Maureen Stack SappÉy

"The only other sound is the sweep of easy wind and downy flake."
Robert Frost: Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, 1923


I'm a published author of newspaper articles, magazine short stories, and novels of historical fiction. I also offer professional editing and book coaching. Thanks for visiting.


As a writer of historical fiction, my stories are merely my interpretations of actual events; however, I strive to avoid revisionism by undertaking thorough research and by consulting the foremost experts. My new book, The Silver Soldier (an adult novel about Paul Revere) was thoroughly critiqued and then endorsed by Mr. Patrick Leehey, the Research Director of the Paul Revere House. Leehey summed up my book, saying: "[The Silver Soldier is a] psychological compelling view of pre-Revolutionary Boston as seen through the eyes of the eldest son of the famed silversmith and revolutionary Paul Revere. The description of such iconic events as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and Revere's Midnight Ride are vivid and convincing."

Additionally, Avery Revere, the Great-great-great-great Granddaughter of Paul Revere, reviewed and endorsed my book saying, "Sappey's retelling of Paul Revere's story honors my ancestor and reaffirms the creativity, compassion and vision of one of America's most legendary rebels."

Before the publication of Letters from Vinnie (an epistolary novel about the Civil War sculptress Vinnie Ream), I sent the manuscript to Mr. David Madden, the former Director of the United States Civil War Center, Louisiana State University. Upon his verification of my research, he endorsed my work, writing:

"Maureen Sappéy’s . . . Civil War fiction for young people has a critical purpose: to incorporate historical fact into fictional stories, appealing to students and teachers from the perspectives of multiple disciplines, including literature and the social sciences. This cross-curricular approach leaves the young reader with a more complete understanding of the Civil War era. As an interdisciplinary institution, the United States Civil War Center commends her efforts."

Before publishing my other books of Civil War fiction, I sent the manuscripts to the research departments of different Civil War National Parks.

Eliciting critical reviews from experts is a responsible part of writing historical fiction—after all, books of this sort are often used as teaching tools.

Kindred Spirits

Product Description: Bibliography. American History. Published by Chester River Press, Kindred Spirits is a bibliocentric memoir chronicling the acquisition and restoration of seven rare books from Jefferson’s Retirement Library at Monticello. This is the remarkable story of the serendipitous discovery of a seven-volume set of Aeschylus’s Tragedies owned by Thomas Jefferson, and the many bibliophiles, Jeffersonians, historians, scholars, and yes, Ancient Greeks, who helped complete a journey of personal fulfillment and historical significance, all the while honoring one of our most accomplished Founding Fathers. Share Barry Buckley’s thoughts and emotions as he gazes for the first time on Jefferson’s personal book markings, oversees the book restoration process, and with renowned author Maureen Stack Sappéy, traces the connections from Ancient Greece up through the centuries to the fledgling United States.
Sell Sheet (PDF)
Purchase Book

The Silver Soldier

Consumed by guilt over his part in the wrongful death of his closest friend, Paul Revere's oldest son is thrust into the drama unfolding on the streets of Boston in the 1770s. A senseless shooting, the Massacre on King Street, the dumping of tea in the harbor, the near-fatal ride by his father, and the slaughter of Patriots on Lexington Green all define the struggle for liberty for the younger Paul. Pitted against Andrew Carlton, a ruthless Tory and father of the girl he loves, Paul learns to forgive himself for the tragedy that has haunted him from an early age. In his unique position as Revere's son, Paul reveals the complexities of his courageous father who accomplished far more than a midnight ride on a borrowed horse. This novel centers on oppression and rebellion, and the selfless love between a son and his remarkable father, Paul Revere.

Excerpts from reviews: "This is very powerful theme and in less skilled hands could easily pull the book down into the depths of psycho babble, but author develops this theme with a wordsmiths skill; it doesn't dominate the story, it adds depth and tension to it. It makes the character real and allows us to connect with them. This book also confirms an assertion made by the historical fiction writer, George MacDonald Fraser: "History is best told in fiction." The historical facts under-girding the story are spot on but by presenting them in this format and with such panache history comes alive. . . . This is a great read by a very talented writer! What a great book . . . couldn't lay it down. . . .using the character of Revere's son was a great idea. Learned a lot about Paul Revere . . . Sappey is very skillful in the way she blends fact and fiction. She takes us back to that time in history so well that it is almost like being there. I highly recommend this book. . . . This well-researched book makes history come alive and made me feel like I had a ringside seat to some of the most fascinating parts of the founding of our nation. . . . What better way to gain a love of history than by reading this exciting, heart-pounding book? . . . The author has done such an excellent job of bringing the reader into the world of pre-revolutionary Boston that I somehow feel I've just stepped out of the theater. Sappey's prose is highly readable; it just flows. Dialog is realistic. The momentum is there. Characters are three dimensional. . . . this book is highly recommended to anyone the least bit interested in American history--and to those who don't yet know that they're interested."

