#MedievalMonday16 ~ Conflict in the Joust from Jenna Jaxon

In her book, Time Enough to Love, Jenna Jaxon brings us a classic and well researched example of the joust, a stylized but very deadly form of combat. Please leave a comment for Jenna to let her know what you think of her excerpt.

JENNAjaxonEXCERPT:  Both knights had broken two lances on the torso—their scores were even. In order to win, one would need to either break a lance on the helm or unhorse their opponent. Either feat was possible, but highly improbable, given the lateness of the day and the weariness of the jousters. The best outcome would be for one lance to miss, giving the knight to break a lance victory. Another possibility was a draw if both men broke their lances on the torso. A draw would mean no victor; the debt of honor satisfied without a forfeit. That outcome might be best, but she could not help thinking in that case there would have been a great deal of effort wasted for nothing.

Geoffrey nodded slightly within his helm, as though acknowledging a strategy confirmed. Though the decision was unknown to her, she prayed it would make him the clear winner of the match.

In an instant, Geoffrey streaked down the lists. Alyse gasped at the ferocity with which Saracen raced toward his adversary. Lord Braeton drove his horse fiercely as well, but did not seem to reach the black steed’s breakneck speed.

Moments before the collision, Geoffrey angled his weapon upward slightly, aiming again for the helm and its additional points. Her heart flew into her throat. Should his lance glance off, as it had earlier, she would certainly be leading the first dance with Lord Braeton this evening. That prospect no longer held any delight for her, not after the physical pain this match must have cost Geoffrey—and Lord Braeton—and the mental anguish it had cost her. Had she not seemed so enthralled with the earl, mayhap the challenge would never have been issued. Or would not have been so avidly pursued by Geoffrey. If one of them were injured, it could surely be laid at her feet.

Geoffrey must win. He must.

The impact devastated both knights. Thomas’s lance splintered dramatically along Geoffrey’s right shoulder, twisting him around in the saddle and almost unseating him.

Geoffrey’s lance found its mark in the dead center of Thomas’s helm, snapping his head back with the force of the blow. An immediate cry of pain erupted from his helmet. Alyse bolted from her seat, raced out of the berfrois and onto the field.

*

Thomas managed to pull his horse to a stop, and his squires ran to assist him as he dropped to the ground. Almost as quickly, Geoffrey leaped from his horse, cursing as he ran toward his friend.

’Tis my fault if he dies. I was angered at him. Christ, why did I not aim elsewhere and try to unseat him? Geoffrey could barely hold still as his squire removed his helmet. “Thomas! Thomas!”

Men had lowered his friend to the ground, where he lay motionless.

Dear God! The splinters—

He stared in horror at the long wooden slivers poking out of Thomas’s visor.

Sweet Jesu, have mercy. Holy Mary, mother of God, have mercy.

He fell to his knees beside him, afraid to touch him lest he drive the fragments deeper.

“Fetch the surgeon!” Geoffrey threw the command over his shoulder, his attention fixed on the still body. “Thomas.” He couldn’t be dead.

Blurb: When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

Buy link: Amazon  

#Medieval Monday16, Conflict in Silverhawk by Barbara Bettis

Today, author Barbara Bettis visits us with an excerpt from her medieval romance, Silverhawk. Please leave her a comment and let her know what you think of the excerpt.

Silverhawk--new+cover (1)Blurb:  He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape

Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.  But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them.

Excerpt: Here is Lady Emelin’s first meeting with her brother since he confined her to a convent five years earlier. Now he’s betrothed her to someone without her knowledge.

Ortha had just finished braiding Emelin’s hair when the door burst open. Sir Garley strode in, his bulk filling the space. He jerked his head, and Ortha slipped into the passageway. Emelin shot to her feet, chin raised. The long forgotten fear nibbled at her heart, but she refused to show it.

He loomed closer, looked over the borrowed gown she wore, and picked up a braid. Lips curled in a snarl, he gave it a hard yank before he dropped it. “Too bad we can’t do something about that color.”

Blood-shot eyes narrowed. He grabbed her chin between his forefinger and thumb and forced up her head. She tried to pull away from the stench of his breath, but he pinched harder. “Don’t do anything else to spoil this arrangement.” His voice grated like rusty steel. “I need the payment Langley made for you. I will not return it.”

