Sunday, October 31, 2010

American Historical Romance Enemy of the King On Best Romance Novel List At Buzzle!

I was amazed to discover ENEMY OF THE KING on this prestigious list (below) at Buzzle. Talented fellow author Diana Cosby also made this list.
Best Romance Novels 2010 and Others
That was the lowdown on some of the best romance novels, and a list of other good novels in the romance genre, that you can read. Hope you enjoyed it!
By Sujata Iyer
Published: 10/28/2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Journey Back In Time With Colonial Frontier Romance Through the Fire

Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully. As I read I am transported back to the mid-1700’s on the American frontier as Britain and France maneuver to control the American continent. I can see how each side feels they are right and the other side the aggressor. I watch how the natives take sides based on promises made but not kept. I felt I was there through Ms. Trissel’s descriptions and settings~
Two Lips Reviewer

When I wrote my historical romance novel Through the Fire I felt as though I’d been through the flames. My hero and heroine certainly had. This adventure romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor and a mystical weave was born in the fertile ground of my imagination, fed by years of research and a powerful draw to my colonial roots. 

My fascination with stirring tales of the colonial frontier and Eastern Woodland Indians is an early and abiding one. My English/Scot-Irish ancestors were among the first settlers of the Shenandoah Valley and had family members killed and captured by the Indians. Some individuals returned and left intriguing accounts of their captivity, while others disappeared without a trace. On the Houston/Rowland side of the family, I have ties to Governor Sam Houston, President James Madison and Malcolm 1st of Scotland (that last one’s a stretch).

Family annals list early names like Beale, Jordan, Madison, and Hite (a German connection I discovered). A brief account of my grandmother (six times removed) Elizabeth Hite, says her sister Eleanor was taken captive and sister Susan killed, though not by which tribe.  Their brother Jacob was killed by the Cherokee.  I’m not exactly certain of the dates regarding these captures and deaths, though more is known about Jacob Hite.
Another ancestor, Mary Moore, is the subject of a book entitled The Captives of Abb’s Valley.  She survived an amazing ordeal and was eventually restored to her family by her brother.

Yet another account came down to us regarding a Moffett forebear captured as a child who became a boyhood companion of the revered Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.When young Moffett grew up, he married into the tribe and had a son, but that’s the subject of a different novel, my recent release, Native American historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song.

A Pennsylvanian ancestor on the Churchman side of the family was invited by the Shawnee/Delaware to help negotiate a treaty with the English because he was Quaker and they were more sympathetic to the plight of the Indians. Many accounts are left unrecorded, though. Historian Joseph Waddell says we know only a fraction of the drama that occurred during the Indian Wars. I invite you back to a time long forgotten by most.

Hear the primal howl of a wolf, the liquid spill of a mountain stream. Welcome to the colonial frontier where the men fire muskets and wield tomahawks and the women are wildcats when threatened.

The year is 1758, the height of the French and Indian War. Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies. The Iroquois League, Shawnee, and others bring age-old rivalries to the conflict—above all the ardent desire to hold onto what is theirs. Who will live, and who will fall?

The French and Indian War, a Shawnee warrior, an English lady, blood vengeance, deadly pursuit, primal, powerful, passionate…THROUGH THE FIRE.

Rebecca Elliot is an English lady, Shoka a half-Shawnee, half-French warrior. Rebecca fled an abusive father in London to elope to America with her young British captain. Shoka was a guide for English traders, befriended by an itinerant priest and betrayed by his wife. Rebecca left Philadelphia a widow, courtesy of the French and Indian War, to seek a beloved uncle in the colonial frontier. She has unwittingly entered a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn’t know them.

Shoka is the hawk, swift and sure, and silent as the moon. He knows all about survival in this untamed land and how deadly distraction can be. He makes Rebecca his prisoner, but the last thing he wants is to lose his head and already shredded heart to another impossibly beautiful woman…this one with blindingly blue eyes and a blistering temper.

Rebecca wants Shoka to guide her to Fort Warden where her uncle and cousins may be sheltering. Shoka wants to sell this furious Englishwoman to a Frenchman before she draws him under her spell, but if he lets her go he can no longer protect her. If he holds onto her can he safeguard his heart?

