Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Gates of Nottingham Free on Kindle

I am excited to announce that from 7/13/17 to 7/17/17, my medieval action/adventure novel The Gates of Nottingham will be FREE on Kindle. Get your copy while the promotion lasts!

Please remember that an honest review is one of the best payments you can give an author. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Novel Half Edited, A Novel Half Written

I haven't updated this blog with anything personal in a while, so I wanted to let you know what has been going on with my writing.

My contemporary romance novel is undergoing a final edit. I am moving the setting to the Sierra Nevada foothills, to a fictional area inspired by the by the towns of Rough and Ready and Penn Valley. The novel touches on fictional issues of nepotism, gossip, and abuse of power in a small town, but is not meant to reflect any person, people, or behaviours of those in government in either of these real towns. As I say, the story line is entirely fictional.

I wanted to reflect the natural beauty of the area and the slower pace of life which conflicts with the protagonists' experiences in LA and San Francisco. I believe that when most people think of California, they picture sunny beaches and movie stars, but that is really such a small part of the state.

I live in a gold rush area, filled with redwoods and pines, scarred by the strip mines, and fed by an abundance of lakes and rivers. This is a place where you may lose cell phone reception, where you can still get lost, where you can hide out in the hills and avoid contact with other people if you chose. It is a place where you can go fishing, boating, or hiking just ten or fifteen minutes from home. There is one sandwich shop in town and one small grocery store. Costco is an hour's drive. It might take even longer if your neighbor happens to be herding cattle up your street or driving a tractor to a friend's house to lend a hand.

I think this unique setting will be of interest to readers and will certainly influence my characters.

As to the novel half-written, I have reached a point where I need to do some serious research to plot the second half. I have not fully researched the War for Independence at this point because inspiration struck and I wanted to get the main plot on paper while it was strong in my head. The war affects the characters and exists in the background, but this is not a war novel. It is the story of a group of people attempting to do what is right, stumbling, disagreeing, and creating anguish in the process. It is about compromise, forgiveness, and respect. So, while I will be learning more about the setting, this is definitely a character-driven novel. I hope to finish it soon.

Let me know if you like these updates and I will post more. You can also follow me on Twitter for tidbits on my writing struggles and triumphs.

Friday, June 30, 2017

All Kindle Books now $.99

I am very pleased to announce that I have lowered the price of the kindle editions of each of my books. For a trial period, each book will sell for just $.99 on Amazon.

These are not run of the mill $.99 self-published novels. Each one is a completed story of over two hundred pages. You will not reach the end of your kindle edition only to find that the last chapter has been removed and that you have to pay a second price for it, nor will you discover that what you hoped to be a juicy read turns out to be a low-effort, seventy-page promotion for something else. I am very proud of each of these novels and worked diligently on them. As always, they are free to read for members of Kindle Unlimited.

If you choose to purchase or borrow anything I have written, please remember that the greatest gift you can give an author is an honest review. Whether one sentence or multiple paragraphs, one star or five, every review and rating is helpful. I learn from criticism and profit from praise.

Remember, you can also leave a comment here or contact me by email or on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Body in the Bog: Elling Woman

In 1938, a local farmer discovered what he thought to be the remains of an animal in a peat bog in Bj├Žldskovdal outside Silkeberg, Denmark. Then, he noticed a belt fastened around the remains. Instead of a drowned animal, he had found the remains of a long-deceased human. The farmer contacted the National Museum of Denmark and the body was subsequently transported to Copenhagen for further inspection.

The front of the body suffered decomposition while the back had been better preserved by the acidity and lack of oxygen in the bog. It was determined that the person wore a skin cloak and belt with a blanket of cowhide covering the lower body and legs. Because of the furrow left in the neck and the skin belt with a sliding knot which was discovered with the body, it was determined that this person was hanged to death. With the available technology of the time, researchers found it impossible to discover more, and the body was then moved to a storage room in the museum.

It was not until the 1970's that x-ray technology allowed researchers to discover the sex and age of the body. These were the remains of a young woman, approximately 25 years old. Radio Carbon dating placed her lifespan during the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. in Northwestern Europe.