Garley gave her head a final shake. “Do not interfere in my plans,” he repeated.

Emelin jerked back. Rebellion overpowered the hurt, and she spoke without thought. Again.  “Or what? You’ll immure me in a convent? I believe we’ve done that already.”

Garley’s slap caught the side of the face, sent her staggering onto the bed. “Keep your mouth shut.” His voice held no trace of emotion as he strode to the door. “At least until after the wedding. Then you’re his problem. Just remember, there’ll never be a place for you at Compton. Give the old man a son, and you’ll want for nothing. Fight him and you may find yourself back at the convent—if you’re lucky.”

Amazon has surprised me by running a 99 cent sale for Silverhawk.

US Veteran Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen's LogoAside from being a terrific story teller, a veteran, and a friend, Kayelle Allen is one of the most generous, hard-working people I know. Please welcome her to Author Travels and let her know how much you enjoy her visit by leaving a comment. Also, leave a note for an active duty soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. I’ll make certain the notes get to the right service member. Now, here’s Kayelle to tell you a little about herself and her newest book, Bringer of Chaos.

First, I’d like to thank Rue Allyn for the opportunity to share what being a veteran means to me. Opening her blog to fellow RomVets (female veterans who write romance) is an action I wholeheartedly support. I have a similar program on Romance Lives Forever, my guest blog, on Veteran’s Day every year.

When I joined the US Navy back in 1973, I was a single woman. I had lived in the Las Vegas metro area since I was twelve years old. There were few jobs that didn’t relate to one or more parts of the gaming or hospitality industries. I wanted more. To find it, I entered the military. When I was transferred to a training base in Memphis, I had no idea that I’d meet my future husband. We’ve been together ever since.

The one thing I’d like others to know about being a veteran is that when you raise your right hand and swear to uphold the constitution of the United States, you are doing more than serving your country. You are embarking on a journey that will change you forever.

When I joined, I had no idea how much risk I was undertaking. It’s only years later that I’ve come to understand how much I laid on the line to protect my country. When you’re in the midst of a situation, you are too busy dealing with the details to look around and grasp the significance of each action. That comes later, after the smoke has cleared and you have time to think about it.

Bringer of Chaos, the Origin of Pietas

I was never in combat, and I was put into no life-threatening situations. However, because I was on active duty, I agreed to be willing to go. That willingness came out of my desire to serve. I was twelve when President John F Kennedy was assassinated. His death had a profound effect on my life. I had heard him speak in person only a few months prior. My parents had been big supporters of his campaign. When he died, I swore not to ask what my country could do for me, but to ask what I could do for my country. When the opportunity to join the military came, that was my chance to fulfill my oath. I have never looked back with regret.

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas is military science fiction set in the far future. Two enemy warriors: one human, one immortal. Different in belief, alike in spirit, marooned together on an alien world. Traitors took everything. Except their honor.
Excerpt     Amazon   Print

About Kayelle Allen

Kayelle is a best selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr. She writes in multiple genres and non-fiction. She is founder of the author-mentoring group Marketing for Romance Writers, manages the successful Romance Lives Forever blog, and is a member of RomVets. Kayelle is married, has three grown children, and five grandchildren.

Join Kayelle’s Romance Lives Forever Reader Group and you’ll get sneak peeks of new books, plus find out about special contests just for members. Want other options to know when a book is released? Join AuthorAlarms and get one email when a new book is out. Follow Kayelle on Amazon. Visit her homeworld, or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

#MedievalMonday16 Conflict in Dragon Knight’s Shield by Mary Morgan

Cover Art for Mary Morgan's Dragon Knight's ShieldThis week’s #MedievalMonday16 guest is Mary Morgan giving us a sample of conflict from her newest release Dragon Knight’s Shield.

“Never have I seen a woman command men as she does,” commented Robert coming alongside him.

Angus kept silent. He knew his friend had set his sight on the woman as well. He had flirted with her outright at the table last evening, stirring the outrage of Hugh. The man dared to tempt fate to the edge of his life, and Angus wanted to slice out Robert’s tongue with a blade.

Rubbing his hands together to ward off the chill, Robert removed his cloak. “I believe ’tis my turn at a lesson or two.”

