Are You a Genealogist?

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Years ago, well before appeared, I created a family history for my mother. She had a book, a very old book that had been in her mother’s possession (passed down through her father from her father’s mother), and that book contained over 1,800 names of descendants of one person – a Hugh Stone, born around 1638, who emigrated from England around 1658. A descendant named Richard C. Stone had traced the various lines of Hugh Stone and published the book in 1866. I only had glimpses of the book’s interior – even 30 years ago, the pages were fragile.

The book had a circuitous journey but finally made its way back to the family, and rests now with my cousin, for future generations. But because the actual book is in such fragile condition, I undertook the task of copying its entire contents – and adding footnotes! – so that it’s available to anyone who might have an interest.

I’m not selling it. But I’d like to offer the document to anyone who might want to do some genealogical research. It’s got a couple hundred biographical notes about some of the people, and if you think you have any ancestors who originated in Rhode Island, you might find them here! Besides the surname Stone, it’s got Arnold, Whitman, Greene, Westcott, Gorton, Randall, and many, many more. Some of the descendants migrated west, to Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.

If you would like a .pdf copy, just drop a comment and I’ll use your email address to send it to you. And if you find an ancestor in its contents, please let me know. We’d be related!

Frost for January

Photo by Martha Reynolds

So far this winter, there hasn’t been much snow. I’m fine with that – the cold is okay but I’m just as happy to not have a foot of snow on the ground. We’re more than halfway through January, and winter’s just gearing up here in southern New England, but the days are lengthening and each day brings us closer to spring..

I’ve begun a new book. It’s in its earliest stages, and I’m thinking about my characters. They keep me up at night, but I’d rather think about Franklin and Emma and Bethie and Chuck than all the misery in this world. writing is such an escape for me – I hope reading is for you!

I found a poem by Robert Frost, another reminder of why he’s a national treasure. This one is called “Brown’s Descent” – and is a testament to the New England spirit!

Brown lived at such a lofty farm
  That everyone for miles could see
His lantern when he did his chores
  In winter after half-past three.

And many must have seen him make
  His wild descent from there one night,
’Cross lots, ’cross walls, ’cross everything,
  Describing rings of lantern light.

Between the house and barn the gale
  Got him by something he had on
And blew him out on the icy crust
  That cased the world, and he was gone!

Walls were all buried, trees were few:
  He saw no stay unless he stove
A hole in somewhere with his heel.
  But though repeatedly he strove

And stamped and said things to himself,
  And sometimes something seemed to yield,
He gained no foothold, but pursued
  His journey down from field to field.

Sometimes he came with arms outspread
  Like wings, revolving in the scene
Upon his longer axis, and
  With no small dignity of mien.

Faster or slower as he chanced,
  Sitting or standing as he chose,
According as he feared to risk
  His neck, or thought to spare his clothes,

He never let the lantern drop.
  And some exclaimed who saw afar
The figures he described with it,
  ”I wonder what those signals are

Brown makes at such an hour of night!
  He’s celebrating something strange.
I wonder if he’s sold his farm,
  Or been made Master of the Grange.”

He reeled, he lurched, he bobbed, he checked;
  He fell and made the lantern rattle
(But saved the light from going out.)
  So half-way down he fought the battle

Incredulous of his own bad luck.
  And then becoming reconciled
To everything, he gave it up
  And came down like a coasting child.

“Well—I—be—” that was all he said,
  As standing in the river road,
He looked back up the slippery slope
  (Two miles it was) to his abode.

Sometimes as an authority
  On motor-cars, I’m asked if I
Should say our stock was petered out,
  And this is my sincere reply:

Yankees are what they always were.
  Don’t think Brown ever gave up hope
Of getting home again because
  He couldn’t climb that slippery slope;

Or even thought of standing there
  Until the January thaw
Should take the polish off the crust.
  He bowed with grace to natural law,

And then went round it on his feet,
  After the manner of our stock;
Not much concerned for those to whom,
  At that particular time o’clock,

It must have looked as if the course
  He steered was really straight away
From that which he was headed for—
  Not much concerned for them, I say:

No more so than became a man—
  And politician at odd seasons.
I’ve kept Brown standing in the cold
  While I invested him with reasons;

But now he snapped his eyes three times;
  Then shook his lantern, saying, “Ile’s
’Bout out!” and took the long way home
  By road, a matter of several miles.

