Thursday, August 5, 2021

Spotlight on Nancy Northcott, author of The Steel Rose (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 2)

 

The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy

 A wizard’s misplaced trust
A king wrongly blamed for murder
A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name

Book 2: The Steel Rose
 
Amelia Mainwaring, a magically Gifted seer, is desperate to rescue the souls of her dead father and brother, who are trapped in a shadowy, wraith-filled land between life and death as the latest victims of their family curse. Lifting the curse requires clearing the name of King Richard III, who was wrongly accused of his nephews’ murder because of a mistake made by Amelia’s ancestor.
 
In London to seek help from a wizard scholar, Julian Winfield, Amelia has disturbing visions that warn of Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba and renewed war in Europe. A magical artifact fuels growing French support for Bonaparte. Can Amelia and Julian recover the artifact and deprive him of its power in time to avert the coming battles?
 
Their quest takes them from the crowded ballrooms of the London Season to the bloody field of Waterloo, demanding all of their courage, guile, and magical skill.  Can they recover the artifact and stop Bonaparte? Or will all their hopes, along with Amanda’s father and brother, be doomed as a battle-weary Europe is once again engulfed in the flames of war?
 
The Steel Rose is the second book in the time-traveling, history-spanning fantasy series The Boar King’s Honor, from Nancy Northcott (Outcast Station, The Herald of Day).


Buy Links
 
This novel is available to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

 

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Nancy Northcott

Fun Things

(Stuff you may or may not already know!)

 

Hi, Mary Ann, and thanks for having me!

My five fun things:

I love words. I was the captain of my college debate team and had a great time arguing when the only thing on the line was a trophy. I delight in wordplay and crossword puzzles.


 

In high school, I was in the marching band. I enjoyed the way all our different parts came together in a big, melodious sound, and I found it satisfying to march my assigned route as part of the pattern on the football field. (This is not my high school band. I took this photo at a college game our family attended.)

 


I worked part time in a comic book shop for a year. I’ve been a comic book fan since grade school. I don’t know whether my love of action-adventure drew me to comic books or comic books spurred me to love action-adventure. Or maybe it was just the comics’ bright colors and caped heroes that called to me! I don’t suppose it matters. Either way, I’ve had a lot of fun in fandom.

 

Castles are my jam. I was once able to visit both Raby Castle, childhood home of Cecily Neville and Richard, Duke of York, and Barnard Castle in the same day!  I’ve visited Ludlow twice. Our imaginary castle in the Caynham Castle holiday romance anthologies shares a lot with Ludlow, though we drew on other castles and adapted the result for our stories in the first volume, Christmas at Caynham Castle. Below is a photo of the outer bailey at Ludlow. 


 I’m a Ricardian. For anyone not familiar with the term, that means I think Richard III was not nearly so bad as he’s been painted. Too many people mistake Shakespeare for a historian and forget he, y’know, made things up for a living! My Ricardian sentiments did a lot to shape the plot of the Boar King’s Honor trilogy. They’re also reflected in the title, seeing as Richard III used a white boar as his emblem. Below is a photo of one of my favorite castles, Middleham, sometime home of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, before he became Richard III.


This was fun to put together! Thanks again for having me, Mary Ann.

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Nancy Northcott

Nancy Northcotts childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance. She combines the emotion and high stakes, and sometimes the magic, she loves in the books she writes.

She has written freelance articles and taught at the college level.  Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society.  She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeares play about Richard III. Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it genre fiction at its best.

In addition to the historical fantasy Boar Kings Honor trilogy, Nancy writes the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Arachnid Files romantic suspense novellas, and the Lethal Webs romantic spy adventures. With Jeanne Adams, she cowrites the Outcast Station science fiction mysteries.

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.

 Connect with Nancy

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted

 

A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.

New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brothers deathbed plea to "not let Mary suffer”. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husbands love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a 'beating green heart' in the center of every urban space.

Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates, and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Marys journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man. 

