Notes from the Edge of My Mind

Margaret McManis' blog

Rewriting, revising, and reworking

Jul 042018

Well, it's been seven years since I started the Relic Hunters series and it has gone through numerous revisions, and even a title change, starting out as the Stone Codex. Now The Relic Hunters is about to go through an entire rewrite where I take it from straight historical fiction to a time travel format. Thinking about this now and the dialogue rewrite, it has been so much easier to write it in twentieth first century dialogue than I could ever have imagined.

What ever made me think I could write realistically in the  male voice of a preteen in the year 1486? It's hard enough to write dialogue but to try and capture the culture and time of the fifteenth century is a bit much for someone attempting their first novel. Picture books have always been my forte.

So here I go with a total rewrite of two previous completed middle grade novels, each one 300 pages. I am calling them my practice novels and the research I completed while on two trips to Siguenza, Spain will not be  wasted, because my two main characters will time travel to the exact setting where my first book takes place. A stable in the heart of Siguenza where they will meet Rodrigo and Martin preparing for a battle with the  Moors and a journey on a pilgrimage that  will change all their lives. Get ready for an adventure that includes stolen relics, a mysterious book that was a gift from a queen, an encounter with an evil bishop,  a minstrel and his puzzling apprentice, a runaway squire and  much much more.

Just to keep you interested you can check out my Pinterest page and find pics of my main characters, their mounts, the setting and gobs of historical information about Siguenza, Spain and El Doncel himself.

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.


Holy Bones and Body Parts-Fantastic Relics

Jan 062018




Dublin Ireland March 2012, "Yes, Officer they stole my heart."

You say, "She stole your heart. Well I wouldn't worry.  You'll get over it, sir."

"No, no you don't understand officer. It wasn't a she it was a gang and it wasn't exactly 'my' heart."

"But, it was someone's heart?"

"Yes, officer and it was 900 years old."

Beg your pardon, Laddie.  You been in the Guinness again?"





The Purloined Heart-The dialogue above is an imagined conversation concerning the theft of a nine-hundred year old heart relic that was stolen from Christ Church cathedral in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. When the interview with priest Rev. Dermot asking for the heart's return was aired in March,  my interest was stirred and I did a bit of research to uncover the details of the theft of the heart. It seems it belonged to St. Lawrence, the first Archbishop of Ireland, who died in 1180AD.

After his death the heart found a home in the cathedral inside a wooden heart-shaped box where it was revered and visited by faithful pilgrims throughout the world. One night a group of men hid inside the church and waited until the priest had gone home and then pried the metal bars surrounding the cage, loose from the cathedral wall. The men worked for a gang from China who specialize in rhino horn and other exotics. The whereabouts of the heart has never been discovered.

The Golden Arm-The arm relic pictured above contains the upper arm bone of St. Andrew and is another example of holy bones that were revered in medieval times for their supposed healing properties. Through the small round window in the arm is visible the sacred bone which would not be valuable to collector's today. However, the reliquaries that house these sacred relics are quite valuable being covered with precious gemstones and hammered gold which is easily melted down and sold.

Other priceless relics fail to make the  headlines today but are just as valuable to collectors. In 2011 a trove of relics were smuggled out of Iraq and ended up in the U.S. The name associated with the theft of these items was the family who owns the Hobby Lobby stores. Thankfully, in this case the relics and artifacts were all returned to the country and so this story had a happy ending which is almost never the case.

Since medieval times relics have been collected and stolen by kings and emperors alike. Charlemagne was purported to have the largest collection in Europe at the time including remnants of the True Cross and the Holy Grail and Helena, the mother of Constantine, traveled to Jerusalem where she collected many relics from Jesus and the Crucifixion. Today the relics are disappearing from churches throughout Europe because of their monetary value rather than religious appeal.

To find out more about this fascinating subject you can check out my Pinterest Page where you can find a picture of the heart-shaped box relic and many other interesting relics as well. Go to Margaret McManis page and click on 'Magical and Religious Objects.'

Happy Hunting 




Here is the link to order online

Dec 052017


This month has started out like a whirlwind for Tally Ho Ho Ho. Inspiration Ranch hosted a fabulous fundraiser on Friday and it was a grand affair that raised needed money for the Ranch and its services to special needs kids in the community. When you order my book from the link below be reminded that 20%of the proceeds will go directly to Inspiration Ranch and their great program so open your hearts and wallets this Christmas for a great cause.

If you can't find my Christmas Book locally you can order online.

Miniature Horse for marketing my book 'Tally Ho Ho Ho.'

Nov 092017


Love this little guy. He is my mini Snowflake that appears in my book 'Tally Ho Ho Ho' and will be such an attraction when I do school visits. He will have saddlebags to carry my books. He is only 34 inches and weighs around 150 pounds. There are a few ranches and farms in my area that have these guys for sale but I am thinking of leasing him for school visits before I commit to buying one. I am looking for an appaloosa with lots of spots that looks like the Snowflake in the book but may just have to get a white one.


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.


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