Villa del Sol is on sale now!

Happy 2023, everyone! I do hope the year has started out well for you. I have a deal for you – if you haven’t yet read my award-winning novel VILLA DEL SOL, now’s the time to grab a digital copy. Get your copy here:

I’m doing a Kindle Countdown Deal through Amazon. If you don’t know what that is, it means I discount this book to $1.99 on January 6. That’s a 76% discount, so go get it now! On January 7, the price rises to $3.99 (still 51% off the regular price). And on January 8, the price rises again, to $5.99, where it will stay for another 24 hours before returning to the previously-set price of $7.99.

Villa del Sol was awarded the 2018 Book Prize in literary fiction by the Independent Publishers of New England. It’s a story set on the beautiful Swiss-Italian border, along Lake Lugano. And if you’ve read my “Swiss Chocolate” trilogy, you’ll be delighted to reconnect with one of the characters.

45 Years is Nothing and Everything

There are days I feel as though I’m 80. Other days, I’m 19 again. Most days I’m Martha, 64, married, poor eyesight, always struggling with my weight, trying to do better. Writing books, telling stories.

Aquinas Hall Roof – photo via

At this time of year, however, my mind is flooded with memories of sophomore year at Providence College. Of early snow and Christmas anticipation. And of a tragedy whose roots took hold 45 years ago. Yes, we’ve grown, thrived, loved, and laughed – because that’s what you do. Life is for the living, my mother used to say, even as she was transformed by widowhood at age 50.

I found this short passage and wanted to share it today. We remember. Katie, Debbie, Jackie, Barbara, Donna, Sallyann, Gretchen, Cathy, Laura, and Dottie.

As far as I can see, grief will never truly end. It may become softer over time, more gentle, and some days will feel sharp. But grief will last as long as love does – forever. It’s simply the way the absence of your loved one manifests in your heart. A deep longing, accompanied by the deepest love. Some days, the heavy fog may return, and the next day, it may recede, once again. It’s all an ebb and flow, a constant dance of sorrow and joy, pain and sweet love.
-Lexi Behrndt

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Image courtesy of

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the 2022 Rhode Island Authors Showcase – the featured authors, all of whom contributed towards the Grand Prize(s) and gave away one of their books or a gift card, and to the readers, who engaged on the daily blog posts and (hopefully) met a new author or two.

Each of the daily winners has been contacted, and the authors should have communicated with them by now to ensure timely delivery of the book or gift card.

Using the same method, I used to pick the winners of the Grand Prize(s).

Mike Berard, who won MZ Medenciy’s new novel Island Eight, won a $50 Amazon gift card.

Dennis Downes, who won Paul Caranci’s giveaway, won a $100 Amazon gift card.

And Connie Ciampanelli, who I believe left a comment on every single post, and who won Maria Kamoulakou’s children’s book Arthur the Fly-Slayer & the Forty Dragons, won the Grand Prize, a $250 Amazon gift card.

This year marks my last year hosting the Rhode Island Authors Showcase. I’m hoping another Rhode Island author will take over the fun! LOL Seriously, if you’re looking to drive traffic to your blog, this can be a great way to do it. You’ll find new followers and possibly new readers. So if you have an interest, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a healthy and happy holiday season, whatever and however you celebrate. For the next few weeks, I’ll be catching up on reading and plotting a new novel, and I’ll see you back here from time to time before the annual (the Blogging from A to Z Challenge – it starts April 1 and I’ve already chosen my theme). Take good care! xxx

Welcoming Jacqui Murray and her Prehistoric Fiction!

I am so happy to welcome my pal and fellow blogger Jacqui Murray today to celebrate the release of her new prehistoric fiction book, Natural Selection (Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy). Prehistoric fiction!! Right?!

