Notes from the Edge of My Mind

Margaret McManis' blog

Glammaw and Nannerd Get Historical

Jan 292018

 The REAL story behind the characters of 'Glammaw and Nannerd.'

Glammaw and Nannerd Get Historical is a travelogue picture book about two eccentric fun-loving grannies and their granddaughters that has a delightful twist of an ending.

Years  ago my mother, Jimmie Drew Olive Marsh, became the inspiration for the Nannerd character in the manuscript after my thirteen-year old nephew gave her the off-handed compliment asking one day?
“What do you get when you cross a Nanny with a Nerd? Little did I know that day that the name would become the title of a children’s book in the future.

The ‘Glammaw’ character was channeled from a former neighbor who was a dance teacher and whose daughter danced with the Rockettes. She once mentioned to me that she never wanted to be a Granny-too old and fussy. So what else to call a flamboyant dance instructor grandmother but Glammaw?

Then several nights ago, I watched the movie ‘Coco’ and memories of my mother and her spirit came flooding back, especially our family’s special way of remembering her and paying tribute to the amazing character she was-artist, comic, teacher, mother, grandmother, friend. Of course, there are photos displayed of her smiling face in all our homes, as are grandparents in the film, but the immediate lasting way she is remembered is quite a bit different from most family memories.

I don’t recall who started the idea of 'Nanny Points' given to members of the family but it started years ago when she was alive and being her animated free-spirited joyful self. Whether it was running a hamburger joint called Gull Galley on the Freeport beach, collecting shells in Sanibel Island, Florida, or painting sunsets in Galveston she was one of a kind in every way. As far as the artistic talent goes the  only family member who has displayed her talent in that field is my granddaughter Olivia, but we have all inherited her humor and love of life in one area or another.

She has been gone eight years now and her points are still given out to loved ones when they say or do silly things or forget their purse, or lock themselves out of their house or wear mismatched shoes or any number of silly things that mom was famous for.

As oddball as it may seem to the general public it is our way of keeping her spirit alive and active in our family and the people of Sweeny, Texas are conspirators as well. They are aware of our little Nanny point game that keeps our wonderful Jimmie Drew alive in our memories. Only in a very small town could this be possible and encouraged by all her friends who loved her so much. I hope to include some Nanny points in my ‘Glammaw and Nannerd’ books as well.


A few medieval titles I loved.

Jul 022017

I will mention a few here and include a review of the most intriguing title I read recently.

Crispin The Cross of Lead by Avi was a favorite because Avi is an author I love. Before he became an author Avi was a librarian, so we have books and a love of reading in common.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. This non-fiction title arranged as a travel guide helped me immensely in finding out how people traveled in medieval Europe, where they stayed, what they wore and their health and hygiene.

By far the most intriguing book on the list was 'The Inquisitor's Tale' by Adam Gidwitz.

Written as a spin off of 'The Canterbury Tales' for middle grade readers it chronicled the tale of three magical children and their Holy Dog, and was a Newbery Honor Book for 2016.

The reviews were glowing and I will mention only a few here and finish up with my take on one of my favorite books on the lengthy list.

From School Library Journal:

'Gidwitz is on fire here, making medieval history feel fresh and current.

From Sara Lipton professor of medieval history at SUNY, Stony Brook:

'...a well researched and thoughtful engaging adventure, which beautifully imagines the feel and texture of thirteenth-century France. It is also a moving exploration of friendship, curiosity, and a love of learning in a world all too filled with narrow-mindedness and hate."

This riveting tale of three very different orphans with supernatural powers traveling across France to escape the clutches of the French king is filled with humor and superb attention to detail on every page. The adventures the children experience are close to miracles and they are hounded at each step by the king's spies and eventually come to their final showdown in the waves at the foot of the abbey at Mont Saint-Michel.

Don't miss this one if you are in the mood for a rollicking adventure filled with historical detail and heartfelt friendships.