 


Buy Links:

 Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   Publisher

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 Excerpt

Summer 1860

Fred and I were strolling through the southern section of Central Park with the children on a beautiful day in late May. After years of work by up to 3,600 laborers at a time, the park was nearly complete. In keeping with Fred’s vision, it featured rolling pastures inspired by the English countryside. Since he returned from last year’s trip to Europe, he had been obsessed with every detail and worked long hours six days a week to transform the park into the breathtaking spectacle in front of us.

In my opinion, he had outdone himself, having turned the messy, smelly acreage into a world-class destination. It was a silk purse, and a fine one at that. Attendance had grown steadily, reaching two million visitors last year. Despite being in my ninth month of pregnancy, I had insisted on accompanying my family. The sun was shining, and I’d had enough of being housebound. Fred held my arm as the children raced ahead, running along the paths, then skipping back to report what they had seen.

We’re almost at the lake,” Charlotte called out. “Do you think there will be swans, Papa?” Fred was about to answer when Charley interrupted.

“The swans are there in the morning, silly,” he said. “At this time of day, there will be ducks, dozens of them, I imagine. Isn’t that right, Papa?”

Fred shook his head good-naturedly. “I would think both swans and ducks will be present. And Canada geese too.”

“Owen, my pet, what do you prefer? Swans, geese or ducks?” I asked.

He looked thoughtful for a moment, then announced, “I like ducks best, just like Papa does.” He ran off to catch up with his siblings and I squeezed Fred’s arm.

“Your secret is out, my love,” I said. “You claim to have no favorites, but we all know how much you love the ducks.” Fred chuckled, shaking his head as if to deny it.

“Favorites, heh? Well then, if you know so much about me, answer this. What is my favorite type of tree?”

“Elm, of course,” I said, showing with a sweep of my arm the hundreds of elm trees that lined the path. “Ask me something more challenging, please.” Fred scrunched up his face as if deep in concentration.

“Bushes that flower or not?” he said.

“No flowers. Too distracting. And paths that curve, like the one we’re on. No straight lines for my husband. You’re an impractical man, Mr. Olmsted. You never take the easy way out.” Fred smiled.

“No, I suppose I don’t. I vowed to give this city the beating green heart that it needs to thrive and by God, I will make that happen.” He pointed to the pasture ahead of us. “That area was the site of the largest pigsty I have ever seen,” he said. “And where we’re standing? A massive slaughterhouse, I kid you not.”

I felt queasy as images of pigsties and slaughterhouses filled my brain. I stopped walking and closed my eyes, trying to rid myself of those awful thoughts.

“Mary, are you all right?” Fred asked as I leaned over to catch my breath. “Come,” he said, leading me over to the nearest park bench. I sat and fanned my face with a handkerchief.

“I’m fine. Winded is all. These winding paths of yours are lovely, but quite challenging to navigate.” Fred sat beside me and held my hands in his.

“It’s wonderful being here with you. Can you imagine the next time we walk through the park we’ll be a family of six? Less than a year ago, I was living the gay life of a bachelor and here I am with a wife and family. I am a lucky man Mrs. Olmsted. You’ve made me very happy my—”

He stopped at the sound of the children running towards us, Charley yelling at the top of his lungs. “Pub-lic drunk-en-ess is pro-hib-it-ed,” he called out in a sing-song voice. “And loi-ter-ing too.”

“I see my community outreach program is working,” Fred said with a frown. The level of attendance at the park had brought with it a new set of problems. Arrests for drunkenness, assault and loitering had skyrocketed, and they had charged Fred with developing a solution to reduce the number of crimes. They had posted a series of signs encouraging proper decorum and discouraging littering, public intoxication and other disreputable behavior.

“Now darling, the problems here at the park are hardly unique. We must educate the public on the behavior expected of them,” I said. Fred shook his head.

“And what sort is not,” he said.

The children collapsed in a heap on the grass, laughing. Fred smiled and nodded to a pair of uniformed men walking past.

“Did I tell you we’ve hired more security staff?”

“Yes, dear. Initial reports appear to bode well for the safety of all.”

“I suppose so,” he said. “I say, why don’t you rest and I’ll accompany the children to see my favorite ducks.”

I smiled, certain that I needed to stay off my feet for a few moments before heading home.

