June 15, 2011

History and Me-- How it all Started (Making Paper Activity)

Welcome to our blog! My name is Brandon Marie Miller (I'm a girl, and yes, my parents gave me a boy's name) and I've been writing history for young people for over twenty years. I've written about famous people and common folk, about peoples' daily lives and about events that shaped history. It's no coincidence that the word "story" is right there in the word history.

I love learning about how people lived in the past. I love reading their words-- finding the ideas that mattered to them, recognising the emotions we share even over a span of centuries. My parents were both teachers. Our family spent summers and spring breaks traveling to battlefields, historic sites, museums and national parks. Each trip prodded me a little more into the realm of history. I'll also give a nod to the old Errol Flynn movies I watched on TV as a kid-- nothing like a handsome swashbuckler to make "history" glamorous.

And, as a kid, I loved reading biographies. For me, biographies lent history a face. Fiction had nothing on history for tales of courage, sacrifice, redemption, cruelty or betrayal. Through biographies I explored the world, all the time wondering, could I be so brave, could I have faced this struggle, could I do anything so wicked as the people who marched across the pages? I shared Crazy Horse's warrior vision. I hoped against hope that Joan of Arc would escape the flames. I trudged through snow at Valley Forge with the young Marquis de Lafayette.

This blog is an exciting step for me, and I thank Mary Kay and Kerrie for sharing the ride. I'm not always comfortable with the latest technology but I'm trying. Maybe that's why I write history, on a computer, true, but I feel more comfortable with paper and pen. I do my revisions that way, sitting at a table with a stack of printed pages and a row of sharpened pencils to mark up my manuscript.
My current "book baby" is in the research stage. I'm researching a young adult book on women of the old west, an entirely new writing world from the one I've lived in for the last ten years penning biographies of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and writing about the American Revolution and women of colonial America. Look for Thomas Jefferson, His Life and Times coming this fall from Chicago Review Press. After three founding fathers in a row, I admit I'm happy to return to the ladies and escape to a different time and place.

This paper making activity is from Benjamin Franklin, American Genius.

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