From Medieval to Mellotron: Legendary Ten Seconds band transcends time, inspires writing

As someone who writes novels just so I can time travel to the 15th century, I truly appreciate the inspiration behind the musical group, the Legendary Ten Seconds.

Most authors can name that “special place” that provides the best ambiance for easing them “into the zone” to create. One thing that sets the writing mood for me is a musical backdrop matching my novel’s setting in time.

Legendary Ten Seconds

The Legendary Ten Seconds band, pictured from left are Lord Zarquon, Camilla Joyce, Rob Bright and Ian Churchward

The Legendary Ten Seconds’ three collections of songs about Richard III builds the inspiration I need as I work on Heir of York – a time travel tale of a medieval king living in modern times, the sequel to Rings of Passage.

Through the band’s historically based songs, I am transported to a place where Richard’s life seems to converge with our own 21st century existence. The music is an exotic stew of of medieval, Elizabethan, and folk rock swirling with ‘60s psychedelia and ‘70s progressive influences.

Capturing the spirit
An example of this haunting blend is “Ambion Hill,” a song based on a present-day sighting of Richard III near Bosworth Field, where the king was killed in battle in 1485.

I saw a knight upon Ambion Hill,
His armour did shine in the sun.
He wore a surcoat of murray and blue.
It felt like a dream had begun.

Richard III CD

Richard III CD

Ever since Richard III’s bones were found beneath a Leicester parking lot in 2012, a similar sensation followed Richard III enthusiasts as they traveled to the city’s reburial events in March 2015 – a feeling that Richard was among us. “Ambion Hill,” inspired by a real life experience of Ricardian Susan Lamb, captures it perfectly. (Read about my own experiences in this Perceptive Travel article.)

The Legendary Ten Seconds band was founded in 2003 by Ian Churchward, a multi-instrumentalist and resident of Torquay, Devon (the same English town where mystery writer Agatha Christie was born).

Primary members of the band are Ian Churchward vocals, mandola, mandolin, bass and guitar; Lord Zarquon, Mellotron, electric keyboards, moog, drums and percussion; and Rob Bright, banjo and electric guitar. The band is also occasionally joined by Tom Churchward on melodeon; and vocalists Elaine Churchward, Phil Helmore, Camilla Joyce, and Gentian Dyer.

The group’s songs on three albums (Loyaulte Me Lie, Tant le Desiree, and Richard III) are steeped in the events and personalities of the Wars of the Roses, but songwriter Ian Churchward’s earliest historical songs weren’t based on medieval events.

Fascination with history
During the late ‘90s, he was inspired by the album, Bones of All Men, which fused renaissance tunes with contemporary music. “I started to make up my own instrumentals in a similar style,” he said, writing songs “with a historical background – about the battle of Hastings and one about the First World War.”

Loyaulte Me Lie CD

Loyaulte Me Lie CD

At the time, he was a member of an English dance band playing Gaelic-based “ceilidh” music. From this period also emerged two instrumentals, “Tudor Danse” and “Fanfare For the King,” which now appear on the Loyaulte Me Lie album.

His interest in Richard III originated with stories based on English history read in his youth. But it was re-ignited by Channel 4’s documentary, King in the Car Park, about the excavation of the king’s bones.

The dovetailing of myth, reality and coincidence leading to the discovery of Richard’s grave, as well as the important role played by the Richard III Society to raise funds for the project, made a huge impression on him. “It was one of the most amazing things I have ever watched on TV.”

Afterward, Ian read the gamut of Richard III books, starting with Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, Sharon Kay Penmen’s The Sunne in Splendour and Annette Carson’s The Maligned King.

“I have lost count of the number of books I have read about Richard III,” said Ian. “I had to read as many as possible to give me the knowledge and ideas to write historical lyrics. The books are all absolutely fascinating.”

Inspired by many influences
On top of his love of medieval, renaissance and traditional English music, Ian appreciates the psychedelic and progressive rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “All of these styles of music are featured in the songs on the albums about Richard III,” said Ian.

“One of my favorite albums is Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd,” he said. Other influences are guitarists John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Hank Marvin of the Shadows. “I am endeavoring to play my guitar in a similar style.”

He met up with fellow musician Mike Peakman, who professionally goes by the name Lord Zarquon, at a time when their respective groups were disbanding. Together they wrote “House of York,” included on the Richard III album. This also coincided with recording “a batch of songs which had a 1960’s psychedelic folk rock feel to them.”

Lord Zarquon plays  keyboards using the sounds of the Mellotron, an “electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard” (so describes Wikipedia), which is at the heart of classic rock recordings by Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Yes, the Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues, and in the ‘90s, Oasis and Radiohead.

“Lord Zarquon is a huge Moody Blues fan and his Mellotron on the Richard III albums play a very important part in creating a sound that takes the listener to another time and place.”

Tant le Desiree CD

Tant le Desiree CD

To those people who have only passing familiarity with Richard III’s life, Shakespeare’s play seals the deal on the king’s villainous reputation, originally painted black by the Tudors: It is, after all, the victors who write the history books.

The Legendary Ten Seconds band takes a different stance. “To me Richard III is a flawed hero,” said Ian. “He had many good qualities but he also had faults just like any normal person would have.”

“I am not particularly motivated by the thought of changing the mind of someone who believes in his villainous reputation,” he added.

Charitable contribution
Ian Churchward is motivated by the Scoliosis Association (UK), which provides advice, support and information to people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions.

Ian learned about Richard III’s scoliosis from the documentary about the discovery of the king’s bones. It was the same affliction suffered by his wife’s cousin, who “had been a long term sufferer of scoliosis and died the same year that the grave of Richard III was discovered.”

A percentage of proceeds from the Legendary Ten Seconds music sales are donated to SAUK.

For those authors writing novels based in medieval or renaissance history, give a listen to the Legendary Ten Seconds. It might inspire you, too.