Medieval Bibliography Used for Research on my Relic Hunter Series

May 232017


Over the past five years I have poured over books set during the middle ages to get a better understanding of the time period and my characters. Below you will find my bibliography. Next post I will review some of my favorites so you may enjoy them as well. They are in no specific order, some being non-fiction and biographies but most are juvenile titles since my Relic Hunter series is for Middle Grade readers.

The Squire, the Knight, and His Lady-Gerald Morris-MG

Ghost Knight-Cornelia Funke-MG

The Youngest Templar Series-Michael Spradlin-MG

The Ramsey Scallop-Frances Temple-MG

Isabella of Castille-Nancy Rubin

By Fire by Water-Mitchell James Kaplan

Kings of the Grail-Margaret Torres Sevilla

The Passion of Dolssa-Julie Berry

War Horse-Don Bolognesse-MG

Writing Historical Fiction-James A. Thom


The Book without Words-Avi-MG

The Inquisitor's Tale-Adam Gidwitz-MG

Arthur at the Crossing Places-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG

Arthur and the King of the Middle March-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG

The Seeing Stone-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG

Gatti's Tale-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG

Relics of God-Keith Sniadack

The Last Templar-Michael Jecks

Jack Templar: Monster Hunter-MG

A World Lit Only By Fire-William Manchester

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England-Ian Mortimer

The Witch in the Well-Sharan Newman

The Wandering Arm-Sharan Newman

In the Wake of the Plague-Norman Cantor

Canterbury Tales-Geoffrey Chaucer

The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane-C.M. Miller

Walking the Way A Medieval Quest-Neal Wiegman

A Medieval Feast-Alike

Marguerite Makes a Book-Bruce Robertson

A Stitch in Air-Lori Carlson

The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur-Margaret Hodges

Infidel--Ted Decker-MG



Breastplate of Rightousness

May 092017

Now for an introduction to the chapter where all the excitement starts for the Relic Hunters. It begins on a pilgrimage to a holy shrine near you guessed it, Granada. Martin de Arce, Rodrigo's master and the lieutenant commander, is along as an escort for one of Queen Isabella's bishops as well as to provide protection for the pilgrims traveling to the shrine. They are nearing a river and a pass that has been a haven for Moorish ambushes. It is a beautiful day and the friends have learned much from the travelers, one who works as a physician, and another as a cobbler. But Rene is anxious about her uncle, a musician who is a friend of the bishop, a man she doesn't trust. Let's find out what happens to the friends and Martin, the Santiago Knight next.

Here is Chapter 34 from The Relic Hunters - Santiago Knight for your reading pleasure.

New title for books-'The Relic Hunters.'

Jan 302016

This seemed like an appropriate title that would attract teen readers with the adventures of four young relic hunters during the dangerous events surrounding the Spanish Inquisition.

Two boys, Rodrigo and Farid and two girls-Rene and Anne work together to foil the evil Bishop Osorio and his minions from stealing relics from cathedrals in Aragon. They have the aid of Arturo, a local duke's son and also Crimino a dwarf with unusual talents.

A bit about the characters:

Rodrigo-is the squire of Martin de Arce, a Santiago knight. Rodrigo wants to someday become a horse trainer in the service of King Ferdinand but for the present is caught up in the adventure of locating and returning holy relics.

Rene-an orphan who is masquerading as a boy and works as a blacksmith. Her uncle, a minstrel, tries to make her play the dulcimer and sing to help him make money, but she has a talent for repairing armor and finds an ally with Rodrigo and his master, Martin.

Farid-Rodrigo's friend who travels on the pilgrimage with him to find the stolen relics. His father was a crusader to the Holy Land where he met the daughter of a caliph and secretly married. Farid is his son and although his father is dead, he has heard that his mother is alive and wishes to find her.

undefinedAnne-the daughter of Martin who was kidnapped as a child by her Jewish grandfather. When Martin is killed in battle he tasks Rodrigo to find her and give her his valuable codex that once belonged to Queen Isabella. Anne is known to as the 'Girl Who Draws Horses,' and her talent provides them with money and many valuable contacts.

Pictures of characters on Pinterest


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