Fantasy, mystery, thrillers, horror, historical. . .I write it all, and review it too!

Nov 25, 2013

Medieval Mondays: Christian Viking Runestone Uncovered in Medievalist's Yard


It's every medievalist's dream come true--to find a rare artifact from the Middle Ages in their own back yard.

That recently happened to Dr. Sarah Jane Gibbon, a specialist in early church history, when her father found this fragment of a runestone on her farm.

It helps, of course, that she lives in the Orkney Islands, one of the richest areas for archaeological finds in the United Kingdom, and that's saying a lot. These rugged islands off the north coast of Scotland were home to an advanced Neolithic culture that made some amazing tombs and stone circles. Much later in the Middle Ages, it was home to a colony of Vikings.

What's interesting about this runestone is that it's using Viking runes to express Latin words, in this case, “who art in heaven hallowed”, part of the Lord's Prayer. Thus this runestone dates to after the Vikings had converted to Christianity. No similar inscription has ever been uncovered in the Orkneys or the Shetland Islands further north.

I bet Dr. Gibbon and her dad will be looking down a lot more as they walk around the property.

Image courtesy The Orcadian.

Oct 14, 2013

Medieval Mondays: Archaeologists Discover Anglo-Saxon Cross

West Face, showing Christ trampling on the beasts and St. John as a falconer.

Last month archaeologists in Weardale, County Durham in northern England, discovered a portion of an Anglo-Saxon cross dating to the 8th century. This isn't a picture of it. This is the Bewcastle Cross, which dates to the same century or a bit earlier. The archaeologists in Weardale found only a worn fragment. Hit the link above to see a picture of this intriguing lump and read about the discovery.

While the Weardale cross is in a lab getting photographed, drawn, and studied, you can actually visit the Bewcastle Cross. It's located at St Cuthbert's church in Bewcastle, Cumbria, northern England. As you can see it's lost its crossbar, either through weathering or during the English Civil War when various hardcore Christian factions destroyed anything that smacked of "Popism".

One side is covered with figures and an inscription in Runic that reads, "This slender pillar Hwætred, Wæthgar, and Alwfwold set up in memory of Alefrid, a king and son of Oswy. Pray for them, their sins, their souls." Another Runic inscription reads, "In the first year (of the reign) of Egfrid, king of this kingdom [Northumbria]."

The other sides have elaborate designs and the earliest sundial in England. Jump the cut to see a picture. This cross, along with the Ruthwell Cross, are considered the two finest Anglo-Saxon crosses in existence.

Photos courtesy Tom Quinn (top) and Doug Sim (bottom).

Oct 9, 2013

Norse Gods Blogfest: Naglfar, the Ship made from Dead Men's Nails

Today I'm participating in the Norse Gods blogfest. Wanting to be a bit different, I'm not going to talk about a deity per se, but a magical ship called Naglfar ("Nail Ship").

The Norse envisioned the end of the world as a titanic battle between Gods and the forces of Surtr, which included giants, rival gods, and various other fell beings such as the giant wolf Fenrir.

Sailing against the gods is the ship Naglfar, captained by the trickster god Loki and made entirely from the fingernails and toenails of dead men. It's a vast ship carrying hordes of warriors. In this apocalyptic battle many of the gods are killed, the world is consumed by fire and then flooded, and then rises from the waves fresh and new. Some gods remain to rule over this new land.

Only two humans are going to survive that particular era in human history, a sort of Norse Adam and Eve who will repopulate the land. The Prose Edda warns us to make sure to trim the nails of the dead to keep the enemies of the gods from completing Naglfar, but since it's all fated to happen anyway, I don't see how we can stop it!

Below is a shot of the Tullstorp Runestone from Sweden, showing the wolf Fenrir and the ship Naglfar.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Oct 7, 2013

Guest Blogging About Fantasy Fiction Over At Sean Mclachlan's Blog

I'm guest blogging over at Sean McLachlan's blog today about Using Real Cultures in Fantasy Fiction. Hop on over and check out that post, and also the rest of his blog, which focuses on writing, the Civil War, Wild West, and travel.

No Medieval Mondays today, but I'll be back on Wednesday with a post for the Norse Gods blogfest. See you then!

Oct 4, 2013

The Maze of Mist out now!!!