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RELATED LINKS

LISTEN or BUY MUSIC
Free taste of the Legendary Ten Seconds music here, and on Soundcloud.
Purchase MP3s and CDs.

WATCH VIDEO
How Do You Rebury a King?
based on events in Leicester, England, March 2015

About the Band
Legendary Ten Seconds website
Lord Zarquon’s website

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BUY MY BOOKS!

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

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Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. After Martie is bequeathed a magic wand from her grandmother, she steps through a mirror into the arms of a powerful wizard and a truly magical romance.

An American novelist in King Richard III’s court

I opened my Facebook author page to discover my new friend Sarahleigh of Leicester had posted about the gift I sent her, a paperback of my novel, Rings of Passage. On the title page, I had written the inscription, “The Sunne in Splendour shined on us the day we met.” It was so true.

Sarahleigh stands with me as Leicester glows around us.

Sarahleigh stands with me as Leicester glows around us.

Meeting Sarahleigh among the crowd gathering the streets of Richard III’s “funeral” procession, marked the beginning of an extraordinary week for me in which I celebrated the life of a long dead English king. It’s as if this 500-year-old English monarch had suddenly become a rock star.

History geeks, scientists, writers, literary experts, members of the Richard III Society, and everyday working citizens of Leicester, came together for an international event that was as unlikely as it was miraculous.

Against the Odds
Excavated three years ago from beneath a “car park” in the city’s center, the bones of medieval King Richard III matched the DNA of a living descendant of Richard’s sister.

That’s the miraculous part. As Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist for the University of Leicester’s Greyfriar’s project said, “The chances of finding Richard was, I don’t know, a million to one.”

From ignominy to celebrity
On March 22, these royal bones were being transported via motorized hearse and then horse-drawn carriage in a dignified procession along the same route Richard III’s corpse traveled, ignominiously thrown over the back of a horse, the day he died.

Richard III's bones in procession

Richard III’s bones in procession through Leicester on March 22, 2015

He was on his way to Leicester cathedral, where within a few days’ time on March 26, he would be re-buried with the honor he never received the first time, when he was thrown into a shallow grave, 530 years ago. Henry Tudor, the victor of that battle and usurper of the throne, wanted to erase the memory of the last Plantagenet king from the minds of the citizens of his newly claimed realm as quickly as possible.

A medieval city’s transformation
When Richard came through this medieval city in 1485, it had a population of only 3,000. Leicester today has nearly 400,000 residents. Britain’s most ethnically diverse city, it was now undergoing what the news media called the “Richard Effect.”

Many of the people lining High Street waiting for the procession were from countries other than the United Kingdom – America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France. But the majority were Midlanders, born and bred in and around Leicester, who had heard about Richard III all their lives because they grew up among the landmarks of his final days. They had been taught in school the textbook facts about how he had been slain 14 miles from their city on the battlefield of Bosworth – the last English King to die in battle.

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel Novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel Novel with Richard III

My novel unearthed
The entwining of my life with Richard III’s legend began over two decades ago. Reading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time turned me into an instant Ricardian, chaffing against Tudor propagandists and Shakespeare’s smear campaign. I eagerly joined the Richard III Society and wrote my first novel, Rings of Passage. In it, Richard is a romantic hero worthy of happiness – not the Bard’s crouch-backed monster.

Many years my novel had languished on a computer hard drive.

Then, suddenly, Richard became newsworthy. Not long after the excavation of his bones and DNA identification, I unearthed Rings of Passage. The advent of e-publishing now made it possible for readers specifically interested in Richard III to discover my novel.

Not long after it came out, my novel passed the acid test when the Richard III Society publication Ricardian Bulletin reviewed it. I had my facts “pretty much bang to rights,” wrote the reviewer.
Whew! I passed the history test.

That kind of obsession
My visit to Leicester in March 2015 was not my first. In 1990, I took a self-guided tour of as many Ricardian landmarks I could get to during a month spent in England. I had been to the Bow Bridge, where Richard had been carried after the battle, his naked body slung over a horse. I had made a pilgrimage to Bosworth Field, which required me to catch a city bus to Market Bosworth, and then hike the remaining few miles to the battlefield, walk around it, and back again – a total of 10 miles on foot.

That kind of obsession is what compelled Philippa Langley to become the squeaky-wheel for the Ricardians, urging public and university officials to finally excavate the site where Richard had most likely been buried, the social services car park on the former location of Greyfriars Priory, destroyed during the Reformation.

I went to that car park on my long-ago trip to Leicester. Because of a locked gate, I could not get as far as Philippa Langley’s parking space marked with the letter ‘R’ under which Richard had lain for five centuries.

Yet, as I stood soggy in the cold rain, like Philippa, I swear I could feel him there.

"Leicester Glows" The Richard Effect
Come full circle to Leicester, March 22, 2015.

Arriving in Leicester by train just in time to make it to City Centre before the streets closed to car traffic, I stood not far from that car park once more.

Like thousands of others stacked six deep along the High Street, I waited for the solemn, horse-drawn procession carrying Richard’s coffin. Many only wanted the chance to toss a white rose in the Yorkist’s honor as he passed.

I first met Sarahleigh in this throng of Richard “fans” at a tree planter along the street, upon which the most “vertically challenged” of us could crawl and stand at a height lofty enough to stare down the street, blinking into the glare of the setting sun, and hoping to catch the first glimpse of the procession.

After that, Sarahleigh kept in touch with me online throughout the week, as we shared the experience of the “Richard Effect” on the city of Leiceister. It’s as if we were old friends long parted who had found one another again.

On Friday, the day after the re-interment in the Cathedral, we joined up for the remarkable and surreal experience of “Leicester Glows,” a “fire garden” of 8,000 flaming candles built into sculptures and trails throughout the cathedral gardens and lining the streets.

Sarahleigh ties a prayer ribbon at Leicester CathedralWe spent the evening chatting, sharing a pint, and eating fish and chips in the Last Plantagenet pub, and then wandered the fiery streets celebrating the reburial of Richard III.

