Friday, October 22, 2010
It doesn't say "published book." It just says "book." I wrote one, folks. Typed those precious three letters -end- about an hour ago.
So, I guess I am an author.
I can't yet share much, but I can tell you you'll find Lincoln in this book, he'll inspire you and you'll learn from him. Along the way, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll stop and think.
There's more to this whole writing process than meets the eye, folks - tears, exhilaration, doubt, certainty. And, at the end there is one tremendous sense of satisfaction!
This was but one step in an ongoing process. First, you fight the ideas. Then, once you find it, you fight to keep the words from rushing out at times when you can't capture them. Next, you make it the biggest priority ever, so you can write, write, write. You write till you drop. You write till you're done. Then you type -end-.
It will rest a bit now, then undergo sculpting, rest a bit again, get some polish, and travel away.
I'll let you know how the journey goes. I can tell you I'm very proud of my little gem.
Thanks to all who offered their support. I did it!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
So, effective immediately, I will not be checking Twitter or my other social media vehicles. Writing is, it must be - for me, at least - a very solitary journey.
Distractions are DreamKillers, so I must slay them first.
Encouragement, on the other hand, is a DreamBuilder. I need it. If you are so inclined - or destined - to encourage me, please post a comment on my blog. I will not check daily and I may not reply often, but I will read every one, and they will fuel the writer that is me, and I will be forever in your debt.
If I can leave you with one final thought, as I begin this journey, it is this: Listen. Do you hear who you are or are supposed to be? Do you see your dream - off there in the distance? What are you doing to make it come true? Isn't it time to start?
And, of course, I'd be remiss in not saying, look every day for the lessons you can learn from our friend, Mr. Lincoln, and hear, and use them in your lives.
Outta here and in the zone...
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I wanted to let you know they've shifted again, but keep your fingers crossed. You just might have something pretty doggoned cool to look forward to.
I am now writing again - but in a different medium.
I've been blessed through my late-in-life writing and research career with some of the most magificent mentors ever - brilliant, gifted, supportive, prolific writers. They've been with me as I tried to find myself, provided me with information I sought and, above all, encouraged me with great sincerity to pursue my dreams. I have, and it has been good, great, quite often even greater than great.
Now, with a subtle nudge (Okay, it wasn't subtle. It was a push off a cliff without a parachute.) from another incredible mentor, I am writing - a book! The words are coming in torrents and I think, I believe, I know, this is the story I was supposed to tell all along. As one of my oldest (in time, not age), dearest friends told me when she heard, "Ann, you've been writing around writing long enough!" And so, I write.
If I achieve my goal, it will teach, entertain, make you laugh, make you cry and fulfill one of my greatest dreams.
Yes, if you were wondering, Mr. Lincoln is in it - and a suprising supporting cast. No, none of them are vampires.
Thanks for dropping by. Thanks for your support. Don't forget - learn something new, every day - every single day. And, if it's about Lincoln, all the better.
Please know, I will be back in the blogosphere eventually. It's been too great a part of my Lincoln life to leave behind.
Till next time,
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Looking for a good book to take to the park or beach or to read on your deck or in your comfy chair? During the bicentennial year, I shared my take on some of my favs.
Check out my reviews here:
- Lincoln the Lawyer by Brian Dirck and Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes and Confabulations Associated with our Greatest President by Edward Steers, Jr.
- Lincoln by David Herbert Donald
- The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein
- Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 by Harold Holzer
- In Lincoln’s Hand: His Original Manuscripts by Harold Holzer and Joshua Wolf Shenk
- Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon and other books by Philip B. Kunhardt III and family members
- Abraham Lincoln by James M. McPherson
- Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk
If you’re a first-time visitor to my blog, you’ll find more than 200 blog posts on Lincoln Buff 2. As you have time, check them out. I’ve always hoped that my enthusiasm for Abraham Lincoln’s story is contagious. By reading my posts from the past couple years, you can relive the bicentennial through my eyes. Thanks for visiting. Enjoy the journey – and come back often.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I appreciate your words of congratulations, Mike, and your challenge to get back into the blogosphere. Although my time is somewhat limited of late, I think readers will find much of interest in my earlier posts.
So, come back again folks. My next post, to be published later this week, will lead you to my reviews about a handful of the scores of books written about Lincoln in recent years. I can bet with great certainty no matter what your interest, you'll find a Lincoln book you'll enjoy among those I'll share.
Keep your eyes open - and come back to see what I've found to share with you.
In the meantime, keep on reading something every day - even if it's Twitter or an online news source. Now, like never before, people across the world are sharing a wealth of information. Make sure you take the time to take advantage of the opportunities in your path.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
From October 2008 to December 2010, I posted more than 200 blog posts and too many tweets to count in celebration of the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. I presented the two as a Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign in the Special Purpose Campaigns, Programs and Plans category. I was one of five winners in my category. One of the others was from ESPN!
