Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ghostly Romance Somewhere My Love & Hamlet

Julia huddled in a chair looking strained and vulnerable.  She bore an unsettling resemblance to Ophelia, almost as if Shakespeare had written the lines with her in mind. If only Will could have five minutes alone with her.  He’d sooth her troubled spirit, he was sure, but they hadn’t had five minutes…

His grandmother tapped her cane, her eyes  bright. She wasn’t concerned about Julia, or anyone else for that matter. Nothing and no one was paramount to her except this play, and she was single-minded about getting it off the ground. She cleared her throat. “All right, folks. Let’s begin,” she said in an unusually strong voice. “Thank you for taking part in this momentous occasion.”

A polite round of applause followed, and she paused to nod graciously before continuing. “For those of you new to the play, I will give you the setting.” Here, the old lady came into her own, bent forward, her tone filled with mystery. “Imagine if you will the handsome young prince Hamlet. His  beloved father is dead and Hamlet’s grief is black. Rather than opening with the funeral, though, we shall commence with the haunting.”

Anyone in the assembly unaware of a ghostly presence in the play perked up with interest. And everyone seemed more attentive, despite themselves, as the story teller wove on. “We shall have props later, but for now, envision this hall as a dark medieval castle in Denmark at the dead of night. Hamlet has heard his father’s spirit roams the battlement at this haunted hour. He and his friends are there watching for the royal specter. We will make do with one friend until I can recruit others.” She swept her hand at Will and one of the gardeners. “William, Dave, center stage.”

Will knew his lines but Dave, whom his grandmother had pressed into playing Horatio, held a dog-eared script in his callused hand. He bent his red neck over the pages and squinted. “Which is me, Mrs. Wentworth?”

“I’ve marked your part,” she told him. “And we’ve abbreviated the lines, a sort of condensed version.”

Shakespeare would turn in his grave at the butchering she’d done to his work, but there was nothing for it other than to enter into the spirit of the evening. Will strode to the middle of the hall, his mind only half on the play. He was suited for the part of Hamlet, though, feeling brooding enough. He glanced around as if seeing only dark battlements and rubbed his hands together, blowing on them. “‘The air bites shrewdly. It is very cold.’”

Dave nodded, his head ringed with the hat hair effect left from his gardening cap. He rubbed a grizzled chin with thick fingers, stumbling as he spoke in his Southern twang. “‘It is a nipping and an eager air.’” 
 He paused. “What does that mean?”

“He agrees with Hamlet that it’s cold,” Will explained. “My line. ‘What hour now?’”

Dave glanced at his wrist as though that would enhance the scene. “‘I think it lacks of twelve,’” he drawled.

Will shook his head at him. “No watches then, Dave.”

Their director interrupted at this point. “Let’s get on to the ghost,” Queen Nora said in her erratic manner.

Dave adopted a bug-eyed expression Will supposed was intended to mime fear and pointed shakily. “‘Look, my lord, it comes.’”

Will raised his eyes to the second floor landing where Joe, the other gardener, stood beckoning to him with white fingers. The lime dust powdering him from an application to the lawn lent some credibility to his ghostly effort, but not a lot. Will pressed his fist to his mouth, partly to keep from laughing, and then dropped his hand so as not to muffle the words.

“‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us…be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell. Thou  comes in such a questionable shape. I’ll call thee Hamlet, King, father. What may this mean that thou should revisit us?’”

 Dave grabbed his sleeve. “‘It beckons you to go  away with it, but do not go.’”
A nice touch, Will conceded. He shook Dave off. “‘It will not speak, then I will follow it,’” he said, and left Dave to dash up the stairs.

His grandmother called out, “Skip ahead to the parts I specified!”

Will stumbled as Joe lunged at him, more in an attack mode than as a fearsome specter, and gripped his shoulders. “‘I am thy father’s spirit doomed for a certain term to walk the night and for the day confined to fast in fires,’” Joe declared in his gravelly bass voice.

Will recited his part automatically, his chief concern escaping this ape-man unscathed. Joe was a hard worker, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Moaning as though he were portraying Jacob Marley, Joe gave Will a teeth-rattling jar. “‘If thou didst ever thy dear father love—’”

“‘Oh, God,’” Will said, both as Hamlet and himself.

“‘Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,’” Joe demanded.

“‘Murder?’” Will echoed.
Jon tightened his hold. Surely, he was the most hell-bent ghostly king any actor had ever portrayed. “‘Now, Hamlet, hear me,’” he growled, like a hit man about to eliminate him if he didn’t take heed. “‘Tis given out that sleeping in my orchard a serpent stung me. The serpent that did sting your father’s life now wears his crown.’”