In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Jacqui has a YouTube video for the book (something I must do) and it’s brilliant.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

You can learn more and follow her at the following:

Amazon author page:






Rhode Island Authors Showcase – Featuring Martha Reynolds!

The Rhode Island Authors Showcase is back! Each day in November, I’ll be featuring a different RI author. Each post features a giveaway – a book, an anthology, or something else! All you have to do to be eligible for the daily drawing is leave a comment on the blog post. I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner one week after the blog post (to give you time to catch up).

By commenting on each post, you’re also entered to win our bigger prizes: GRAND PRIZE is a $250 Amazon gift card, BONUS PRIZE is a $100 Amazon gift card, and the CHEER UP YOU WON SOMETHING PRIZE is a $50 Amazon gift card. The big prizes will be chosen, again using a random number generator, on December 7.

I asked myself the same questions I posed to everyone else!

My hometown: Johnston as a child, then Warwick, Rhode Island. Now in West Warwick.

What are my genre(s) Women’s fiction, literary fiction

What have I written? The Swiss Chocolate series (Chocolate for Breakfast, Chocolate Fondue, Bittersweet Chocolate); Bits of Broken Glass; The Way to Remember; The Happy Ever After series (A Jingle Valley Wedding, April in Galway, All’s Well in Jingle Valley); A Winding Stream; Villa del Sol; The Summer of Princess Diana; I Wish I Had a River

Some of my favorite authors: Roisin Meaney, Camille Pagan, Elin Hildebrandt, Marisa de los Santos, Anna Quindlen

My favorite books growing up: The Yearling, Go Ask Alice, and later, The Thorn Birds, The Color Purple

What do you like best about writing? I love starting out! When everything is possible, when I ask, “What if…?” Even though I generally have a good idea about plot, sometimes the story heads in a different direction, and I follow along happily.

What do find most challenging about writing? The technical aspects (so I pay people to do that for me) and the promoting of myself. I’m rubbish at both.

Where do you draw your inspiration? Everywhere! There is always a kernel of truth in my fiction. Perhaps it’s a snippet of conversation I overheard, a distinct (or sometimes fuzzy) memory, the human condition.

You’ve just been given the chance to collaborate on a book with Roisin Meaney. What’s the title going to be? Oh boy! Well, I’ll need to travel to Ireland for collaboration, and we’ll call the book A Song for Kiernan

Please follow me on Amazon and you’ll never miss a new release!

Here it is, my new novel! I do love this cover. Here’s what USA TODAY bestselling author Jon Land had to say about it: “I Wish I Had a River is a magical journey through love, life, and loss, a quest not for riches so much as fulfillment. Martha Reynolds has fashioned a shrewd and sensitive tale that explores both the breadth and the limits of the human heart to emerge from tragedy. This is literary writing of the highest order, on par with Elizabeth Gilbert, Alice Hoffman, and even the great Joan Didion. I only wish there were more books like this!”

The book should be perfect for fans of Eat Pray Love. One winner will receive a copy (print or digital, your choice) PLUS I’ll name a character after you in my next novel! Here’s my question: Of the four countries featured in this novel (Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France), which one tops your ‘wanna go there’ or ‘already been and loved it’ list?

This is the last day for the RI Authors Showcase – thank you for participating! Remember, the Grand Prize drawings will be held on December 7, and I’m going to try to post the video of the drawings here, but I’ll reach out to you if you win. You have a week to catch up and comment on each of the daily posts. Each day that you comment gets you a chance to win one of the big prizes. Good luck and see you soon!

If you’re local, please stop by the 10th Annual Rhode Island Authors Expo on Saturday, December 3. I’ll be there with about a hundred other local authors – all kinds of genres, so something for everyone. Did you know that signed books make great gifts? I’ll have plenty of my newest.

Rhode Island Authors Showcase – Featuring Kelly Swan Taylor!