The week nearly over, Sarahleigh and I took our turns tying prayer ribbons at Leicester Cathedral, and giving thanks to the universe for allowing us to share this remarkable historical event.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch described it perfectly: “It’s just an extraordinary thing to witness history through death brought back to life in order to be placed back to death again.”

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Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

______________________________________________________________

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. After Martie is bequeathed a magic wand from her grandmother, she steps through a mirror into the arms of a powerful wizard and a truly magical romance.

Light the darkness through belief and persistence

Cynicism rules the modern landscape. But even in these troubled times, belief against impossible odds and the persistence to see a thing through to the end can shed light into the oldest and darkest of places.

My novel “Rings of Passage: A Time Travel Novel with Richard III” emerged into the light in late 2013, long after its burial on the virtual shelf.

Against all odds, the universe shifted, allowing a miracle to occur.

The word “miracle” is flung about loosely these days, but I believe this event qualifies.

Richard III PortraitThe bones of my novel’s romantic hero, King Richard III, had been excavated from beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. DNA comparison to living descendants of his sister proved his identity.

The discovery of the medieval king, who died in 1485, was made by a team of archaeologists of the University of Leicester. The excavation had finally been undertaken because of the fervent belief by Richard III Society members Philippa Langley and Dr. John Ashdown Hill that Richard’s remains lay in a makeshift grave beneath a city parking lot on the former site of the Greyfriars Priory.

They simply would not give up.

For those who can’t quite place which English king this is – he’s the one whose reputation is painted the blackest of all in British history.

In the centuries since he was slain by Henry Tudor’s army, Richard has been unfairly maligned by, oh, just about everyone. That’s what happens when the winning side writes history books.

To add insult to injury, Shakespeare wrote one of his greatest plays based around Richard’s alleged crimes: the murder of his innocent nephews, the Princes in the Tower.

The Bard leaves us with the taste of ridicule in our minds when he wrote Richard’s final death cry as, “My kingdom for a horse!” – what the king really cried was “Treason!”

By the time the Leicester City Council had finally agreed to the excavation, I had not thought about my Richard book for years.

Admittedly, I was a bit in love with Richard at the time I wrote it.

I got on the bandwagon after reading Josephine Tey’s “The Daughter of Time.” After studying the facts of Richard’ life and learning about the propaganda disseminated by Henry Tudor’s supporters, it troubled me that Richard had been given a raw deal by historians. Despite the fact that Tudor had gained the throne by winning a battle, and not through bloodlines, everybody seemed to be on his side.

I fervently wanted to show Richard III, the last Plantagenet king and the last English king to die in battle, as a good and honorable man who was worthy of happiness and love.

Bosworth battlefield, where Richard III fell in battle in 1485

Bosworth battlefield, where Richard III fell in battle in 1485

In my story, my heroine Anise time travels via a magic ring to the 15th century just prior to the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard is destined to die. In a plot setting the historical events of the final days of Wars of the Roses against a backdrop of magic devised by wizards to put Henry Tudor on the throne, Anise and Richard fall in love.

Completed in the ’90s, my novel identifies Greyfriars Priory as Richard’s confirmed burial place. As if channeling future events through my writing, I employ the plot device of excavating the King’s remains and using DNA evidence – even though, 20 years ago, the use of DNA in forensics had just come into common usage a few years before.

During my research trip to England so long ago, I visited that Leicester parking lot where Richard had been found. I stood there on a rainy day in September, on the street outside the city building, and tried to sense Richard’s presence. (blog post.) When I heard years later he had been found on that very spot, it left me breathless.

And now, as a member of the Richard III Society, I will be returning to Leicester. In another gift from the universe, my name was chosen in a lottery to attend one of Richard III’s reburial services in Leicester Cathedral at the end of the month.

Remarkably, through the persistence of Ms. Langley, Mr. Ashdown Hill, and other supporters of the excavation, Richard’s bones and the true facts of his life have been brought into the light.

Inspired by their unflagging belief and persistence, I unearthed “Rings of Passage” and rescued it from obscurity.

And to come full circle, I will be in attendance – a witness to history – when Richard III is finally laid to rest in a manner of respect and dignity befitting a medieval king.

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Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

______________________________________________________________

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. After Martie is bequeathed a magic wand from her grandmother, she steps through a mirror into the arms of a powerful wizard and a truly magical romance.

Is the road to a successful writing career really paved with six tweets a day?

I’m an author.

But I’m also a single person who owns her home and works a demanding full-time job that has nothing to do with writing fiction.

All effort I put toward writing and the activities associated with it has to be done in my “spare” time. Those would be the hours that are not devoted to commuting to work, working the day job, house cleaning, cooking meals and eating them, exercising, paying bills and other financial activities, grocery shopping and keeping appointments of all kinds, and having to drive to those places, plus dealing with household disasters, illness and whatever else makes up a life. I haven’t mentioned socializing, because there’s precious little of that. The same goes for sleep.

A rough estimate of “spare” hours remaining after subtracting time for those aforementioned activities a little over 30 hours per week — even though I have no pets, nor a spouse, nor kids.

In the days of yore, before the internet, email and social media, I had enough time to turn out a decent-sized chapter in a weekend.

That is how I was able to write two novels.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve dreamed of being a published author. Now I am. I published a novel (Rings of Passage) in August 2013, and have another novel (Dangerous Reflections) scheduled for publication on Jan. 27, 2015.

But I can’t live on the income from writing — not by a long shot. There’s only one paycheck coming into my house that’s paying the mortgage and buying groceries, and that’s from my day job.

And I can’t sit down and write one chapter per weekend. Not anymore.

These days, I have to tend to social media by tweeting, posting, blogging, maintaining my website, soliciting for reviews, sending out emails, maintaining contact with my publicist, book designer and editor, and “engaging my public.” That’s on top of doing all the formatting of my print and ebooks, creating business cards and bookmarks, and a thousand other things that have very little to do with craft, plot or doing the research necessary to write a novel.