“‘Oh, my prophetic soul—my uncle,’” Will said.

“‘Aye,’” Joe groaned. “‘That incestuous, adulterous beast with witchcraft of his wit and traitorous gifts. While sleeping in my orchard, my custom always in the afternoon, thy uncle stole with juice of cursed hebona in a vial and in the porches of my ears did pour the leprous distilment.’”

Joe clutched him by the throat. Was Hamlet ever so beset upon? With a credible effort at lamentation, Joe roared  in mock agony, “‘If thou hast nature in thee bear it not! Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest. As for thy mother leave her to heaven and to those thorns that in her bosom  lodge to prick and sting her. Fare thee well. Adieu, Adieu. Hamlet, remember me.’”

Joe released Will and he staggered back, gasping for breath. But the prophetic plea coupled with the warning of treachery struck him as significant. He sensed it had to do with Cole. 

Was  there something more he should do about his distant cousin? Cole had been struck down with a sword. Everyone knew that, didn’t they?
Or was there more to the story? Some crucial aspect left untold?

*Somewhere My Love is available in digital download and print at The Wild Rose PressAmazonBarnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Final Day of The Amazing Author Event!

It’s time to answer those questions and win prizes.  My giveaway in this event is the ebook of my historical romance Red Bird’s Song (pdf or kindle, winner’s choice) inspired by events that occurred to my ancestors in the colonial frontier.  This adventure romance novel has aThe Last of the Mohicans‘s flavor.
To complete the tour, pop into Author Ginger Simpson’s fabulous blog Cowboy Kisses for the grand finale.   All awaits you there.
Red Bird’s Song is a historical romance novel finalist in the 2012 EPIC EBOOK Awards.  What a change if a Native American themed novel won.  We shall see in March.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Drama and Romance of the American Revolution

‘An amazing and vibrant look into the American Revolutionary War…This sexy historical book is a must read!’~ Danielle, Coffee Time Romance & More
’1780 South Carolina, spies and intrigue, a vindictive ghost,  the battle of Kings Mountain, Patriots and Tories, pounding adventure, pulsing romance…ENEMY OF THE KING.’
New Excerpt:
Captain Vaughan escorted Meriwether back over the path she and Jeremiah had walked not long ago. Yet everything changed.  Apart from the staggering disclosures Jeremiah had made and their impassioned encounter, dragoons and Loyalists now accompanied their return. She and Vaughan led the way. Jeremiah followed slightly behind them in the middle of the pack. The clink of swords and tread of boots betrayed her silent companions, as if she could forget they were there for an instant.
Meriwether hadn’t any idea what Jeremiah had in mind by way of escape, only that a way must be  found. Wild to reach the kitchen and the Daws family, especially Keith, she half-trotted at Vaughan’s side, her satin slippers wet and ruffled hem dipping in puddles along the path.
“Why the hurry, Miss Steele?” Vaughan asked as he slid his fingers up her bare arm.
She shrank from his touch and reined herself in.  “No reason,” she said and shivered.
“You’re covered in goosebumps. We can’t have  you taking a chill.” He stopped and the assembly halted as he removed his coat to drape the resplendent garment around her shoulders.
The wool was still warm from him and the tight weave had kept the rain from soaking through, but she had no wish to be so familiarly outfitted by the bold captain. “Thank you, sir,” she made herself reply.
Jeremiah said nothing. He didn’t need to. His anger radiated from behind her like a scorching hearth. “This way, Captain, please. I must speak with the cook,” she said.
“If you like. I’ve no objection to instructing cooks.”
She knew Vaughan wasn’t easily fooled, however. She must tread with care and refrained  from tugging at his sleeve as he walked with her over the brick path between the herb and vegetable beds in the kitchen garden. Ordinary things like beans and squash seemed out of place at such a dire time. It would be more fitting if the earth opened up and swallowed their most unwelcome visitors.
A gust of wind blew hair into her eyes, and she battled her flapping skirts down with her hands.’
Vaughan chuckled. “Would that it were not so dark and I could better see you, Miss Steele.”
“Would that I had a sword to better slay you,” Jeremiah growled.
“What makes you so certain you would triumph if you did?” Vaughan flung over his shoulder.
“Try me and see,” Jeremiah challenged in turn.
“Why bother? You’ll soon have Cornwallis to deal with.”
And you have me to battle before you take him, Captain, Meriwether vowed.
Tumultuous passion, pounding fear, and the urge to break free from Vaughan all seethed inside her. Like a hunted fox, her senses were heightened. The stars seemed brighter, the wind crisper, and the tang of smoke from the chimney sharper.  Pungent aroma rose from the feathery dill as the wet foliage spattered raindrops against her. Forever after, whenever she smelled dill, she would remember this night.~
*ENEMY OF THE KING is available in print & digital download  at: The Wild Rose Press, AmazonBarnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Suspenseful Scottish Time Travel Romance

