• The book Maria wrote is The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, widely available in paperback, or you can read it for free online. Her second book, Further Disclosures by Maria Monk Concerning the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal; and Also Her Visit to Nun’s Island and Disclosures Concerning that Secret Retreat, is harder to find, although the two are sometimes published together in one volume.
  • Maria Monk’s Daughter, a memoir published by Lizzie St. John Eckel in 1874, and by Lizzie St. John Eckel Harper in 1875. While there is some doubt that the author actually was the second daughter of Maria, I used this story to create the narrative for Lizzie in my novel. It is available from many different sources—in some cases as a collector’s item, but it can be downloaded free (or cheap).
  • Maria figures prominently in an excellent article by Peter Gardella, “American Anti-Catholic Pornography,” which appears in Religions of the United States in Practice, Volume 1.


Are the Know-Nothings Back?

I liked Tyler Anbinder’s Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know-Nothings and the Politics of the 1850s.

If you’re more interested in Maryland, as I was, look for Jean H. Baker’s book, Ambivalent Americans: The Know-Nothing Party in Maryland.

Plus, in the May/June 2017 issue of Mother Jones magazine, there’s an extensive write-up of opposing political gangs in Indiana. Granted, Mother Jones has a definite point of view, but their reporters do their homework.

The early-scenes fight in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York is based on a real fight between the Nativist Bowery Boys and the Irish Dead Rabbits. The book that inspired the film, also called Gangs of New York and published in 1927, is also worth discovering.

On race: “Seeing Isn’t Always Believing”

  • About Lucy and Maria Aylmer, British twin sisters who look like they’re different races, an article in the New York Post.
  • Bryce, Katarzyna, et al, American Journal of Human Genetics, 2014. This study showed that about 10% of Southern whites have African ancestry.
  • Broyard, Bliss. One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life – A Story of Race and Family Secrets, 2007.


They’re Not All Bodice-Rippers

  • My personal favorite blogger on historical fiction is M.K Tod, A Writer of History. Tod has been at this for a while, and she does a lot more than blog. She takes reader surveys, keeps up on developments in the field, and a few years ago, published an excellent list of readers’ favorite historical fiction authors in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
  • I also like Sarah Johnson’s Reading the Past where she recently listed some great historical fiction about women in sciences.
  • The Historical Novel Society, based in the U.S. and the U.K., with members all over the world, has a fairly comprehensive picture of what’s going on in the world of historical fiction.



  • Eno, Brian. This musician and producer wrote a wonderful essay, “Singing: The Key to a Long Life.”
  • Horn, Stacy. Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others, 2013.
  • Levitin, Daniel J. This is Your Brain on Music, 2006. Levitin’s web site is worth checking out, just to see what else he’s been up to.
  • Modesitt, L.E., Jr. The Soprano Sorceress, 1998. It’s out of print, but a couple of my friends have been able to find used copies.

Meditation at a Green Light – Distracted driving

  • The blog post “Driving While Intexticated” is on a web site dedicated to stopping texting while driving, www.textinganddrivingsafety.com. It’s sponsored by a company that sells thumb bands to prevent the practice.
  • The wonderful video showing Belgian driving instructors telling their teenage students they HAD to text is on YouTube.


(Coming soon!)