Rebecca is torn between a growing attraction to her magnetic captor and loyalty to her people. With dark forces gathering against them, will Rebecca and Shoka fight together or be destroyed?~ 

“A heart well worth winning, and well won. A heart that, once won, goes through fire and water for the winner, and never changes, and is never daunted.” ~ Charles Dickens 

Native American Historical Romance Native Novel THROUGH THE FIRE~ 
Finalist 2008 Golden Heart ® Contest

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Old Time Apple Butter Boiling

We ladies spent the morning peeling and slicing up bushels of tart, red apples, then stoked up the fire.  Mom first sprinkled a handful of pennies over the bottom of the enormous old copper kettle to help keep the apples from sticking before we set the pot in a wide hole in the cooker.  She added spices and gallons of cider to the apples and we commenced to stirring.

I love fall, always have.  It brings with it an excitement, a sort of energy, that recharges the land and a people grown weary of the stifling summer heat and drought that often accompanies it.  Change in and of itself is not necessarily good, but it can be.  I am resolved to make this a good fall, brilliant in worth, glowing with love and filled with promise.

In the Shenandoah Valley, autumn also means apple butter boiling.  My most outstanding memory of fruit butter making occurred years ago when my son was small and the girls not yet born.  My husband’s mother decided her daughters-in-law should have the rich experience of stirring apple butter and we gathered with her in what is now the basement of our garage apartment.

Before that it was a woodworking shop and even further back is where my parents-in-law ‘went to housekeeping’ as Mom Trissel calls it, in the days when they were first married.  They lived there for a number of months.  At the time of the boiling, it was a dimly lit room with a small wood stove and a brick kettle cooker behind it built against the chimney.

Hours passed as each of us took turns at manning the long-handled wooden ladle.  The little room grew charged with the spicy fragrance of the aromatic brew.  We were sorely tired by the time it was pronounced done, but it was wonderful stuff.  Two saplings now grow at the back of our garage from the mountain of peels and seeds we tossed outside that day.  The trees are entwined together like lovers and have espaliéd themselves up along the wall to the roof.  Their abundant fruit is runty from lack of care but has an excellent tangy sweetness.

*Pic of apple butter boiling in a copper kettle, such as we used, over an open fire.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Old Time Mennonite Apple Dumplings

Quantcast Autumn is the season of apples, all kinds, colors, sweet, tangy, mild, or full of flavor, and it’s the perfect time of year to make apple dumplings.  This is an old recipe from The Mennonite Community Cookbook.
6 Medium Sized Baking Apples, 2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 tsps. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2/3 cup shortening,  1/2 cup milk.

Sauce:  2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg
Pare and core apples.  Leave whole. To make pastry sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in shortening until particles are the size of small peas.

Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together. Roll dough as for pastry and cut into six squares and place an apple on each. Fill cavity in apple with sugar and cinnamon. Pat dough around apple to cover completely. Fasten edges together securely on top of apple.  Place dumplings 1 inch apart in a greased baking pan.

Pour the sauce over them made as follows:  Combine brown sugar, water and spices in stove top pan.  Cook for five minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter.
Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Baste occasionally during baking. Serve hot with rich milk or cream.  Savor.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lore of the Jack O’Lantern

QuantcastWe love our pumpkins, the goal each year being to grow as big a pumpkin as possible and revel in its great orange glory.  And, of course, to carve a ghostly grin in this triumph of pumpkinhood.  Sometimes we win the battle with the vine borers and succeed.  Sometimes we don’t.  

Our favorite looking pumpkin is the wonderfully ribbed heirloom Cinderella variety.  But we like most anything that achieves an impressive size.  Next year we will grow the biggest pumpkin ever.  And we have the most sincere pumpkin patch too.  *Pics of some of this year’s Cinderella Pumpkins~

The following bit of Halloween lore is from the Pumpkin Nook, an online source of info for all your pumpkin needs and one I highly recommend:
 The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O’Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O’Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O’Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History.
As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell.
Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way.
Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his “Jack O’Lantern.
On all Hallow’s eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O’Lanterns. In the 1800′s a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns.~

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review of Native American Historical Romance Novel Through the Fire At Two Lips

Title: Through the Fire
Author: Beth Trissel
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, French-Indian War
Publication date: 2008
ISBN: 1-60154-47-5
Pages: 347
Series: n/a
Reviewer: Sheila
Heat Level:  m/f

Set in Virginia during the French and Indian War, Beth Trissel’s Through the Fire tells the story of Rebecca Elliott and her sister Kate as they travel to live with their uncle on the frontier. Attacked and kidnapped by Shawnee Indians, Rebecca must deal with her misconceptions and deep personal tragedy while falling in love with Shawnee warrior, Shoka. As Rebecca loses her heart to Shoka, she sees the differences in the English and Shawnee societies and changes her thoughts of who are the barbarians.

Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully. As Rebecca and Kate travel in the wilderness, though beautiful, many dangers lurk for the unsuspecting sisters. Away from the gentility they grew up around, the people they meet as they travel to their uncle in the wilderness are rougher and more focused on survival regardless of which side they belong. I love historical novels because they take me to times and places that I cannot visit and Through the Fire is no different. As I read I am transported back to the mid-1700’s on the American frontier as Britain and France maneuver to control the American continent. I can see how each side feels they are right and the other side the aggressor. I watch how the natives take sides based on promises made but not kept. I felt I was there through Ms. Trissel’s descriptions and settings.

The plot begins with the attack on the group of soldiers as Rebecca and Kate travel to be with their uncle. Rebecca is kidnapped and fights but, as in all good love stories, loses her heart to the warrior who captured her. We see how the war affects all aspects of their lives. This is certainly not the time for an English woman to love a Shawnee warrior and vice versa. I enjoy seeing how Rebecca’s beliefs are challenged and she learns that what she has been told is not the whole story.

Rebecca and Shoka are so believable as lovers. Shoka is calm but can be roused by Rebecca’s stubbornness. They are well matched as they challenge each other, teach each other, and learn from each other. This is not a boring relationship by any means! I enjoyed the secondary characters from the French Captain Renault to Shoka’s cousin Meshewa. The Shawnee fight on the French side of the war. It’s refreshing not to have the novel from the English point of view but to see the conflict from the eyes of the eventual losers of this war and to see the villains as those who we’ve been brought up to see as the “good guys”.

This is an excellent story where there is so much happening with Rebecca in the center of it all. I’m glad I read it and look forward to reading more of Beth Trissel.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finding Gold In Herbal Lore

Calendulas wink cheerily in the flower bed that stretches along the road like a colorful island in the middle of a grassy sea. These calendula are special with their dark eyes dotting the centers of orange, saffron, yellow, and apricot flowers. A wealth of lore is invested in these simple plants, also known as “pot marigold,” and the blooms Shakespeare had in mind when he spoke of marigoldsThe Old English called them golds and ruddes.

From Discovery Health:

“Calendula has a long history of use as a wound-healing and skin-soothing botanical. This lovely marigoldlike flower (although called pot marigold, it is not a true marigold) is considered a vulnerary agent, a substance that promotes healing. Calendula also has anti-inflammatory and weak antimicrobial activity. It is most often used topically for lacerations, abrasions, and skin infections; less commonly, it is used internally to heal inflamed & infected mucous membranes.”

*Interesting and informative site that sells Calendula Cream.

From The Tree of Knowledge: Add calendula to baths to win respect and admiration. Scatter under your bed for protection & prophetic dreams. Carry for justice in court.~

An ancient herbalist states: “Golde is bitter in savour. Fayr and yellow in his flowur. Ye golde flowur is good to sene. It makyth ye syth bryth and clene.”

“It is said, only to look on marigolds will draw evil humours out of the head and strengthen the eyesight. The petals may also be ingested in a conserve of sugar to be taken during times of plague and pestilence, or dried and added to broths. And if you’ve been robbed, marigold will give you a vision of the thief. But it must be taken “only when the moon is in the sign of the Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb loses its virtue. And the gatherer, who must be out of deadly sin, must say three Pater Nosters and three Aves.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Step Into the Garden With Meriwether & Jeremiah from Colonial American Romance Novel Enemy of the King