Letters From Vinnie

The book I'm most proud of is Letters from Vinnie - the publisher, Stephen Roxburgh, and his associates, Nancy Hogan, Helen Robinson, and Joy Neaves, are professionals in every sense of the word. Mr. Roxburgh taught me an important lesson: in the writing of historical fiction, story must come before history. His advice has served me well.

From book to film . . .

Fall of 1999 Published in hardcover by Front Street Books. It earned six awards--including a Boxed Review in Booklist and mention in the New York Times Book Review.

Fall of 2007 Re-released in softcover by Calkins Creek Books, an imprint under Boyds Mills Press.

November of 2009 Optioned by producers in California for adaptation into film. Their goal is to make a television miniseries or feature film.

My blog updates the news about the film adaptation.

The same producers have been working on a documentary about Vinnie Ream--they mentioned I'll be interviewed as part of that production.

In addition, Ann and Dan Ashe have taken a poem/song from this novel to produce a cd of Vinnie Ream's music--that cd will be available soon through Asheworks. They have used, as well, Vinnie's actual sheet music in the making of their cd.

Letters from Vinnie tells the story of . . .

Vinnie Ream, an actual historical figure who was a teenager at the start of the Civil War. Through fictionalized letters spanning eight years, from the time the Ream family moves to Washington, D.C., to the eve of her departure for Italy, Vinnie chronicles her life to a friend named Regina . . . .

In 1861, Vinnie is 13 years old and already recognized as an accomplished painter, musician, and poet. Tiny in stature, she is noted for her beauty, but she refuses numerous suitors so as to find enough time to contribute to the war effort – using her mezzo–soprano voice, she sings to distract the soldiers who suffer in hospitals, and to raise funds to purchase clothes, food and medicine for Lincoln's army.

At the age of 16 Vinnie turns her talents toward sculpting. Within weeks, she makes known her "heart's fondest ambition" — to create a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. Although the President wonders why an artist would choose such a "plain subject" he allows the sixteen–year–old to work in a corner of his office for five months — a clay bust is finished on the very morning of Lincoln's assassination.

Soon after, Vinnie is commissioned to sculpt a life-size statue of the "Martyr President" in plaster, a sculpture that the Radical Republicans threaten to destroy if she doesn't support their plot to impeach President Johnson. Vinnie stands up to the Radicals, finishes the plaster image and sets sail for Italy where she will recast the statue in white marble.

If you should ever visit the Rotunda in the Capitol building in Washington, D. C., you will be greeted by Vinnie Ream's marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln.


  • 1999 - Endorsed by Dr. David Madden, then-Director of the Civil War Center, Louisiana State University
  • 2000 - Oklahoma Book Award Finalist
  • 2000 - Books For The Teen Age – New York Public Library
  • 2000 - Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People by both the National Council for The Social Studies and the Children's Book Council
  • 2000 - 2001 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee
  • 2001 - Best Children's Books of the Year Award Bank Street College of Education
  • 2003 - First Place Winner for Juvenile Fiction National League of American Pen Women
  • 2009 - an anthology of writings, music and art collected under the title, Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage, was published by the National League of American Pen Women. The anthology was endorsed by Congress through the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

An excerpt from my novel was chosen as the first selection in the anthology. In 2009, the anthology received a prestigious honor: the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge.


This book was also endorsed by Mr. David Madden, then Director of the United States Civil War Center, Louisiana State University.

Letters from Vinnie received mention in the New York Times Book Review.

Some of the other reviews include:

"In this fine epistolary novel, Sappéy skillfully blends history and fiction. … Eager readers will wonder why it has taken so long for us to know Ream’s name." —Booklist (Boxed Review)

"Sappéy gracefully blends fact and fiction in her chronicle of Vinnie Ream, the first sculptress to win a Government commission and the creator of the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln that graces the Capitol building. Using the fictional device of letters to a friend, Sappéy tells Vinnie’s story in textured language, interweaving historical and personal details about her life as she grows from a passionate but raw adolescent to an accomplished lady in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War and its aftermath. Vinnie begins to study sculpture at 16, and takes to it immediately, describing the clay as ‘bending and moving under my fingers as though it understood my intention and desired to please my creative touch.’" —Kirkus Reviews

"Welcome historical fiction about the sculptress. …Through [Vinnie’s] eyes, readers gain knowledge of the Civil War, Lincoln, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson." —School Library Journal

Ordering information

Hardcover: Front Street Books – 1999 – $16.95

Softcover: Boyds Mills Press – 2007 – $10.95

Books are available by calling toll–free: 877–512–8366

Schools are discounted 40% with orders of five or more books.

