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Right now I am in a hold pattern. I am waiting for the illustrator to do her magic, conjuring up the images that will bring my words to life for young readers.
I thought while we were waiting I would answer a question that many people ask of authors–how real is this story?
Like WHOOSH!, this story was inspired by a real afternoon in my life. Yes, there really was an Aunt Mary. Yes, I did watch her make soup from the ingredients in her garden! Yes, I did help her gather those ingredients.
Aunt Mary passed on many years ago. She was the mother of three of my wonderful cousins, John, Diane, and Ernie.
Diane sent me these photos of her Mom to share with you.
Here is the real, wonderful, lovely woman who inspired Summer in a Bowl:
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Saladin: The Sultan Who Vanquished the Crusaders and Built an Islamic Empire
By John Man
Da Capo Press
I received a copy of this book in the mail for my review. I did not receive any payment for this review.
That out of the way, let me tell you why I recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the forces operating in the Middle East today, especially those trying to recreate an Islamic empire.
Saladin was born a Kurd in the city of Tikrit (modern Iraq) in 1138n(died 1171).. In his lifetime he extended his military dominance and political control to Egypt and then Syria where he ran most of his operations against the crusades from. He was a master tactician and his very name inspired fear among the Crusaders—and respect. It is not simply an invention of the movies that he was more respected (even by the Christians ) than some of the crusading knights from Europe. In fact at some points in his career, his Christian opponents held him in higher esteem than did his co-religionists of other factions
Although he united disparate Muslim regions and factions into a unified force to fight the crusaders, he was not a universally beloved character. He was definitely a part of the sectarian struggles that were already roiling Islam in that era. Furthermore, he was not all goodness and light and honorable intentions. He could be as cruel and heartless as his goals necessitated (very Machiavellian.
This book took me a long time to read. It is well-written, but the biographical subject and large amount of material that was new to me on the historic front, made it slow-going.
This is a book for someone who wants a better understanding of the Middle East by learning about one of the heroes of the Islamic forces in the time of the Crusades. Hopefully by better understanding the motives of this man we can learn how to understand (and combat!) the leaders who are trying to emulate his successful hegemony.
Dedicating a book to someone requires a lot of thought. It’s like picking a maid of honor for a wedding.
You are sharing the credit for your inspiration (for the book or for keeping you on task to finish the book) with another human being! As with anything in life, these choices often are difficult. So many people are helpful, inspiring!
For my first book, WHOOSH!, it was easy to select a dedication–my parents and my dear family.
For Summer in a Bowl, the dedication choice required only thinking about whether I would include my family, who inspire and support all I do (I am blessed with a wonderful husband and daughter), or simply credit my inspiration, my Aunt Mary.
I chose to keep it simple and keep the focus on my Aunt Mary. Reason? My cousin Diane has been without her Mom, my Aunt for many years. Aunt Mary died of cancer when I was 18 and my cousin, 22
years of age. Relating Aunt Mary’s kindness to me in summers and other times and sharing the recipe for the soup featured in Summer in a Bowl was of great comfort to Diane and she has been rooting for the publication of this book for a long time.
I will soon have pictures to show you from my publisher.
In the next installment, I will show you the real Aunt Mary.
So, before we left for Spain, I prepared a blog to keep you all apprised of progress on Summer in a Bowl, as promised. I apologize. Between the computer problems and being ill when I returned, the posting did not happen. So, now , in quick succession–updates on the progress!