Without thought, Angus blocked his progress with an outstretched hand. “Nae. My turn.”

The man raised an eyebrow in amused contempt and took a step back.

As Angus stepped into the clearing, he saw Deirdre’s eyes go wide in surprise. As he gave the others a passing glance, they understood his meaning and retreated to the trees. Removing his cloak, he faced her.

“There is nothing I can teach you, Angus. I’ve seen you fight.” She rubbed her hands down the sides of her gown, and he took this as a nervous gesture.

His steps slowed as he circled her, making her turn as he did. “Ye show the others. Why not me?

“Because there are some techniques…umm ways…to improve…and they asked, since they believe me…”

“Ye are rambling. Not good for a hunter.”

“I’m not playing this game, MacKay,” she hissed.

“This is no game we play, Flanagan. There is a real danger that cannae be fought with strength alone.”

“Then you’re the fool if you don’t think I understand. The Fianna have told me about the magic of this evil druid. But what they haven’t told me is why he wants to claim the relics of the Dragon Knights.”

Angus clenched his fists. They had no right discussing his past with her.

“Does that upset you?”

He continued his spiral movement around her. “Why would it?”

“Because it shows in your eyes. They go from light brown to blazing amber.”

His smile became predatory. “Ye are a keen witness.”

“Tell me about your relic, Angus?”

Chuckling softly, he kept silent. Her gown twisted as her steps faltered, and he realized she had not mastered moving in the clothing.

She stomped her foot in anger. “Stop moving!”

In one swift move, he had her hands behind her back with his face mere inches from the lips he wanted. “Ye have now become my prey.” He could feel the rise and fall of her breasts with every breath she took, and he fought to control his body. By the gods how he wanted her. She smelled of the woods, wild and untamed.

She blinked and he found desire staring back at him. Twisting her head away from his, she spat out, “Let me go.”

If the others were not around, Angus feared he would have claimed her right there in the snow. He shook his head of the blinding lust and released her. “Ye are correct, Deirdre. There is naught ye can teach me.” Turning slowly, he started to walk away when he felt the blade at his back.

“The first lesson, Angus, in any battle is never to turn your back on the enemy. You have forgotten the basics in defense.”

He held his arms out wide. “Then strike for the kill, Deirdre and pray ye have the strength to aim true.”

She punched him hard in his lower back, causing him to stumble a few feet. “Trust me, I have the strength.” Her words sent a chill down his spine, and the beast became unleashed.

As Angus whirled around, he reached for the arm that held the blade. Her gown twisted and she slipped, bringing them both to the ground. Wasting no time being so close to her heated body, he stood. Shoving a hand through his hair, he then pointed to her bunched up gown. “And the first lesson ye should master is to fight in your clothes. They will be your undoing.” Hissing out several curses, he stormed off to the trees, whistling for Artair.

As he passed one of the pines, a blade flew past his head and landed with a loud thump into the wood. The fire danced off his fingertips, but he made no move to turn around. “Ye missed.”

Blurb:

Angus MacKay, leader of the Dragon Knights, failed his brothers and his clan upon the death of his sister. Now he must fight the darkness of despair tempting his soul. Back on Scottish soil, he comes face to face with Deirdre who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and he takes her captive. Yet, with each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him.

Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is unprepared for the next chapter in her life. On a vacation to Scotland, she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight.

Will their love be powerful enough to shield them from danger, or burn them to ashes?

Buy Links:

Amazon  Apple iBooks   Barnes&Noble Nook   Kobo   The Wild Rose Press

US VETERAN DIANA COSBY–MAY 2nd

Cover art for Forbidden Legacy a Scottish medieval romance by Diana Cosby.During the months of May, June and July, the Author Travels blog will be honoring U. S. military veterans. All of these vets are authors (some published, some not), but they are my sisters in arms and visiting with them to learn about their life journeys is the best way I know to say thank you to some very special people. Please welcome our first veteran visiting author, Diana Cosby (USN Ret.).

Thank you so much, Rue, for having me as a guest on the Author Travels blog.

You are most welcome, Diana, and thank you for answering questions about your life and careers for our readers.

Q:  What moved you to enlist in the Navy and stay until retirement?