Although the discovery of bodies preserved in Northern European bogs was not unusual, nor was her mode of death or dress uncommon amongst the bodies found, one there was something remarkable about the body.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Medieval House Garden in Spring

I love gardening. As most of you know, I recently moved away from the beach and back to the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This winter provided an intense relief from the last seven years of drought, forced us to evacuate our home under the severe flood warning caused by issues at the Oroville dam, and ripped apart many a landscaped yard. My family actually had to rent a tractor to repair the dirt roads on their ten-acre parcel, many of which were wiped out by torrential rains.

So far this year, I have planted roses, lilies, delphiniums, bougainvillea, and marigolds. Fresh sod has been put down in one area of the yard. Bare-root apple, plum, peach, nectarine, cherry, and apricot trees were planted in February. Tomatoes and potatoes went into the ground weeks ago. Today, we are going to plant daffodils and tulips purchased on sale last spring. Later in the week, carrots, greens, and herbs, will be planted.

Where we were living on the coast, you cannot tomatoes because of the lack of sunshine, so I absolutely cannot wait for my first home-grown tomato in six years. If you have never tasted a truly fresh, sun-ripened tomato, I think John Denver summed up the experience best in his song aptly titled Home Grown Tomatoes.

Because I am a self-described Armchair Historian, today I am bringing you some gardening advice from the fourteenth century.

A Medieval Home Companion is a partial translation by Tania Bayard of a text written by the elderly, Parisian husband of a fifteen-year-old girl. In the opening pages, the author assures his young wife that he is very pleased by her and that he requires no further duty or change of character from her. However, because she was separated from her mother, father, and all others who may give her advice, she has asked for his instruction so that she may be a good wife and keep their home well. To appease her wish and to attempt to prepare her for her future life a second marriage, he carefully composed one of the most exhaustive texts on moral and domestic instructions to come out of the century.

The following passage contains his advice for the garden in April, May, and June which is as true today as it was then:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Edwardian Advice on Baby's First Clothes

I recently acquired several antique magazines and found the advice contained in this article interesting. It seems trivial, but several of my friends who are first-time parents have found themselves in all-out marital war over baby's clothes. Mother wants to dress baby up in all the cute, ruffly, patterned, and themed outfits she can find. Father insists the most basic multi-packs of onesies from Walmart and a few swaddling blankets will be more than sufficient since baby is just going to poop and pee on everything before quickly out-growing it anyway.

Mary Bentley offered the following compromise in Delineator Magazine in June, 1907.

"How to make her first baby's clothes is the most vital problem which confronts the young mother. The advice of well-meaning friends is confusing because it is so contradictory. What shall she she do?

This I will endeavor to tell her in the clearest and most concise manner possible, and she may follow the directions with certainty that she will make ample provision for the baby's needs. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Prince Dead: A Note on History

Just a reminder… Prince Dead is still on sale for $.99 on Amazon. As always, it is free to read for members of Kindle Unlimited and you can preview the novel here.

Note: This post is a re-print of the Forward from the novel which explains the decisions behind the presentation of some of the minor historical points. If you are considering purchasing, I hope this helps.

Author’s Note
The Vikings are a people whose history has been much clouded in legend, forgotten in time, warped by their enemies, and twisted in popular culture. Even their name, the Vikings, is incorrect to their people as it stems from the Old Norse word Vikingr, meaning freebooter, sea-rover, or pirate. Not all Vikings were pirates. Most were farmers, landowners, and craftsmen, but it is the few great seamen and the warriors who ravaged foreign lands whom are best remembered.

Gokstad Ship
Among our sources of knowledge about the Scandinavian people of the eighth to eleventh century are the rare rune stones. These give us records written in the actual period. However, they are scarce and, unlike other ancient languages, there is no Rosetta Stone to help in their deciphering. In fact, it would seem that what is recorded on many of these stones is street directions, which indicates that the majority of the population was literate, but tells us little else.

Detail from Oseberg Ship
We also have pieces recovered from archaeological digs. Among the most famous of these are the Oseberg Ship and the Gokstad Ship. Though they are only two of many vessels which have been unearthed, they are the most well-preserved, having been buried in clay. From these and other finds, archaeologists know that by the ninth century Viking ships had undergone vast improvements as compared to their earlier counterparts and were built for specific purposes. Some were large, robust vessels, equipped with sails and built for the open seas. Others were slim, fast war ships, wherein rows took the place of importance. There is even evidence of ships which seem to be built specifically for cargo.