Copies are also available through Amazon by clicking the buy now link on the books page.

A Rose at Bull Run

My summary of the plot is unnecessary thanks to a detailed review by Mr. Herman Gay, an English and Journalism instructor in the Maryland Public Schools. Mr. Gay wrote:

"A Rose at Bull Run gives us another voice from the Civil War era....Through the voice of the fifteen-year-old Julia,...we move among the soldiers, and we see their wounds and feel their pain. We also see the devastating effects of war; powerfully in fact, through the eyes of a naïve, self–centered young woman. We sample the pain of growing up in a time when for Julia the stigma of spinsterhood loomed larger than even the war. From the opening chapter, when Julia meets the dying soldier, through after–battle struggles and medical assistance efforts, we are jolted by the realities of war. Best of all, Sappéy delivers to us a heroine who sees pain, suffering, cowardice and bravery on parade. One thing is certain about A Rose at Bull Run: we realistically travel with Julia, who is first a spectator and later an unlikely participant in one of America’s most gruesome dramas performed live on battlefields that many Americans called their backyards, their farms, their neighborhoods, and their hometowns. Maureen Stack Sappéy’s A Rose at Bull Run is definitely on my list of recommended novels for middle and high school students."

Dreams of Ships, Dreams of Julia

A review from School Library Journal explains this book:

Grade 5-8-In 1861, James Hamilton, a Harvard engineering student, has his dreams of building ships realized when he learns that the Confederates have resurrected an old Union ship, the Merrimack, and have converted it into a fortified vessel. He leaves school and offers his services to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer charged with building an ironclad ship for the Union. Attending a meeting at the White House, James meets and falls in love with Julia Holmes, a young woman also involved with the war effort. When the Union orders the Monitor to Hampton Roads, VA, to protect federal ships against an inevitable attack by the Merrimack, Ericsson sends James onboard to record observations about the ironclad's performance. The young man is blinded in the final conflict of the battle and relinquishes his dreams for the future. Sappéy carefully describes the construction of the Monitor and graphically depicts the horrors of war. The book is carefully researched and includes a detailed author's note . . . . the first-person narrative is full of emotion . . . .

And Mr. William Blake, A Civil War re-enactor in films, a lecturer, writer,and radio personality, wrote:

"A historic favorite of mine as it is the first clash of iron ships in the world. Maureen Sappéy's treatment of this event was all the more interesting because she relates the personal dreams of the people, James, Julia, Mr. John Ericsson, and others that are central to this event. History buffs may find facts they didn't know, but all readers will stay with the story to the last page. Young readers will have their appetites whetted for more from Maureen Stack Sappéy."

Yankee Spy

In this book, Louisa Holmes, a lovely young woman living in Washington, D. C., is lured into the shady world of espionage by Dr. Gleason, a member of the infamous network of physician-spies. Innocently, she accepts a mission: to obtain information from a handsome Confederate officer, Major Robert Petrie. Louisa is smuggled into the Confederates' capital city, and while General George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac struggle towards Richmond, she falls under the suspicious eyes of Confederates Dr. Hugh Ryle and his strange sister, Charleen. At story's end, Louisa struggles to escape the same fate as that of Union spymaster, Timothy Webster: imprisonment in Castle Thunder and death on the gallows.

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln

This hardcover anthology was published by the Pen Women Press in January of 2009. Nationwide, the members of the National League of American Pen Woman collaborated to create this anthology of writings, music and art to mark the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Proceeds from book sales will be used to establish a Lincoln Legacy Scholarship award for students that produce literary works of merit that best exemplify one or more of Lincoln's contributions to the American ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity. This book has been endorsed by the President and Congress as part of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. In September of 2009 this book was awarded The Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor.

To order copies of this book please send your name, mailing address, and payment of $28.00 (shipping included) to:

NLAPW, 1300 17th Street NW Washington, D.C. 20036-1973.


Description of Services

Editor and Book Coach
Successful authors place utmost importance on mastering fiction writing techniques, and the process of revision.
Writing requires hard work and patience--as an instructor, book coach and editor I take supreme pride in both my work ethic and my patience with writers, published and unpublished.

