Monday, November 29, 2010

Tempo Rubato by Brendan Carroll

I first came across Brendan Carroll and his book Tempo Rubato: Stolen Time at http://www.kindleboards.com/.  With my background in music, and my own novel having similar themes of music and time travel, I couldn't help but be intrigued with the summary.  A mysterious letter found with a murder victim in the 1990's is in all respects a perfect forgery of the script and style of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 18th century composer.  But the letter is addressed to the murder victim and written with a modern pen.  Elisse Mannheim, Mozartean expert, is called to examine the document and, intrigued, applies for a position with the company on whose letterhead it is written.  She soon finds herself working as the assistant to composer William Masters, who is either crazy, or Mozart himself..com

I give Brendan Carroll what I, as an author, find the highest accolade: your book kept me up all night!  Considering I was reading on computer, which is by far not my favorite mode of enjoying a good story, that praise means even more than it would for another book.  I ended up setting aside all my own work, telling myself just one more page, just one more chapter, let me just see what happens next.  Poof, a day was gone!

Mr. Carroll kept the plot going with one surprise after another, and kept me as a reader guessing.  This is a vital part of writing a good novel, but there are so many good things to say about this book beyond that: humor, thorough research, memorable scenes, good characterization, and vivid descriptions.

I found myself laughing out loud throughout Tempo Rubato.  I felt Mr. Carroll captured Mozart's character and humor effortlessly.  It never seemed forced.  I laughed at his antics, his puns, his wit, and the wit of the author himself in some of the lines and situations coming from other characters.

To me, part of the attraction of historical fiction is that it opens up new worlds to those of us caught firmly in the twenty-first century, and I feel the best historical fiction inspires us to learn more about the character, event, or period.  I appreciated the research that obviously went into this book, and left it wishing I had more time to delve into Mozart myself.  The descriptions of the variety of moods in Mozart's music inspired me to make a playlist on youtube and begin listening.

I loved the mood of this book: adventure, high energy, and at times a feeling of having gone down the rabbit hole.  In one particularly memorable scene, William Masters throws a costume party, which is both like a trip to Wonderland, and yet it is eminently believable, that William might create just such a situation.

While I found all the characters believable, I particularly liked Mr. Carroll's depiction of Masters/ Mozart.  It has been years since I watched Amadeus, but I remember that Mozart as being very much a child in a man's body.  I found Tempo Rubato's depiction of Mozart more rounded and realistic, very much what I can believe a musical genius might  have been, a man who reflects, although to a much greater degree of course, the people I have met in the world of music.  He is not a child at all, very much a man, and with deeper thoughts and down moments that I don't remember from the Amadeus portrayal.  But he has retained his sense of wonder, curiosity, daring, and adventure.  He has a quick mind and a quick wit, he is lovable, and yet full of downfalls, which keep him very real. 

The only thing I would mention that might be a downside for some readers is a few typos and formatting issues.  I would gladly take those over a perfectly edited story with dull characters and poor plot, any day. 

I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it.  It is available on kindle and in print, and would make a great gift for the reader or music-lover in your life.
In conclusion, Tempo Rubato is intriguing in what it tells us about Mozart: the letters he wrote, his sense of humor. It evidences strong research. I like the pacing of revealing more about the characters: Elisse starts as the seemingly perfect professor who has it all together, and moves to a real person with an intricate past. I love the descriptions of a piece of music: the oboe, bassoon, and piano playing tag. I liked the internal lives of the characters. Mr. Carroll writes vividly. As Elisse leans out her window, I can almost see, smell and hear the old city into which she is looking, where Mozart may once have walked. I enjoyed watching Elisse loosen up and come into her own as she takes on the adventure.  As a musician, I loved having a novel about musicians and music.  There aren't enough of them.  I couldn't help but nod in agreement when one character's first response to catastrophe is to rescue his cello. 

Regardless of your level of interest in music, however, this is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels.

Tempo Rubato joins the party at Cym's:

CymLowell

Friday, November 26, 2010

Time Travel and Mozart With Author Brendan Carroll

Please welcome today, the prolific Brendan Carroll, author of more than thirty novels, including his series, The Assassin Chronicles, and the novel of time travel and Mozart, Tempo Rubato.  With my background in music and a novel including time travel under my own belt, I was especially drawn to Tempo Rubato, and recently finished reading it.  I am so glad to hear a little more from Brendan about his writing, music, and time travel. 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?  How long have you been writing?

I suppose I've been writing seriously since high school in English Comp classes.  I liked telling good stories and writing them down made it possible to pass them around to my friends.  Then when I was in the Navy, I found an old book in my desk called The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I had never heard of him!  By the time I had read it five or six times and then went on to read the complete LOTR series five or six times, I decided that if ever I could write something vaguely similar to Tolkien, I would truly be a writer.

What genre do you tend to write?

I lean toward science-fiction/ fantasy.  Since I am a Libra with Venus as my planet, I am a bit of a romantic, so I always have to have a lovely lady and a little romance thrown in.  Unfortunately, Mars is also in my first house opposite of Venus and that makes rather volatile.  Since I'm pulled in two opposite directions, I write dark humor and violent romance that is almost pure, almost good, but not quite right.

Where do your ideas come from?

I have a Bachelor's Degree in education that started out as an Environmental Science major with a geology minor and I learned a great deal about researching in the campus library.  Whenever new things caught my attention, I would head off to the library and research them.  I love astrophysics, but was born without a math gene.  Nuclear physics, astronomy, time travel, Einstein, all those sorts of things led me to read a great deal about science outside my major.

I was in the band in high school and grew up with a great interest in music.  When I heard Mozart, I fell in love with his music.  I thought how wonderful it would be to have listened to him in person or met him. Naturally, I would have to have a time machine for that, hence the book Tempo Rubato.

Tell us a little something about your typical day as a writer.

A typical day starts out between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., depending on how long I stayed up the night before.  I generally make a pot of coffee that sometimes lasts till 4 p.m. before it's all gone.  I start out with checking email and sales from Amazon and my first cup of coffee while listening to the morning news.  I move on to forums and Facebook to see if anything of interest is going on or happened overnight.  I then check my list of things to do and decide what I need to do before the day is over.  Things like writing or updating blogs, answering emails, doing interviews (like this one if I'm lucky) and another cup of coffee.  Once I've determined what I need to work on, I may have to do some research or take some notes from a reference book about subjects included in short stories or current works in progress.  Sometimes I drink a third cup of coffee before these things are done.  Then it's time for more mundane things.

