Meet Marie


Marie Sontag brings history to life, one adventure at a time. Her middle grade and YA historical novels place fictional teens alongside historical figures as they face challenges similar to those faced by today’s youth.

With a BA in social science, a minor in music, an MA, and a Ph.D. in education, Dr. Sontag says teaching middle school for over 15 years has kept her young.

Born in Milwaukee, WI, and having lived forever in San Jose, CA, she currently makes her home in Texas where her favorite activities include attending concerts and musicals with her husband and playing with her incredibly talented grandchildren!
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Phone: 408/410-3462
Address: DFW area, TX. Email for details
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The Bronze Dagger cover imageAncient Elements Series
Book One: The Bronze Dagger
Twelve-year-old Samsuluna (Sam) needs to find his uncle. There’s only one problem. His uncle, the one who gave him his bronze dagger, lives 800 miles away. With Sam’s mother and brother dead, and his father–well, Sam wants to get as far away from his father as possible–Sam sets out from the Zagros Mountains and heads for Tyre. The stolen jewels hidden within the folds of his tunic should be more than enough to book passage on a camel caravan. But the secrets Sam keeps, the lies he tells, and the enemies he makes endanger not only his own life but also those of his new friends. Will he ever reach his uncle? Will he ever discover the mystery behind the stolen jewels? Teacher lesson plans can be found here.
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Product Details
The Bronze Dagger (Ancient Elements Series, book 1)
Pages: 106 (paperback)
Genre: Middle-Grade Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Publication Date: March 30, 2014
ISBN: 1620063492
Price: $9.99
Available Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Amazon Audible
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Audiobook Apple Books,, (The Netherlands and Belgium) Kraina Książek  (Poland)
Links to ready-made lesson plans available for all books upon request –


Book Two: The Alabaster Jar
In book two of the Ancient Elements Series, Samsuluna (Sam), now fourteen, finds himself in Egypt with his adoptive family. While he and Balashi learn more about the healing arts in the House of Scrolls, Sam overhears the lector priest discuss a secret tomb with an administrative scribe. Sam convinces Amata to help him find and explore this tomb, leading to the discovery of stolen alabaster jars. But Sam and Amata’s pursuit to uncover the mystery behind the thefts leads to dire consequences. In The Alabaster Jar, kidnappings, assassination plots, and murders, as well as friendships with craftsmen, princes, and princesses, weave a tale of intrigue, deception, and self-sacrifice in this sequel to The Bronze Dagger.
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Product Details
The Alabaster Jar (Ancient Elements Series, book 2)
Pages: 124 (paperback)
Genre: Middle-Grade Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2015
ISBN: 1620066211
Price: $9.99
Available Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Amazon Audible
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, (The Netherlands and Belgium), Kraina Książek  (Poland)
Links to ready-made lesson plans available for all books upon request –


Book Three: The Silver Coin
In book three of the Ancient Elements Series, Samsuluna (Sam), now fifteen, sails from Egypt to Phonecia to complete his quest to find his uncle. Fingering the remaining silver coin given to him by his adoptive father, Sam is joined on the journey by his Egyptian friend, Keret. When a storm blows their ship off course and Mycenaean pirates board to take them captive as slaves for the Greeks, all appears lost—until a Cretan ship under the authority of Princess Ari-adné rescues them. But how long will Ari-adné’s father, King Minos, a descendant of legendary King Minos-and-the-minotaur fame, insist that Sam and Keret remain on his island?

This conclusion to the Ancient Elements Series weaves the final stories of Sam, Amata, Sam’s father, his uncle, and Sam’s Babylonian friend Enlil into a cohesive journey through the middle-eastern kingdoms, delivering heart-stopping excitement as Sam embarks on his final adventure.
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Kirkus Reviews wrote of The Silver Coin, “Sontag’s Mediterranean world is a vivid one, and the story makes clear that even thousands of years ago, residents of the region were well-traveled and knowledgeable about their realm . . . individuals looking for curriculum-based fiction may find the book a valuable tool.”  As with all books in the Ancient Elements Series, free lesson plans are available.