Of the 30 hours of “spare” time left to me, most of it ends up as electronic blood, sweat and fear burning down the information superhighway at the speed of hype, which I know will just as quickly become forgotten by the intended audience. When my next spare hour rolls around in the schedule, I’m expected to produce the next round.

Admittedly, I am not all that good at promotion. Like many authors, I’m introverted, and “selling” myself does not feel comfortable. On top of that, there is just not enough time to do it all, or do it well, no matter how hard I try.

Some nights, I fall into bed exhausted from all the trying, knowing that in six hours I have to get up and go to the job that puts bread on the table.

And yet, according to the experts out there, my books will never find an audience unless I put at least two, three or six times more effort into these promotional activities. I must build relationships with fans, make three engaging posts per day to Facebook, tweet at least six times a day hitting all time zones, build circles on Google+, and post reviews to Goodreads and Amazon of other authors’ books in the hopes that they will review mine.

So far, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what must be done, and evidently has been done by successful authors who don’t have the constraints that I do, and loads of time to offer advice.

I can’t believe I am the only author trying to climb this Mt. Everest of expectations while holding down a full-time job and maintaining a house, with a deficit of energy, time or even a rope, to pull me up the mountain.

I’m chasing my dream as best I can. I’m not whining. But I’m also not writing. I’m not enjoying that flow I was once able to achieve when I sat at the computer with a blank slate of weekend hours before me, waiting to be filled with mystery, romance and the love of what I was doing.

I wonder, will writing ever be fun again? I miss that.

What’s in a name? That which we call prose

Coming up with a title for a written piece can be challenging. Some titles pop right into your head, while others require a painful process in which you end up settling for something… finally.

Whether the piece is a novel, essay, song or article, achieving the right balance between the theme of the piece, what you want to communicate to the reader, and what the appeals to the sensibilities of your targeted audience, is not easy.

Too obscure, and nobody gets it. Too obvious, and it’s trite. But one thing is certain: if it’s not catchy, it’s also not memorable. Boring bombs and indifference is death.

Finding the right title for my historical fantasy time travel novel, “Rings of Passage,” did not come easily.

My original title was “Battle Against Time.” Too trite. My next idea was “Shakespeare’s Child.” Too obscure. At last, the members of my critique group, who brainstormed with me, came up with “Rings of Passage” as a play on the phrase “Rites of Passage.” We all agreed it was the best of what we’d thought of so far.

The title of my second novel, “Dangerous Reflections” (scheduled for release in January 2015), popped right into my head immediately after coming up with the concept.

That hardly ever happens.

So here are some techniques I use to find just the right title:

Rhymezone search options

Rhymezone search options

Technique #1: Go for the throat. What’s the most obvious prop, character, archetype or theme of the piece? Include that in the title. I wrote an essay about picking up my guitar again, after not playing it for 25 years. It’s a stringed instrument, so I chose to build the title around the word “strings.”

OneLook wildcards

OneLook wildcards

Technique #2: Twist the obvious. Now that you have that one key word, play with it. Search for phrases that are built around that word (idiomsite.com). Find words that rhyme with it. (rhymezone.com). Think of other people’s well-known titles or lyrics that use that word (rockwisdom.com), and twist it slightly so it stirs people’s memories in that direction, yet is somehow slightly “off.”

For the guitar essay, I took the phrase “absence of strings” (meaning “no strings attached”), but slanted its meaning to imply the opposite of the phrase’s original intent. In my case, not playing the guitar had caused a void in my life.

Technique #3: Bend Google to your will. Use the search engine to discover how many other people have already used your idea—but at the same time, to brainstorm alternatives to those overused titles. Suppose you’re toying with a phrase you like, that captures the essence of your work, but has been used to death. Enter part of the phrase into the search engine, except with quote marks around it. (www.google.com/advanced_search)

Google search with quote marks

Google search with quote marks

Using Technique #3 For my guitar essay title, I entered “<space> of strings”—which allowed for a word in front of the phrase.

This filled in the blank (“____ of strings”) with:

An array
Lord
Rite
Chief
Best
Absence

As another example, I wanted to add a subtitle to my novel “Dangerous Reflections,” which is a historical fantasy about  wizards who travel through mirrors. Using Technique #1, I started building upon the most important device in the novel, a mirror. Using this idea, I quickly came up with “Magic Mirrors” and “Smoke and Mirrors.”

After entering “Magic Mirrors” into the search engine, I immediately discovered this was an overused phrase, and that there was already a fantasy series with that in the title.

I switched to Technique #2. The rhymes for “smoke” produced many results, but they didn’t make sense in context.

But the rhyming word “broke” suggested “broken.” Using the very useful “near rhymes” tool of Rhymezone, this yielded some quirky results:

Stolen
frozen
potent
woven

Perhaps, within other contexts such as poetry, these results would have sparked intriguing possibilities. But they didn’t work for my purpose.

Switching back to Technique #1, I went for a synonym of “mirror.” Thesaurus.com is the go-to website for synonyms, and I use it daily.

With a little brainstorming, I came up with a Biblical phrase from Corinthians (King James Version), “Through a Glass, Darkly.” Many titles have been inspired by it, even a Rolling Stones album, “Through the Past, Darkly.”

Using Rhymezone to rhyme “darkly, “ I found “starkly,” “courtly,” “sharply,” “portly.”

Not quite what I was looking for.

So I went to OneLook, a “dictionary of dictionaries,” and used its “wildcard” function to find words that ending in “ly.” This brought up an overwhelming number of results.

Fortunately, the website gives you the option of narrowing it down to “common words and phrases” and even “part of speech.” I definitely wanted adverbs. This produced an alphabetic list that went on for pages and yielded some possibilities: “blithely,” “boldly,” “timelessly.”