Let the Puglet out for her business and feed the cats.  Maybe feed the birds, do some laundry or clean something inside or out.  Take something out of the freezer or decide what is up for lunch/ dinner.  Around 11:00 a.m., I put the radio on Rush Limbaugh for good background noise and get back to my computer.  I might do a bit of surfing the web, paying bills or checking bank accounts or answering more email.  If an interesting thread pops up on Facebook or Kindleboards forum, I might make some posts there.  By noons, I'm working on editing a completed manuscript or writing a blog or working on a short story.  I spend a couple of hours editing and formatting completed works.  then it's time for late and something to drink.  If things go well, I won't have to go to town (which is an ordeal) for anything and can get back to work until my beta reader gets home from her day job.

In the afternoons, I talk on the phone sometimes and watch a little television while I wait for my beta reader to call.  Once that happens and we talk together a read a chapter or a section or two of a completed manuscript for an hour or so, it's time to call it a day.

I complete a few more household chores, pet the Puglet and play with her and the cats a little.  Finish up supper, clean up and then check Facebook and the forums again while the evening news is on.  After that, I talk on the phone to friends, read, or watch television.

How did you go about honing your writing skills?

I like to read other writers' work with an eye out for artistic embellishment.  I won't say that I steal from other writers outright, but rather I look for ideas and then make them conform to my own ideas handwriting style.  I am always on the lookout for new ideas, new words, and new ways to put them together.

What is your most productive time of day?

I'm a morning person.

What are your goals with writing?  What is your goal as a writer?  To entertain, inspire, change the world?

I want to entertain, inspire a thought of elicit a giggle or even a moan from readers.  to make enough money to take nice vacations perhaps or buy new gadgets.  I think I would like to inspire others to think and wonder while entertaining them.

Describe a couple of your favorite characters.

Of course, Wolfgang Mozart is my favorite character in Tempo Rubato because of his mysterious origins, his exceptional talent, his eccentric personality and his personal charisma.  in my series, The Assassin Chronicles, I am quite fond of a number of characters.  There is the main character of course, his friends and Brothers of the Order, some of the magickal creatures, genies, faeries and dragons are quite dear to me.

What is your favorite of all the books you have worked on?

Tempo Rubato has to be my favorite book, although I do have an unedited manuscript done in the manner of Henry Fielding, author of the English classic Tom Jones that ranks up there with Tempo.

Your first book  Tempo Rubato is set in the world of music, covering Mozart, and students and professors of music.  Can you tell us what inspired this book?

Mozart's music inspired me to write about him.  I wanted to bring him to life and him up close.  What better way to do that invent some way to bring him into my life other go back in a time machine and rescue him before he died in 1791?  The idea that evil persons may have actually murdered him for various reasons, also inspired me to do a bit of speculative fiction about his demise and I wanted him to have a happier life, I suppose.

What is your own background in music?

I played trombone in school from 5th to 9th grade and then taught myself to play the French horn over the summer vacation.  After that, I payed French horn in the high school band (the band director was convinced that I had tutoring over the summer, but I didn't.)  I also taught myself to play the flute for fun when in college, but did not join a band.  I wrote a few tunes and some songs in Spanish for my Spanish classes.  Those were fun, but I have since lost them.

I took piano lessons when i was seven, but didn't have a piano at home, so that was kind of futile.  In 1996, I bought myself a piano and some of Mozart's music, determined to play one of his piano sonatas before I died.  I learned to play well enough to suit myself and to know that I could have been an excellent pianist if I would have had the training at an early age.

I also own a harmonica (ha!), a Celtic drum and a genuine Stradivarius replica (ha!ha!)  None of which I can play. 

I can do pretty well on a kazoo.

How much research went directly into Mozart?  I was curious, for instance, as I read the letter written by him, in the opening pages of the book, a letter that experts say covers his grammar and vocabulary excellently, did you research actual letters written by Mozart, or letters from his time and place, to copy the style?  Or is it pure fiction with a bit of old-world flavor?

Mozart's extant letters are published.  Every one of them (600+)  I have them in my closet in two binders and I read each and every one of them probably three or four times and several of them many more times.  I believe that the letter I wrote for him would be very close to what he might have written himself.  (I also practiced his signature until I could sign his name and fool anyone with the exception of a real handwriting expert.  just another of my little idiosyncrasies, studying handwriting.)

I own six biographies, his letters, most of his music on CD, and I had a replica painted of the famous portrait of him in his red coat, which now hangs in my den.  (Incidentally, that particular painting was done from memory several years after his death.  I have another pencil/ line replica of a 'spurious' painting of him that is rarely seen wherein he is actually smiling.  If it is not him, it should be.

I also watched the movie Amadeus over and over while writing the book and would like to point out for those who do not know, the movie is largely fictitious or historically-based fiction.  Much of what happened in the movie did not actually occur or did not occur in the same manner as portrayed in the film.  however, the idea that Antonio Salieri, court composer for Emperor Jozsef of Austria and one of Mozart's leading critics and rivals, actually had a hand in his death did circulate in some circles, though I doubt it has any basis in fact.  Salieri was very successful in his own right in his time, but his genius, unlike Mozart's was not eternal.  His music is still played in classical venues.  The movie shows Salieri actually helping him finish the Requiem Mass on his death bed with his wife Costanza only arriving moments before his death.  This is pure fiction.  His assistant actually finished the Requiem Mass after his death using his notes on the compositional pieces and he was well attended by Costanza and her sisters during his final illness.

Would you consider yourself an expert on Mozart?  Would you have before writing this book?

I do not consider myself an expert on Mozart, but rather more like a 'groupie.'  i studied him quite a bit before writing the book, so I was a 'groupie,' before Tempo Rubato.

Authors are often asked if there is a healthy dose of themselves in their characters.  You seem to capture Mozart's humor effortlessly.  Do you feel there is a bit of him in you, or you in him?

I feel that my sense of humor is fairly base at times (I think they used to call it 'outhouse humor.'  I can laugh easily at political satire as I can laugh at a bunch of cowboys sitting around a campfire passing gas, and I think Mozart was like that in a sense.  he had a dark sense of humor and at the same time, he was able to hobnob with emperors and royalty without losing himself in the grand scheme of things.  Personally, I believe he rather preferred the common gaffs and silliness like the humor he wrote into two of his operas Cosi Fan Tutti and The Magic Flute.  Any true expert can write reams of speculation and opinion on his operas alone.