A:  With my dad retiring from the Navy, I grew up a military brat, which meant continual moves during my youth; I’m currently on move #34.  As I neared graduation, I wanted to continue to see the world, and I joined the Navy as a meteorologist/oceanographer.  I enjoyed the travel, meeting so many incredible people, and forecasting weather, so I decided to make the Navy a career.

Q:  Would you recommend enlisting to high school graduates today? Why or why not?

A:  I believe a tour in the military should be a venue considered by anyone preparing to graduate.  In addition to exposure to different cultures along with travel, military training provides a solid decision making foundation that will serve a person throughout their life.

Q:  While living in Europe you acquired an interest in the middle ages. What place or part of European life sparked that interest?

A:  I had the sincere pleasure of a tour in Rota, Spain.  The culture, and people, and rich history were incredible, and it’s one of my all-time places to have lived.   My interest in the middle ages was sparked by a combination of my experience while living in Spain along with traveling through Western Europe.

Q:  Are you bothered by ‘inaccuracies’ in historical fiction (or any other type of fiction)? Or do you concur with those who claim, ‘Accuracy is unimportant in fiction’?

A:  When I write my Scottish medieval romantic suspense, I work hard to ensure any historical events mentioned are true to the best of my ability.

Q:  You are very involved in a number of charitable causes including The National Trust for Scotland, Habitat for Humanity, the Semper Fi Fund, Homes for Our Troops, and The Navy SEAL Foundation. You are definitely leading by example.  Please tell us about one of your favorite charities and how we could get involved.

A:  Giving back is important to me, and I’m honored to share that I’ve joined with Habitat For Humanity for, Diana Cosby’s Romance Reader’s Build A Habitat For Humanity Home.  This fundraiser is an amazing opportunity for romance readers to join together to give a deserving family more than just a home, but provide a foundation on which to start their future and build their dreams.

Goal: Raise $55,000 to build a Habitat For Humanity Home. Now—$7,600!

Exciting news:  We’re only $6260 away from having enough to build two bedrooms and a bathroom!

*Note: All donations, Paypal or via mail, go directly to the Grayson County, TX. Habitat For Humanity.  Please note on your donation:  ‘For the Romance Readers HFH House.’

Q:  Do you think fictional characters should be involved in similar efforts? How might that enhance or detract from a reader’s enjoyment of a romance?

A:  As I tend to write trilogy’s or series, often secondary characters will have their own book, or a hero in one story will appear in as a secondary character in a later novel

Q:  Please tell us about your most recently released book, how we can purchase it, and how we can leave a review.

A:   Fascinated by the Knights Templars, I was thrilled at the opportunity to write The Forbidden Series.  After hundreds of years, many questions remain of where the Templars fled, what treasure they took, and how were so many valiant knights able to disappear without a trace? In The Forbidden Series, I weave my character’s journey, where they face challenges, and in the end fall in love, around these questions and more.

About Forbidden Legacy – book #1 Stephan & Katherine:

A Knight Templar, Sir Stephan MacQuistan desires no bride, only vengeance for a family lost and a legacy stolen.  A profound twist of fate tears apart the brotherhood he loves, but offers him an opportunity to reclaim his legacy – Avalon Castle.  Except to procure his childhood home along with a place to store Templar treasures, he must wed the unsuspecting daughter of the man who killed his family. To settle old scores, Stephan agrees while aware Katherine is but a pawn in a dangerous game, not a woman he will ever love.

*Reviews are always deeply appreciated, and your comments can be left where you purchase my story.

Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in my 3 month thank you to the military veterans.

Rue, thank you for inviting me as your guest.  I thank you for your service to our country.  And, another thanks to your readers for stopping by.  Take care, and I wish each of you the very best.

Diana Cosby, AGC(AW), USN Ret.

International Best-Selling Author

www.dianacosby.com

The Oath Trilogy

MacGruder Brother Series

Forbidden Series: Book #1 Forbidden Legacy — 16 August 2016

About Diana Cosby:

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series are translated in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.  With the release of the third book in The Oath Trilogy and the e Box Set of the MacGruder Brothers series, she is now preparing for the release of the first book in The Forbidden Series, Forbidden Legacy, on 16 August 2016!