OneLook also offers a key word search of Shakespeare’s works (resulting in this blog post’s title). Or enter a word to “show only matches that are related to this concept.”

I put in the word “light” coupled with the “ly” form, and got some slightly oddball results, including “light-headedly,” sparkly” and “smelly.” Interesting, but definitely no cigar.

So I switched to Technique #3, entering into Google a partial phrase inside of quote marks, “Through a glass” – and in addition to that, outside the quotes, a minus sign (-) in front of the word “darkly” to eliminate matches including that word.

Search hits included “Through a Glass <fill in the blank>”

Weakly
Onion (thanks to the Beatles)
Lightly
Clearly
Daftly
Window
Bible
Brightly

This exercise helps you eliminate phrases that have become trite, and sparks your own imagination by leveraging from what others came up with to think outside the box.

In the end, I didn’t use the word “mirror” or any variation of “through a glass” as a subtitle for “Dangerous Reflections.” I settled for the more prosaic and Amazon-category-friendly, “A Historical Fantasy through Time.”

Even though I didn’t find my subtitle using these techniques, the exercise wasn’t a bust. It stretched my mind, fueled my creativity, and resulted in several ideas and phrases I can use to market the novel.

Useful Links

5 Easy Tips for Terrific Titles by Anna Guerrero

Idioms and sayings

http://www.pride-unlimited.com/probono/idioms1.html
http://www.brownielocks.com/folksayings.html
http://www.idiomsite.com/
http://www.idiomconnection.com/proverbs.html

Dictionaries and word sites

http://rhymezone.com
http://onelook.comhttp://thesaurus.com

Popular lyrics reference by category

http://www.rockwisdom.com/mainpage.htm
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Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

At a loss for words? Find out when Karla Tipton speaks at Mysterious Galaxy’s “Author Meet and Greet” July 12

On Saturday, July 12, I will be signing copies of “Rings of Passage” at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego. The event is from noon to 3 p.m.

Karla at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore

Back on May 3, Karla joined other authors to celebrate California Bookstore Day at Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach.

The “Local Author Meet and Greet” will also include 12 other Southern California authors, representing fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and young adult  and other genres.

I have five minutes to speak about my novel.

While I have been in front of an audience with my guitar—and have even done some singing on occasion—I don’t have much experience speaking in public.

So I’ve been practicing what I’m going to say.

Have a listen here. Think it’s good to go?

 

 

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Mysterious GalaxyLocal Author Meet and Greet
July 12, 2014
noon to 3
Mysterious Galaxy Books
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268-4747

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

 

“Name that Beginning” reader challenge: We have winners!

Three months ago, I asked readers to tell me which alternate beginning I should use for my second novel, Dangerous Reflections. Up for grabs were $10 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or a signed copy of my first novel, Rings of Passage.

So congratulations go to Laura, Tammy and Luke as the winners! An email will be arriving soon with instructions on how to claim your prize.

Of those who weighed in, all but one voter picked Beginning 2, with the dissenter choosing Beginning 3. (Beginning 1 had no fans.)

Because I ended up blending beginnings #2 and #3, I threw everybody’s name into the hat (aka the Random Thing Picker), no matter which beginning they voted for, to arrive at the winners.

So thank you to everyone who participated. You truly helped me make this very difficult creative decision.

Dangerous Reflections

Dangerous Reflections:
Wizards in love

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy centered around a romance between Martie, who just learned she is a wizard, and the man who must teach her how to use her powers. The story is primarily set in Edwardian London, when the popular culture of the time embraced the concepts of the occult, magical societies, mediums and meandering upon the astral plane.

Without further ado, I introduce the new beginning to Dangerous Reflections.
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Chapter One
Present Day
University of Western Pennsylvania

With the magic wand tucked in her backpack, Martie knocked on the office door. It fell open a crack, and inside sat the man she most—and least—wanted to see: Professor Cirksena, the only person within five hundred miles who knew anything about the history of English magic.

Her former Ph.D. professor in psychology looked up from his work, and smiled. “Come in, my dear.”

Martie forced herself to step into the office. Her heart raced, not with affection, but fear. Six months ago, she had ended their relationship.

He had praised her thesis. It showed much promise, he’d said. Something sparked when their eyes met. As the weeks passed, Martie had become enamored.

“I have been expecting you.” The professor’s Frisian accent sent a shiver of repulsion through her. Without wanting to, she recalled his hands on her, and his hot breath in her ear. He had a dark sensuality that attracted her – and scared her to death at the same time.

“I heard about what happened to your father and grandmother. I am sorry.”

Besides the stress of being in his presence again, her “second sight” —a peculiar family trait she had inherited from her grandmother—shot off mental flares.

Escape while you still can.

Martie lifted her chin in defiance. “I need your help, Professor.”

Cirksena’s demeanor, with his fine Burberry suit and smug expression, exuded arrogance.

“So formal, my dear? You used to call me Marcus. We were friends once, were we not? And colleagues. I am certain we would have proved Jung’s theory, if you had given us the chance to finish.”

“I am just as sure we wouldn’t have.” Her voice shook. “I’m not here to talk about my dissertation. I’m here because I need your professional opinion. Believe me, it’s the only reason I’m here.”

Cirksena leaned forward. “Is it about your family? Have the doctors made a diagnosis? You found them in that comatose state, did you not?”

Martie’s face grew hot. How does he know so much?

She shuddered internally at the memory of coming home from her university job as a graduate assistant to find her family members unconscious in the living room. After failing to revive them, she had called 9-1-1.

Reaching into her backpack, she retrieved the wand, and placed it on his desk. “What is your assessment of this… heirloom? It belongs to my grandmother.”

“Ah,” was all he said as he picked up the wand.

Alarms went off for her. Martie stared at him.  “You’ve seen it before.”

“What an odd thing to say. I have seen ones like it before.”