The APEX Award drew more than 3,700 entries this year in 11 major categories, 127 subcategories. Grand Awards went to 100 people for outstanding work. Awards of Excellence, like mine, recognize exceptional entries - 1,132 in all.
Thanks, APEX for the opportunity to enter your competition and for recognizing my efforts in keeping the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln alive 200 years after his birth.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
I became interested in the Bicentennial nearly a decade ago, when I first read of plans for a nationwide celebration to honor Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday. I set into place a seven-year plan, vowing to do “significant Lincoln-related work” myself by the time Feb. 12, 2009 rolled around. That plan didn’t play out exactly as I planned, but it turned out pretty good after all.
Little did I know then that I’d be writing a blog about Lincoln nearly every day for a year. Heck, back then, I’d never even heard of a blog!
Now, the official Bicentennial is coming to a close, and I’ve been asked to invite you to the last big hurrah! I didn’t want to just share the canned news release many others might share. I wanted to give you a “value-added version,” so I went right to the top.
U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Co-chairman Harold Holzer, also author of more than 30 books on Lincoln, came through for me with a wrap up I think you’ll all enjoy. And, Matt Pinsker, who will speak on Lincoln in the digital age at the closing event, provided some insight on where we’re going from here. I think you’ll enjoy reading what both of them had to say.
The Bicentennial Commission’s closing program
US Department of Agriculture Building
Harold Holzer wraps up one heck of a present
Harold Holzer has been there for me time and again over the past few years, patiently answering what seemed to be a gazillion questions. This time, I asked him if he would address the life of the commission - how it was born, what it hoped to achieve, an example or two of how it morphed to be perhaps even better than he'd imagined, what it feels like to have to "close" it.
“I’m proud that the Commission—a truly creative and diverse group of scholars, collectors, and Lincoln authorities—together with a very devoted and energetic staff, not only fulfilled each and every one of its legislated mandates, but helped stimulate other individuals and organizations around the country to make 2009 a truly unforgettable ‘year of Lincoln’ nationwide. As our final report will show, we certainly organized countless events from coast to coast, worked on the Mint’s new pennies and the Postal Service’s new stamps, and staged widely attended town halls to continue Lincoln ’s ‘conversation’ about America ’s ‘unfinished work.’
“Few of us who participated will ever forget Denyse Grave’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial, or President Obama’s 200th birthday speech in the Capitol Rotunda—official events, and great ones. But much of what we’ve done can’t adequately be recorded in a report: it involved encouraging, promoting, and supporting state-by-state initiatives to commemorate Lincoln, to help promote individuals and communities, or simply getting the idea circulated that Lincoln’s big birthday was approaching, and then participating with gratitude as corporations, libraries, museums, and theaters responded with remarkable programming of their own that added inestimably to the celebration and the legacy. Thus we’re not only proud of our own work, but thrilled that so much happened in so many other quarters, at least in part as a result of the groundwork we laid from 2001 on. These results included more than 200 new books, plus TV documentaries, museum exhibitions, new plays and dance works—a fantastic legacy.
“For another thing, while the Lincoln Bicentennial may be ending, the Civil War sesquicentennial is only beginning. And while no national commission was established to manage that anniversary, state commissions have sprung up in the key battlefield states to organize events and conferences. November marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s election, March 2011 the 150th of his inaugural, and April the 150th of the start of the war. So we’re already in a new cycle that will carry enthusiasts through 2015. Is it confusing? Well, it just requires us to sort of close down the old computer and reboot with new software, at least metaphorically speaking. Now everything tracks to the anniversary of the war. The good news is that we have a new opportunity to remind people how important this history is.
“Besides, the ALBC will in a sense continue its work in new forms. The ALBC Foundation will live on and support important initiatives. And the ALBC website, http://www.abrahamlincoln200.org/, survives and thrives. I urge everyone to log on after April 19 to read our final report and make use of its many enduring and important features.
“As new technologies develop, our goal will be to make sure that Lincoln has a place in their content. Whatever the medium, Lincoln will always be part of the message—always part of the national conversation—not only because he believed ‘we cannot escape history,’ but because he believed so earnestly in ‘a vast future.’
“Let me end with one cautionary note. This connection between history and the future is important—crucial, really. We can’t make proper use of the past unless we learn from it—and apply it to the present. It doesn’t require us to rewrite history; but it does call on us to analyze and understand it with honesty and sensitivity. Just a few days ago, I’m afraid, the State of Virginia began promoting its upcoming Civil War observances by talking cheerfully about secession and state’s rights, and all but ignoring the issue of slavery. The official explanation was that the idea is to promote tourism, so why bring up all the old ‘unpleasantness’? Well, because the issues of freedom, opportunity, and self-determination are as important—and sometimes as open to challenge—now as then. The debate over the Civil War may go on. But the battles are over—the main issue has been settled —and let’s never forget what that involved, or all these commemorations will have no value at all.”
