© 2023 by Mary Ann Heinsman
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Maggie's aunt tells stories to pass the time and deal with a difficult life on a pre-Civil War plantation. Auntie, Maggie and her twin brother Gritty dream of running away to Canada for a better life, but when a run-away slave's straw hat is found in Uncle Tobey's cabin, there is hell to pay. Will the stories be enough to keep the Master's wrath at bay?

     Dealing with the mature themes of slavery and the cruel way slaves were treated, Pullin' Weeds is a stand-alone short story for older children. It received First Place in the Children's category of the All Write Now! Writers Conference Contest in 2016. 

     Buy now for a fascinating look into life on a pre-Civil War Mississippi plantation.


Convinced he is neither strong nor brave, fifteen-year-old Josiah Branch flees the war that has landed on his doorstep. He joins the crew of the Reprisal as a deckhand and sails for France. Just before the ship reaches the French coast, an Irish frigate engages the Reprisal in battle. When tragedy strikes during the battle, will Josiah muster enough courage to save the one thing that matters most?

     Reckoning on the Reprisal is the Winner of the Young Adult category of the Missouri Writer's Guild Fall Fiction Contest, 2017. It is the first installment in The Revolutionary Tales of Josiah Branch series of short stories.

     Set during the American Revolution, Josiah Branch bolts from New York after the Battle of Long Island and encounters Benjamin Franklin, the famous Philadelphian. Soon he becomes entangled in a web of intrigue, conspiracy, and duplicity. Study questions accompanying each installment make these short stories ideal for both Home Schooling and Common Core supplements.

How did man first acquire fire? Why do almond trees grow abundantly in Spain? Verbal legends have been passed down through generations to explain mysterious events.  A Tale of Two Legends shares an ancient Cherokee legend and a tale of Moorish Spain. 

     Presenting legends from around the world in short story form, The Legends of the World series is sure to captivate young minds and inspire them to write their own legends. Another series that is perfect for Home Schooling and Common Core supplements. The Legend of the Almond Tree took Second Place in the Children's category of the All Write Now! Writers Conference Contest in 2016.



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Mary Ann Heinsman

Welcome to my Website-

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     I am a published writer of historical nonfiction and a self-published author of historical short stories. All for children! 

     My idea of the perfect afternoon is to curl up with my dog, a cup of tea and a good book, preferably a mystery or historical novel. My guilty pleasure is reading psychological thrillers, and I'm trying my hand at writing those (definitely for adults) now. So you've been fore-warned: my short stories could pop up anywhere!

     My writing journey started in Mrs. Hickman's Eighth Grade English class. In addition to endless diagraming of sentences, she instilled a love of great literature, creative writing and word play. Her drills served me well through high school and college; and even though I chose a career as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, I have always been known for my strong written communication skills. Through the years, I have edited countless academic papers for my husband and grown children. I think the term 'Grammar Police' was used once or twice.

     About fifteen years ago, I decided to pursue my dream of writing for children. Since then, my work has been published in several children's magazines, I have collaborated on a book of plays for children, and I have self-published several short stories. 




So grab a cup of tea and enjoy my work below.




Portfolio of Written Work

Grandson with a Mission          

Originally published in Boys' Quest magazine, Feb/March 2006

November 26, 1776

     We have been on board the Reprisal for nearly a month now. The weather has been stormy, and the waves remind us that the sea will let no man be its master. Grandfather has suffered with boils and upset stomach, yet he continues to pass the time by conducting experiments on the Gulf Stream. I am amazed at the genius of his mind in spite of the physical ills he endures.

     Our captain, Mr. Lambert Wickes, informs me that unless the wind changes, we should reach the French coast in a few days time.  Being captured by a British vessel remains a constant threat, so I shall be glad to set foot on solid ground again.

​     This might have been an entry in William Temple Franklin's diary in 1776.  His famous grandfather, Benjamin Franklin, had invited him to assist in a special mission assigned by the Secret Committee of the Continental Congress.  Without the efforts of this grandfather and grandson, the United States might never have been born!

     In 1776, people living in the American colonies grew angry with the king of England. He forced the colonists to pay large sums of money in taxes, did not allow them to have a representative in the British government, and sent soldiers to America to enforce cruel punishments on those who didn't obey the new laws. Therefore, delegates from each colony met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to establish a Continental Congress.

     The Continental Congress first tried to work with the king to reconcile their differences. When that failed, they appointed several men to draw up a document declaring America's independence from England. On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted the document which came to be known as the Declaration of Independence. 

     The American colonies were now officially at war with England. With an army made up of untrained farmers and tradesmen, the patriots faced the difficult task of defeating the professional British soldiers. After losing two major battles in Massachusetts and New York, the Continental Congress knew it would need to ask other countries for help. They turned to a man who had many friends in Europe, Benjamin Franklin.

