Lois Leveen

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March 5, 2013

Teaching Secrets

It's not much of a secret of Lois Leveen that I love teaching. In fact, I wrote The Secrets of Mary Bowser to share what I was teaching at UCLA and Reed College with a broader audience.

So it's THRILLING to know that teachers are starting to use the book in their high school and college courses. The teaching guide for the novel (download it for free here) includes over 100 assignments for using Mary's story to teach school success skills and current events, as well as teaching content from history, literature, and many other humanities, social science, math and hard science, and arts and performing arts subjects. Why? Because Mary's story of giving up her family to seize an education, and of using that education to change the course of history, is a powerful hook for high school and college students today. As an all-school read, The Secrets of Mary Bowser can get teachers and students talking about some of the most important topics in education.

This very blurry picture is from my fantastic team at HarperCollins, who were just at the First Year Experience conference, sharing The Secrets of Mary Bowser with faculty and program directors. FYE programs help students transition into college successfully. In a previous life, I worked on several projects to increase high school and college graduation rates, and I'm thrilled that The Secrets of Mary Bowser will be part of programs to increase student's engagement with and success in school.

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March 1, 2013

Ulysses S Goldberg versus Robert E Leibowitz

I'm often asked why I chose to write a book about a black woman from Virginia who became a Union spy by pretending to be a slave in the Confederate White House.

There are many answers to that question.

"Because I'm a nice Jewish girl from Long Island, New York," may not seem like it is one of them.

But, as I explained when I was the featured storyteller at the Jewish Federation of Oregon's recent women in philanthropy meeting, it makes perfect sense to me.

Here's the clip of the show:


Warning: if you don't know who Robert E Lee is, this will still be hilarious. If you don't know what Loehmann's is, though, you may be out of luck.

Joanna Miller, Frayn Masters, Lois Leveen, Edie Van Ness

Thanks to (from left to right) fellow storyteller Joanna Miller, BackFence PDX story producer Frayn Masters, and queen of the event Edie Van Ness for a great evening.

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February 27, 2013

Best Email to an Author

This was sent to me by someone who recommended SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER to her book group, and wanted some information to "be erudite and knowledgeable" when leading the discussion.

"The book itself is, without a doubt the best historical fiction that I have read in the past four or five years, and that is not idle flattery. By age 82, I have read a great deal of historical fiction, have an MA in literature from U of Penn. and taught literature for 36 years. Not only is the plot well crafted but your style is fabulous. And thank you for being one of the few contemporary authors that knows grammar and punctuation and who can construct a complete sentence. That I appreciate greatly."


Emails like this mean so much to an author. The best part is that the writer's email address is "Greypanther".

Quoted with permission--because I do not cross a panther!
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February 24, 2013

Hoop Skirts on the Red Carpet

Love history? Love a story with a real hero?

Here's a Chicago Tribune piece on what the film LINCOLN couldn't do that a good novel can

You can read it at the Tribune's website, if you register (it's free) http://trib.in/Wdbul5

Or check out the PDF here: LincolnVsHistoricalFiction.pdf
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February 18, 2013

Judging a Book by Its Covers

Just saw this interesting article comparing book covers from the US and the UK. This is a topic of great fascination to authors, who--you may be surprised to learn--may have little input into what the cover of the book will be.

Here are three different covers for The Secrets of Mary Bowser

3 covers

Which do you prefer, and why?
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