She watched silently as he withdrew a loupe from his top drawer, and put it to his eye, examining the wand’s markings. After studying it for several minutes, he looked up from beneath bushy eyebrows, his gaze boring into hers.

What’s going on here? Whereas a moment before, her second sight unequivocally knew Cirksena recognized her Gran’s wand – now it was saying Cirksena spoke the truth. He had never seen it before.

Cirksena did not break eye contact. Martie summoned her willpower and looked away. “Well?”

“What would you like to know?

Martie steadied herself, but could not keep the nerves out of her voice. “After my family got sick, our lawyer delivered this wand to me. My grandmother had instructed him to do that if anything happened to her. He told me our family had been connected to a magical society in nineteenth century England, but that Gran had refused to give him more details.”

A sob caught in her throat, but she repressed it. “The timing of this makes me suspicious. I can’t help but think this skeleton in the family closet has to do with Dad and Gran’s sudden illness. This wand seems to be the key to saving them. But I can’t quite figure it out.”

Martie had no problem  begging when it came to her family. “The doctor says the longer they are in a coma, the less likely they will regain consciousness. Can you help? Will you help me?”

Cirksena’s dark eyes found hers and held them for a moment before returning to his examination of the wand. He weighed it in his hands, and ran his finger over the odd alchemical symbols painted along its eighteen-inch length.

After a long moment, he set the wand on his desk. “I will help you. I expect something in return.”

The thought of owing him a favor turned her stomach to knots. “What do you want?”

“If you agree to my terms, I will rouse Judith and Dr. Harris from their lethargy.” He sounded confident he could do it.

Truth dawned like a red sun rising before her eyes. “You had something to do with their illness.”

“Nonsense.”

Her backpack slipped from her hands and hit the floor with a thud as another revelation occurred to her. “You know my dad because he teaches at the university. But how is it you know my Gran’s first name?”

“I think you had better sit down.”

“You already knew about my family’s connection to magic? How long have you known? The whole time? Even when we almost –”

She did not dare speak that out loud.

Cirksena rose. Martie backed away.

She didn’t have to be a psychic to sense how he much enjoyed this cat-and-mouse game. It was written on his face, evident in his voice.

He gestured toward a chair. “Stay, and I will tell you some of what I know.”

Some of what you know?” The realization he had been manipulating her all along sank in. “That’s right – you came to me about my dissertation.”

A muscle in Cirksena’s cheek twitched.  “So I did. The topic of your dissertation intrigued me. Jung’s investigation into alchemy is an atypical interest for a post-graduate psychology student of this century.”

Martie shook her head.  “It’s more than that. I think you researched my family before you came to this university. That’s why you came.”

Cirksena forced a smile. “That’s ridiculous. I looked into your family history after I became aware of your work.”

This ran deeper than Cirksena admitted. A professor does not do a background check based on a student’s thesis topic. So much for ESP. Why hadn’t she “sensed” this? At one time they had been close – inappropriately close for a student and her professor. Did he have some ability to cloak his intent from her second sight?

Obviously, he wanted something. And he wanted it badly. “Why go to all these lengths to become involved my research? What is so important that you would do this awful thing to my family?”

He was momentarily taken aback by her comment, but did not deny her accusation. When he finally spoke, Martie thought she heard him wrong.

“I want the Philosopher’s Stone.”

“You want what?”

He repeated it.

“You’re being sarcastic.”

He was perfectly serious. “I want you to bring me the elixir of life. ”

Martie’s mouth fell open. “Now you’re mocking me, my work.”

“I believe in your thesis.” Cirksena was emphatic. “I want the stone. I’ll settle for nothing less.”

“We both know there is no such thing.”

“Yet you yourself tried to prove its existence.”

She glared. “I failed. Or I gave up. It was naïve, wishful thinking. You flattered me and I stupidly believed you when you praised my theory in the first place. You encouraged my obsession. You manipulated me.”

“I encouraged you, yes. Because the Philosopher’s Stone does exist. I know who has it. And if you want to save your grandmother and your father, you will find it and bring it to me. That is my price for helping you.”

Martie narrowed her eyes. “I am more convinced than ever that you had something to do with their illness. I will tell the police. They will arrest you.”

“They will do no such thing.” Cirksena settled into his chair again. “This is an odd way you have of asking for help, but I will ignore it.”

Martie’s face went hot and she bit her tongue.

He tilted his head. “Surely the lawyer gave you something besides this wand. Something that explains it? A letter, perhaps?”

His words jogged her memory. “There is a letter. But it doesn’t make sense.” She grabbed her backpack from the floor, retrieved the envelope and handed it to him.

He unfolded the letter and read it aloud.

“Dearest Martinique – I should never have kept the secret of who you are. Look into the mirror and know the truth. Save Doctor Uncle. He died because of me. You’re the only one who can save him. Save him and he will save us. Love, Gran”

It rattled her, hearing Cirksena speaking the name her grandmother had always called her in his strange Old English-sounding accent.

Cirksena had more surprises. “Judith is your great grandmother, is she not?”

A slight panic thrilled through her. He knew that, too?

“She was born in 1903. She’s 111 years old. She was once a practitioner of magic.”

Martie stared.

“Wizarding blood runs through your veins. You, your father, your great-grandmother—and the grandparents you were never permitted to meet—are all descended from an ancient line of English sorcerers.”

If she expected to hear anything, it certainly was not this.

Cirksena raised an eyebrow. “But your father, Dr. Harris, is a man of science. I have had enough conversations with Martin to know he does not believe in magic.”

Martie’s hackles rose at his easy summation of her father. “See, you don’t know everything. My dad goes by his middle name, ‘Frank.’” It was a childish thing to say. Gran had always scolded her for being petulant. She didn’t care.

He ignored her interruption. “Because your father did not approve, you grew up in a house devoid of magic. But that doesn’t mean you are not a wizard.”

“You have totally lost your mind.”

Cirksena did not flinch. “You don’t have to believe me. I can prove it.” He picked up the wand.