“Thank you, that sounds wonderful.” Fred kissed me on the cheek and got to his feet.

“Come children. Let’s head to the lake.” They jumped up and ran ahead, Charley pulling his younger brother along while Charlotte skipped alongside them.

“Oh, and Fred?” I called out. Fred turned with a smile.

“I should bring you back a lemon ice, my love?”

“That would be perfect.” I watched as my wonderful family disappeared from view, heading down the hill towards the lake. I was blessed.

Gail Ward Olmsted

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a full-time basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husbands, and his wife Mary.

For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at GailOlmsted.com.

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Briton and the Dane by Mary Ann Bernal - hardcover edition now available

 

…With a sweeping elegance, I soon found myself utterly enchanted with The Briton and the Dane by Mary Ann Bernal. Gwyneth was a character that I immediately loved. She is young, feisty, and something of a free spirit. She cannot be tamed. Her wilfulness, often bordering on defiance made her a fascinating protagonist and one I enjoyed reading about, although I did feel sorry for the monks, whose patience Gwyneth put to the test on more than one occasion! Gwyneth’s story was also a lovely reminder of the joyful experience of first love.

The Briton and the Dane has a large cast of characters. There is not one but three romance stories within the cover of this book. Gwyneth’s brothers, the lovable David and the serious Stephen all have rather complicated love interests David in particular! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these supporting characters, and they helped to give the story depth. I especially enjoyed Stephen and Elizabeth’s story.

Bernal has a very engaging narrative and style, which held my attention throughout the course of this book. The political intrigue and the threat of war between King Guthrum and King Alfred (later to be known as The Great) gave this novel a sense of urgency. Peace was fragile, and war was on the horizon, add to that the complicated romance plot of our young intrepid protagonists, made The Briton and the Dane unputdownable.

I have read three books in The Briton and the Dane saga, and I have enjoyed them all. Bernal is a natural storyteller and writes fabulous escapism fiction.  — Mary Anne Yarde The Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award






Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Spotlight on Meredith Allard, author of Down Salem Way ,The Loving Husband Series

How would you deal with the madness of the Salem witch hunts?

In 1690, James Wentworth arrives in Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his father, John, hoping to continue the success of John’s mercantile business. While in Salem, James falls in love with Elizabeth Jones, a farmer’s daughter. Though they are virtually strangers when they marry, the love between James and Elizabeth grows quickly into a passion that will transcend time.

But something evil lurks down Salem way. Soon many in Salem, town and village, are accused of practicing witchcraft and sending their shapes to harm others. Despite the madness surrounding them, James and Elizabeth are determined to continue the peaceful, loving life they have created together. Will their love for one another carry them through the most difficult challenge of all?

 

Buy Links

Universal links

 Down Salem Way    Her Dear and Loving Husband

Her Loving Husband's Curse   Her Loving Husband's Return


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Meredith Allard

Fun Facts

(Stuff you may or may not already know!)

I live in Sin City

Yes, people actually live in Las Vegas! Once you’re past the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, the town is actually very normal with homes, schools, and grocery stores. From where I live in the hills I can see the Strip, and if you can survive the heat in the summer Vegas can be a nice place to live. Of course, as I write this it’s 111 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

I love coffee

I mean, I really love coffee. My favorite thing to do when I have time is to explore new coffee shops around town. Luckily, Vegas has a lot of cool coffee places. I love tea too, but if I had to choose I’d go for coffee.

I like cats

Readers of my blog already know about Poppy, my five-year-old gray tortie who is a rescue cat and very cute. Many of my cats have ended up in my books. My cat Tillie was in Her Dear and Loving Husband and my cat Molly was in Victory Garden. Poppy will appear in my current project, the next book in the Loving Husband Series.

I’m the executive editor of a literary journal

Since 2000, I’ve been the executive editor of The Copperfield Review, a journal for readers and writers of historical fiction. I’ve had the privilege of reading and publishing some amazing works of historical fiction and poetry over the last 20 years.

