Five Best Books (and other news)

A new website for readers called Shepherd (“Like browsing the best bookstore in the world.”) asked me to contribute to its best books series. Authors get to recommend their favorites on a particular subject, and to keep my recommendations down to five, I had to come up with a very narrow topic!

I titled mine “The best books on 19th-century women’s rights activists who weren’t Susan B. Anthony.”

The list highlights works on lesser-known women like Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone who were devoted to a variety of gender equality issues, including suffrage. I’ve also included one of my all-time favorites, historian Nell Irvin Painter’s brilliant biography of Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol

If you have the time, take a look through the other recommendation lists on the Shepherd site–it’s a great resource for nonfiction readers.

In other news, my forthcoming biography of singer and actor Dale Evans (the first one ever written about this mega-celebrity of the 20th century), Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans, has just gone through the copyedit stage. Next come the page proofs, when I get to see how the manuscript actually looks as a printed book. The cover design, which is quite snappy already, is still undergoing a bit of tweaking, but I’ll debut it here when it’s officially finalized. So far, the book is due to be released in March 2022.

Now that the Dale Evans book is essentially done, it’s time to move on to a new project. After a couple of conversations (one very long, the other pretty short) with my agent, we settled on one of the several ideas I pitched. It’s at the very, very beginning of the proposal process and much too soon to reveal particulars, but I can share that it’s in keeping with my penchant for writing about scrappy women in American history. 

Until my next post, happy reading!


Dr. Mary Walker Wednesday: Finale

It has been wonderful spending these past Wednesdays introducing you to Mary Walker. I hope you found the teasers enticing enough to read the book.

Epilogue: The Medal of Honor Restored

A somebody in her lifetime, Mary Walker was not forgotten after she died.

Photo of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker wearing her Medal of Honor

(public domain)

Though Mary Walker was stripped of her Medal of Honor (along with many others), she refused to acknowledge that and continued to wear the decoration throughout her life. Not long after she died, a quiet campaign began to have the medal restored. In the Epilogue, I show how timing was instrumental to that success.

I’ll resume this blog feature for my forthcoming biography of Dale Evans. It will re-emerge as Queen of the West Wednesdays. (I’ll let you know when it’s time to saddle up!)

Until then, I’ll continue posting about other interesting women in American history and about my reading adventures.

Stay safe and stay well.


For Today’s Launch Day: Monday with Mary Walker

June 1 is launch day, which means Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War is out in the world. For those of you who preordered the book, thank you. To those of you who haven’t, there’s always time to do so for yourself or for someone else–it would make a great graduation gift and/or Father’s Day gift, and you could ask your local library to purchase a copy. One final request. You can boost the book’s profile by recommending it to other readers either personally or by leaving a review on all of your favorite book sites.

As I mentioned last week, I’m using launch day to post the teaser for the final chapter of the book. I’ll wrap up Dr. Mary Walker Wednesdays in two days with the teaser from the epilogue.

Chapter Eleven: The Old “New Woman”

Brushing off the harsh treatment she had received from Susan B. Anthony and other delegates of the National Woman Suffrage Association, Mary Walker blazed her own women’s rights path, emphasizing dress reform while she stumped for suffrage.

Doctor Mary Walker, between 1911 and 1917. (Harris & Ewing/US Library of Congress)

(Library of Congress)

Mary Walker’s attire became more explicitly masculine as she grew older. This photo, probably taken some time between 1911 and 1917, shows the Bloomer costume of the 1800s transformed into tailored trousers and a long coat. The top hat indicates she had been out on an important errand; she dressed up for such occasions. By the 1910s, the “new women” of the early 20th century readily donned trousers for outdoor activities like riding bicycles. It took awhile, but Mary Walker’s belief about fashion finally caught on.




Dr. Mary Walker Wednesday #10

We’ve reached the penultimate chapter of Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War. The book launches on Monday, June 1, and that is the day I will post the first line of the final chapter. Wednesday, June 3 will be the last Walker Wednesday, and it will cover the Epilogue.

Chapter Ten: Outcast and Erased

In the great divide of the women’s suffrage movement, Mary Walker took her own path.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony published The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, from 1868-1872. Mary Walker did not always get along with the two women, but she certainly agreed with their paper’s slogan: “Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.”

Stay safe and stay healthy.