The Rhode Island Authors Showcase is back! Each day in November, I’ll be featuring a different RI author. Each post features a giveaway – a book, an anthology, or something else! All you have to do to be eligible for the daily drawing is leave a comment on the blog post. I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner one week after the blog post (to give you time to catch up).

By commenting on each post, you’re also entered to win our bigger prizes: GRAND PRIZE is a $250 Amazon gift card, BONUS PRIZE is a $100 Amazon gift card, and the CHEER UP YOU WON SOMETHING PRIZE is a $50 Amazon gift card. The big prizes will be chosen, again using a random number generator, on December 7.

Kelly Swan Taylor

Kelly is our next-to-last featured author, and I had some questions for her:

Where is your hometown? Providence, Rhode Island (although I moved around a lot growing up, so I don’t really have one)

What genre(s) do you write? Contemporary, Sports-themed, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense – Middle grade and young adult (my sweet spot is the gap between MG & YA: upper middle grade/lower young adult)

What have you written? The Winning Ingredient – YA (2021) (holiday novella releasing later this year: Mistletoe & Pandoro); The Wright Detective series – MG (Nancy Drew-inspired mystery series): Book One: The Mysterious Locker Notes (2022), Book Two: The Trophy Case (2022), Book Three: A Haunting in Greeneville (2022)

Who are your favorite authors? Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series), Melissa Payne (Memories in the Drift), Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me)

What were your favorite books growing up? Sherlock Holmes, Choose Your Own Adventure, Nancy Drew. And any “teen” series book (these inspired me to write the books that I do)

What do you like best about writing? The first draft process is my absolute favorite part of writing. I am a pantser, so I never plot anything out (even the mystery, thriller stories I write). This allows the story and the characters to develop on their own. I love discovering the plot and seeing how my characters evolve.

What do find most challenging about writing? I’m a perfectionist, so making sure the final draft is as “perfect” as possible is what stresses me out the most about publishing. Over my short time as an author, I am slowly learning to give myself more grace and accept that I am human. In the end, as long as my readers connect with my stories and characters, that is what is important.

Where do you draw your inspiration? Because I am a kidlit author, I draw a lot of inspiration from my own wonderful childhood. I had a lot of freedom to explore my world and be creative. I also moved around a lot, so my circle of friends and experiences is widespread. Most of my novels take place in fictional worlds that I can craft and therefore create deep roots for my characters. I didn’t have those roots as a kid, so I am now able to design them myself from the ground up. Also, I played a lot of sports as a kid and am a runner and marathoner. So, most of my books have at least a hint of sports action in them. This emphasizes teamwork, goal setting, and a positive environment for mentorship—great lessons for kids.

You’ve just been given the chance to collaborate on a book with Rebecca Stead. What’s the title going to be? Rebecca Stead is a Newbery award winner who writes kidlit. Therefore, it would be a dream to collaborate with her. I’m not sure of a title yet because that usually reveals itself during the writing process. But it would be fun to work together on an upper middle grade contemporary story with a bit of mystery, very much like The Wright Detective. What I love the most about Rebecca’s writing is that she always gives her characters the freedom to explore their worlds and just be kids. I once read that she set her Newbery winner, When You Reach Me, in the 1970s because it was a simpler time where kids could safely be on their own and given more freedom. I grew up like this and try to do that with my characters. They are given the space and time to make mistakes and learn from them on their own. As a writer of contemporary fiction, I believe that there is magic in the everyday and that kids can be heroes in everyday life.

Learn more about Kelly and her books by visiting her website

Kelly is giving away both a copy of her young adult novel The Winning Ingredient and Book One in her sleuthy middle grade series, The Wright Detective: The Mysterious Locker Notes (plus bookmarks, etc.). For a chance to win, just answer this question: Who is/was your favorite fictional character you read about as a kid/tween/teen?