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

Please Welcome Visiting Author, Beverly Ovalle

Author Beverly Ovalle

Author Beverly Ovalle

 

Our visiting traveler today is Beverly Ovalle’s. In her newest release, Stealing Hope, she brings us the post apocalyptic world where:

Stealing Hope Book Tour Banner

The apocalypse has come and gone.
Those who survived learned to adapt.
Dragons awaken to once again reign over the skies.

Upon eruption of a volcano, Ari awakens to a changed world, and a knowing that his dragon’s mate is near. He saves her twice—once as a dragon, and again as a man—and wins her confidence.

Hope is restless and unfulfilled until she meets Ari, the man of her fantasies. The sensual tension between them heightens with every touch. When their passion explodes, Hope gets pulled into the dragon’s mating ritual…and into a world of erotic sensation she never dreamed existed but now cannot live without. The dragon binds his mate to him with a ritual that shows Hope her true nature in this humorous erotic romance.

Stealing Hope is available now, and I can tell you it’s one hot read. Scroll down for more about buy links, prizes, the author and my review. (Oh and by the way, Stealing Hope will be on sale for $.99 from January 22- 27!)

STEALING HOPE BUY & TBR LINKS

Stealing Hope Cover

AMAZON KINDLE US AMAZON KINDLE CA,   AMAZON KINDLE UK AMAZON KINDLE EUAMAZON AUTHOR PAGE,  GOODREADS, 

AUTHOR BIO

Beverly Ovalle dabbled with writing on and off for years when her best friend finally dared her to submit a story to a writing contest. Beverly decided she had nothing to lose and since she’d always wanted to be an author sent it in and agonized for months waiting to hear back. Contract in hand she has never looked back.

Beverly has been obsessed with dragons and romance since she was a young girl, collecting dragon books and reading everything she could find on them even down to the care of real life dragons. She’s always been slightly panicked that the world as we know it will end, so has prepped for it, haunting survivalist pages and prepper projects she felt she needed in the event SHTF.

An avid fan of all romance, Beverly’s goal is to share her love of the written word and write the hot and erotic romances that she enjoys. She writes what she loves to read and it was only a matter of time before her obsessions crept into her writing for her to share. She hopes you enjoy her tales as much as she loves writing them.

A Navy Veteran, Beverly has traveled around the world and the United States enabling her to bring her settings to life, meeting and marrying her husband of twenty five years along the way for her own romance. Reading romances since the fourth grade she’s followed as the genre changed and spread into the vast cornucopia of romance offered today.

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS

Facebook  Tsu  Website  Blog  Blog  Tumblr  Twitter  Twitter

Pinterest  LinkedIn  Google+  Twitter  Facebook  Blog  Newsletter

GIVEAWAY PRIZE
Amazon Kindle — a Rafflecopter giveaway,  https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

REVIEW

Stealing Hope

A Dragon's Fated Heart Series BannerFirst, I was given an ARC for review of Stealing Hope by Beverly Ovalle. Second, I do not believe the standard of excellence for erotica should be any different than for other genres. Which brings me to Stealing Hope. Stealing Hope is a quick read with plenty of action and sizzling sex, perfect for erotica, fantasy, and romance readers alike.

On a personal note, I was completely entranced by the characters and the world drawn by Beverly Ovalle. That is saying quite a bit because I rarely am able to suspend disbelief enough to buy into shape-shifting characters. Ms. Ovalle makes not only the shape-shifting believable but the culture of dragons as well, Her hero, Ari, heroine, Hope, and all their family members are not just believable characters, but people I would like to know and spend time with. Lucky for me this is a series and I’ll have ample opportunity to visit these fascinating people.

I want to thank My Family’s Heart for arranging participation in Ms. Ovalle’s release tour for Stealing Hope. Please check out the MFH website for other reviews and news.My Family's Heart Button

 

OH MY! Just a little side trip, then back to Scotland

I just received the cover for Knight Errant (release date August 17, 2015) from my publisher. I would do anything to be able to travel to Palermo, Rome, Northumbria in 1294, or any other time and place, if I could meet this guy. He’s the embodiment of Sir Robert Clarwyn a knight-errant in service to Edward I. Robert is tasked to retrieve the adventurous (and somewhat rebellious) Lady Juliana Verault so their king can hand her over in marriage to an unsuspecting Scot. Robert pitys the poor man, until he meets and gets to know Juliana.
KEcover

Isn’t he absolutely gorgeous?