Working Writer
Currently, I am finalizing the revisions of a novel titled The Rebel. This story is about the Irish rebellion of the 1800s--the setting is my one-time village home: Carrigaholt in County Clare. Throughout 2016, my other focus will be the film adaptations of The Silver Soldier and Letters from Vinnie. And, of course, I will continue to promote my most recent book, Kindred Spirits: Thomas Jefferson and Aeschylus.

My Process for Book Coaching


Your frustrations as a writer may seem insurmountable, but they can be defeated with my help. How? Through conversations you can learn the fiction writing techniques that apply to your work-- you’ll learn how to research, plot, outline, write, revise, and submit your story for publication.


Initially, many of my clients described themselves as "jugglers" - they juggled their desire to create with the responsibilities of everyday life, and more often than not, their written projects were abandoned. As a coach I can offer you sure-fire methods to reach your writing goals in a timely fashion.


Conversely, if you have finished a work that needs a publisher or publicity, I can offer guidance--my on-going work within the publishing industry has provided me with enough experience to guide you towards your own goals as an author.

My Process for Book Editing


My sole purpose as an editor is to assist you in the betterment of your craft as a writer.


As an experienced instructor of writing I can offer you a thorough, line-by-line editing of your manuscript (content and copy-editing). My focus is inclusive so that your story becomes well-defined, interesting and memorable from the first to the last page.


For over 30 years I have taught and used the writing techniques of Dwight Swain--as needed, his invaluable techniques would be conveyed through handwritten notes in the margins of your manuscript, or through electronic tracking, if that is your preference.

Pricing tables

Book Editing

Includes content and copy editing

  • 10 Dollars Per Page


Book Coaching

Includes all mentioned items above

  • 50 Dollars Per Hour



My ideas, and thoughts conveyed through my blog. Please note: my comments feature will not be finished for another week. Check back soon!

Writing Lessons from Sherlock Holmes . . .

The setting of a desolate English moor, and the character of the young baronet, Sir Henry Baskerville, are masterfully portrayed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his classic tale, Hound of the Baskervilles . . .

"Over the green squares of the fields and the low curve of a wood there rose in the distance a gray, melancholy hill, with a strange jagged summit, dim and vague in the distance, like some fantastic landscape in a dream. Baskerville sat for a long time, his eyes fixed upon it, and I read upon his eager face how much it meant to him, this first sight of that strange spot where the men of his blood had held sway so long and left their mark so deep. There he sat, with his tweed suit and his American accent, in the corner of a prosaic railway-carriage, and yet as I looked at his dark and expressive face I felt more than ever how true a descendant he was of that long line of high-blooded, fiery, and masterful men. There were pride, valour, and strength in his thick brows, his sensitive nostrils, and his large hazel eyes. If on that forbidding moor a difficult and dangerous quest should lie before us, this was at least a comrade for whom one might venture to take a risk with the certainty that he would bravely share it. . . "

Much later, Sir Baskerville is hunted down . . .

"But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him. . . . I was in time to see the beast spring upon its victim, hurl him to the ground, and worry at his throat."

This tale of good versus evil is a must read for any writer studying the elements of fiction: voice, plot, setting, characters, dialogue, and tone. As for mystery writers, Doyle's novel offers superb examples of red herrings. So do yourself a favor and trail Sherlock Holmes as he unravels the curse of the fire-breathing hound--if you do, you'll learn that logic is as necessary in the fictional world, as it is in our actual world.

The Silver Soldier . . . the movie

A few months ago, the script based on my novel, The Silver Soldier, was finished by the film writer J. C. Ruppenthal.

I was given the rare opportunity of reading and critiquing each of his drafts —— rare in the sense that many writers have no say in the films based on their books.

But I lucked out —— the producers, Elizabeth and Joe Napolitano, invited me into the whole process of the adaptation of my novel. Their many phone calls and emails were designed, I believe, to teach me about the film industry. Still, I was taken aback when I received the first draft of the script with their request to critique it.

Admittedly, reading that script was difficult —— I felt like a mother whose child (my book) had been “rearranged” -— arms, legs, head, etc.

It took a full week to finish the critique —- 27 pages detailing all that I liked and disliked about the script.

That letter led to a lengthy conference call with the producers, and by the time it ended, I realized this: I know nothing about film.


A few months later, Joe and Elizabeth sent me the second draft of the script. By then I had a better understanding of film, so my critique was brief and mostly positive. A follow-up conference call was held —- a light-hearted call with a great deal of laughter.

Basically, I learned that books and films are worlds apart.

Through books, readers learn about characters by delving into their minds and hearts.

Through films, audiences learn about characters, visually (actions) and audibly (dialogue).