Experts believe that he was severely affected by his father's death and that the ghost in Don Giovanni is a manifestation of his feelings for his departed father, but I disagree.  I have listened, read and watched Don Giovanni and though it may seem dark and forbidding, I can see the humor there.  Dark, yes, but not sinister.  Mozart wrote one of his beautiful piano sonatas shortly after his mother's death.  Surely, his music was affected somewhat by the events occurring in his life, but I believe that he wrote his music when he was in 'the zone,' just like most authors write their novels.

No writer can truly separate himself/ herself from his/her characters.  They can try, but it is like a fish trying to imagine living on land or a man born blind trying to imagine what red looks like.  Can't be done.

Can you tell us a little about your other books?

My little series The Assassin Chronicles, is an all-consuming project that has taken up the bulk of my writing endeavors for the last fifteen years.  If ever any writer ever created a world for their characters to live, I have created a world for my characters.  The main characters is a grumpy Scotsman, a little over 800 years old when the series starts out.  He is an alchemist/ assassin for the order of the Red Cross of Gold, which a is branch or off-shoot of the Poor Knights of Solomon's temple.  These Templars have survived intact from the time of the Crusades and they carry on their work as 'God's Executioners' behind the scenes on a global scale.  As the story unfolds, a new mythology is born and the reader is drawn into the world of magic, swords, and sorcery.
Thank you so much for your time, Brendan!  Best of luck with your writing!  I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

Coming Monday: a review of Tempo Rubato.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Faith, Fire and Fiction by Brendan Carroll

"Great is the secret yet easy to master,
giving to thee the mastery of time.
When upon thee death fast approaches,
fear not but know ye are master of Death."

~ The Emerald Tablets of Thoth, The Atlantean

The debate about the Knights Templar holding the secrets of the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, the Philosopher's Stone and other mystical treasures of antiquity rage on today just as they have continued to catch the imagination of writers, poets and researchers for the past 603 years since the Templars were rounded up on Friday, the 13th of October, 1307 and imprisoned for heresy.

The history of the Templars as recorded does not account for the thousands of Templars who escaped the purge in 1307. They went somewhere and that is where the controversy, speculation and wild imagination came into play. Some said that they quietly disbanded and joined with the remaining chivalric orders of the day such as the Knights of Jerusalem and the Teutonic Knights. Others believe that they took their ships and went to Scotland where they joined up with Robert the Bruce to fight the King of England for Scottish Freedom. Still others believe that they made voyages to the Americas where they buried the Templar treasures at Oak Island in a booby-trapped pit. None or all of these could be true. Certainly there were enough 'leftover' members of the Order to undertake a number of enterprises and the records show that they also had the financial means to do whatever they pleased.

I am not a researcher, nor have I ever written a non-fiction work. I am but a poor writer of fiction for the Knights of the Temple. On the other hand, my extensive research into the Knights Templar has taken me to the far reaches of obscurity over the years. I have delved into the history of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Sumerians and the Mormons; the Romans, the Greeks and the Celts. I have studied the crusades and the history of Scotland, looked into the mysteries of the Freemasons and plowed through prehistory and speculation regarding Stonehenge, Maes Howe, Ley Lines, the Great Pyramid and the Tomb of the First Emperor of China. My research has crossed the globe from the cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea to the plains of Nazca overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In my mind, I have traveled the world in search of answers and I believe that I may have found some.

What, you may ask, is the significance of the bit of poetry at the top of the page? That short refrain is but a part of a mysterious book called the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, the Atlantean. The thirteenth chapter is called: the Keys of Life and Death. In this chapter, the author tells of a way of bringing on death whenever the soul is ready for a new body and describes a method for transferring the memories of the current life into the brain of the next physical incarnation, explaining that this is the way of the Great Souls of Old and the Avatars. Many people think this is a book of nonsense. Perhaps it is.

During my studies of the Templars, I learned that they were connected heavily with France and that the first Templars or founding fathers were all French. In France, the Templars made connections with the Cathars, a religious sect in which the leaders were called the Parfaits or the Perfects. These Cathars were seen as a threat to the Catholic Church because it was rumored that they knew something that could potentially damage the Church or that they had great treasures needing to be pillaged for the benefit of the Church. And so, the Pope declared them heretics and set out to rid the world of the Cathars in a crusade known as the Albigensian Crusades that started in 1207, one hundred years before the Templar atrocity and continued on until 1255 when military operations against them ceased. The last burning of a Cathar took place in 1321, seven years after the Templar Grandmaster was roasted in Paris. Strangely enough, the Cathars inhabited the southern part of France known as the Languedoc, the same region of France where the Templars allegedly planned to build their own country.

When the army besieged the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur in 1243, the Cathars there held out for nine months before falling. Just before the castle fell, two or three people allegedly escaped from the castle by scaling a rope down the cliff face and taking with them the Cathar's greatest secret. Some sources said that these escapees were Templar sympathizers and that the Cathar secret was the Holy Grail or possibly the Ark of the Covenant. Scaling a cliff with the Ark of the Covenant seems unlikely. The Holy Grail? Maybe, if it was indeed a chalice and that is an entirely different can of worms. But more likely, it is possible that it was a precious book or scroll and possibly even something that the Templars had entrusted to the Cathars to keep for them. Possibly something that the original Templar founding fathers had found buried under the ruins of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.

The Cathar's, it seemed, practiced an odd ceremony or sacrament called the Consolamentum wherein the acolyte apparently gave up everything that might corrupt the body and lived entirely on water and air. Unfortunately, not many of the Cathar Parfaits or Perfect Ones lived very long after partaking of this sacramental ceremony. However! And this is where the above reference to the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, the Atlantean comes into to play, in reading the records of how the crusaders found the Parfaits after the fall of Montsegur and comparing their condition with the writings in chapter 13 of the Emerald Tablets, it seems that the Cathars were practicing Thoth's Keys of Life and Death. The Parfaits were found lying on their backs in a circle with their heads pointed toward the center, peacefully smiling and utterly dead without the slightest evidence of what might have killed them. The rest of the Cathars were marched out of the castle down the hill to a place where the soldiers had built a roaring bonfire. The Cathars are said to have walked calmly into the fire while singing and died without giving out the least sign of pain or suffering.

Chapter 13 of the Emerald Tablets also refers to passing from this world into death without pain and suffering much as the Cathars did at Montsegur:
"Hear ye, O man, and list to my voice.
List to the wisdom that gives thee of Death.
When at the end of thy work appointed,
thou may desire to pass from this life,
pass to the plane where the Suns of the Morning
live and have being as Children of Light.
Pass without pain and pass without sorrow
into the plane where is eternal Light."