“What are you going to do with that?”

He stood and motioned for her to follow him, which she did reluctantly. He led her toward the back room of his office, to a full-length mirror. “Have you ever read ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

His gaze went momentarily distant. “Wait—there is something missing. Were you not also given a medallion with a five-sided symbol on it? You should recognize it from your alchemical studies.”

She reached into her backpack. The medallion had been stored with the wand, in a wooden box with the Eye of Horus carved into it, but she hadn’t discovered it right away. She pulled out the metal disk, hanging on a chain. “A pentacle.”

“Yes. Put it on,” he said.

“Why?”

“Do you want proof or not?”

Martie reluctantly put the chain around her neck. “You had better get to the point soon.”

He handed her the wand. “Stand before the mirror.”

“What purpose…?”

“Do as I say.”

Martie eyed him warily, but stepped in front of the mirror.

“I know you sense things others do not. You see things others do not. What do you experience as you look into the mirror?”

She gazed at her haggard reflection. The stress was getting to her. She appeared gaunt and thin, and the state of her hair made her look like a madwoman.

A moment later, a “thrumming” sensation vibrated through her body, to the tips of her fingers and toes. “Whoa, what’s going on?”

“You are feeling the magic within you. It is your birthright.”

Startled, Martie stepped away from the mirror. The strange sensation passed.

She breathed deeply to calm herself. “That was weird.” She retreated into the outer office and squeezed her fingers to get the feeling back into them. What was that?

She turned to face Cirksena, who had followed her back. “I want some answers. “You’ve obviously done the research. Who is this ‘Doctor Uncle’ mentioned in the letter? Did Gran have an uncle who was a doctor?”

“It is, perhaps, a nickname she called him,” Cirksena suggested. His expression revealed nothing more. “She knew him when she was a child in London. He may have been a friend of her mother’s. After Violet Morley died, he stood in as her protector until she was adopted by her new parents and immigrated to America.” He paused. “This man was a powerful wizard. But he died  in 1910. Judith wants you to ‘save him’ because she believes she was responsible for his premature death.”

“How can you know that? What did she do?”

Cirksena remained silent.

Martie retrieved the letter and reread it. “What does Gran expect from me exactly? How is ‘saving’ a dead person even possible?”

He seemed to be calculating how much to reveal. “I believe Judith wants you to use the wand to return to 1910 and prevent the wizard’s death.”

Martie threw up her hands. “Time travel? Really?”

Cirksena smirked. “Surely you have figured it out. Judith’s guardian was a wizard. It is he who possesses the Stone. You must get it from him.” He shrugged. “And if you wish to save his life to appease your grandmother, feel free.”

It was Martie’s turn to laugh, albeit weakly. “That’s all I have to do. Go back in time. What about the part you haven’t told me? Such as, how?

The professor’s mirth evaporated. “I will help you. We will work together again.”

“When hell freezes over.”

Martie picked up her backpack and shoved the wand and case into it. She turned toward the door.

Cirksena took a step toward her, as if to prevent her leaving.

She quickly moved away from him. “Do I have it wrong? Is this really some ridiculous ploy to get back with me again?”

Cirksena smiled. “You are very self-absorbed and deluded, my dear, to believe so strongly in your own importance.”

She snorted. “Just checking.”

“You need me.”

She proceeded toward the exit. “Now who’s self-absorbed and deluded.”

He shook his head. “You can’t do this on your own.”

Martie rounded on him. “Watch me.”

He cast a final remark her way. “If you want to save your family, you will be back.”

“Gran believes I can do it. If she does, then I do.” She closed the office door firmly behind her.

*  *  *

Smothered by death.The words looped endlessly in Martie’s mind.

She sat by the hospital bed where her grandmother lay motionless and sheet white. She couldn’t shake the memory of the feather dream. In this comatose state, could Gran be having it?

It was a dream Martie had had for years, beginning the night her mom died. The blinding white light. The sense of being cradled by something primal, something overwhelming, asphyxiating. Like drowning in feathers. When she was little, it had sent her crying to Gran’s bedside in the middle of the night more times than she could count. When Martie was older, Gran admitted to having the same dream. “It’s like being smothered by death.”

The words had branded her mind, and from that moment on, Martie felt connected to her grandmother as she had never been to anyone else in her life.

“Oh, Gran, what will I do if I lose you?” Martie’s voice was barely a whisper. Tears gathered in her eyes and she brushed them away. Her foot caught the leg of the chair, nearly tripping her as she hurried out.

Martie went down the hall to her father’s room, her stomach hollow. Her dad lay as still and pale in his bed as Gran. She sat next to the bed and touched his arm, but there was no response. She found his hand and held it. His fingers did not move.

Her chest ached as she watched his quiet breathing and studied the facial details she had taken for granted when he was up and around. The crows feet at the corner of his eyes, the laugh lines around his mouth—these creased her heart as surely as his face.

She didn’t care that Dr. Martin Frank Harris had lied to keep her safe from her family’s weird obsession with ritual magic. She missed his silly sense of humor, and the strange noises from the basement when he worked on his “perfectly serious” experiments with magnetic rocks. She wanted him back.

The likelihood that Cirksena had done this horrific thing to her family to blackmail her into getting what he wanted—whatever that was—settled upon her like a ten thousand pound weight.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Karla Tipton’s first novel, “Rings of Passage,” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. It’s available in Kindle and all e-book formats, as well paperback on Amazon.com and B&N websites.

 

Cover Reveal: Kristy Centeno’s “Fierce Awakenings”

Watch out for this exciting new paranormal novel, coming soon from Kristy Centeno.
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Cover reveal: "Fierce Awakenings"

Cover reveal: “Fierce Awakenings”

In a world where the werewolf species is rapidly declining, breeding the strongest of the purebred bloodlines is of the utmost importance.. But when Victoria Bonvalet is ordered by her alpha father to partake in this breeding program, she rebels by fleeing her home and protection of the pack.