By the way, this news went out first to subscribers of Rue Allyn’s Very Occasional Newsletter. If you’d like to receive this announcement only communique click here to subscribe.

So this blog is changing and changing a lot. The name and URL–authortravels.com, The purpose–a place to share and dream for all who love travel and traveling. The focus–personal adventures and fictional settings. As an author, I am always traveling. Every setting (past, present or future) is a journey that I take both before I write and with my characters as a story develops. After my family, writing and traveling are my passions. So please join me on my travels, and we’ll tell each other stories along the way.

When will the change happen? Could be any day now. A few technical matters must be addressed, but we’ll definitely begin the voyage before August 01, 2015.

Where are we going? Our first destination is Northwest Scotland the setting for my current work in progress. Then we’ll be off to Italy and a brief stop in Northumbria to celebrate the release of my new medieval romance Knight Errant.

I look forward to seeing you there.

The Stuff in My Office—5

BKSHELF1Yep, I’ve got even more stuff to tell you about now that our short pause is over. The four pictures in this blog are of the wall length bookshelves opposite the corner where my desk sits (desk stuff in a later installment). There are six shelves (I couldn’t fit the top self into the camera frame, each roughly 10 feet in length and completely filled with paperback romance novels (and yes, those novels absolutely get included on the list of stuff I like that makes me happy). I won’t describe any of the books, but I will mention some of the other items.

In the foreground of the picture at the left you can see a couple of the items I discussed in the 4th installment of this series. You can also see part of the floor lamp that stands between the table (see installment 4) and my reading chair (also installment 4). I love that shade because it turns this lovely glowing gold color when the bulb is on, and it gives terrific light for reading.

Moving on to the next picture (below right) you see the rest of the lamp. The small needlework pillow peeking out from behind the lamp is another gift from my mother in law. That pillow was sitting on her royal blue sofa in her living room the first time my sweetheart brought me to their home for dinnerBKSHELF2 and to meet his folks. I was scared spitless because I knew about her upper crust Boston background. Mom was everything that is gracious. Nonetheless it took me several years to get over being intimidated, mostly because of my personal fears. I like to think that we now have a very friendly relationship. She certainly remembered that first visit, because one of the few things I managed to say was how lovely the pillow was. Who wouldn’t like a pillow with irises (Mom used to grow award winning Iris blooms) in varying shades of blue, including cobalt. On the shelf above the pillow are four framed covers from my books. Below those is yet another gift from my mother in law. This gift is more recent (just this past Christmas), yet I treasure it almost as much as the pillow. The seascape set into the tray is one of my favorites, and since I love the sea (add that to the list too) I keep the tray where I can see it.

The third picture (at left) shows the enBKSHELF3tire tray, and above that the remaining four covers from my books. If you look closely you can see a small two-tone brown box at the end of one of the shelves. That is a recipe box that my own mother gave me. It holds my grandmother’s recipes for Swedish coffee bread, dream cookies, and depression era frosting (made with flour, milk, butter and granulated sugar). The confectioner’s type of sugar that is usually used in frostings was nearly impossible to get during the depression, so flour was substituted. Even granulated sugar was expensive, so frosting on cakes was a real treat. The Dream Cookies are another depression era recipe, requiring only flour, granulated sugar and butter. Preparing Dream Cookies requires careful attention because the butter must be melted and browned to a point just shy of burning. The caramelized bits in the melted butter create the delicate flavor of these cookies. Once baked they have a very crumbly texture. My grandmother called them dream cookies because they practically melt in your mouth and disappear so fast that you feel as if you imagined eating them. Dream Cookies (along with homemade pecan sandies) are my favorite cookies, so they go on the list too. I’ve made the Swedish coffee bread—which is an all day project. Grandma used to fill hers with citron (candied dry fruit). I prefer un-candied dry fruit and more nuts—especially pecans. The bread was a daily item in my life while I was in school during the years when my grandparents lived with us (they moved into a small apartment in our house once neither of them could drive). I would come home from school and Grandma and my mother would be sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table having coffee and buttered coffee bread. They always had at least one piece waiting for me. I’d savor the bread and listed to Grandma and Mother share memories of their early lives. That’s how I learned about depression frosting and the origin of Dream Cookies.BKSHELF4

