Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition

Book Review

Book Review

Eight Weeks in Washington, 1861: Abraham Lincoln and the Hazards of Transition is intriguing look by Richard J Tofel at the challenges faced by Lincoln at the beginning of his presidency — including what to do about the handful of US forts located in southern states that had not yet been taken over by the seceded states. The most important one, perhaps, was Fort Sumter, located in Charleston, South Carolina.

Options included abandoning the fort to the budding Confederacy or traveling into enemy territory to resupply the men under the command of Major Robert Anderson. To complicate matters, members of Lincoln’s new cabinet did not agree which solution was best and communications with the navy were rudimentary, at best.

Book Review

My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy

My Thoughts Be Bloody

Book Review

I’ve seen the words “magnificent” and “riveting” being used to describe My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy by Nora Titone — and I wholeheartedly agree with both descriptions.

This book is far more than a recounting of the Abraham Lincoln assassination. Titone first captivates us with the love story between Junius Booth, a well loved Shakespearean actor, and the young and lovely Mary Ann, with whom he has eight children. (Lest this sounds like the stuff of fairy tales, know that when his wife finds out, she isn’t too happy.)

Book Review

The Republic of Suffering

Book Review

Book Review

The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust is an extraordinary book that provides a look back in time to see how 19th-century Americans viewed death – and how the Civil War fueled the growth of the funeral industry and the creation of national cemeteries, and caused the military to expand its functions dramatically. This book also shows the sheer gruesomeness of the war in ways that books focusing on the battles never could.

In modern times, we try to fight off death, to slow down death, to focus on living and life. In the Civil War era, a more Victorian philosophy still existed – that it was important to die a “good death.” That meant that you were at peace with yourself, with others and with God. When a soldier died, fellow soldiers and officers tried to comfort the family by assuring them that their loved one had died such a death. Some soldiers carried with them letters to send to family members in case of their demise, and these letters tried to provide the same reassurance.

Historical writing, Nonfiction Writing Advice

How to Write a Book Proposal: Non-Fiction Example

how to write a book proposal
Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

I recently came across a book proposal that I’d written in 2013, one that was ultimately rejected because the publisher felt there were too many books on the subject already. So, I thought it might be helpful to share it with you, a guide to how to write a book proposal. Note that I’m not suggesting that ALL book proposals should look this way. The publisher I was querying had specific requirements and I followed them. Having said that, this book proposal is fairly typical of what a publisher might want, although shorter than many others I’ve written.

A Few More Resources

Writing a Nonfiction Book: Keeping it Real

Nonfiction Writing Advice: Toss Out a Great Opener

writing advice

Essence of the Writer’s Journey

writer's journey
Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

Recently, my husband and I attended a funeral. After the service ended, we needed to travel to the cemetery. With the funeral procession flag firmly attached to the roof of our car, we turned on our bright lights, as requested, and methodically twisted and turned our way to the cemetery.

After a brief and solemn committal ceremony, the funeral director thanked us for being part of the dedicated group who had just walked the “final mile” with the family of the deceased.


They’re Done Changing

An Interview with an Aficionado about her Ever-Growing Rock Collection

Q: Peggy, you’ve just completed a big move. What was the last thing you did, right before you left your former home?

Peggy: My flower garden had a rock border. Before I drove away for good, I grabbed a piece of quartz.

Q: You still have this quartz, right?

Peggy: Sure.

Q: From what I understand, you’ve also got plenty more. When you look around your living room, what do you see?


Speak the Name

Collection of Poems and Short Snippets

In February 2019, I released my first chapbook, a collection of poems that focus on the importance of speaking someone’s name and the value of naming. Because so many of the poems contain references to historical people, most of them largely forgotten, the book also contains short pieces of prose that illuminate an aspect of that person’s life. If interested in a copy, please contact me at kbsagert@aol.com. The cost is $8 plus tax and shipping. Thank you!

Nonfiction Writing Advice, Writer's Conferences

Value of Attending Christian Writers Conferences

Like most things in life, there is a fine line between not networking enough as a writer – and focusing on networking at the expense of your actual writing time. If you find yourself spending too much energy on networking, it’s probably time for you to be honest with yourself. Do you really want to write – or do you simply enjoy socializing with writers and other Christians? Neither answer is “wrong.” A candid self-assessment, though, will most likely save you a lot of frustration — and this process will help you to determine what value there will be for you in attending Christian writers conferences.

Nonfiction Writing Advice

Ethics in Writing

“If the best journalists in the world lack credibility then they are nothing. All we have is our credibility. We aren’t granted ‘journalist’ status by earning a certain college degree or being issued a government license. We earn it by reporting responsibly.” (Society of Professional Journalists President David Cuillier discussing ethics in writing, April 2014 issue of Quill)

Maybe you consider yourself a journalist – or a blogger or a magazine writer. No matter how you self label, when you write nonfiction, it’s crucial to report responsibly and to navigate ethical tightropes as carefully as possible.