Matt Pinsker forecasts Lincoln studies in the digital age
When the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened five years ago this month, I had the opportunity to meet a patriarch of Lincoln scholars, the late David Herbert Donald, as well as Holzer and Pinsker. I was excited that this article seemed to cry for comments from the two living scholars, and I wanted to share a little of Pinsker’s expertise on Lincoln and technology with those who can’t make to the closing.
I wrote to him, saying, “A few years ago, someone like me, who is not on the staff of a university with sabbaticals and university grants, would likely never have been able to do significant research on Lincoln . Because of time and financial constraints, I couldn't have gone to where these collections were housed. Yet, with all the resources that are now digitized, it opens doors in ways we might have never imagined.
Then I asked,“How do you see this changing Lincoln scholarship, and even more, how do you see it changing how we can keep the legacy alive in new ways and through new mediums?”
“As you wrote [above], the future of Lincoln studies is likely to be quite bright because more people have more access to more evidence than ever before in the history of history. This flattened hierarchy and information superhighway will lead to both good and bad developments -- in addition to the new voices and new documents, for example, we will also have to address a growing problem of bad information that goes ‘viral’ (to use the expression of the day) and creates myths and misunderstandings faster than ever before.
“My particular view is that new tools will help us decipher the political Lincoln in a fashion that will revolutionize perceptions about his leadership because it will reveal his behind-the-scenes actions in ways that have previously been obscured.”
This Lincoln general store isn’t closing
For nearly 30 years, I shared one of Lincoln’s early professions. I was a grocer. The store where I worked didn’t close at night. It was open 24 hours. They say old habits die hard. Sometimes, I think they live forever. So, folks, the bicentennial may be “closing” in a sense, but Lincoln Buff 2 blog isn’t. Just as we shut a few cash registers down during the slower hours of the day, my posts have slowed some. I won’t be writing two or three a day now, as I did sometimes in February 2009, but I’ll still be watching for Lincoln events and publications, I’ll still share them, and I’ll be beginning work on my next Lincoln venture.
Who knows? Someday, you may even pick up a Lincoln book and see the author is Ann Tracy Mueller.
Blogger’s note: Thanks to Harold Holzer and Matt Pinsker and to Malorie Janasek of Jasculca/Terman and Associates, Inc. for their generous sharing of information and perspective.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
I’m afraid I’ve let many of my loyal Lincoln Buff 2 blog followers down in recent months as I tried to catch my breath from more than a year of Lincoln events, blogging and Twitter - and attempted to get back to a more normal semblance of life. I’ve had nearly a non-presence in the blogosphere, but have attempted to flutter around in the twittersphere.
I’ve caught my breath a bit now, so it’s time to catch you up on some upcoming Lincoln-related events.
Here are some of the things you won’t want to miss in April 2010. Be sure to click on the hyperlinks (where available) to learn more about the events. The best thing about them? These three are all free!
April 7, Illinois College, Jacksonville, Ill.
White House correspondent Helen Thomas will make a trek to the same college on the prairie where Lincoln delivered his “Discoveries and Inventions” speech 151 years ago. Thomas will deliver the Phi Alpha Lecture, speaking on the American presidency at 7 p.m. in Rammelkamp Chapel. She’ll also be inducted as an honorary member of Phi Alpha Literary Society, which named Lincoln an honorary member in 1859. The event, open to the public, is free.
April 11 – Decatur Public Library, Decatur, Ill.
Dan Guillory, professor emeritus at Millikin University, and author of “The Lincoln Poems,” will present “Housepoems,” original poetry in honor of National Poetry Month at 2 p.m. in the Madden Auditorium of the Decatur Public Library on Sunday, April 11. The reading is free and open to the public.
The collection includes humorous and meditative poems on subjects as diverse as food, cats, birds, wild animals, death, weather, gardening, marriage, cars, friendship and the general passage of time. The poems are the product of a “poetry diary” project.
Guillory has won awards or grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Academy of American Poets, and the American Library Association. He is the author of seven books and one audio book. His newest work, “People and Places in the Land of Lincoln,” will be released in May.
April 13 – Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.
Harold Holzer, co-chair of the United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and author of more than 30 books on Lincoln, will speak about “Why Lincoln Matters—To History, To Our Presidents, and Us.” I can tell you from experience, this is an interesting presentation. You’ll hear how Lincoln’s appeal and legacy, which have provided inspiration for more than a century and a half, continue to move and guide yet today. And best of all, this event is free, too!