Stone lions the size of wolfhounds sat on either side of the imposing front door as if to devour unwanted guests. Perhaps Jeremiah enjoyed their significance. He seldom entertained and seemed happier seated astride a horse than in the company of most ladies and gentlemen. He turned the marble knob and led Meriwether out onto the crescent-shaped balcony.
He leaned momentarily on the iron railing. “Feel that breeze.”
“Delightful.” The cool wind fanned her hot cheeks. 
Lifting her skirts, she walked arm in arm with him down the brick steps of the gracious Georgian-style home. Pleasant Grove had been built by his grandfather on a bluff above the Santee River and fashioned after the manor in Kent that Lord Jordan had been forced to flee in 1647 after fighting with Charles I, who lost his kingdom and his head. Fortunately Jeremiah’s Royalist ancestor had fared better than the ill-fated king and escaped to America with his young wife and her jewels. But his near capture by Cromwell and the loss of everything else had given him a wariness he’d passed to his descendents.
Was Jeremiah secretly opposing a different king?
She cocked her head at him a little apprehensively. “Is there anywhere in particular you’re taking me?”
He smiled as if to reassure her. “Just farther in.”
“As you wish.” Being out here alone with him was like being in a glistening Eden. A thrush warbled from high above them in the live oak. Green-gray moss hung from its far-reaching branches and blew in the breeze, reminding her of the McChesney, her father’s largest ship, its sails billowing.
Jeremiah held her back, the warmth of his hand radiating through her sleeve.  “You’ll spoil those fine shoes.” He led her around the sprawling puddle she hadn’t noticed and onto the green mat creeping over the path.
The fragrant thyme scented the air as they trod on the tiny leaves and wound deeper into the garden. Newly washed hollyhocks, rosy balsam, and wine-red salvia gleamed. The glowing colors, heady fragrances, her arm tingling at his touch…stirred a pulsing awareness in Meriwether that she’d never felt in the house. 
There was so much she wanted to say, to ask, but couldn’t, and she darted glances at him.
He caught her eye. “What are you thinking?”
“Nothing of consequence,” she almost stuttered.
He quirked his left eyebrow at her; the narrow scar gave it a slightly crooked rise. “And earlier in the parlor?”
She glanced away from his searching gaze and focused on the toe of his boot. “Just chatter.”
“Are you truly worried?”
“Only as much as anyone these days.” Still evading his scrutiny, she bent and plucked a sweetly-scented nicotiana blossom.
He took the white flower from her hand as she straightened, setting her skin afire, and tucked it behind her ear. “I sense there’s much left unsaid. Why won’t you speak?”
Still battling the near irresistible draw of those blue eyes, she stared at his open neckline. “I prefer to listen.”
“Yet I would know what fills your fair head.”
“Perhaps you already do,” she said, hastily shifting her inspection from his bronzed chest back to the snowy blossoms.
His voice lowered even further. “No. You are not so easily read.”
Jeremiah grew silent and led her into the avenue, as he called it, strolling with her between rows of English boxwood that reached up over their heads. The clipped shrubs exuded the warm Old World scent Meriwether remembered from childhood.
“Stay a moment,” he said, stopping beside the fish pool. The statue of his father’s favorite spaniel sat on the pebble path beside the water, a whimsical touch. The brown stone was flecked with moss, as was anything that sat out of doors too long, but the cocker seemed as if he really were intent on the water.
She patted his granite ears and sighed. How could she confide her deepest longing and her fears?
“Such a weighty sigh. Has our walk overtaxed you?”
She lifted her gaze to his, bracing herself under the force of his study. “No. I’m much stronger now.”
“Good. You seem so. You were as weak as a newborn kitten when I first found you.”
“I only remember that you brought me here in your boat.”
He scooped up a pebble, tossing it into the pool. Goldfish scattered, and a little green frog plopped in among the lilies. “Charles Town is a graveyard. Thank God yours has not swelled the family plot.”
The intensity in his voice took her by surprise.
“Are you content at Pleasant Grove, Miss Steele?”
“Yes,” she answered in growing confusion.
She shied away from his inquiry and watched goldfish rippling through the water like orange silk. “Why doubt me?”
“I must know.”
His earnestness made her stomach churn. “For my part,
I am content. I trust you don’t find my presence burdensome?”
“Not yet,” he said gravely.
Her eyes startled back to his. “Do you think I will become so?”
“Quite possibly.”
1780 South Carolina, spies and intrigue, a vindictive ghost,  the battle of King’s Mountain, Patriots and Tories, pounding adventure, pulsing romance…ENEMY OF THE KING.
Enemy of the King is an amazing and vibrant look into the American Revolutionary War and tells the story through the eyes of a remarkable woman. While Jeremiah Jordan himself is a strong soldier and heroic patriot, it is Meriwether Steele who makes such a great impression in this epic novel. Her dedication to the man she loves, the lengths she must go to defend herself and others, and the unstoppable force that she is makes Meriwether one heck of a heroine. Ms. Trissel brings the countryside and its people alive with her fascinating and at times gory details. This sexy historical book is a must read!’
~ Danielle
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More~
Colonial American Romance Novel ENEMY OF THE KING, a fast-paced Adventure Romance, is my version of THE PATRIOT.  The novel is available in print and/or digital download  at: The Wild Rose Press, AmazonBarnes & Noble and other online booksellers~