With these connections in mind, I wrote into my Assassin Chronicles, book number twenty-three (as yet unpublished), the idea that Thoth, the Atlantean was indeed a real entity, an Atlantean Priest King who founded Egyptian civilization after the sinking of Atlantis. And that, even though he lived over 36,000 years ago, he is still alive and waiting for the time when he will be needed again. All we have to do is study his tablets and learn how to call upon him to return from the Halls of Amenti. Yet another mysterious legend tied to the Knights Templar. Obscure, maybe, but great fodder for faith or fiction, your choice.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brendan Carroll is the author of over thirty books, including the Assassin Chronicles, Red Cross of Gold series and Tempo Rubato, a story of Mozart, mystery, and time travel. 
Brendan Carroll was born and raised in Southeast Texas, finally ending up in the beautiful Texas Lake Country. Throughout his scholastic career, he wanted nothing more than to tell a good story, get a few laughs or give a few frights. After high school, he joined the US Navy and spent the next four years serving the country in the fighter training squadron VT-86 out of Pensacola, Florida. In college, he majored in Environmental Science and Geography with a minor in Geology and ended up with a teaching certificate for Secondary Earth Sciences. After one year of teaching fourteen and fifteen-year-olds, his desire to inspire young minds was laid to rest and he took up a position serving the State of Texas in the Correctional Field. In his spare time, he has produced over thirty novels which are currently being published in Kindle format as well as paperback at a much slower pace. His one aim is to entertain the reader with a good tale and hope that they may get something more from his work than just a laugh, a fright or a sigh.
Kindle Paperback

Brendan will be back Friday with an interview, and on Monday, I will be posting a review of his book Tempo Rubato, the mystery and adventure story of Mozart rescued moments before his inevitable death to be brought to the 1990's. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knights Templar and Blue Bells

The legendary Knights Templar and the dainty bluebell: an unlikely pair.  However, the Knights Templar are among the research topics of which I have skimmed the surface, in writing the Blue Bells Trilogy. 

Of course, the trilogy is not directly about the flower.  In fact, not at all, really.  The title comes from a piece of standard trombone repertoire, which in turn comes from an old folk song, and while the main characters of the trilogy are musicians, including a trombonist, the story's medieval half focuses heavily on Scotland's Wars of Independence, and Robert the Bruce. 

To give a brief overview of the connection between Bruce and the Knights Templar, one must understand the Wars of Independence.  In the late 1200's, Edward I, 'Longshanks,' claimed himself overlord of Scotland, and backed that claim with the force of his much larger and better equipped army.  In 1306, on being crowned King of Scots (which is a story in and of itself), Bruce was, in the words of his queen, King of the May.  In other words, he was king in name only.  She was correct.  In truth, he was a homeless fugitive in his own realm, relying on his own people at times for food and a roof over his head; at other times, living in caves with his few men around him.  The first year or so of his kingship saw his disastrous defeat in battle and the deaths of three of his four brothers, along with the deaths of many of his good friends and supporters.  His wife, daughter, sister, and close friend and supporter, Isabel MacDuff, the Countess of Buchan, were taken prisoner, not to be seen again by him for eight years. 

Yet Bruce continued to defy the might of England, the powerful and well-equipped Edward I, and later, his son, Edward II.  With what resources did Bruce make his stand?

It has long been whispered that the legendary Knights Templar financed his war against England.  Others have objected that this is unlikely, as Bruce himself outlawed the Templars in Scotland in 1309, at the Vatican's demand.  Given the frequent forcing of obedience and oaths of loyalty at the time, this does not seem, to me, to be any real conflict.  Even priests and bishops were known to swear loyalty to England, under threat, and turn around and do exactly as they saw fit in working for Scotland against England.  With my admittedly limited research into this area, it doesn't seem a stretch for Bruce to make a show of doing as the Vatican requested, while continuing to work with the Templars in secret, and it would certainly be one explanation for Bruce's rise from nothing to re-conquering his country.

Skip forward a few years to 1314, and we find ourselves at the Battle of Bannockburn, another episode in the ongoing David and Goliath story of Scotland and England.  The powerful Longshanks was long since dead, and England ruled by his militarily inept son, Edward II.  Despite his ineptness, Edward II still commanded an army at least three times the size of Bruce's own.  Some estimates say it was up to five times larger.  There is no doubt it was better equipped.  Its cavalry consisted of some 2,000 large and armored warhorses, compared to Bruce's approximately 500 light cavalry, by which we mean unarmored horses about the size of large ponies.  (Of course, Bruce used this situation to his advantage, but once again, that's a different story.  Dare we say a horse of a different color?)  Stories paint a picture of Edward's army--warhorses, foot soldiers, a huge contingent of the dreaded Welsh archers, and supply wagons--stretching some twenty miles, and shaking the earth as it passed.  I think it's a safe bet none of us in modern America have ever experienced such a force coming against us, intent on wiping us off the face of the planet.

This, however, is what Bruce and his Scots faced at Bannockburn.  Edward II had been shamed and directly challenged, and he determined to defeat the Scots once and for all.

There is little controversy over how Bruce managed to face such an army, and not only survive, but completely rout such a large and powerful enemy, with relatively few losses on his own side.  He arrived early.  He chose his ground well, forcing England to fight in a bog, and laying that bog with murder pits and caltrops, all of which slowed and stopped much of England's cavalry.  He prepared his ground well.  He thought outside the box and trained his men to take on charging cavalry in moving units of spears called schiltrons.  And there is no controversy that a charge from Coxet Hill toward the end of the battle was a strong factor in Bruce's victory.

Without going into more details as to why the battle was already going poorly for England, many experts agree that toward the end, when England was already in poor morale and disarray, somebody charged from Coxet Hill.  What is argued is who.  I have read three explanations.  One is that it was the Islemen of the great Lord of the Isles, Angus Og, held in reserve by Bruce until they could most effectively be used.  A second is that it was the townfolk, or 'wee folk,' as they were called, charging with makeshift banners waving on scythes, hoes, and pitchforks, determined to fight for their king--and whom England's soldiers mistook for another, actual army.  There are those who argue (and it's a valid point) that large armies did not make a habit of running from camp followers, and camp followers did not make a habit of waving flags announcing their presence to those who could easily kill them.  The third explanation is that it was the Knights Templar charging in at the critical moment, who sent Edward II fleeing the field. 

