Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ethan Allen

Today is Ethan Allen's two hundred and seventy-first birthday. We celebrated here at Chez Gauthier with a cake and a stonewall, a vile drink Ethan is supposed to have been fond of tossing back.

Stonewalls are made with warm cider and rum. I'm not fond of rum, myself, so I mulled the cider first, thinking that might mask the flavor. Not a particularly good idea. On top of that, I believe Ethan's stonewalls were made with hard cider, which isn't particularly easy to find around here these days.

In addition, we picked the winner of the copy of The Hero of Ticonderoga. So someone will actually be receiving a gift to celebrate Ethan's birthday.

I didn't make that cake, by the way. Not that I couldn't have. I am perfectly capable of making a cake, just so you know. I could have decorated it, too, if I had been feeling ambitious. However, this is a work day, and what with the holidays, vacation, snowstorms to deal with, and what have you, I haven't done much work this past month. I couldn't justify taking more time off to bake a cake for someone who would never see it because...he's been dead for over two hundred years.

I'm not actually crazy.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Greetings From The Land Of Ethan Allen

I'm here today to remind you that you still have a week to wish Ethan Allen a happy birthday, thus earning yourself a chance to win a copy of The Hero of Ticonderoga.

As it turns out, I'm spending the week in the New Hampshire Grants. On Sunday, I wasn't far from Ethan Allen's final home. That same day I drove by the chapel named for his brother. (From what I know of that family, naming a chapel for any of them would have left their contemporaries scratching their heads in wonder.), as well as the hospital named, in part, for his daughter, Fanny. (Fanny, the daughter of at least an ardent agnostic if not a hardcore atheist, became a Roman Catholic nun, proving, once again, that God has one heck of a sense of humor.)

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Start Your Partying Now

The Big E's birthday is two weeks from today. Get your birthday wishes in now for your chance at winning a signed copy of The Hero of Ticonderoga, which deals with a sixth grade student who finds herself forced to do an oral report on Vermont's famous old dead guy.

Now, I'm interested in this nearly eight-year-old book because I'm the author, and I have a box of copies of the thing. But why should you care? Well, Hero was an ALA Notable back in 2002, right around the time I started blogging but before most of you knew me. And the ALA citation includes the word "ribald." How often do you suppose that happens?

In addition, the book has been used in schools in Vermont and New York. Just last month it was used as an enrichment-type reader for a fifth grade class in Connecticut during its Revolutionary War unit.

If you're thinking, "Ew. That sounds educational and improving," remember, the ALA used the word "ribald" when describing it. Don't you want to be the one to give your school something like that?

By the way, no portraits of Ethan Allen exist. Thus that incredibly unflattering depiction of him at the site I linked to was just pulled out of the air.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Yikes! I Forgot About The Book Giveaway!

It's been a while since I've given away any books here, so I thought I'd give a copy of The Hero of Ticonderoga away this month because Ethan Allen's birthday is in January. Not that Hero is technically about Ethan Allen. But he does figure in the story. And I just like him, so we're going to celebrate his birthday here.

More details to follow.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ethan Allen On My Mind

Next month I'll be taking part in a blog tour for Susanna Reich's nonfiction book, Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin. I started reading the book and was soon reminded of my favorite nineteenth century guy,Ethan Allen.

Reich reports that George Catlin's father, Putnam, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut as was Ethan Allen. (Allen would have been around twenty-five when Putnam was born.) Putnam (a significant name in Connecticut) Catlin is described as having been descended from Puritans, and there's an implication that the strict way in which he ran his family may may have been the result of Puritan influence. That he could have been influenced by Puritan thinking makes sense to me because Puritans dominated Connecticut in the sixteenth century and experienced a resurgence (the Great Awakening) in the mid-seventeenth.

The seventeenth century Puritan mindset and world figures in Ethan Allen's life story, too, though he could be described as the anti-Puritan. He rejected all things Puritan.

So, that's why I had Ethan on my mind last week. Then I found that J. L. Bell at Oz and Ends wrote a post about my book relating to Ethan Allen, The Hero of Ticonderoga. And then he wrote another.

But that's not all!

Yesterday I was visitng a family member who had recently returned from Ireland where he had been in some coastal city where...the prison ship on which Ethan Allen was held after being captured by the British during the Revolution made port!

What are the chances that Ethan Allen would come up (okay, only sort of come up as far as the George Catlin book is concerned) three times in a week? Come on! The guy's been dead nearly 220 years.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Attention For Gail's Vermont Books

A Guide to Fiction Set in Vermont for Children & Young Adults by Ann McKinstry Micou was published this spring by the Vermont Humanities Council. Both my Vermont books, The Hero of Ticonderoga and Saving the Planet & Stuff are included in the guide.

Too bad Planet has gone out of print, huh? I've just had the rights reverted to me, which means that when I can get organized and serious I can try to find a paperback publisher for it.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Speaking of Hero

Speaking of The Hero of Ticonderoga, as I was yesterday, look whose first line is is twittered at today.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

I Was Called To This Obituary

So Thursday evening I still hadn't made my way to the book review section of last week's Sunday Times. But in said paper I stumbled upon an obituary for a man named John K. Lattimer. This was a long obituary for a person I'd never heard of. But I kept reading it. He was an interesting guy who, in addition to doing important things within his profession, maintained what was described as a "virtual miliary museum" at his home "until his collection when into storage last year."

That kind of hooked me because though I'm not into collecting historical artifacts (or anything else), I am interested in history. So I kept reading and reading and reading.

I got to the third from the last paragraph when I found what I clearly had been meant to read:

"Among Dr. Lattimer’s most prized possessions was a sword that belonged to Ethan Allen, who in the predawn hours of May 10, 1775, led a band of Green Mountain Boys in capturing strategic Fort Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain in upstate New York — a turning point in the Revolution. Two hundred years later to the hour, Dr. Lattimer — Ethan Allen’s sword in hand — led a re-enactment of that battle."

Oh. My. Gosh. Ethan Allen is my main historical man. (To date, anyway). And, you know, I lived about thirty or forty minutes from Fort Ti back in 1975. I remember a big event going on there around then. I remember it because I didn't go, and I always remember all the fun things I missed.

The fact that I have not always realized that the desire to attend big celebrations you can't get to leads to nothing but unhappiness is neither here nor there. What is significant about this story (and it is significant) is that this guy, John K. Lattimer, was thirty or forty minutes from my house on May 10, 1975. And he was holding Ethan Allen's sword!

And then, twenty-some years later, I would write a book in which Ethan Allen played a part. And still later, I would read John K. Lattimer's obituary.

Come on. Tell me this isn't some kind of psychic connection across time and space.

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