Kelly Swan Taylor is the author of the popular young adult novel The Winning Ingredient and the sleuthy middle grade series The Wright Detective. When she’s not concocting unique recipes in her kitchen or hovering over her keyboard, this attorney and former laboratory scientist spends her time as a competitive runner. With experience racing from sun-drenched Hawaii to frigid Iceland, her first publishing credit was in Simon & Schuster’s best-selling book series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Running for Good, highlighting the historic 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. Growing up immersed in beloved “Teen” novels, Kelly now crafts her own sweet stories that bridge the gap between middle grade and young adult fiction that is so often forgotten but so sorely needed in the market today. In fact, she is so passionate about bridging this gap that she founded the imprint Link Press, dedicated to bringing these stories back to young readers. As a believer that there is magic in the everyday, she has a soft spot for the kind and sincere yet flawed character, who tries to do the right thing, stumbles along the way, but eventually becomes a hero in everyday life. Kelly resides in Providence, Rhode Island with her architect husband, Jonathan, and her spirit animal and trusted kitty, Otto.

Rhode Island Authors Showcase – Featuring Pat Mitchell!

The Rhode Island Authors Showcase is back! Each day in November, I’ll be featuring a different RI author. Each post features a giveaway – a book, an anthology, or something else! All you have to do to be eligible for the daily drawing is leave a comment on the blog post. I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner one week after the blog post (to give you time to catch up).

By commenting on each post, you’re also entered to win our bigger prizes: GRAND PRIZE is a $250 Amazon gift card, BONUS PRIZE is a $100 Amazon gift card, and the CHEER UP YOU WON SOMETHING PRIZE is a $50 Amazon gift card. The big prizes will be chosen, again using a random number generator, on December 7.

PLEASE NOTE: If the author contacts you to let you know you’ve won, you must respond within THREE DAYS or we’ll have to draw another winner.

Pat Mitchell

So happy to welcome my friend Pat Mitchell to the blog! She’s got a new book coming out and I couldn’t be more excited. Get to know my pal:

Do you write under your own name or an alias? I write as Pat Mitchell (changed from ‘Patricia L’ to Pat for the new book)

Where is your hometown? Johnston, Rhode Island

What genre(s) do you write? So far I have written a memoir and a middle grade fiction book. I think I’m going to try YA next! I love expository writing too, so nothing is out of the question at this point.

What have you written? A Girl From the Hill – My Mother’s Journey from Italian Girl to American Woman (2013); Goodbye Pound Cake (2022)

Who are some of your favorite authors?Up to 3 favorite authors – new: David Sedaris, Phillipa Gregory, Lois Lowry

What were your favorite books growing up? The House at Pooh Corner, The Outsiders, Stuart Little

What do you like best about writing? The best part about writing is the feeling when someone reads your work and connects with it. It’s like they are connecting to me and it’s both gratifying and humbling.

What do you find most challenging about writing? Creating the initial story. I feel like once I have the general plot it becomes fun to fill in the pieces. But trying to come up with an interesting idea is difficult.

Where do you draw your inspiration? Usually I deal with feelings I have or have had to deal with in the past, and I build characters around them. There is always some part of me or something that’s important to me at the most at the root of my work.

You’ve just been given the chance to collaborate with Phillipa Gregory. What’s the title going to be? The title of the book would be Blood and Dirt, a historical fiction account of the Irish Famine and Queen Victoria.

Inspired by the memory of her mother to register for this year’s Newport Bridge Run, Rhode Island’s most popular long-distance running race of the year, 14-year-old Michelle Natale envisions herself getting fit, sporting a perfect body, and finally silencing the Hyenas and their boyfriends at Apple Valley Middle School who bully her and call her Pound Cake.

But when Michelle invites her best friend Mandy on the journey from overweight outcasts to beautiful winners, Mandy declines. Instead, she takes a different path to happiness, and the two friends nearly destroy everything that’s most important.

Michelle learns from her relationships with her science-nerd father, her obnoxious big brother, her dreamy new running coach, her mini-me dog, and even Elvis Presley bringing messages from beyond, that true beauty comes from family, friendship, healthy choices, and being happy with who you are.

Pat is offering a copy of her new novel, Goodbye Pound Cake to one lucky winner! To be eligible, just answer this question? Did you (*or do you) have a nickname? Share it if you want to!