In Blue Bells of Scotland, I opted for Door #2: the townfolk, the army of farmers and blacksmiths.  Of course, being time travel, I added a bit to that to explain England's terror at the charge.  But I opted for this explanation as I wanted to keep the story as uncontroversially factual (yes, yes, I know it's time travel!  Apart from that!) as possible: Because the Templars, in general, and at Bannockburn in particular, are the source of much controversy. 

Legends arose in Victorian times that the Templars appeared at the last minute to sway the fight in Bruce's favor, but their presence at the battle has long been dismissed by scholars.  In an article that came out after the publication of the novel, A.J. Morton, though dismissing the Victorian versions of the story, argues there is evidence they did indeed fight for Bruce.  He points to 200 Templar properties in 14th Century Scotland, including 30 in Cunningham, around Ayrshire, of which Bruce himself was feudal overlord.  Therefore, he says, they would have been obligated to serve Bruce, and it is 'almost impossible' to believe they didn't.  Michael Penman, another Bruce expert, remains skeptical, on the grounds that Templars (make that ex-Templars, as they'd been disbanded) would not fight for someone who persecuted their order.

Others, too, make strong arguments as to why the Templars didn't, and couldn't have, fought at Bannockburn, among them, the fact that the Templars had been disbanded long before, were being persecuted and burned throughout Europe, and any surviving Templar Knights would have been too elderly to fight by the time of Bannockburn.  One interesting post taking this view can be found here.

The Templars have long been a source of fascination, and tomorrow, my guest blogger, Brendan Carroll, author of over thirty novels, who has researched them much more thoroughly than I, will be talking about them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Genny Kieley: Green Stamps to Hot Pants

From the prolific Genny Kieley, come four books you'll love if you like nostalgia and history.  Genny will be on hand tonight at the Borders in Maple Grove, MN, speaking and signing.


Green Stamps to Hot Pants: GROWING UP IN THE 50s AND 60s

 Genny Kieley creates a portrait of a simpler era, of ice-cream socials and twice-a-day newspaper delivery, sock hops and doo-wop music, first loves, first heartbreaks, and afternoon parties fueled by 45s. Cars had fins and television had just arrived. Seemingly countless Westerns (with Paladin, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke prominent among them) vied with Surf Side Six, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Wonderful World of Disney for the family's attention. Dinah Shore urged viewers in her cheery sing-song voice to "See the USA in your Chevrolet" while Ed Sullivan introduced the nation to those mop-headed youths, The Beatles.
$19.95 • 192 pages

Bait Store Angel and Other Stories


 Genny's collection of short stories from her years growing up.  Mrs. Kubinski's Blessing, Who Was First at the Dairy Bar? and Thank God I Didn't Wear Hairspray are just a few of the unforgettable tales of joy and sorrow Genny spins with her unique charm and warmth.  These stories transport you to a world of heart and humor that has become Genny's trademark.




Heart and Hard Work:Memories of "Nordeast" Minneapolis

Golabki and Ukrainians, Dziedzics and kaffeekuchen, smorgasbord and the Polish Palace. Northeast Minneapolis in the early to mid-20th century was a unique multi-ethnic melting pot of immigrant families and community support. An entertaining history of Northeast Minneapolis-from its earliest days through the 1940s and '50s. Learn of the cultures and lifestyles of various ethnic groups through old photos, as well as interviews with 14 enterprising, longtime city residents. Sixth edition.

149 photos • 176 pages • $17.95


Pride and Tradition: More Memories of Northeast Minneapolis

Readers will learn why there were so many bars and drug stores in Northeast in a chap­ter entitled, "Alleluia and Nazdrowoie." They'll also meet the Slovakian proprietor of a shoe re­ pair store who was known as "The Mayor of 13th Avenue." A wonderful collection of facts and photos with stories of this Northeast Minneapolis community. From the tale of Pierre Bottineau in the 1840s through the interviews of people who grew up in the 1950s and '60s, these memories and touching pictures will take you back in time.

200 photos • 288 pages• $19.95



Roots and Ties: A Scrapbook of Northeast Memories

Genny's third book about Northeast Minneapolis began when the hand­-made trunk that her grandparents brought to America from Poland in 1903 came into her possession. Full of memories and family history, the trunk enticed her to delve further into chronicles of the neighborhoods that so many called home.


232 pages • $21.95

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Genny Zak Kieley, Minneapolis Historian

In my series on writers, please welcome a well-known writer of Minneapolis history and memoirs, with four published books, which I will highlight tomorrow.

Genny Zak Kieley is a non-fiction writer. She was born in Little Falls, MN and moved to Northeast Minneapolis at the age of six, a place that deeply influenced the writing of her first book Heart and Hard Work; Memories of Nordeast Minneapolis.

 Genny’s first story A House No Longer Lived In was published in Polish American Journal in Buffalo, New York in1990.

Heart and Hard Work published in 1997 is now in its sixth printing, and has sold 7,800 copies. It was not on the best seller list, but sure made a lot of Northeast Minneapolis people happy and also held the distinction of the most likely to disappear from the Northeast Community Library.

Here is what Genny has to say about her writing:

I didn’t start out as a writer; my background is in art. I was kind of a shy kid and came from a large family. I didn’t know how to get my thoughts out to others so I would daydream a lot and sketched people and other things like houses and landscapes. I wanted so much to be an artist; so when I couldn’t go to art school I was devastated. We just didn’t have the money.  I spent my life going from one part time job to another. None of them suited me. The ones I liked the best were picture framing and waitressing.

I was a late bloomer and discovered so much in later life. In the mid-1980s I took an interest in genealogy and signed up for a few classes at North Hennepin Community College. It was there I discovered writing. Although I began my writing there; it was a class with Maureen LaJoy at the Center for Developing Writers that really helped me to establish myself as a writer. Maureen believed in me, taught me about technique and helped me form a routine; so I could fit writing into my life.

A typical writing day for me: I have an office but I spend most of my creating time in my bedroom in a super comfy recliner that I handwrite everything. The best stuff seems to flow from my heart to my hand and onto the page. Almost anything distracts me so I don’t listen to music and my room can’t be too messy. Music and art inspire me though. The lay out on the page of a book is important to me too.

