chocolate is a fairly sure-fire magnet for getting people to come take a peek at your book.

My table at the Fort Worth Book Festival. One of the things I learned early in this process is that chocolate is a fairly sure-fire magnet for getting people to come take a peek at your book.

The Presidents blog

Welcome to my blog. Those are four words I am surprised to type. Almost as surprised as I am that I am having a book published. My historical novel, A Presidents Story, will be out in April. The publisher and my son with the Masters Degree in Marketing said authors have websites and, if they’re smart, blogs or newsletters. A blog sounded less intimidating because I don’t have to decide if something is “news” or not.

This will be my main blog. If you click on “Blog" in the upper right corner, you will see that I hope to eventually build blogs on Music and Fly Fishing, the other two things I can never seem to get enough of. For the Presidents Blog, in addition to occasional commentary, I will post (hopefully) interesting anecdotes and book reviews (both of my book and other books on Presidents). If you sign up for the email list, I’ll alert you to new content on the blog from time to time. Don't worry, I’ll be judicious with the number of emails to avoid morphing into spam.

But, back to the book. Why did I write A Presidents Story? Initially, it was because I could. In the mid-90s, PCs came out. I bought a turbo-charged 80-megabyte-of-memory beauty and thought, “Wow, with all this capacity, I could write a book!”

Around the time I bought the computer and started having those thoughts, I read William Safire’s Freedom. It’s a great Civil War novel based on a lot of actual history. It occurred to me that it might be the type vehicle I could use to convey some of the things I’ve learned about the Presidents over a lifetime of study. So, I started doing the research and writing as time allowed over the next 5 years.

Then, time did not allow for close to 15 years. When I retired in 2015 and ran across my old notes, I decided I would finish the book. I did so and sent it out into the world of agents and publishers. The nice folks at History Publishing Company responded and said they would like to publish A Presidents Story.

As I say in the “Author’s Note” to the book, this “is a work of fiction based on many factual events." Over the last 50 years, countless people have told me that whoever was President at that time was “the worst ever” or, occasionally, “the best ever.” I’m often tempted to ask, “How do you think he compares with, say, Zachary Taylor?” I typically don’t because I am usually talking to someone I like and would rather get to see them again than prove a point. That point, however, was part of my motivation in writing the book.

A Presidents Story is about the mostly forgotten Presidents between Washington and Lincoln. Just as most of us can readily think of actions that, for example, LBJ and Nixon and Reagan took that impacted the issues that Bush and Obama confronted, so it was with Lincoln. His predecessors had a profound impact on the issues he confronted. A Presidents Story attempts to illuminate the Presidents before Lincoln in a way that will make it easier or, better yet, harder, for us to say a President is the “best” or “worst.”

The book should be available in hard copy shortly after its April 2018 publication date. In the meantime, it can be pre-ordered as an eBook on Amazon or on Barnes and Noble (and probably other places as well). I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please post a review online. The publisher and my son say that’s important too.

Brad