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Colonial America and Remembering the Battle of Kings Mountain

October 7th, my wee niece Cailin’s birthday, is the anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain, an epic conflict that took place in the neighboring Carolinas and one that many Virginians took part in.  Also a sadly much overlooked battle.  The ramifications of Kings Mountain were huge.  So why haven’t more people heard of it?

To quote The Sons of Liberty Chapter/Sons of the American Revolution website:

“Many historians consider the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780 to be the turning point in America’s War for Independence. The victory of rebelling American Patriots over British Loyalist troops completely destroyed the left wing of Cornwallis’ army. 

This decisive battle successfully ended the British invasion into North Carolina and forced Lord Cornwallis to retreat from Charlotte into South Carolina to wait for reinforcements. This triumphant victory of the Overmountain Men allowed General Nathanael Greene the opportunity to reorganize the American Army.”

“Thomas Jefferson called it “The turn of the tide of success.” The battle of Kings Mountain, fought October 7th, 1780, was an important American victory during the Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major patriot victory to occur after the British invasion of Charleston, SC in May 1780. The park preserves the site of this important battle.”

It seems to me that a battle of such enormous significance should not be forgotten, yet few today have heard of Kings Mountain, let alone are aware of the significance attached to that name.  I’m doing my best to keep its memory alive.

Back when I was doing research for my first colonial frontier novel (Red Bird’s Song) and pouring through old annals, I continually came across references to Kings Mountain.  The battle, unknown to me then, impressed itself upon me through the pride these early Scots-Irish forebears had in having taken part, so I made a mental note to go back at some point and discover more.

I learned about the gallant, ill-fated British Major Patrick Ferguson who lost his life and Loyalist army atop that Carolina Mountain called Kings back in the fall of 1780.  And the hardy, valiant, sometimes downright mean Overmountain men of Scots heritage didn’t take kindly to Ferguson’s warning that they desist from rebellion or he’d bring fire and sword upon them and hang all their leaders––all these enemies of the King!
So impressed was I by the accounts I read that I featured the battle in my Revolutionary War romance novel aptly entitled, Enemy of the KingThe battle is a fitting culmination of this fast-paced adventure romance story.

I’ve visited the site of the battle twice, walked the wooded knob, read the markers, admired the monument engraved with the names of the Patriots who fought there, paused by the stone cairn where British Major Patrick Ferguson is buried, and communed with the past.   Those who have gone before us and all they sacrificed in the founding of this country should not be forgotten–nor those who are sacrificing now– especially with all the challenges America faces.

If you agree with me in the vital importance of remembering those who fell in historic battles like Kings Mountain, then take a moment to reflect, and never ever forget.  Without those men, and women, we would not be the United States of America.  Without those serving our country now, we would cease to be.

I’ve included a pensive, prophetic quote below from the fallen Patrick Ferguson, whom I admire, despite his having been on the ‘other side.‘  He was one of the better British officers with much integrity.  He spared George Washington’s life on an earlier occasion because he would’ve had to shoot General Washington in the back as he was surveying the field before the Battle of Brandywine and that seemed dishonorable.  I agree.

But ‘Bloody Ban‘ Banastre Tarleton, a much hated British officer very prominent in the Southern face of the American Revolution, would have taken the shot.  Ferguson invented the rifle that bears his name and was a crack shot.  He wouldn’t have missed Washington.  

Life really isn’t fair, Ferguson was wounded at the battle of Brandywine and nearly lost his arm.  Tarleton survived the war and went home to a hero’s welcome.  So a tribute to Ferguson here and a boo to Tarleton.

“The length of our lives is not at our command however much the manner of them may be.  If  our creator enables us to act the part of honor and conduct  ourselves with spirit, probity, and humanity the change to another world whether now or fifty years hence will not be for the worse.”

Patrick Ferguson~

*Above pic of the battlefield site