I love to cook

When I’m not teaching, writing, or talking to Poppy, I’m likely in the kitchen cooking. Since I write historical fiction, I like to make recipes from the era that I’m writing about. Next on my list of recipes to make is one for Johnnycake, a popular dish on the Oregon Trail, which is the historical background for the next book in the Loving Husband Series.

   ¸.•*´¨) ¸.*¨ ( ¸.•´

Meredith Allard

Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Trilogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her nonfiction book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 New Release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help by Amazon. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to students ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit Meredith online at www.meredithallard.com.

 Connect with Meredith

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Book spotlight and excerpt: The Curse of Conchobar―A Prequel to the Adirondack Spirit Series By David Fitz-Gerald

 

Banished by one tribe. Condemned by another. Will an outcast's supernatural strengths be enough to keep him alive?

549 AD. Raised by monks, Conchobar is committed to a life of obedience and peace. But when his fishing vessel is blown off-course, the young man's relief over surviving the sea's storms is swamped by the terrors of harsh new shores. And after capture by violent natives puts him at death's door, he's stunned when he develops strange telepathic abilities.

Learning his new family's language through the mind of his mentor, Conchobar soon falls for the war chief's ferocious daughter. But when she trains him to follow in her path as a fighter, he's horrified when his uncanny misfortune twists reality, causing more disastrous deaths and making him a pariah.

Can Conchobar defeat the darkness painting his steps with blood?

The Curse of Conchobar is the richly detailed prequel to the mystical Adirondack Spirit Series of historical fiction. If you like inspiring heroes, unsettling powers, and lasting legacies, then you'll love David Fitz-Gerald's captivating tale.

Buy The Curse of Conchobar to break free from the fates today!

Trigger Warnings:  Violence

 


Buy Links

 Universal Link

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EXCERPT

From Chapter 25

I’m standing in a clearing on a hillside with a nice view of the river. It is a short distance from our home. I’m overwhelmed by a strange and unfamiliar feeling. I don’t know what compels me to step from the game path into the clearing. I feel a surge of energy, yet I feel dizzy at the same time.

I take another step and I walk through shimmering air. Abruptly, instead of a winter morning, it’s a balmy autumn day. I’m standing in freshly fallen colorful leaves, and I feel as though I have been moved from one place to another. Only, it is the same exact place. How can it be fall instead of winter?

I wander up the path in the opposite direction of my stone house, though I don’t know why. What compels me to walk in this direction? The path has quickly turned from a narrow game trail to a wide lane that only humans could have made. That turns into a thick flat surface that feels like stone beneath my feet, but looks too uniform to be natural stone. A pair of strange yellow lines divide the road beneath my feet.

A short distance down this path, I see a building. It is set a short distance from the stone road with the yellow lines. It’s a handsome cabin. Its log walls look perfectly uniform. I wonder at the uniformity of the logs. There are no signs of the woodsman’s axe on the surface of the logs. No two trees are the same and yet each log in the cabin appears identical. The door to the cabin stands open.

I step up to the door, peek around, and look for people. I don’t see anyone anywhere. I tentatively step into the cabin. The furnishings remind me of the kinds of tables and chairs used by the monks at Skellig Michael, but this cabin has some strange items that I don’t recall from the monastery.

There is but one room in this cabin, and a loft up some stairs overlooks the room. Everything in the cabin is tidy. Someone has cleaned it recently. Some sort of baked good sits on a ledge by an open window. I walk to the window and breathe in the delicious, fruity smell that reminds me of berries. I hold my hand above it and I can feel its heat. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten. I reach for the dish and my hands pass through it, unable to grasp it. I’m surprised and I try again.

In this strange place, I am a spirit. That means I must be dead. Such a realization is hard to accept. I find the need to grieve my own passing, but that sentiment is short-lived. Perhaps that’s the way it is when you are a spirit.

