Tag Archives: chalone peaks middle school

You Have One

When I write historical fiction, I always have middle school students in mind. “You Have One”, a recent short piece, seemed a good candidate for them. President Lincoln met with many ordinary Americans during his time in the White House and especially spent time seeking to ease the grief of those who had lost loved ones to the war. I’ve retold a Lincoln anecdote here in hopes of making it more accessible to students.  I’ve included pre-reading vocabulary activities, reciprocal teaching comprehension questions and post-reading activities for You Have One. It’s free on TPT. Please do let me know what you think of it.



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George Washington was no dummy!

Life mask of George Washington

President Washington published his Farewell Address on September 19th, 1796 in the American Daily Advertiser. He did so to decline a 3rd term as president prior to the upcoming election. Both James Monroe and Alexander Hamilton helped him compose this statement. Given recent events, it is as timely and important now as it was then.  It warns of party extremism, reminds us of our responsibilities to each other and calls on us to abide by our Constitution.  

             I created some activities to open this essential document to student unaccustomed to 18th Century prose. The lessons for each brief excerpt will include vocabulary, directed reading and reciprocal teaching activities as well as critical thinking and writing opportunities. The excerpted texts of the Address have a difficult Flesch-Kincaid reading level of 12th grade, hopefully mitigated by my work.

            I intended the first excerpt to be introductory in nature in hopes that it would help students acclimatize to President Washington’s voice. The second excerpt recounts his warning against party extremism. Subsequent excerpts will deal with the substantial content of Washington’s remarks. Please look for them on TPT. I’ll post more as I finish them.



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Llorona on TPT

I’ve long enjoyed writing Joaquin Murrieta stories for middle schoolers. I completed “Llorona”, the tenth such, this year and was greatly honored when it won the recent Who’s Afraid of the Dark contest on Scribophile. I’ve since created reading fluency activities for it and put them up on TPT. I encourage all you teachers out there to take a peek: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Llorona-reading-fluency-for-middle-school-6216001

“Llorona” was recently honored by being included in the Bewildering Stories 3rd Quarterly Review of best stories. 


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“Navidad” is honored by Ageless Authors

Larry Upshaw, editor and founder of Ageless Authors, sponsors yearly contests for folks who are past fifty. I imminently qualify! This year’s contest theme was “Coping with Crisis”. My story Navidad was a finalist among hundreds of entries. It’s one of my Joaquin Murrieta stories and is a personal favorite. I based it on local history, a sad occurrence far up Reliz Canyon a hundred and forty years ago. I am very pleased by the recognition and hope that the story will be included in a future anthology. If you can’t wait, I’ve put a PDF of this story on TPT, along with the lesson plans I’ve created for it. It’s free. Here’s the link:


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“Llorona” is one of the best!

 Bewildering Stories just included “Llorona” in its Third Quarterly Review, a collection of the best stories from all its summer issues. I’m most pleased that Joaquin Murrieta’s encounter with the famous ghost was so honored!


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Llorona is in Bewildering Stories!

Central California historical anecdotes and local legends have inspired and informed many of my stories, especially those including Joaquin Murrieta. The Los Burros gold mining area has many ghostly tales and it is the setting for this story. Joaquin rides in to Manchester, a mining camp in the Santa Lucia, to search for a missing woman. He finds her and a treasure, as well.


P.S. A spoiler – Manchester really did burn down, but no one knows the true cause.

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The Wreck of the Annabelle Lee

This story was accepted for publication more than three years ago. Publisher Alternating Currents hit many bumps in the road while getting its “Footnote 4” anthology of historical writing out, but here it finally is and I am most pleased. “The Wreck of the Annabelle Lee” won a prize in Moonlight Mesa’s western fiction contest a decade ago and I used it subsequently in Chalone Peaks Middle School’s reading fluency program.  I never dreamed it would take this long to see print. It continues Joaquin Murrieta’s adventures in a most civilized setting: San Francisco of the late 19th Century. I had a great deal of fun researching and writing the tale. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!  Here’s a link where you may purchase “Footnote 4”.




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