“Ms. Trissel masterfully blended the past and the present in order to create a lovely romance that spans centuries.” ~Poinsettia, Long and Short Reviews
An ancient relic, a medieval crypt, a mad Highlander at their throats and time fast running out.  Mystery, suspense, romance… 

BLURB: Neil MacKenzie’s well-ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiancé from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood.
Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late.
The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?~
EXCERPT:  How in the name of—Stunned beyond oaths, Neil gaped down at the slender young woman dressed in an outlandish Scottish costume.
Hair the color of a flaming sunset spilled down over the red and blue tartan plaid draped around her like a shawl. A circular brass brooch heavily engraved by some skilled craftsman held the edges together. A full green skirt covered the rest of her, a hint of petticoats beneath.
Good God. She looked straight out of the Old Country.
In profound disbelief, he knelt beside her and laid his hand on her shoulder. He wasn’t hallucinating. She was real enough, warm against his hand. Stranger still, the peaty scent of turf smoke emanated from her. And some perfume he couldn’t place, but inherently knew.
Moss rose, maybe? The rich meld of fragrances carried him back, but to where? Baffled, he shook her gently. “Miss?”
She gave a soft moan.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
She turned toward him, fluttering a dark fringe of auburn lashes. Another moan issued from between what surely were petal soft lips. He frowned at the ugly bruise marring her forehead.
Had that maniac done this to her? The rest of her smooth skin was pale except for the sprinkle of freckles on her nose—not too long with a pert tilt, Neil noted, along with an absence of any other immediate injuries. Thank God he hadn’t been too late to help this young woman. Perhaps he’d frightened off her attacker, the coward. Although he had no idea where the killer had gone.
Neil remained on his guard. He mustn’t take anything for granted. The only certainty—a violent criminal was on the loose. Difficult to keep watching over his shoulder, though, with the inexplicable stranger commanding his attention.
Intrigued, despite the gruesome circumstances of their meeting, Neil locked his gaze on her once again. Vivid blue eyes, cast with a purplish hue, opened wide. Unusual color and deeply stirring. She blinked and stared up at him as if he’d materialized out of the mist. But it was she who’d mysteriously come upon him with such wonder and beauty.
His already pounding heart skipped a beat for an entirely different reason now. He looked long into her eyes…for a moment he forgot the grisly murder, forgot everything.  There was a timeless quality in those violet depths; the term “window to the soul” took on a whole new meaning. And it seemed to him that he’d seen these eyes before… Impossible.
He came back to himself. Mastering the tremor threatening his speech, he said, “You were knocked out, but you’ll be all right.”
She shook her head, wincing. “None of us will. The MacDonald comes,” she warned in a Scottish brogue.
The hair on the back of Neil’s neck bristled. And so it begins, a voice inside him said.~
“The glowing reviews for this book are not to be ignored. If you are not really a fan of time travel, this book will make you feel differently. Even though this was a romance novel, the adventure of the whole book was exciting and appealing.” ~Romance Novel Junkies
*I would rate this story PG13.
“Somewhere My Lass presents a convoluted time-twisting conundrum which becomes more intriguing as it goes along. I found the romance of it touching, the enigma baffling, and the resolution unexpected. A light, interesting blend of contemporary and historical fiction.” ~joysann, Publisher’s Weekly
SOMEWHERE MY LASS is available in various e-book formats to suit any readers or electronic devices at: The Wild Rose PressAmazon KindleBarnes & Noble and other online booksellers.  *Price for this story recently reduced.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Medieval Medicine--Old Scottish Hospital Unearthed

