Ellen Snortland

I had the absolute pleasure of having to look up the definition of “ides” because of a lovely novel, “A Coin for the Ferryman,” written by Megan Edwards, a San Gabriel Valley daughter. 

As an author, columnist, writing coach and public figure, I often receive author requests to review their book or write a blurb for it. I then pray, “Please, Goddess of Novels, let this book not suck.” Just because you can type doesn’t make you a writer. And, just because you wrote a book, it doesn’t mean that book should have been written. Happily, Ms. Edwards is a wonderful writer. I was grateful I didn’t have to write back and say, “Your book didn’t cut it for me, so I decline to review it,” but you know, more polite than that.

I don’t typically review books. However, I have read so many books that I have a solid grasp of what constitutes excellent fiction and non-fiction. And I’m happy to report that Edwards’ “A Coin for the Ferryman” hits all the right notes for me. It has great characters, an intricate and original plot, and is an absolute page-turner. I read ACFTF about 18 months ago, and then it got shoved to the bottom of a pile of books because, you know, life. Edwards’ PR team reached out to me again, and I said yes because:


• March is Women’s History Month

• I have a keen interest in women’s creations

• Upon second reading, I remembered how much I loved it the first time

• The Ides of March are upon us, so how perfect is that?

• I wanted a good reason to actually look up “ides.” (It means ‘mid-month.’ Yawn.)


Without spoiling too much, Edwards wondered, “What if Julius Caesar were to somehow visit the modern world? What would that be like for him? How could that happen?” Enter the somewhat mad scientist who invents a way to — a la Star Trek — “beam the Emperor down.” Shenanigans ensue. Worse, the science team must get Caesar back to his appointment with Brutus and the boys so he can be assassinated as planned. If they fail, time as we know it could possibly unravel.

I am a sucker for historical novels, mysteries, and science fiction. This three-way mashup is right up my angiportum. A discredited female archaeologist discovers a 20th-century coin from a Las Vegas casino in a Roman ruin dig. A brilliant and beautiful student named Cassandra mirrors her namesake, as she is only nominally listened to. Twists and turns abound as the tension mounts regarding what will happen if they don’t send a wily — and now very angry — Julius Caesar back to his proper time. Yikes!

Edwards herself decided to personally research Las Vegas for the casino portion of her story and ended up making Vegas her adopted hometown. By the way, Megan is a potent example of what I tell all my students: “Stick to it!” It took her 20 years to bring “A Coin for the Ferryman” to fruition. Books are not built in a day. Accipe cor, et perseverent scriptores! (Take heart and persevere, writers!) For more info about Megan and the book, visit meganedwards.com.

Speaking of women’s history, be sure to block off 6 to. 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, either in person at Marshall Fundamental Secondary School or via livestream on KLRN, a PBS station in San Antonio.

The event is called “A Celebration of Women’s History Month — Honoring the Women’s Movement: Suffrage and Women’s Liberation,” created by the PUSD. The specially prerecorded keynote speech is by Hillary Rodham Clinton, a historical figure in her own right. How cool is that?! Hillary couldn’t be there in person, so she created a personal message to PUSD students, which is a great honor.

This is the fifth year that Marshall celebrates Women’s History Month with events such as this assembly. Besides Secretary Clinton, speakers will include Rep. Judy Chu, Pasadena City Councilmember Felicia Williams, PUSD Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald, and PUSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Elizabeth Blanco. Marshall students will share essays and art within the theme of women’s liberation. Who knows, some of the students participating or attending may become our future leaders, inspired by their participation here!

Getting Hillary was the brainchild of event co-founder Jennifer Hall Lee. Full disclosure, I am a friend and admirer of Jennifer’s. She’s a gifted documentary filmmaker, an incredible mother, and a loyal friend. Although I don’t have children, I am happy she is on the PUSD board because my tax money gets spent on kids and schools. I am a product of public schools and honestly believe Ms. Hall Lee is a gift to taxpayers, parents, and students in this district.

Secretary Clinton states, “It fills me with hope for the future that you’re taking the time to study and celebrate the groundbreaking pioneers of the women’s liberation movement.” Me too, Hillary, me too.

For more info, visit pusd.us/marshall


Ellen Snortland has been writing this column for decades and teaches creative writing. She can be reached at: ellen@beautybitesbeast.com. Her award-winning film “Beauty Bites Beast” is once again available for download or streaming at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/beautybitesbeast