I write as a job and for my own pleasure. I try to keep a journal but I don’t write in it every day. I write for myself and to connect with others. I don’t always have the time to write and it is getting harder and harder for me to switch gears between home and family, business and pleasure. The lines get clouded. About once a year or so I get a little bogged down with writer’s block and forget what is most important in life. Writing makes me happy. I write whenever I can, but lately seem to have a busy life with other commitments.
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 In addition to her series on Northeast Minneapolis and her memoirs of the 50's and 60's, Genny has a few more projects currently in the works.
  • Sequal to Green Stamps tentatively titled— More Green Stamps to Hot Pants: Growing up in the 50s and 60s
  • Book of Short Stories called Daughter # Five, Fisherman’s Wife
  • A Memoir called A Mother’s Journal: Journey Back to Hope after the death of my son
Genny spoke and signed books November 19 at Borders Books at The Shoppes at Arbor Lake, in Maple Grove, MN, from 5:30 to about 9.  She appeared at Maple Grove Arts Center on December 4, from 3 to 7 p.m.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

John Stanton on Writing

Today, please welcome John Stanton once again to talk about his writing.

What or who inspired you to start writing?
As a kid I loved stories and really got into science fiction stories, books and movies.  My toy spaceships were always involved in character driven, epic, sprawling story lines that spanned generations across galaxies at a time when the fate of worlds hinged on the etc, etc, etc. I guess I was a freaky little kid. As I got older, my taste in fiction got broader and I also became interested in poetry. But it probably all started with science fiction for me. I wanted other people to get caught up in my stories the way I got caught up in the stories I loved.

What genre do you tend to write?
Currently, I'm writing novels I describe as paranormal comedies. But I do enjoy writing adventure stories with a military thriller style.  I try to write poetry whenever I can.  Sometimes it's slam and sometimes it's form poetry.

Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from a mix of everything around me and my past experiences.  I don't think I know where the fundamental ideas seeds come from. But I know I have to nurture them and have a fertile ground to plant them in and real characters to bring them to life. Ideas are the easy part for me.

Tell us a little something about your typical day as a writer.
Most weekdays, I'll spend some time writing in the morning while I'm having breakfast, anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. In the evenings, I'll spend time editing and formatting.  Saturdays are my favorite. I spend a part of the early afternoon having a burrito and writing as long as I want.

How did you go about honing your writing skills?
I also look to the work of authors I enjoy to give me a standard by which to judge my work. I am constantly raising the bar.  I write a lot so I'm always checking into syntax and grammar issues. I'm always working on my editing skills.

What is your most productive time of day?
Saturday afternoon after lunch, I don't know why that is.

What are your goals with writing? What is your goal as a writer? To entertain, inspire, change the world?
I want to write things that will affect people emotionally. I want to create ideas and images that will fill them with wonder, make them think and believe them richer for the experience.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Lately, so much of my non-writing time is spent dealing with the non-writing aspects of writing. An author today has to attend to so many business aspects of writing if they want to be successful. But, I still try to go scuba diving once in a while.

Thanks for being with us today, Jack.  If people would like to meet you or buy your books, where can they go?

All are available on amazon:

Monday, November 15, 2010

John Stanton, Versatility Personified

John Stanton is nothing, if not versatile.  His published works are the 422 page tome, A Jesuit in Belize: The Life and Adventures of Father Buck Stanton in Nineteenth Century Central America and his paranormal fiction, The Truth About UFO's, Aliens, and All That. 

John talks about his books at his site:

This biography of Father William ‘Buck’ Stanton follows the life and times of a Jesuit missionary in turn-of-the century Central America. It paints a portrait of a gentle priest that traveled the world as an explorer, scientist, teacher and humanitarian. Though recently updated, the story was originally published in the 1920s and captures the coarse social attitudes of the day.

The reader gets an intimate look at a good natured explorer fluent in three languages that could kill and eat an alligator on his way through the jungle to teach children to read and preside over weddings. It is also a snapshot of a turbulent time in world history lost to the memory of recent generations.

And on UFO's:

Aliens from outer space don't exist and that really pisses them off. But now, the collective consciousness of the human race has given them awareness, technology and a strange agenda we don't understand. They have everything they need to breach humanity's tenuous veil of belief separating real from unreal and somebody’s going to get probed.

Cassandra Vega is a workaholic survivor of violence struggling against severe obsessive compulsive disorder. Her battle against her personal demons becomes ground zero in the battle against little gray people abducting earthlings. As the attack escalates, a group of oddball characters including a toilet paper salesman, a dominatrix and an Army General are drawn to the epicenter of the most dangerous threat the earth has ever faced.

The Truth about UFOs, Aliens, and all that is a surreal novel set in the gray area between sci-fi, comedy and self-parody.


Currently finished and seeking a publisher is The Lone Star Used Submarine Company, a wonderful tale of a man whose every touch turns gold to straw. He aspires to set up a business giving underwater tours, but in attempting to buy a used submarine, finds himself instead cheated by the seller, and on the run in an old submarine from several national navies.

John's current work in progress is The Dimensional Slacker, the story of Alden, a man with a mysterious ability to teleport, whose encounter with Cara and her foster-father, the mysterious former-great magician, Alexander, and his host of secrets, changes his life.  I am lucky enough to be in on the listening and editing to this story and am enjoying every minute.  John writes wonderful characters who come to feel like old friends, and as real as your own friends and neighbors, each with their quirks that make them endearing and memorable.

Alden knew that he was cursed but never understood the real difference between a gift and a curse until that night. He’d known he was different for a few years and had found a peace with it all. The excitement of being special had worn off and it turns out that the world was not a good place to be special anyway. The happiest people on earth were people who were just like everybody else. He was in college being trained to be like everybody else learning that there was no such thing as magic, that miracles had roots in science. Anything slightly magical was instantly swarmed with scientist taking samples, dissecting tissues and sticking cameras up its butt. Then the politicians would come trying to use it to sway public opinion, develop it as a weapon or have sex with it.

Alden could conceal his uniqueness but he couldn’t hide from it. It found him in his sleep in the form of a dream that everyone has. He dreamed that he was falling through the sky. The primordial human anxiety of falling bubbled to the surface as he slept tossing fitfully in his bed. Blue skies stretched around in all directions as he thrashed in the blasting wind. Suddenly, he was kicked awake as thin cold air punched him in the chest and sucked the breath out of him. The nightmare was real as icy condensations stung his skin with his flapping white boxer shorts the only protection from the terminal velocity. He gasped and choked desperately on the freezing air trying to find any traces of oxygen in the altitude. His skin started to burn from exposure and ice crystals began forming at the corners of his eyes. He flopped back in his bed with his cold skin dusted in frost as he gasped and coughed struggling to breathe. He got out of bed wheezing and stumbled onto the floor shivering in the fetal position.
 