Somewhere My Lass
 is a unique suspenseful Scottish time travel romance that opens in a Victorian home in historic Staunton, Virginia before taking the leap back to the Highlands. While doing research for the story I uncovered a wealth of information about various time periods and the many facets that go along with a particular setting.  One fascinating archeological discovery I came across is the ancient hospital run by monks at Soutra, high in the Lammermuir Hills, near Edinburgh. This Medieval hospital was dedicated to looking after the poor, travelers, and pilgrims as well as the sick and infirm. Ancient Scotland did a lot more with medicines than I realized.  At least, the Medieval monks did.  I assume they shared this knowledge with other healers.
To quote from the above site: “Evidence…suggests the medieval Augustine monks also knew how to amputate limbs, fashion surgical instruments, induce birth, stop scurvy and even create hangover cures. The excavations at Soutra have also unearthed fragments of pottery vessels that were once used for storing medicines such as an analgesic salve made from opium and grease and treatment for parasitic and intestinal worms. Dressings have also been found, some still with salves or human tissues attached and the scientists have discovered a mixture of Quicklime (calcium oxide) which scientists believe was used as a disinfectant and a deodorant.”
“Dr Brian Moffat archeo-ethno-pharmocologist and director of investigations for the Soutra Project, studies clumps of seeds from the site. He said the scientists trawl literature of the period to try and identify remedies the herbs could have been used to create. They then search the site to find medical waste evidence to support their theories…”
I thought all of this was fascinating.
*The pic is all that’s left of Soutra now. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweet Dreams With Herbal Sleep Pillows

From Herbal Musings“For centuries, the fragrance of herbs have been captured in pillows and sweet bags to purify and scent the home. They were known by European mothers anxious to lure their offspring into tranquil sleep, by those seeking relief from headache or depression, and by the solitary who yearned to find true love. Fragrant herbs were sewn into pillows and placed at the head of the bed or between the linens. Often, their scent would be carried from open doorways and windows where they were carefully hung.

During medieval times, herbal pillows and sachets were actually more of a necessity than mere fanciful decorations. They were actually designed to mask the consequences of poor sanitary conditions of the time, when fresh air was considered potentially dangerous.

It was the lady of the house who took pride in making these preparations and spent considerable time doing so. One can recall perhaps, grandmother’s rose jar lovingly placed in the “best room” where her guests would benefit from the jar’s sweet aroma. When visitors came to call, the lid was lifted and the contents stirred to release the soothing perfume. In all probability, she also made sachets or sweet bags to scent her linen and fine articles of clothing. She may even have placed small pillows of fragrant herbs near her head upon retiring to prevent nightmares and assure a good nights rest.

Today, herbal pillows are all but neglected as sleeping aids. But, if you’re willing to take a chance on this simple indulgence, they stand a good chance of resurrection.

Herbal pillows are made by sewing dried herbs into a square of cloth or bag, but without a fixative, their aroma is short lived. Many herbs lose much of their original scent when dried.

The lovely scent of the rose for instance, is greatly diminished when dried. Fixatives help to retain and develop the fragrant combination of herbs used in making potpourri, the base material for making herbal pillows.
Spices add an interesting scent to the potpourri mixture, and also act as fixatives. Cinnamon is derived from a tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), grown in ChinaIndia, and the East Indies, and was used during Biblical times to make holy oils to anoint priests and altars. The familiar sticks, obtained from the inner bark of a young tree, may be ground and added to the potpourri mixture.

Sandalwood (Santalum album), native to the Malabar Coast, is another enticing additive. Since ancient times the wood of this tree was used for making fans, musical instruments, and to line closets to ward off moths.Sandalwood is also burned at the altar, and eventually became an important ingredient in incense burned in synagogues. The chips, or shavings, are most suitable for potpourri.

Various materials are suitable for pillow coverings, such as velvet, silk, or chintz. A layer of muslin or cotton should be placed between two evenly sized squares of material, which can be 12 to 18 inches, or whatever size you care to make the pillow…On this layer, the potpourri is added, and another thin layer of cotton or muslin is placed on top…Decorating the pillows with bits of ribbon, buttons, lace, or everlastings, adds a personal finishing touch, and will help to make your dreams a little bit sweeter.”

*I didn’t include every last detail from this site so visit the original post for more info.  A very worthy site.
From another informative site I discovered:
How to Make An Herbal Sleep Pillow:

“For centuries, herbs have been used to induce a restful sleep. Herbs have been traditionally steeped in teas, used in baths or simmered in aromatherapy pots to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere that allows one to fall into a deep slumber. An herbal sleep pillow is another time-honored way to use the sleep-inducing power of herbs. An herbal sleep pillow provides a continuous scent of lavender and mint that works all night. The pillow also serves as a room freshener during the day, filling the bedroom with the light fragrance of mint and lavender.”

FOR STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS on making a pillow please visit the above site ~And Sweet dreams~