The camera has not been invented that can trespass the minds and hearts of on-screen characters —- at least, not yet.

Writing a Mystery with One Finger

For the first three weeks of September I plotted and outlined a mystery—a cozy in the European style of Agatha Christie.

On September 20, I was scheduled to fly to Iowa for a ten-day writing retreat at a beautiful abbey called Our Lady of the Mississippi — a monastery of Cistercian (Trappist) nuns near Dubuque.

My plan was simple: write a cozy in a few months by writing (and revising) a chapter a day for four months.

Was is the key word—on September 18, I slipped on liquid soap (picture me as one of the Three Stooges).

After 4 hours in the emergency room, I canceled my flight—but not my plan.

For the next week I adjusted to a broken wrist—my writing hand—but I could type with one finger, so . . .
       Here is my plan to write a mystery in four months . . .

OCTOBER complete first draft
NOVEMBER complete second draft
DECEMBER complete third draft (halfway there)
JANUARY final revisions
FEBRUARY submissions to agents...

Jay Miracle Wins!

I have excellent news to report.

Last night at the Oscars, Jay Miracle won an Academy Award for the Documentary titled: “Twenty Feet From Stardom'' (Morgan Neville directed). This documentary features the back-up singers of our biggest bands and groups--those whose voices are familiar to many of us, but whose names and faces are largely unknown. The film features singers Judith Hill, Darlene Love, Claudia Lennear, Tata Vega, Lisa Fischer and Merry Clayton.

This documentary also won The Spirit Award at the Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards. Jay, always gracious, wrote me a quick note from the celebration: "Thanks-- and we are all partying in total shock tonight. We did not expect to win a Spirit Award yesterday or the Oscar tonight, so it's quite special. I hope all is great with you and hope to catch up. All the best - J."

Academy Award Nomination

I'm pleased to announce that a friend and business associate, Jay Miracle, has been nominated for a 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Titled 20 Feet From Stardom, the documentary showcases back-up singers for our biggest bands.

Jay has had over 25 years of extensive experience as a filmmaker in both Film and Television. He’s been nominated for prime time Emmys and has worked as a writer, editor, director and producer with Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Malcolm Forbes among others.

Currently, Jay and the versatile writer and producer Claudia Ann Reame are co-producing a documentary on the illustrious life of Vinnie Ream, the youngest and first female sculptor of the Civil War era who created the most accurate and memorable sculpture ever made of Abraham Lincoln--the marble, life-sized statue stands in the Capitol Rotunda today. I’ve had the privilege of being invited to work on the documentary with Jay and Claudia.

In addition, they are developing a television mini-series centered upon my novel, Letters from Vinnie. The mini-series will be set in Washington, D. C. during the Civil War years as Vinnie Ream, a young, talented woman strives to establish her creative career, despite tremendous challenges and opposition.

My New Site

The start of a new website seems the perfect time to start a new blog. Please check back on occasion for comments about writing, books, history and all related topics. The first entry will be an announcement of something wonderful.


A significant day in my childhood came about as my family prepared to move to my mother's homeland, Australia.

On that never-forgotten day when I was folding diapers (endless piles of diapers as I was one of eleven children), a song came over the radio--Mancini's Moon River. As I listened, I fell into a spell of sorts with the sudden realization that a few words could create another world. I found myself floating down a moonlit river and by the end of the song I knew I'd become a writer.

My time in Australia was much too brief, but the harsh beauty of the outback and later, the wild waters of the sea, influenced my early writings. After returning to America and attending college, I joined my family in their new home in the west of Ireland--there I found another land of intense beauty--the beauty of clouds, fields and waters, and the beauty of an ancient poetic language. My Irish life ended with the publication of short stories set in my village home, Carrigaholt in County Clare.

Back in America once more, I underwent a thorough study of the writing techniques of the legendary Dwight Swain. Following that course of study, I went on to earn a Masters in Fine Arts (English) to better understand the great works of literature, in particular the plays of William Shakespeare. After a few semesters of teaching at small colleges, I began, finally, to write novels. As expected, my earlier years in Australia and Ireland influenced my writing voice -- a formal voice, decidedly old-fashioned and best suited for writing historical fiction. As well, my years in graduate school would have a bearing on my writing, for I had acquired the research skills that are needed to write historical fiction without resorting to revisionism.

And so, now that my two sons and twin daughters have gone off to start lives of their own, I have ample time to write about America's legendary heroes--my challenge as a novelist is to reveal their strengths and weaknesses, their fears and courage and dreams. To sum up my craft, I write to entertain, to teach, and hopefully to inspire my readers to find the courage to reach their own stars.