     Benjamin Franklin was a member of the Secret Committee of Congress as well as the Secret Committee of Correspondence. The purpose of these groups was to secure the supplies needed for war. In addition to financial assistance, the American army was in great need of guns, gunpowder, and uniforms. The Secret Committee appointed three men, Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and Silas Deane, to secretly travel to France and persuade King Louis XVI to help the American cause. If their true mission was discovered by the British, they could be hanged for treason!

     After the rough voyage to the European continent, Benjamin Franklin and his grandson Temple settled into the rural community of Passey. Passey was located halfway between Paris and Versailles, the home of the king. This provided the ideal location to carry to carry out their activities.

     The two Franklins pretended to be visiting friends in France. They attended parties, the theater, and various social functions. In addition, they were secretly writing letters and meeting with advisors to the king. They were able to send several ships filled with supplies back to America, but they had to be very careful. There were many spies in Passey and Versailles waiting to report any illegal activities to the authorities in England. One spy even worked as Ben's secretary for awhile!

     Fortunately, Benjamin and Temple's mission was successful. Not only did the supplies help the American army to win some important battles of the war, but the delegates even persuaded King Louis XVI to sign a treaty with the United States of America. This helped establish the new nation as an independent country. Many scholars believe this was the crucial turning point in winning the Revolutionary War.

     Without the work of Benjamin Franklin and his grandson, Temple, the United States of America may not have won the Revolutionary War. They remained in France for several years after the war to establish diplomatic relations with several European countries. You might say that Benjamin Franklin and his grandson were our nation's first foreign ambassadors!



The Game between kings

Originally published in Boys' Quest magazine, April/May 2006


Two kings battle for control of their land. They send out soldiers to scout the other's territory. Knights on horseback try to capture these pawns and other members of the opposing king's army. Their castles are eventually penetrated; the king and queen's position is threatened. In the end, one king is caught in a trap from which there is no escape.

     This may sound like a movie about King Arthur's court. Or perhaps, it is a reenactment of a medieval joust. The truth is that many people, young and old alike, enjoy this type of competition every day by playing the game of chess.

     Chess is a game played by two people on a board of 64 squares. Each player has command of a king, a queen, two bishops, two knights, and two rooks (also called castles). These pieces make up the back row. Eight pawns line up in front of these pieces.

     The object of this game is to capture your opponent's king or to put him in "check-mate." This is done by moving the other pieces around the board. By capturing pieces of your opponents army, you can limit his ability to check your king. 

     Pawns can move forward one or two squares at first and then only one square after that. They can move only one square diagonally to capture an opponent's piece. Bishops can move unlimited squares diagonally, and rooks may move in straight lines forward, backward, or to each side. A knight moves three squares in an "L" shape.

     The queen is the most powerful piece and may move unlimited squares in any direction, straight or diagonally. The king is limited to only one square per move in any direction.

     The opening moves of a game are very important, and many people have spent time studying which are the best moves. Because a knight is the only piece that can jump over another piece, players will often move a knight or a pawn first. In the sixteenth century, a Spanish priest, Ruy Lopez, wrote about a set op opening moves that is still popular today. It is called the Spanish game or the Ruy Lopez.

     Chess is a fun game that takes plenty of brainpower and skill. Some schools sponsor chess clubs to teach young people the skills they need to play the game and to provide opportunities for them to practice these skills. Many adults enjoy playing with friends or in tournaments. A few even become grandmasters of the game. Perhaps you would like to learn how to play this challenging game of strategy.


Tragedy onboard the Siddons  

Well Versed Anthology, Columbia Chapter of Missouri Writers Guild, June 2017

Huddled on the upper deck of the Siddons as it glides into New York harbor, I bury my face in my hands. My legs refuse to move. Around me, members of the crew search for my baby. My baby!

         “How did this happen?” I think. “Henry must be furious.” My husband often compares me to his mother.

         “Oh God,” I say aloud. “What will my mother-in-law say?”

         “Mama, what’s happening?” My eldest, Sarah Ann, tugs at my skirts.

         “Shh,” I say. I try to conjure the mental images of myself as a farm wife on the unsettled prairie of Illinois that have sustained me through six weeks of steerage class, but they provide little comfort. I am on the brink of despair!

         “We’ve found her!” cries a sailor. Soon Henry appears and hands me the precious bundle.

         “You must be more careful, Ann,” He scolds me as he would Sarah Ann. “She was rolled up in our bedding. Mother would never have let this happen.”

         I expect to face hardship in America, but will I ever survive the asperities of Henry and his mother?



mannh51@gmail.com | 573.270.8529

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