About this blog and “Eighth Wonder” the autistic slave prodigy


This blog is an ambitious attempt to build a home for historical fiction writers researching the antebellum period.  Some historians pinpoint the period from the years following the war of 1812 , others from (1789-1861 ).

I decided to do this blog for one reason:  while researching my novel Eighth Wonder, an antebellum era tale based on the remarkable true life story of the blind autistic slave prodigy, Thomas Bethune, I was surprised to discover I couldn’t log onto a  centralized blog or website regarding the antebellum period.  I wanted to surf one site, exploring  information that spanned the spectrum regarding life in America and Europe in the late 18th to mid 19th century.  I wanted  information on clothing, art, literature, architecture, science, mathematics, travel, vehicles, luminaries, etiquette, mores, daily life, dialect, vocabulary, etc., – but that site simply did not exist in one centralized location, although there were a plethora of wonderful sites with delightfully specialized areas of information. My hope is that this blog provides an excellent source of creative inspiration for authors.  Navigate and enjoy as I know each individual artist’s imagination will be sparked by varied pieces of discovery.

A.M. Calberg is a Northwest born American t.v. sitcom writer (A Different Kind of Family, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns), screenplay writer, former L.A. Times journalist and aspiring novelist who has been a voracious reader of fiction and history since childhood.   Calberg’s favorite authors include Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Anne Rice, Edgar Allan Poe, and Thomas Hardy. Eighth Wonder is a captivating, antebellum tale, based on a true American virtuoso named Thomas Bethune, who was born a slave, blind, and retarded.  He began playing Mozart at the age of three.

Thomas Bethune the “Eighth Wonder”

So to sum it up, this blog is twofold and will include totally random anecdotes, thoughts and opinion on pop culture located in my MUCH ADO ABOUT MY NOTHINGS column, a collection of random thoughts about life,  pop culture, my Hollywood experiences and oh, novel updates.

Have a great time surfing this blog!

41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mi
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 10:07:35

    Very ambitious! I will be back to learn more about the antebellum period and will spread the word about this resource.


    • A.M. Calberg
      Mar 27, 2010 @ 23:31:44

      Thank you for visiting! It’s kind of addicting, all the researching, but I’m committed!

      A.M. Calbergy


  2. Carla
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 14:49:50

    Hello Ms. Calbergy! How did you come up with your research for the Mint Saloon posted in your 19th century gambling blog from April 13? The San Francisco historical society says there’s never been a Mint Saloon there- famous or otherwise. Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!


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  7. Laurie
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 09:55:47

    I’m very excited to have stumbled upon this blog! I have been researching for a work of historical fiction that I am planning to write. The story takes place in Antebellum New York City and centers around a group of abolitionist/politically progressive New Yorkers. I am concerned with it being as historically acurate as possible, and it has not been easy to find consistent information about everyday life in this period. Thank you for creating this blog and giving me another research option.


    • A.M. Calberg
      Jul 23, 2011 @ 16:20:20

      Thank you! I hope it’s extremely valuable to you and I wish you GREAT success with your novel!


    • A.M. Calberg
      Oct 25, 2011 @ 12:57:58

      Good luck with your novel Laurie. You’re welcome!


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  11. Mandy
    Nov 16, 2011 @ 00:08:41

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!


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  25. Crystal
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 10:42:16

    Hello there. Not sure of the proper way to contact to ask a question so I’ll just leave it in a comment 🙂

    I’ve been searching for several days on information about American courtship in 1860s Nebraska Territory. I’ve gotten quite a lot of conflicting input and mostly just people’s opinions on the matter. The general synopsis of my problem is this:

    I have a young lady in a work of fiction who is 20 years old. Married at the age of 18, became pregnant at the age of 19, and gave birth to her daughter just shortly after her 20th birthday. Her husband purchased a hotel in Nebraska Territory and the pair of them packed up and moved west. During the move from Virginia to Nebraska Territory, their wagon train was attacked by Natives and her husband took an arrow to the heart. The young woman and several of the others from the wagon train managed to escape, but the woman was heavy with child and the stress of the ordeal sent her into labor.

    Her daughter was born and the young woman spent her first year in the town in mourning, rarely leaving the hotel and simply running the business from the confines of her personal room. After a year, she shed her mourning clothes and rejoined the world of the living. A couple months later, she meets a young man and the two find that they share a fondness for one another fairly quickly.

    Now here is the issue: No one can seem to agree upon how strictly a young widow would be treated. Some are claiming she would need a chaperone. Others do not believe that widows were treated with the same sort of vigilance and watchfulness of young unmarried ladies.

    For example, if the young man kissed her on the top of the head while surrounded by a group of friends, would this send a scandalous fire through the town and turn a wealthy, upstanding lady of the town into a harlot?

    I’ve not yet been able to find anything to support or disprove either opinion and would greatly appreciate as much detailed assistance as possible! Thank you 🙂


    • A.M. Calberg
      Jan 18, 2012 @ 13:31:48

      Hi Crystal,

      thank you so much for stopping by. I’ve posted some new articles on 19th Century Courtship etiquette for you and I’m sure you’ll find your answer there. Based on etiquette guidelines governing antebellum times, a kiss on the forehead, to a woman, a widow nonetheless (not sure how long she’s mourned?), in front of people, would cause as great a firestorm as Charlie Sheen’s Tiger Blood and Kim Kardashian’s five second wedding!

      Peruse the etiquette on widows and on courtship and you will be able to craft your novel to your liking. Also, check out janeaustensworld.wordpress.com. It has GREAT articles and was one of the inspirations for this blog!

      Good luck with your novel!

      A.M. Cal


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  28. Crystal
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 00:55:28

    A.M. Calberg:

    Hey there, thanks for your reply. She’d been widowed for 14 months, to answer your question. I looked over some of the newest stuff you added though at the moment, being nearly 3am it was just a skim… looks like the time period is around 1811ish or 1878? Perhaps 1878 would be the most like 1866?

    *ponderponder* 🙂 I’ll also check out the link you gave as well thank you again! 🙂


    • Crystal
      Jan 21, 2012 @ 00:56:07

      read ‘widowed’: in mourning clothes et c. during those months as well.


      • A.M. Calberg
        Jan 23, 2012 @ 21:05:48

        Did it help you?

      • Crystal
        Jan 24, 2012 @ 16:12:22

        It did, thank you 😀

  29. Colette Dhamer
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 11:00:34

    First rate composition. Sustain up the notable performance.


  30. Melanie
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 10:17:59

    Please help me… I want to read this book so much, but can’t find where to purchase! Must be missing something! Thank you.


    • A.M. Calberg
      Jun 27, 2012 @ 20:59:01

      Hi Melanie,

      thank you for your interest! EIGHTH WONDER is currently being edited! It’s not published as of yet. You can keep posted on its development by checking in with me on Twitter. @amcalberg

      All the best,



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  32. musings
    Aug 20, 2015 @ 19:29:34

    Thrilled to have stumbled upon this blog. I am in the process of creating a story about two young unmarried women who reject chaperones, but who must accept one in order to accompany a famous man to America. They are English, but they have adopted the American no-chaperone style. However, in order to preserve the dignity of their host and his reputation (not to speak of theirs), they must accept someone who is not just American, but African American and even more savvy than they are about Southern American customs as their guide and protector. She is the opposite of Mammy from Gone with the Wind, more like someone from the upper reaches of Washington society, such as a Mrs. Syphax. What could possibly go awry?


    • A.M. Calberg
      Sep 01, 2015 @ 12:26:34

      Nice! Very interesting!


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