Among my first book reviews in the late 1990s was a piece about one of Holzer’s early Lincoln books. When the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened in 2005, I got to meet him and a number of other Lincoln scholars. I’m still in awe at the support I get from this fantastic group of men and women, as many of them have stepped up to mentor me over the last few years. And I continue to be thankful for Harold Holzer’s encouragement and support.
More to come
I’ve got news of other Lincoln-related events coming down the pike, so come back in a few days. I won’t stay away so long next time. Ann
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Today, Saturday, March 6, at noon Central Time, they'll welcome authors Michael Perman and Julia Stern into the store. Perman will discuss his book, Pursuit of Unity: A Political History of the American South, and Stern will offer insight into her critical analysis, Mary Chestnut's Civil War Epic.
If you can't watch it live online - or make it to the store to see it in person - you can always view the signing later on the website. Earlier book signings with many notable Lincoln and Civil War authors are archived on the Virtual Book Signing website, so you can watch them when it is convenient for you. This one will be, too, in a couple weeks or so. Be sure to check it out.
Political history, the Civil War and me
Until just a few years ago, I was one who never wanted to read about the Civil War - or any war, for that matter. That may seem odd, considering my interest in Lincoln, and how interrelated his story is with the story of our country's conflict. But, it was the popular Lincoln who drew me in as a child, the Lincoln with ties to my native state and my hometown who tugged at my heartstrings, and the self-made man Lincoln who motivated me, like Galesburg poet Carl Sandburg, to pursue the study of the sixteenth president. Those ugly things - politics, slavery, war? I left them for others.
Yet, as I became more than just a casual Lincoln enthusiast and instead a student in earnest of his life and legacy, I realized that those things I'd avoided were necessary evils. Without understanding the political Lincoln, the injustice of slavery, the dynamics and logistics of the Civil War, I couldn't truly know the man whose story inspired me.
A Civil War book club at the McLean County Museum of History a few years ago helped to set me on a path toward greater understanding of the War Between the States. One of the books we read was The Private Mary Chesnut: The Unpublished Civil War Diaries. Suddenly, the conflict was more than the names of battles and generals which it had been in my high school and undergrad history classes. It was the stories of real people and the impact all this had on their lives.
It will be interesting to learn of Stern's critical work on Chestnut's piece - a project, that will surely move me ,as a regional literary critic, to take a second look at Chestnut's work. As for that political history stuff, thank goodness for people like Perman, who understand those things and, through their gifts as writers, work to make it more understandable for those of us who are political illiterates.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It's been quite a year, hasn't it? Those of you who are Lincoln buffs like me are well aware of many of the Lincoln events across the country and, yes, even around the world in celebration of the bicentennial over the past year or so.
This Lincoln buff just about wore herself out celebrating.
My bicentennial tribute began in the fall of 2008, when my community college offered a course on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. My blog began in October of that year.
Since then, I've been to both coasts seeing Lincoln sites and attending Lincoln events and I've made it to as many as possible here in Illinois. I've made Lincoln buff friends across the country and around the world - with new-found friends in England, Ireland, Australia and Brazil, as well as many states across the country.
To those of you who've followed my blog or offered comments, encouragement, information or advice, thank you. You made it all worthwhile.
To those who hosted me at Lincoln sites and answered my questions or welcomed me into your homes, your hospitality was such a gift. I appreciate it so.
To my family, I love you. You've been along for the ride and often had to make sacrifices so that I could attend events or write about Lincoln. Thanks for sharing me.
To all who kept coming back to see if there was anything new to read, thanks for your loyalty. You've surely noticed my invisibility from the blog for the last couple months. As my travels wound down last year, the holidays arrived. It was time to stop blogging and devote time to my family. My husband and I really enjoyed our time with our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, and were thankful we were all together.
In the midst of the holidays, I learned I'd had my first paper accepted for a scholarly symposium. I revived another favorite subject of mine, the literary legacy of a late Peoria Journal Star columnist, Rick Baker, who wrote in a style similar to Mike Royko. I've spent several weeks making sure my first paper is worthy of the esteem of other Illinois history and literature buffs. In the process, there was no time for the railsplitter. (I'm sorry, Abe!)
The paper is now done, though, and it's time to get back to Lincoln. My posts in 2010 will be less frequent that in the first year of the blog, but more often than in the last two months. I'll write about some of the places I visited, some of the Lincoln scholars I've met and some of the Lincoln books I added to my library in the past couple years. I'll get back to my mission of keeping the legacy of Lincoln alive.
If you're planning to attend the 30th Annual Illinois History Symposium in Wheaton on March 7-9, you'll have to come hear my Baker paper. It's a dry run for the Lincoln papers I hope to present at future symposiums and conferences, but don't worry. I didn't cut corners. I intend to prove this old granny can research, write and present with the best of them.
Happy Lincoln's birthday 2010, everyone. Thanks for visiting my blog. Ann