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Research is Key to Writing Children’s Historical Fiction

Writing an historical fiction story for children (8-12 year olds) about the events and people involved in writing the Declaration of Independence should be based on sound research. Unlike Nick & Sadie, the Christmas fantasy about Nick and Sadie Kerstman, it is essential that Jefferson's Masterpiece, the new book I'm writing, must be founded on historical facts. I will, however, incorporate fiction to fill in some of the details.

Therefore, the first leg of my journey begins with research. I have spent the past seven weeks collecting and reading books, articles and all the information I can find about the Declaration of Independence. Thankfully, there seems to be an unending source of information about this important subject, which has made my job easier and more challenging. It's more challenging because I need to limit how much time I spend on research to allow time to write the manuscript so I can meet my self-imposed deadline. I have decided to continue with the research until the end of February.

I've always enjoyed doing research. My most memorable experience was when I was able to use the Library of Congress forThomas Jefferson Writes the Declaration of Independence, the unpublished children's book I wrote in the early 1970s. Now I order books from Amazon and download articles off the Internet, which is a lot different from the grandeur of the Library of Congress. However, I'm getting the same results.

The purpose of my research is to be able to write a well-rounded story that will teach children about the Declaration of Independence - the events that led to its adoption, the people involved, the places where it all took place (Philadelphia, Independence Hall and the Graff House), the work of the Second Continental Congress, and most importantly the Declaration's significance.

Through my research, I have learned an interesting fact that is not commonly known. Jefferson did not write the Declaration with a quill pen. Instead, he used a small cylindrical silver fountain pen with a gold nib that was probably made by William Cowan, a Richmond watchmaker. "TJ" is engraved on the elliptical cap that screwed into the end of the cylinder that served as an ink reservoir. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation now owns the pen. Metal pens were developed in the late 18th century, but did not become popular until the early 19th century when the use of quill pens declined.

The entire blog is available at

Next week I'll describe some of the sources I'm using.

Thanks again for your time,


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