As I investigate further, I find a painting of a man and a woman on the wall. Only, in this painting, the subjects appear lifelike. I can’t discern any brush strokes. The man has bright white teeth and thick blond hair that looks unnaturally neat and tidy. The woman has a strange pile of hair on her head, bright yellow and white clothing, and some strange contraption perched on her nose so that you can’t see her eyes. I place my face even closer, and I can see the image of an older man. He appears to be wearing the robe of a monk. He has a thin, weathered face, and a long grey beard. He doesn’t look the same as the man and the woman, and he looks strangely out of place. His image is opaque, like he has been drawn from fog. I feel like I’m looking at myself as an old man. Then I’m startled at the realization that it is me in the painting. How can it be? I wonder whether this man or this woman in the picture are somehow related to me, only in the future.

I see a small, box-shaped object sitting on a long table. It has numbers on it. As I’m looking at it, one of the numbers flips. Instead of 2:31, it now says 2:32. The plastic box is connected by some kind of thick string to the wall.

Next to the object with the flipping numbers, I see a yellow booklet. I bend to look at it closely. In big black letters, it says, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” A four-digit number appears in the middle of the cover: 1984. At the top of the booklet it says, “192nd Anniversary Edition” and at the side where the book is bound it reads, “Published Every Year Since 1792.” I do some quick figuring. If my numbers are correct, it is 1434 years in the future. It is no wonder that I’m a spirit.

I hear music in the distance. I follow the sound and find it coming from within another small box that is connected to the wall. A singing woman’s voice repeatedly asks the question, “What’s love got to do with it?” I marvel at the notion that music can come from a box. There’s nobody in this cabin singing, and nobody is here listening either, and yet there is music.

Next to the music box is another strange-looking object. There’s a small string of dots hanging from a shiny cylinder, under a conical covering of some sort. I concentrate on the shiny beads until the string is pulled. It snaps back into the cylinder and light floods the room. I jump in surprise. I’ve seen enough of such objects, and I rush back through the open door.

Outside, I wander around the cabin. I notice that the cabin is surrounded by very short grass that is uniformly sized, perhaps a couple of inches thick. There is more of this grass behind the cabin. Beyond that, I see trees at the edge of a forest.

A slight movement catches my attention. It appears that there is a man near one of the trees. He is wearing a red shirt with overlapping dark squares on it. His legs are blue; perhaps it is some kind of fabric that he’s wearing on his legs. He also wears blue shoes on his feet. I wander closer to get a better look. He lowers himself to a sitting position beneath the maple tree, his arms resting on his knees and his head in his hands. He seems sad, or distressed.

I step a little closer. The man has a long length of rope in his lap. I see him make a loop at one end of it. Then he wraps one side of the rope around the other, fashioning the rope into a noose. I’m overwhelmed by sadness and angst. What could cause a young man like that to do such a thing? I wonder if stopping him is the reason that I’m here. But how can I stop him? How long do I have? What can I possibly do to prevent what I can plainly see is just about to happen?

I hear a knocking behind me. It startles me, and I can’t find the source of the knocking. Whatever it is will have to wait. I turn back to look at the man under the tree. He is standing now, and he is tying a knot around a stone at the end of the rope, opposite the noose.

Then he throws the rock up and over a thick branch of the maple tree, eighteen feet above the ground. The rope follows the rock, and the rock lands on the ground a short distance away. The man unties the rock from the rope and pulls the rope behind him. There is a large boulder ten feet away. He ties the rope securely to the big rock and returns to the tree. I feel his sense of hopelessness as he looks up into the tree and sees the noose hanging. It would seem that the rope is the perfect length for what he has in mind.

I have a hunch that this man is related to the people in the painting on the cabin wall. Maybe he is their son. Somehow, I can’t help but think that he is related to me as well.

It looks like he is drinking from some manner of container that is wrapped in a bark-colored sack. After a while, I see him toss the sack into the woods and it makes a clinking sound as the contents of the container break upon impact. The man doesn’t flinch at the sound.

He climbs until he’s sitting on the branch that the noose hangs from. Slowly he pulls the rope until he’s holding the knot in his hands. I look back and forth quickly, trying to figure out what I can do. When I look back at the man, he’s placing the noose over his head and pushing the knot against his neck. I run around the tree like a crazy man. Why am I here? What can I do?

I look up and see that the man is rising to his feet. This is it. He is preparing to jump. His legs bend, and I’m sure that he is about to leap from the branch.

