Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Release! Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles

Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles Cover
I finally did it! After abundant research, writing, and seemingly endless revising, my first herbal is available in kindle at Amazon.  I initially embarked on this undertaking last year for the workshop I gave focused on herbs and medicinal plants of the British Isles. Participants were so enthusiastic, as have been many of you who follow this blog, that I was inspired to go all out and turn this project into a much longer work. No small effort, but I enjoyed the process and learned a lot along the way. I’m always learning because this is such a vast trove of material to delve into. I’ve also had fun choosing images to illustrate this book. Some are photographs of our garden taken by Elise, many are royalty free images I purchased, and a few are in public domain.  I hope you enjoy Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. A lot of these plants were brought to America with the early colonists and are widespread here now. Others are well and truly British and Scottish.
Elise did the gorgeous cover and is working on getting this into print, but with over 100 images in the herbal, that will take some doing.
thyme with honey beeBook Description:  An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Inspiration Behind Award-Winning Revolutionary War Romance Novel Enemy of the King

“Passion Governs and she never governs wisely.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Years ago, I was researching my early American Scots-Irishforebears and often came across references to a battle fought during the Revolution called the Battle of Kings Mountain. The name alone drew me. I vowed to go back later and research it more in-depth and uncovered fascinating fodder for the imagination.
I learned about the gallant, ill-fated British Major Patrick Ferguson who lost his life and Loyalist army atop that Carolina Mountain (large knob, really) called King’s back in the fall of 1780. Ferguson is buried there beneath a stone cairn, possibly along with his mistress who also fell that day. He had two, both called Virginia, but it’s believed one mistress made her escape on a horse by betraying his whereabouts to the advancing Patriots. I guess she figured better him than her and he was probably going down anyway… 
Speaking of which, I discovered the hardy, 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!’
‘Book title,’ I said to self. And Enemy of the King sounds much cooler than The Patriot. So I began what came to be my version of that famous book/film, though I’d started my novel before it even came out.
Years of research went into the high drama and romance of the Revolution. I don’t regret a moment and am seeking like-minded persons to share in this passion with me. That has an unfortunate e-Harmony ring to it.
But I digress, (often). Needless to say, the Battle of Kings Mountain, a mega conflict that altered the course of a nation, plays a prominent role in this fast-paced Historical Romance. And, being drawn to mysterious old homes and the notion that those who’ve gone before us aren’t always gone, I included a ghost. (British officer)
I also suspect my ancestors are speaking to me, as I have a colonial forebear named Jeremiah Jordan and discovered an early Meriwether in the family. Not to mention a British general whose grandson was fighting with George Washington. My journey back through time gathered intrigue, and I wondered how the people who lived through anything as all-consuming as the American Revolution ever got their lives back to normal. The ripples from that enormous upheaval are still flowing out in concentric circles. They’ve certainly encompassed me, and now I’m at work on the sequel.
So, step into the elegant parlor of Pleasant Grove, an eighteenth century Georgian plantation built high on the bluff above the Santee River. Admire the stately lines of this gracious brick home and its exquisite decor. Stroll out into the expansive garden between fragrant borders of lavender and rosemary. Bask beneath the moss-hung branches of an enormous live oak, then saunter back indoors to dress for a candlelight dinner in the sumptuous dining room. But don’t plan on a lengthy stay, you’re about to be snatched away for a wild ride into Carolina backcountry.
Jeremiah Jordan is a Patriot and Meriwether Steele a Loyalist. She risks a traitor’s death if she fights for the one she loves.
‘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.’
The year is 1780, one of the bloodiest of the American Revolution. The entire Southern garrison has been captured and Lord Cornwallis is marching his forces deep into South Carolina. ‘Bloody Ban’ Lieutenant Major Banestre Tarleton and his infamous Legion are sweeping through the countryside. Revenge is the order of the day on both sides and rugged bands of militia are all that stand between crown forces and utter defeat.
***ENEMY OF THE KING is available at Amazon KindleBarnes & Noble’s Nookbook, All Romance eBooks, The Wild Rose Press and other online booksellers.
“I love historical romances. They are one of my favorites and anymore when I think of a historical I think of Beth Trissel. She is an author who has proved herself over time. She is a beautiful storyteller. Ms. Trissel can take a story line and make it a work of art. And she did just that with Enemy of the King.” ~Bella Wolfe, You Gotta Read
***Daughter Elise created the promo image. The rest are royalty free

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Family Herbal by Sir John Hill and ‘Honey of Roses’ Recipe

herbal arrangement
18th century botanist Sir John Hill, also an apothecary, playwright, actor, novelist, and journalist, was quite an accomplished gentleman. Sir John is also among the most vilified men in Georgian England for his attacks on the Royal Society, with whom he was at odds. Disappointed by the society’s refusal to elect him a fellow, coupled with his disapproval of their scientific standards, Hill wrote many strongly worded reviews of the lauded society. And they weren’t the only ones to come under fire by Hill, outspoken to a fault. He was attacked in turn, but back to his charming and informative work, The Family Herbal.
Sir John HillHill states his herbal is intended to inform those who live in the country and are desirous of being useful to their families and friends, or charitable to the poor in relief of their disorders, of the virtues of wild plants, and describes his book as, ‘An account of all those English plants which are remarkable for their virtues, and of the drugs which are produced by vegetables of other countries: with their descriptions and their uses, as proved by experience.’
He prefaces his herbal with detailed explanations as to which part of the plant is used and the steps in preparing the desired form for administering its healing properties. I’ve spent hours reading over these and writing them up. Fascinating stuff that now forms a new session in the herbal lore workshops I give, the next one for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers in May (also open to nonmembers).
colonial-woman2I love Hill’s many references to the ‘charitable lady’ who is concocting herbal medicines for her family or community and he gives painstaking instructions and recipes for making juices, infusions, decoctions, distilled waters, cordials, tinctures, conserves, syrups, oxymels, vinegar of squills, ointments, plaisters (plasters), essential oils…
His recipe for honey of roses:
red rose and larkspur“Cut the white heels from some red rose buds, and lay them to dry in a place where there is a draught of air; when they are dried, put half a pound of them into a stone jar, and pour on them three pints of boiling water; stir them well, and let them stand twelve hours; then press off the liquor (liquid) and when it has settled, add to it five pounds of honey; boil it well, and when it is of the consistence of thick syrup, put it by for use. It is good against mouth sores, and on many other occasions.” (Which means it has many other uses.)
If you are desirous of acquiring a copy of The Family Herbal, I came across a copy, reprinted much in the manner of Hill’s original work, at Amazon.
*Image of red rose and larkspur from our garden by daughter Elise. All images royalty free.