In addition to writing novels and non-fiction, John does spoken word at local venues.  He has some perennial favorites about third grade bullies, strange encounters in parking ramps, flying monkeys, and meeting God in a bar, and continues to introduce new pieces.
John will be speaking and signing books this Friday, November 19 at Borders Books at The Shoppes at Arbor Lake, in Maple Grove, MN, from 5:30 onwards. 

He'll be appearing again at the Maple Grove Arts Center, 7916 Main Street in Maple Grove, MN, on Saturday, December 4, from 3pm to 7 pm.  Future appearances of his spoken word are planned for the Maple Grove Arts Center.  See the events page at Night Writers for details.

John is a scuba-diving enthusiast, and a native of Texas, now living in Minnesota.  Find out more about John at his site.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Author Shelley Stout on Researching Historical Fiction

Please welcome Shelley Stout, author of Radium Halos, a fictionalized account of the girls who painted dials with radium. It has been interesting to me to learn about Shelley's research into much more recent times, as compared to my own research much farther back.

Here is Shelley on the work that went into her book:

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Radium Halos is a work of historical fiction, which means that although it is fiction, it still has to be historically and technically accurate. It means that before I even put that first sentence on paper, I had to research my subject. As with many historical topics, there is far more information available out there than anyone would ever need to write a novel.
At the time I decided to write Radium Halos, it was 2005. More than 17 years had passed since I’d first viewed the documentary about the dial painters who died of radiation poisoning. I had to re-familiarize myself with the facts so I would then be able to create believable, relatable, and fully fleshed-out characters to weave into the true events.


To be able to write this novel, I had to focus on three main areas of research. First, I had to research radium itself, and the experience of the dial painters in Ottawa, Illinois. I studied all about what happened, how they suffered from jaw cancer and radiation poisoning. I researched how it affected their families. I was able to get a very grainy VHS copy of the documentary again, and watched it a couple of times as part of my research. Also, since much of my story is about two teenage sisters in 1923, I had to be sure their clothing, their expressions, and their behaviors were all accurate for that time.


The next part I focused on was the Argonne National Laboratories. In the 1970s, researchers did a study of the dial painters. They contacted the survivors, to ask them to travel to the lab to have their bones tested for radium. They also contacted the families of those who had already passed away, for permission to exhume their bodies and study their bones. They actually shipped their bones up to the lab for testing. I spoke to a very nice gentleman who had worked on this research, and he was a wealth of information.


The last part of my research was mental institutions, because my main character Helen has been in a mental institution for most of her adult life. I visited a state mental hospital near Charlotte, called Broughton. The hospital did not give me permission to use their name in my book, so I invented a new name: Mannington. Helen is in Mannington in 1972, and since I wanted everything to be accurate for that year, I spent an afternoon with a man who had worked there during the 1970s. I wanted to know what the patient’s rooms were like, what the conditions were like, what sorts of medications were available back then and how well they worked. I learned what their therapy was like, and how it differs from present day mental hospitals.

What I find most shocking about the dial painters is the unwavering faith, belief, and trust these young women had in their superiors. Management promised these innocent workers that it was perfectly safe to inhale, touch, use, and swallow paint made of radium. Clearly, the organization was more focused on production than protecting people from danger.

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More about Shelley and Radium Halos:

Originally from Annandale, Virginia, Shelley Stout resides in Charlotte,North Carolina, where she enjoys spending time with her two grown sons. She also enjoys volunteering at a local homeless shelter. Shelley has been contributing writer for two regional magazines, and her award-winning fiction has appeared in anthologies, The Storyteller Magazine and online at WordRiot.

"Shelley Stout debuts with a novel of characters as compelling as the true story it covers. Like a good reporter, she follows the facts. In this case she not only uncovers a story little known, but more importantly she reveals in her characters, the humanity of a tragic tale."
--Batt Humphreys, former senior producer for CBS News and author of Dead Weight

Also available on Kindle


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ross Tarry, Mystery Writer, on Writing

Please welcome today, Ross Tarry, author of four mysteries, and more to come. Ross talks about why writers write. Check below for Ross's upcoming appearances and book signings.

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Hello. My name is Ross.

I'm a writer.

Sounds like a greeting in a dependency program, doesn't it? Try to quit, though, and you find just how necessary writing is in your life.

I actually tried once. For about three months. I quit everything associated with writing. I avoided my office. I quit reading, going to libraries. Everything.

It lasted about two months.

There is something about writing that is a need. It's more than thinking up a plot or story or creating interesting characters, though it is also those. It is something inside you that needs to come out, something that needs to be expressed. Could it be we, as writers, living in this shallow world, need to show that there is more to us than what is seen. More to us than what we seem?

My passion for writing blossomed 25 years ago. Maybe it was something of a mid-life crisis. I know it had a lot to do with when my daughter began first grade. My wife worked during the day as an analyst at Norwest Bank. I worked afternoons for the Burlington Northern Railroad. As a result, I was our daughter's primary caregiver during the day. So when I discovered I was alone with no daughter to care for, I did what every mother or father is supposed to do: I slid into deep depression.

A good friend suggested I think through my life. Was there anything I really wanted to do that I hadn't been able to do? A hobby or avocation?

Yes! Write! I had about ten pages of a novel plot I had put together a number of years before. It was rolled and wrapped in up in rubber bands and thrown up overhead in the garage. Thus was born Spirits of Ojos de Agua. Set in Mexico. Which later became Eye of the Serpent.

Of Mourning Doves and Heroes followed. A murder mystery. Anyway, it started as a formula murder mystery. I soon found, however, that to satisfy this inner need to express myself, I needed sub-plots and relationships with interesting characters and so it turned into more of a mainstream mystery and an exploration of a late in life romance.

For Whipoorwill, I returned to Mexico. Something holds me to that part of the world.

What have I learned from my writing? Other than the practical knowledge gained from necessary research? That one must treasure solitude for one thing, And, that it does take a certain Gift. And we need to honor that Gift Giver by using that gift. But, writing is also craft. By studying the craft, using that gift, and practice, we can become successful by however you measure success.

But mostly, I think, I've gained a deeper understanding and acceptance of myself. And I can count that as a measure of my success.

Ross Tarry

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I am now retired and live with my wife in Mounds View, Minnesota. I grew up on a farm in Southwestern Michigan and later moved to Minneapolis Minnesota where I have lived since 1970.

I had been a closet writer for many years writing plot lines, character biography's, and scenes then storing my musing in the bottom drawer of an old desk, hoping to some day write a novel.

In 1994 I discovered Maureen LaJoy, the founder of The Center for Developing Writers, and joined her writing class. A small woman, she loomed large in my eyes and in the eyes of her students and she soon became the biggest influence in my life. My mentor.