Though she has never fallen in love, Victoria refuses to mate with someone she doesn’t even know and commit her lifecycle to someone with defective genes, which could ultimately be passed down to her own children. Though she expects to be found eventually, she plans to hide and run until that happens. What she never expects is the attraction she would feel for a one thousand year old vampire lord with a thirst for adventure.
A vampire with nothing to lose…

Tristan Garland has traveled the world, fought in wars, and encountered many enemies over the years he has existed as a vampire, but even his experience as an undead could not have prepared him for the deep magnetism that lures him to his newest neighbor. Though she’s a werewolf, and by law his enemy, Tristan finds in Victoria the desire to continue existing in a world he’s come to loath over the years.

Enemies in the eyes of their own kind but hopelessly in love, Victoria and Tristan must find a way to be together without causing a war between bitter adversaries. But will their refusal to part ways provoke their kinds into a conflict unlike any they had seen before?

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Author Bio

Author Kristy Centeno

Author Kristy Centeno

As a child, she used to lose herself in an imaginary world by the means of a good book. Now that she’s all grown up, Kristy gets to create her own fictional realms and make them come to life in ways that most readers might not expect.

She’s always had a passion for writing but never had the opportunity do so until now. After trying out numerous options, she realized that writing was what she loved the most so when she found herself with some free time on her hands, she decided to pursue her passion. As it turned out, her very active imagination helped her achieve her goals of creating believable plots with some ordinary, and some not so ordinary characters that helped the stories move along in one way or another.

As she keeps moving along in achieving her dreams of becoming a published author, she divides her time in between her five children and her very understanding husband.

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Richard III Tour: Taking the tube to 15th century London

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

Looking back from 2014: After spending weeks in the country and small cities, London overwhelmed me with its size. It was more than a little intimidating, even though I had previously visited many large cities on the East Coast, as well as the largest cities in California. But nothing prepared me for the feeling of bigness exuded by London. Maybe it wasn’t its size in terms of square miles or population, but the sheer weight of its history. Structures of every era, from medieval times through the days of Swinging London, impressed me at every turn as I walked its streets toward the house called Crosby Hall, a fifteenth century mansion where Richard III often stayed when visiting the city as the Duke of Gloucester. Ironically, 40 years after Richard’s death, the house served as the residence of Sir Thomas More, whose biography of the fallen King painted his reputation black. With some additional help from Shakespeare, this villainous version of Richard has transcended centuries.

London
Sept 28, 1990

Sir Thomas More statue

Sir Thomas More statue

London was a bit overwhelming my first day there. I felt kind of lost, wishing I had company.

First, I took a train into Waterloo, then wandered around until I found the underground (tube). Then I had to figure out which underground train would take me to Victoria, so I could get my tube pass validated. At last I get to Trafalgar Square, where, at last, I decided to get on a tour bus, though I’ve avoided them up to this point.

It was very useful, because I did see all the places I’ve heard about for years – Nelson’s Column, Piccadilly, Hyde Park, the Thames with all its bridges.

We had a Cockney guide from the East End driving the second half of the trip (the first bus broke down). He showed us the church where the Bow Bells are.

“To be a Cockney, you have to be born beneath the sound of these bow bells,” he said.

He showed us the London School of Economics where Mick Jagger went, and the “Bag o Nails” pub where Paul McCartney met Linda Eastman.

When I got off that, I was starving and went to Pizza Hut. Then I got on the tube again to go to South Kensington (Sunny South Kensington, as Donovan says) and make for Richard III’s townhouse, Crosby Hall.

I wandered around there, going through Chelsea (expensive district) to where the house was on Cheyne (Chain-ey) Walk (also the street where Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull used to live). It was interesting.

Then I came back to West Byfleet to have dinner. Rosamond had made pizza!

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

 

Richard III Tour: From Windsor Castle to Marks and Sparks

In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.

A side trip to Windsor Castle

A side trip to Windsor Castle

Looking back from 2014: The visit to Windsor was my cousin Rosamond’s idea. I hadn’t scheduled a visit to the castle on my Richard Tour itinerary — a tremendous oversight. Richard’s brother, King Edward IV, had made plenty of history at Windsor, his favorite residence. He died there 531 years ago on April 9, 1483, and on April 20, was buried in St. George’s Chapel, on which he had started construction eight years before his death.  After we visited Windsor, Rosamond took me shopping at Marks and Spencer, a British mercantile institution. She fondly referred to it as “Marks and Sparks” (and I suddenly understood the reference in an old Mott the Hoople song lyric). She also convinced me to buy a duvet. I was enamored with the bed coverings, which were not yet popular in the States, but would be in a few years. I loved sleeping under their fluffy warmth and appreciated how they were used without a top sheet (which I tend to get tangled in). I have slept under one ever since. It still reminds me of England.

Byfleet (near London) Sept. 27, 1990

I have had a very nice day, it turns out. Once out of Oxford, which I found rather crowded and cold, I rode the train three hours just to get to where my cousin Rosamond could pick me up. Funny that she has the same name as the town I live in.

Anyway, after Rosamond picked me up, we had a nice lunch (really just a sandwich) and a talk. It’s good to be in a house again.

Then we went to Windsor Castle – a place I hadn’t thought of going, but very glad she suggested it. In St. George’s Chapel there are so many Kings and Queens buried. Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Henry VI – and so many others.

Then I went through the state rooms, so garish and exotic and baroque with great pieces of furniture and armor and weapons and paintings by Van Dyke and Rubens.

Then we went shopping and a sales clerk at Marks and Spencer told me that I’m the first “Karla” she’s met in all her 21 years who spells her name with a “K,” like she does. I can’t believe I bought a duvet, those blanket things you put on beds. It’s in a huge box. The biggest problem is getting it to the airport. Then I’ll just send it along with the luggage. I’m daft.

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Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage

Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.