My NonFiction
      A blow to the head had split the man's skull. His skeleton lay crumpled in the packed earth, the mouth gaped wide in a scream that had echoed soundlessly through the years since his death in 1622. The time was now the 1970s and the lost Virginia settlement of Martin's Hundred had been discovered.
     Between 1619 and 1621, 3560 people traveled to Virginia. Planters went hoping to find rich land. Women went hoping to find husbands. Servants went hoping to find freedom. All found hunger and disease. Of the 3560 immigrants, 3000 found death.
     In 1979, I saw a photo of the skull that had been uncovered in Martin's Hundred. I immediately wanted to learn as much as I could about the man and how he died, and I knew I wanted to write a story for young adults with him as a character. I began to do research for the book that would become Sarah On Her Own. Fifteen years later, the book was published.
     Sarah On Her Own tells the story of fourteen-year-old Sarah Douglas, who is orphaned on the voyage to Virginia in 1620. Settling in Martin's Hundred, she finds despair, tragedy, and, eventually, contentment and hope. The high point of the story occurs during and after the Indian uprising of March 22, 1622, in which 347 Virginia settlers died. Based on extensive research, the book includes historical figures of the time and presents an accurate picture of life in early Virginia.


"...presents a lucid and gripping account of the lives of Virginia=s early settlers─their hardships and joys. The characters are fully realized and their passionate actions are involving....The swift pace, distinctive writing and visually descriptive passages bring readers closer to historical events.@School Library Journal

"...the author has done her homework.@ Ivor Noël Hume (archaeologist who discovered the buried Virginia settlement)

First Place, Juvenile Book, Utah State Institute of Fine Arts Creative Writing Competition

Nominee, Utah Young Adult Book Award

 Richard Kean, Chief Lieutenant in charge of the defense of Martin's Hundred

        "During the night, the Atlantic storm that had raged for four days and nights waned, the groans and creaks of the ship's timbers eased, and the Jonathan began to ride more peacefully. The change woke fourteen-year-old Sarah Douglas. She raised herself on one elbow, pulling her skirts away from the seawater that trickled across the planking near her pallet.
        Candles guttered in the few lanterns and cast a dim light on the other women passengers in the shadowy hold. They slumped among their belongings, crouched retching into buckets, or lay moaning with the fever that had pounced on them only days before. A few lucky ones slept.
        "Aaahhh!" Sarah cried softly, when she spied a large rat nosing around Aunt Mary, who slept beside her. Too tired to eat, Aunt Mary had wrapped a moldy ship's biscuit in a handkerchief and tucked it under her head. The rat, grown bold in the cramped quarters of the ship, was after the biscuit.
        Her hand trembling, Sarah reached down and seized her shoe. "Scat!" she whispered, waving the shoe and hoping the rat would scamper off.
        The rat simply bared its teeth and continued snuffling around Aunt Mary's head. Remembering the bite marks she had seen on the neck of one woman who had died, Sarah hesitantly poked the toe of her shoe at the rat's hind end.
        "Ssst! Ssst!" she hissed. Finally, holding her breath, Sarah sat up and smacked the shoe down on the end of the creature's tail. With a nasty squeak, it was gone.
        The noise woke her friend Anne Bell, lying on the other side of Sarah. "Rat," Sarah whispered. "And Anne, the storm's ending. We won't have to be shut below decks in this heat much longer."
        Anne smiled. "I'll miss the smell of vomit and unwashed bodies," she joked, sitting up and wrapping her arms around her knees, her copper-colored hair the only bright spot in the gloom.
        Sarah leaned back against the side of the ship. "I won't miss it," she said. "And neither will you." There were nearly two hundred passengers aboard the Jonathan, most of them women. Sarah had counted nearly one hundred and fifty shut below deck. Many were ill. Some had died. During the days the ship was buffeted like a twig caught in a millrace, the dead had been shoved through the wooden porthold into the raging sea, without even the proper words said over their wasted bodies.
        Sarah sighed, rubbing her hands over her cheeks. "It's a while till morning, but I'll never get back to sleep again."
        "Nor will I," Anne whispered. In the six weeks they'd been aboard, neither girl had slept more than a few hours at a time. "You can't sleep when lice are chewing on you," Anne added, scratching at her shoulder.
        Or when you're furious and fearful, Sarah thought. She frowned at Aunt Mary's huddled form as fluttering shadows wavered over the sleeping woman. Oh, how I wish you'd never met Charles, she silently told her aunt. Aunt Mary answered with a raspy snore, then restlessly rolled onto her back.
        It was unusual for Aunt Mary to toss about, and Sarah stared at her, her stomach trembling at the sight of Mary's flushed face, the dark hollows under her eyes. She touched her aunt's forehead with the back of her fingers, then turned to Anne and clutched her sleeve.
        "God, help us. Aunt Mary has the fever," she told her friend.
        Ann quickly crawled around Sarah to kneel beside the woman. "Wet a cloth," she ordered.
        Her heart churning, Sarah quickly rose and dipped a rag into the barrel of filthy water nearby. She watched as Anne wiped Aunt Mary's face and picked off all the lice she could find, popping them angrily on her fingernail. Then Sarah and Anne wrapped both their rugs around her.
        Please, don't die, Sarah silently begged her sleeping aunt. I'll stop being angry with you. I'll try to like Virginia. Just don't die. You're all I have left in the world. Her aunt's only answer was a moan.
GRRRR! These fiction books are out of print, but Sarah, On Her Own is available directly from the author. All should be available from Amazon or Alibris.
        Samantha is looking for something fun and cheap to do for the summer, something that a clumsy fifth-grader might be good at. When her best friend, Abby, discovers the belly-dancing music in the library, Samantha is sure she has found the perfect summer hobby.

        But belly dancing isn't as easy, or as much fun, as Samantha thought it might be. Her dad tries to be supportive by giving her a gift certificate for an accessory the professionals use in their performances, because if he hadn't quit his job to start his own business, the family could have afforded to send Samantha to summer camp and she wouldn't have to be fooling around with inexpensive hobbies. Aaaak! The certificate is for a snake! Samantha is afraid she may absolutely, positively have chosen the wrong hobby.
        "Here's a goody-bye gift," Tink drew back a fist and slugged Rocky right in the mouth.
        Salty blood oozed onto Rocky's tongue. Salty tears stung his eyes. He didn't let them spill. Instead, he did what he usually did. He joked. "Right in the kisser," he spluttered, hurrying down the street. "Right in the
kisser. And I haven't even used it yet."

        Once again Rocky is going to have to go home and explain a fat lip--without revealing he's getting beaten up every day by Tink O"Brien. Otherwise his father will be sure to remind him--for the hundredth time--that he should learn to defend himself like a man.
        It isn't that Rocky is the sissy his father seems to think he is. He just thinks fighting is stupid. And besides, he doesn't want to ruin his viola-playing hands trying to teach Tink a lesson.
        Rocky has to find some way to avoid the bully's beatings--but when he does, he's in for a big surprise.

        Casey is a very special dog, who needs help fast. Twelve-year-old Scott, who used to walk Casey for his owner, has found Casey in one of the cages at the lab where Scott has a part-time job feeding the rats. The lab does research on ingredients to see if they're safe for humans, and on drugs to see if they can help save humans' lives.Whatever the lab workers have done to Casey, it has made him very sick.
        Scott knows he could be fired for even going near the other test animals, but he doesn't care. Casey's life is in danger. No matter what happens, Scott has to come up with a plan to save him.

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