Maureen often ended her class with one phrase and it's amazing to me now how powerful an effect it had on me, and I'm sure on her other students as well. That phrase: "I give you permission to write." What an awesome gift that was.
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Ross has several upcoming appearances:
  • Friday, November 19, 5:30 p.m. Ross and four other authors will appear at the Maple Grove Borders bookstore, located in The Shoppes at Arbor Lake. Please join him for an evening of book talk and book signings. A great time to get the gift of an author-signed book for the book-lover on your list!
  • Sunday, December 5, 1 to 5 p.m. The Maple Grove Arts Center, 7916 Main Street, Maple Grove. Book signing with live music.
  • Tuesday, January 25, 1 p.m. Author Talk at Plymouth Creek Center
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Ross's Books:

Eye of the Serpent

Sometimes love can be so great, so powerful, as to over shadow all other realities. Dominic Garcia, a young American archeologist, finds himself drawn to the ancient Mayan site of Ojos de Agua in southern Mexico by an energy much older than himself. There is also another draw. A woman who’s passion is justice. A strong, single minded woman who leads him into a world of deceit, deception and the violence of a blossoming revolution. And along the way he learns that having something to live for means having something worth dying for.


Last Cry of the Whipoorwill

Jersey Wilkes knows Baja Mexico and the Sea of Cortez like the back of his hand. He also believes his simple, uncomplicated life as captain of his boat Whipoorwill will go on forever, and it did until a woman from his past showed up in Los Cruces. Charmin Gotti is on what could be a risky mission to locate her husband and she needs his help. Jersey reluctantly agrees and soon discovers his chances of surviving the mission are slightly greater than surviving Charmin Gotti.

Of Mourning Doves and Heroes

In the small tight-knit town of Lawrence a paraplegic is found dead. Was it an accident or was it murder? The daughter of the town's only law officer, fifty-nine year old Titus Closson, is forced off the road and nearly killed. Titus, who has been contemplating retirement, is forced to put his planes aside to catch a killer and save his daughter's life.

Cardinal Red

When a woman is killed in his office by a hired assassin, retired homicide detective turned private-eye Vic Pittaro is charged by the victim's husband to find out who hired the killer and why.  When he discovers family secrets that threaten an influential family, the case turns personal and leaves behind a string of dead bodies.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lyn Miller LaCoursiere on Writing

Please welcome Lyn Miller LaCoursiere, author of the Lindy Lewis mystery and adventure series. Lyn published many articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Minnesota Women's Press before turning to fiction. She is about to release her fourth Lindy Lewis novel. If you'd like to meet Lyn, mark these times and dates:
  • Maple Grove Borders, at The Shoppes at Arbor Lake, from 5:30 in the evening onward, on Friday, November 19, 2010. Lyn and four other authors will be giving readings, speaking, and signing books.
  • Maple Grove Arts Center, 7916 Main Street, Maple Grove, 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 5, 2010
  • Maple Grove Arts Center, 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 12, 2010
Today, Lyn tells us a little about how she came to writing:

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You know, I started writing a journal after my husband passed away. Oprah had said ‘buy a tablet and a pen and just start writing.’ And so I did; I wrote down my sorrow, my loneliness, and my anger at him for leaving me. And over the next years I had accumulated a tall stack of yellow legal tablets and I had learned, writing everything down taught me how to feel my feelings and identify them.

Over time I tried my hand at poetry and short stories. I had one story that I just couldn’t seem to end and it went on and on, and finally to my surprise it produced a book called Nightmares and Dreams. I found that I liked to write mainstream; mystery/ romance and I continued on using my same characters in which I will soon be publishing my fourth book in the series.

My most productive time of the day to write is early morning when the day is fresh and I feel rested. I love to take my coffee and go to my desk and see my friends again. My characters are real to me as I cry with them when their troubles abound and laugh with them at their antics. I do sometimes build my characters around people I’ve met and I must say they sometimes do things that I have or thought about doing. I also use areas around the country that I have visited or dreamed of visiting.

When I started writing, I had never done anything except write a note on a greeting card and an occasional letter, so I had and still have, a lot to learn about the art of writing.

I am fortunate to belong to a critiquing group of writers where I constantly learn something new about my work from them.

Writing is very important to me as it keeps my focus on creative thinking and a steady routine that I want in my life. And you know, I write strictly to entertain and if my readers find similarities in my characters and their activities I am pleased at their interest and thank them for their support.

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Visit Lyn at her site.

NIGHTMARES AND DREAMS is a blend of murder, money, and romance, of two people unable to break the ties of young love.

LINDY LEWIS, now a feisty adventuress, is forced to face life alone in the mansion her husband and she had lovingly renovated. Alone and insecure about the future after he dies and believing she would find contentment again if she is rich, feels life has forced her to take some drastic measures. She commits a crime.

REED CONNERS a successful retired lawyer, now an investigator has one downfall, Lindy Lewis. The same woman he loved in college decades ago and much to his chagrin, can still manage to bring havoc to his life.


The two come face to face again in a casino in Northern Minnesota as Lindy escapes from a killer who threatens her life and her newly acquired precious fortune. While Reed has been assigned to investigate a fraudulent crime to his company, he is stunned to discover the offender is none other than his ex-lover, Lindy Lewis. This sets off a series of dangerous encounters as once again their lives become entangled.

TOMORROW'S RAIN will take you down another journey of intrigue as a woman searches for her inner peace and a man's harbored passions are pushed to the limit.

An excerpt from the third book, Sunsets:
The courtroom was silent as death as the prosecutor repeated the question.

"Miss Lewis, would you please tell the court what you saw when you looked out the porthole of the yacht?"

The color drained from Lindy's face, and a chill numbed her limbs. She felt the deadly threat in Mario's eyes pierce the short distance in the room as she sat just a few feet from him. but she didn't have a choice: testify for the FBI or face prison for her fraudulent insurance claim. And, of course, hand over the millions of dollars!

Oh, lord, this was so much worse than she'd imagined. Tension raced across the planked floor in the courtroom then, but she choked down the dread and said, "I saw Mario D'Agustino shoot a man!"

Suddenly Summer, the fourth book in the Lindy Lewis series, is being released this fall.

Thank you, Lyn, for being a guest today, and good luck!

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If you'd like to read about other Night Writers:

Ross on writing
Genny Genny's books
Our pool party
Sue's new book, The Misadventure's of  Cat Named Blossom
John Stanton John Stanton on Writing