Product Details
The Silver Coin
(Ancient Elements Series, book 3)
Pages: 140 (paperback)
Genre: Middle-Grade Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Publication Date: September 19, 2016
ISBN: 1620067986
Price: $9.99
Available Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Amazon Audible
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, (The Netherlands and Belgium),  Kraina Książek  (Poland)
Links to ready-made lesson plans available for all books upon request –




Whitcomb Discoveries Book Series
Book One:
California Trail Discovered
All Daniel wants is to get back to Illinois to find out who murdered his parents. He doesn’t want to travel the Oregon Trail with his guardian, Jim. He doesn’t want twelve-year-old Virginia Reed, a member of the Donner Party, as a friend. And he certainly doesn’t want anything bad to happen to his little sister Hannah as they travel to California. Confronted by both good and bad Indians, good and bad whites, how will Daniel be able to protect Hannah on the long trek West? Will he ever discover the mystery behind his parents’ deaths? Will he ever find a real family again?
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Product Details
California Trail Discovered
(The Whitcomb Discoveries, Book 1)
Pages: 148
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Publisher: WordCrafts Press
Publication Date: October 14, 2020
ISBN: 1952474310
Price: $12.99
Available Formats: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle, Kobo
This book includes links to S.T.E.A.M. lesson plans
Links to ready-made lesson plans available for all books upon request –


Whitcomb Discoveries Book Series
Book Two:
Yosemite Trail Discovered
Coming Soon from Wordcrafts Press
YA Historical Fiction
Now sixteen, Daniel works with his guardian, Jim Savage, in the California goldfields. Saving every ounce of gold he earns from the meager salary his illiterate custodian pays him to keep the man’s trading post’s books, Daniel’s goal to get back to Illinois and find out who murdered his parents looms closer—until a renewed friendship with Virginia Reed, a former member of the Donner Party, blossoms. Will Daniel’s new interest in Virginia, a new interest in law, and desire for justice for the Indians alter his plans? When an Indian War breaks out in the goldfields and Jim forms a battalion to rout the marauding Awhaneechee from Yosemite, will Daniel ride with him? The fate of his new Indian friends and the course of his life hang in the balance.





To book author visits, contact

Ancient Mesopotamian artifactsAncient Tales and Western Trails: Author Marie Sontag brings the past to life, one adventure at a time. Sharing a few of her character’s adventures from her middle-grade historical fiction series, Ancient Elements, this former middle school teacher also treats listeners to a hands-on experience with authenticated artifacts of a bronze dagger from the time of Hammurabi, an alabaster jar from ancient Egypt, and a Phoenician silver coin.

Her western trails series, The Whitcomb Discoveries, written for middle-grade and young adult readers, features both fictional and historical characters as they travel the Oregon and California Trails, eventually leading to their entry into Yosemite Valley.

How can these ancient tales and western trails impact today’s readers? Bringing the past to life through adventurous stories from another time and place opens minds to new perspectives as well as the realization that we’re not so different from others—whether we’re separated by time, distance, or culture. Dubbed a literary archeologist, Dr. Sontag helps young readers unearth facts and ideas from the past that have implications for the present and possibilities for the future.


Dr. Marie Sontag author visit

Dreams Are Like Hard Boiled Eggs
– How I pursued my childhood dream to become an author
– Help for students to identify their dreams
– Motivation for students to pursue their dreams

The Writing Process – Like Baking a Cake!
– What’s involved in the fiction writing process
– Personal writing-process examples
– Tips for students on fiction writing


Chase Your Dreams
– Inspiration and Motivation – How Do We Find Them?
– Example of Ryan Murphy, Three-time Olympic gold medalist
– What inspiration and motivation mean; how I find them for writing
– How students can find and keep them





