Welcome Mary Volmer!

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message 1: by Rebecca, Champagne Widows, 2021 (new)

Rebecca Rosenberg (rebeccarosenberg) | 270 comments Mod
Looking forward to Mary Volmer!

message 2: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (grannylovestoread) | 132 comments Hi๐ŸŽ…๐ŸŽ„

message 3: by Mary (last edited Dec 19, 2018 07:25AM) (new)

Mary | 33 comments Happy Holidays!

Thank you to Rebecca and Martha for inviting me to take part in the American Historical Novel Holiday Open House. In honor of the holidays, Iโ€™m raffling two signed copies of Reliance, Illinois. To enter the contest, simply answer the following question below in the comments:

What is one of your fondest memories of the house (or apartment) you grew up in?

Why is this on my mind? Perhaps because Iโ€™m days away from traveling back to my childhood home in Grass Valley, CA. My folks still live in the house they built - a modest, comfortable place - more than forty years ago and every return is layered with memories.

In contrast, Miss Roseโ€™s house in my second novel, RELIANCE, ILLINOIS is neither modest nor comfortable to Madelyn Branch, a thirteen-year-old girl sent to live and work there.

Its exterior is based off an octagon house I toured in Watertown, Wisconsin, which was built by John Richards in 1854. The inside is a composite of several other period houses designed by Orson Fowler, who in the 19th century was a self-proclaimed expert in a number disciplines, including family planning, architecture, and phrenology (the study of one's characteristics through the bumps on one's head). Fowler -- for reasons he wrote about in convoluted detail -- considered the octagon an ideal shape for maximizing health and well-being. While the design never gained the lasting popularity he predicted, there remain quite a few excellent examples nationwide that are still standing and open for visits. If you happen to live in the SF Bay Area, check out the McElroy Octagon House at 2645 Gough Street.

I gave Miss Rose an octagon house because she needed a home as grand in stature as she believes herself to be, a house that reflected the eccentricities of the era. I needed a house that would intimidate and intrigue the townspeople of Reliance. Finally, I needed a structure around which to build a my story, and to which I could return in my imagination each day I sat down to write.

For pics of the house check out:

message 4: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (grannylovestoread) | 132 comments I grew up on a farm and I just loved the outdoors.

message 5: by Chelsie (new)

Chelsie (chelzlou) | 83 comments There is an octagon house in Fond du Lac in WI also. Supposedly it was part of the Underground Railroad. I grew up on a farm, in an old farm house. I think the greatest thing about it was having freedom to use our imagination and be kids in the yard, the barn, the woods, the fields. I have endless memories and do miss the farm life. Thank you for your generosity.

message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary | 33 comments Rhonda wrote: "I grew up on a farm and I just loved the outdoors."

My folks were teachers, but we lived quite a distance from town and raised chickens, goats, a garden... I did not, however, inherit my mom's green thumb. Don't trust me with a houseplant (unless it's silk;)

message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary | 33 comments Chelsie wrote: "There is an octagon house in Fond du Lac in WI also. Supposedly it was part of the Underground Railroad. I grew up on a farm, in an old farm house. I think the greatest thing about it was having fr..."

Sounds amazing! I live as faculty in residence in a college dorm. I wonder what kind of crazy memories my son (6) will have of this place in thirty years.

message 8: by Mary (new)

Mary | 33 comments A few hours left to enter. Drawing at 8:00pm (pacific time) 12/13. Thank you for everyone who has sent in your lovely responses, here and on the American Historical Novel Facebook page!

message 9: by Mary (new)

Mary | 33 comments Congratulations to Chelsea and to Dyana Hulgan! You've won an autographed copy of Reliance, Illinois. Please message me your address and I'll send the book along promptly!

(Alternatively you can email me at

Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing. The book is available at all major bookstores and, of course, online:

Happy reading all!


message 10: by Chelsie (new)

Chelsie (chelzlou) | 83 comments Thank you Mary! I have messaged you. Merry Christmas to everyone. May your days be filled with family, love, laughter and of course new books! :)

message 11: by Dyana (new)

Dyana | 189 comments Thank you for my Christmas present!

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