In a fraction of an instant, I remember that I can enter the tree. I consider it a miracle that somehow this healthy tree drops its living limb. I hear it crash to the ground as my spirit separates from the tree.

A hundredth of a second later, I levitate the big rock with my open palms toward the sky. It turns out that it isn’t necessary.

He has landed heavily on the ground. His breath has been knocked from his lungs, and he gasps for air like he has a will to live. I can see that he is scraped up, but he appears to be unharmed. I move the boulder so that it is directly above his head.

He looks up at the rock that hangs over him, and he shields his head with his arm. Then he rolls away so that the rock no longer hovers above him.

I lower the rock slowly and I see the look of astonishment on his face. From where I stand, he no longer looks like a man. Perhaps he’s in his late teens. With one upward-facing palm, I maintain the rock directly in front of him. With my other arm, I direct small stones to levitate from beneath the leaves on the forest floor. They gather, swirling around us under the maple tree. Their movement reminds me of the slow swirl of Tends Hearth’s spoon in her cook pot. The young man’s mouth hangs open and his body shivers in fear.

It strikes me that I should speak to him. What can I say? I set the boulder on the ground and gather the flying stones into a pile as he watches. I approach him so that I’m inches in front of his face. I cite Lector Beccán’s favorite prayer. The man turns his head slightly, innocently, like he’s listening to a distant voice that he can’t quite hear. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t need to hear the prayer for it to have power.

I place my hand on his shoulder. He shrinks from my touch at first, then his face fills with an expression that I would describe as wonder, or maybe it is hopefulness. Touching his shoulder isn’t like touching the plate of food by the window in the cabin. It is more like the sensation that I got when I passed through the shimmering air. I place my other hand on his opposite shoulder. His eyes widen further. He crosses his arms over his chest, placing his hands on top of mine. Then I kiss him, on one cheek and then the other. I withdraw my hands from his shoulders and step back.

The man touches his cheeks gently with the tips of his fingers, then he looks at the tips of his fingers. I hear him say, “I’ve been kissed by God. God loves me. Oh, how can it be?” Then he cries into his hands, asking, “Oh, what have I done?”

I place my hand on his shoulder. I tell him not to worry about the past, and then I tell him to share God’s love with the world. He nods like he understands me. I back away from him, and I can see his gaze follow my departure. I turn my back to him and return along the path that led me here. I laugh at the thought that this young man thinks that he encountered God. It was only me in front of him, not God, but without God, such moments would never be possible.

As an afterthought, I turn back toward the man. I raise my palms and summon the boulder. I set the big rock on the ground just outside the door of the cabin. Then I call the stones and pile them on the other side of the cabin door. I’m taking a chance that the young man lives in this cabin. I want to give him something to remember, something that he can wonder about, and something that he will never forget.

I hope that I did what I was supposed to do. I think of my little family―my wife and the healer. I hope that I’m able to find my way back to them. I’m supposed to be hunting so that we can eat.

When I return to the magical spot on the hill overlooking the river, I’m grateful to find that the air still shimmers. What’s love got to do with it? Everything, I suppose.

As I pass through the shimmering air, I return from autumn in the distant future to the cold winter day of the present. As I hurry home, I wonder: am I able to break the curse? Is that poor man by the tree suffering from the wretched curse that was placed upon me? What can I do to end such misery? How will I ever know?

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David Fitz-Gerald

David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing.

 Connect with David

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The Curse of Conchobar is available for free in exchange for signing up for David’s email list via  BookFunnel

 



Monday, July 26, 2021

Spotlight on Heather Miller, author of Tho I Be Mute

 

Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.

In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824.

Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences.

Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed.

Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.

 

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FUN FACTS
(Stuff you may or may not know!) 

Heather Miller
 teacher and author
‘Tho I Be Mute: Based on the lives of John and Sarah Ridge


A Fireman’s Family I married my firefighter in 1995 with a Victorian ceremony at a turn of the century bed and breakfast in Marietta, Georgia. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last year. We have three children: Jacob, 23, Emma, 21, and Wyatt, 17, none of which inherited my love of history and literature. All three are science-minded young people. I’m so proud of them.