Writing Workshop Presentations

  • Mirror Moments and Other Novel Reflections – Through discussion and PowerPoint presentation, participants will identify what comprises a “mirror moment” in a movie or a novel. Formats will be discussed for structuring a novel such as “Save the Cat,” “Virgin’s Promise,” and the “W Plot.” Bring a work in progress, a published book, or a favorite novel to use as workshop material. Length – 90 minutes
  • Settings that Support Your Theme and Advance Your Plot – This presentation includes a PowerPoint to illustrate concepts presented in the workshop. Handouts and prompts will be provided, allowing writers time to process and practice the items discussed. Length: approximately 60 minutes
  • Shallow vs. Deep Point of View – This presentation includes a PowerPoint to illustrate the concepts presented. Handouts and prompts will be provided, allowing writers time to process and practice the items discussed. Length: approximately 60 minutes
  • Wrapping Your Head Around Theme and Plot – Through discussion and a PowerPoint, this presentation will illustrate the Moral Premise and how it relates to a story’s theme and plot structure. Discussions and links regarding the Hero’s Journey, The Virgin’s Promise, and The W Plot will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each plotting method. Links to planning sheets for each structure will be provided, as well as Character Arc Plot Charts. Length: approximately 60-90 minutes
  • Research: How to Write Believable Fiction – This presentation discusses how background research for fiction and/or historical fiction can either pull readers into a story or keep them from turning the next page. Potential research pitfalls will be illustrated and discussed, as well as suggested places to investigate when conducting research for a story. Interactive research exercises will be explored providing authors with time and practice to discover helpful background information needed for their specific genre and story ideas. Length: approximately 60-90 minutes

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Dr. Sontag is a member of the following professional associations:
National Council for the Social Studies
Texas Council for the Social Studies
California Pioneers of Santa Clara County




Lena Nelson Dooley Interview 2021
Gail Kittleson Interview 2020
Stacy T. Simmons Interview 2020
Sara Turnquist Interview 2018
Susan G. Mathis Interview 2018
Rising Hope – Polish Review Journal 2016
Rising Hope – Sarmatian Review, Gale Academic OneFile 2015

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Questions & Answers with Dr. Marie

  • What advice do you have for young authors?

    Write about things you’re interested in, get feedback on your writing from others of all ages, polish your writing, take classes on creative writing, join a writer’s group for young authors, such as the young inklings, look online for information for young authors and places you can enter a writing contest or submit work for publication. Here are a few suggestions:

  • How many words is the average book?

    The two categories of books for students ages 8-18 are middle grade fiction (ages 8-12) and young adult, ages 13-18. Middle grade books are usually 30,000-50,000 words. Young adult books are usually 50,000-75,000 words.

  • Do you recommend writing at a young age?

    Yes, I definitely recommend writing at a young age.

  • How did you get a publishing company?

    Usually, you have to write what is called a query letter to many publishers before you get one to publish your work. Most publishers are closed to queries and require you to find an agent who will submit your manuscript. For me, a friend owned a publishing company and she read The Bronze Dagger while I was still working on it, and had it published with her company. Then a slightly larger publishing company saw the book and bought it from her company so they could publish it. This company was the publisher I now work with, Sunbury Press.

  • Were there any special people who motivated you?

    My mom always supported me in my writing endeavors, especially when I was young. She always motivated me to pursue my dreams and to never give up. I’ve also been motivated by creative authors such as C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Madeleine L’Engle, and historical fiction author Bodie Thoene, especially her Zion Covenant Series.

  • How long does it take you to write a book?

    It depends on how much research I need to do, and on what else is going on in my life at the time. The Bronze Dagger took about five years to write because I was still teaching at the time and my boys were involved in a lot of activities. The Alabaster Jar took about two years, and The Silver Coin took about one year. Rising Hope took about three years.

  • What inspired you to write about these kinds of books?

    Honestly, the lack of good historical fiction books (good, in my mind, means adventurous yet as factual as possible, where important things about history can be learned in a fun way!) was and is my main motivation in writing my books.

  • Have a question? Send Dr. Marie a message