The last image (at right) shows the end of two more shelves, one of the two windows in my office and the stuff that sits below the window. I’ll write about the window stuff next time. Right now, I want to mention that the elephant bookends were a gift from me to my own mother and probably one of the first purchases I made with money I earned. I got elephants for her overflowing bookshelves so she would never forget where they came from and how much we both loved reading. The elephants came back to me when Mother passed away. Below those sits a small basket containing old checkbooks. I don’t know where the basket came from, but I like open containers. I tend to forget things when they are out of sight. I want the checkbooks in plain sight so I remember to throw them out when I no longer need them as tax records.

So those bookshelves contain a lot of stuff ranging from the treasured to the mundane, and as always a host of memories. Do you have memories of your parents and grandparents; stories and/or recipes that have been handed down and treasured for generations; little knick knacks that hold meaning only for you? Please share with a comment.

The Stuff in My Office–4

SideTABLESometimes life gets in the way and not just of writing blog posts and novels. Take a look at the table (above) that sits next to my easy/reading chair (the chair’s picture is below). What a mess. Wish I could tell you that wasn’t normal. The truth is that much of my life is very messy because I consider myself too busy to be neat. Oddly, I had a  character in one book who was the complete opposite; she was excessively busy and neat. Her claim was that she didn’t have time to be messy and always looking for things which she could find easily if she kept her life tidy. So about the stuff on the table and what it might tell you about me.

The table itself is a ‘gift’ from my mother-in-law when my DH and I moved into our first home shortly after we married. The top of the table needs refinishing. Mind you, we just celebrated our 38th anniversary, so a lot of life has gotten in the way of that particular task. The items on top of the table are used when I’m not ‘writing,’ i.e. pounding on the keyboard at my desk across the room. Under the scissors (I have no idea why the scissors are there, I use them to open packages and trim paper) is a small portfolio containing an 8 X 5 pad of paper and a pen used for taking notes. Behind that is a box of tissues. I have year round allergies, so I keep tissues all over my house. The large can of peanuts is empty (rescued from my DH who ate the peanuts) and is used to keep sweets. At the moment because I’m being good about my diet the can is empty. On top of the can is the hand held massage tool that I use on my sore feet when I get home from my ‘day’ job. Beside the can are two small stacked plates. If I’m working—research reading, revisions—or relaxing—reading for fun, watching TV on my desktop monitor, napping—I often bring lunch or dinner upstairs so I don’t forget to eat. The top plate is cobalt blue glass, and while you can’t see it well, the bottom plate is cobalt blue on white china. Guess what else you can add to the list of stuff that I like and makes me happy. I’ll give you a hint. It’s a color. In front of the plates is another pen and two more small pads of paper. Those migrated to the table with me when I moved from desk to easy chair for revising work. I’d forgotten I already had the small portfolio on the table. The orange cloth under most of the stuff is just there to protect the largest part of the unfinished table surface. Yep, that’s a straw wrapper in front of the second pen. I was sick recently, and I baby myself with straws in my drinks when I’m forcing liquids. Last the brown and white tile is another treasure given by my mother-in-law. It depicts the Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow. Her family hails from New England, so she has a trove of mementos that she shares with all of her children. She well knows how much the written word and authors mean to me, so her gifts often have some connection with the literary world. In this case the connection is to Washington Irving and the 19th century New England school of authors that included, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau and others. Oh yes, before I go and ask for your comments, note the two bookshelves visible behind the table. The black shelf unit is the one that contains the chotchsky shelf described in the first two posts of this series. The bare wood shelving, I installed myself when we moved in. Both units hold many of my 3000+ books.

Lots of stuff in this post to comment on or ask questions about. If nothing else see if you can list all of the ‘stuff’ that I’ve said I like from The Stuff in My Office posts given so far. Who knows, I might draw a winner and use his/her name in my current WIP, The Valentine Tycoon. Can’t wait to hear from you.

EasyCHAIR