“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”-William Shakespeare. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Theatre. Directing is one of my passions. I’m most proud of my teen production of Of Mice and Men, Godspell and Blood Brothers, and adult cast productions of Annie Get Your Gun, Big River, and Spamalot. Directing is a lot like writing, except the story comes from the play/musical’s scriptwriter. Directing is in the light, the focus, the subtleties of set and costumes, of an actor’s gesture and inflection. If theatre and English were to have a love child, it would be the novel.

Just like the “Griswolds” When I was young, no matter the expense, my parents believed in teaching my younger brother and me a “living history” by visiting National Parks and historical landmarks. My family would load the back of our green and wood-paneled station wagon and hit the interstates. My favorite trip was to Mammoth Cave, Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home), Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home), Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia, and Washington D.C. My mother would say, “Life’s a school.”

Can you recite them from memory? I also have a master’s degree in English Education. Each year of a twenty-four year teaching career, mostly spent in American Literature, I’ve read aloud the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence to my students. With five classes each school year, that makes 120 recitations of each American foundational piece. How many people can say that? And yes, I can quote a great deal by heart.

Generation X My husband and I love a good road trip, listening to the 80’s rock of our youth: Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Def Leppard. My husband speeds when we listen to Metallica. When we were dating, if a cassette tape quit working, he would open the sliding window on his beat-up Ford Ranger and toss the thing in the bed of his truck, perhaps never to be seen again.

We are road-tripping from Georgia to Oklahoma in June, which we postponed last year due to Covid. 

 

Heather Miller

As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the authors craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.

Millers foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a firemans wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.

While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heathers corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.

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Friday, July 23, 2021

Scribbler Tales Presents: Escape from Berlin by Mary Ann Bernal - hardcover edition now available.

 

Lose yourself in five tantalizingly delicious bite-size short stories that are filled with action, drama, crime, and broken promises — Scribbler Tales Presents: Escape from Berlin by Mary Ann Bernal is as enthralling as it is addictive.

 


Bernal is an author who always delivers, and I was really looking forward to diving into this anthology of short stories. All of the stories in this collection are rich in detail and highly entertaining. Not only are the stories immensely readable, but they are also impressively narrated. This is an anthology that is not only bold in its delivery but immensely successful as well.

Each of the stories in this collection read like a snap-shot in time. What happened before, and what happens after, we are not always told, but I think that is what makes this collection so exciting. Bernal is an author who is fabulous at creating tension and anticipation in her writing. Bernal is also very gifted at creating believable characters and situations. I thought this collection was absolutely sublime, and I enjoyed every word, every sentence, every syllable.

Escape from Berlin was a wonderful story to start this collection. It is a desperate, heart-rending tale about war, loss, and betrayal. This story really tugged at my heartstrings. The protagonist is so brave and kind, which makes this story all the more heart-breaking. But it is also a reminder that nothing is fair in love and war.

The second book in this collection, aptly named Betrayal, tells the story of a woman who trusts her husband with her deepest darkest secret. This story had me reaching for the tissues — it is such an emotional story filled with fear, pain, and a terrible sense of injustice. Bernal has penned a story that is not only rich in content but also in historical detail. I thought this story was simply brilliant.

Deadly Secrets is a story that is bursting with tension and drama. This crime thriller is filled with mystery and plot twists. I enjoyed this story very much, and I thought it was an excellent addition to the collection.

I found myself swept away by the narrative as Murder in the First hurtled towards its dramatic ending. I thought this story was tautly gripping and incredibly engaging.

The final story in the collection is called The Ritual. The Ritual was a fascinating story about a pagan cult. It is a desperate tragedy, and it was one of the stories that really impressed me with its ingenuity. I thought The Ritual was a fabulous story to end this collection with.

If you are a fan of thrillers, then I think you will find Scribbler Tales Presents: Escape from Berlin by Mary Ann Bernal extremely agreeable. I really did enjoy all of the stories in this collection, and I cannot wait to read more from this very talented author.

I Highly Recommend.
Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

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