Well, it's finally here. The Maze of Mist, my latest fantasy novel, is for sale in the Kindle store! For the first month I've priced it at only $3.99, and it's free for Prime members.

Here's the blurb:

When the heir to the throne is treated as an outcast, he has to prove himself before he can rule.

Prince Metis Itxaron is the son of a human father and a goblin mother. As heir to the Twin Thrones, he will some day bear the responsibility of ruling two peoples while protecting the kingdom from the vicious armies of the Bandit Queen and the Elves of the Great Forest.

Instead he spends his time getting drunk and sleeping with the few women willing to look beyond his mixed heritage.

In a desperate attempt to make a man out of him, his parents send him on a secret diplomatic mission to prepare for an upcoming war. What they don't expect is that he will come upon visitors from an unknown land beyond the Sea of Mist, a strange labyrinth of fog that has baffled navigators for all of recorded history.

Metis sees a visit to these new lands as an opportunity to escape his responsibilities and prove himself on his own terms.

Then he discovers that representatives from his kingdom's enemies are coming along for the voyage. . .

This is the second book in the Chronicles of the House of Itxaron series. The first volume is Roots Run Deep. While set in the same world, each title is a standalone novel.

Thanks for everyone who helped me on the cover and blurb. Much appreciated!

Sep 28, 2013

Tweaking the cover and blurb for The Maze of Mist



Hey folks! Here's version 2.0 of the cover and blurb for my next book, The Maze of Mist, which is part of the Chronicles of the House of Itxaron series. It's set in the same world as my novel Roots Run Deep but it's not a sequel. Both are standalone books.

WHich cover do you prefer? Any tweaks? How about the blurb? Any input will be highly appreciated!
When the heir to the throne is treated as an outcast, he has to prove himself before he can rule.

Prince Metis Itxaron is the son of a human father and a goblin mother. As heir to the Twin Thrones, he will some day bear the responsibility of ruling two peoples while protecting the kingdom from the vicious armies of the Bandit Queen and the Elves of the Great Forest.

Instead he spends his time getting drunk and sleeping with the few women willing to look beyond his mixed heritage.

In a desperate attempt to make a man out of him, his parents send him on a secret diplomatic mission to prepare for an upcoming war. What they don't expect is that he will come upon visitors from an unknown land beyond the Sea of Mist, a strange labrynthe of fog that has baffled navigators for all of recorded history. Metis sees a visit to these new lands as an opportunity to escape his responsibilities and prove himself on his own terms.

Then he discovers that representatives from his kingdom's enemies are coming along for the voyage. . .

Sep 25, 2013

Guest Post by Jessica Bell: ONLY 99c TO HELP SUPPORT THE INDIE AUTHOR & AN AMAZING CHARITY!

The day I realized I’d been obsessing over my sales figures way too much was the day I closed my eyes and tried to think about the real reason I am an indie author.

Is my primary goal to make money? No. So why do I keep obsessing over my sales stats? I realized it’s because more sales means more people reading my work. What I really really want is to be read. I want to share the one thing in this world I would cut my fingers off for. I know. If I didn’t have any fingers, I wouldn’t be able to physically write, but you know what I mean.

My passion for writing comes with a perpetual replacement button, attached to my side seam, just in case it becomes unraveled, and falls off, after a day gallivanting through the publishing jungle. It can be tough in there, but in the end, being an indie author is OH SO WORTH IT.

This made me wonder …  what’s everybody else’s story? Then Indiestructible was born.

Need motivation and inspiration to self-publish, or sign that contract with an interested small press? Have you done all the research you can, but still feel ambivalent about the idea? Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle brings you the experiences of 29 indie authors—their passions, their insights, their successes—to help you make the leap into indie publishing.

This is not a how-to guide. This is the best of the indie tradition of experienced authors paying forward what they’ve learned, giving you information to help you on your journey. The personal essays in this book will leave you itching to get your work into the hands of readers and experience, first-hand, all the rewards indie publishing has to offer.

Not only is this anthology packed full of interesting, unique, and genuinely helpful information, and totally worth the 99c (only 99c!!!), 100% of proceeds will be donated to BUILDON.org, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

Pretty amazing, huh? What are you waiting for? Buy Indiestructible—support the indie author and an amazing charity—TODAY!




About Jessica Bell
The Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet, and singer/songwriter/guitarist, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning. She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.