Shameless Plug: Seasonal Book Promo

It’s that time of year for special gift-giving around my neck of the woods (so to speak) and as it is in many other places. And what better gift than a book or two?

Here are two books for your perusal. I hope you’ll consider them for this holiday season or for any gift-giving occasion.

“Storytellin: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas”. A collection of mixed-genre stories set in Arkansas from the early 1900s to the 1950s. Each of the fictional stories is preceded by a Cotner family story or event that inspired the fictional tales. Set against the rugged backdrop of the Ouachita Mountains these stories bring ageless tales of hope, fear, laughter, retribution, and kindness.

“Mystery Of The Death Hearth”. A Celtic tale of murder, power, and intrigue. In a far-flung outpost of the Roman Empire, the Great Cross—made of Celtic gold and amber now claimed by the Roman church—goes missing along with a fortune in coins and precious gems. Murder soon follows, igniting tensions when church leaders maneuvering for political gain are implicated in the violent plot. When news reaches the Grand Prefect in Rome, Enforcers are sent to identify the thieves and recover the missing treasure. The trail leads to the Brendan Valley where it falls to deputy magistrate Weylyn de Gort to work with those whose ways are alien to his Elder Faith beliefs. Along the way, he must find an elusive young Celt girl and her missing grandfather, unravel the mystery of an Elder’s vision, and avoid death at the hands of an assassin as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

Mystery Of The Death Hearth Prologue

June 21st in the Roman calendar

Summer Solstice

“This sacred site has been here longer than we can remember,” Elder Blaine the Slender told the small group of children clustered around him. They were surrounded by festival vendors in tents bearing colorful flags, all part of the crowd gathered there to celebrate the Solstice holiday. “Heed these stories well, so you may pass them to those who will come after you.”

He saw them nod, some smiling, many somber, all attentive.

“Learn your crafts well, listen to your elders, honor the gods, and respect the land. Enjoy the life you have been granted and help others do the same. No other goals should be attempted lest you fall into the evil snare of greed and dishonesty.”

A small voice whispered, “He means the Romans, right?”

“Not just Romans, young one. Celts, too, face dark temptations. The two worst enemies we all face are liars and thieves,” the Elder continued. “Take nothing that isn’t yours. Honor the code of doing what you will so long as you harm no one or their possessions. Have compassion for those less fortunate, help those in need. Follow the path of our Celtic Elder Faith, stay true to its teachings. You will be wise to–”

Blaine’s words were interrupted by heavy beating of drums and cheers from celebrants within the inner circle of the standing stones. Before Blaine could continue, a child spoke up.

“What about murderers, Elder? Aren’t they an enemy, too?”

Elder Blaine nodded. “Truly spoken young one. Murderers are the worst kind of thief. They steal your life.”

 

 

 

 

Jack Friday Sales Event!

Happy Holidays colorized Pen and Ink copyright noticed

Forget Black Friday sales events. On this blog it’s Jack Friday.

Actually, it’s a sales event that goes beyond just this Friday featuring the Kindle editions of both my short story collection and my Celtic murder mystery novel. They’re  on sale now through December 5th for just $0.99 each. From December 6th through December 23rd they will be half their usual listed price.

Grab a copy for yourself or purchase for family and friends.

 

Book Review: Pit of Vipers

PitofVipersCover

Pit of Vipers is the second book in Millie Thom’s wonderfully detailed and enthralling Sons of Kings trilogy set in the 9th Century. Here the epic, heroic adventure continues as we follow historical Alfred, fictional Eadwulf, and hordes of invading Danish Vikings.

Young Alfred, brother of kings, learns to hone his leadership skills and navigate the complexities of the royal court he is destined to rule. Eadwulf is back in Mercia four years now after being held slave of the Danes and is dead set on seeking revenge against his scheming, traitorous, cold-blooded uncle, Burgred.

This story has everything historical fiction fans could hope for: strong, believable characters, meticulously rendered historical settings, love and heartache, scheming intrigue, vicious deceptions, revenge, and epic conflict.

The author’s research into and knowledge of the time period provides an in-depth, fascinating look into the trials, tribulations, and challenges of those who lived in this historic period. We are drawn into their lives, suffering with them through their heartaches, rejoicing with them during moments of joy, and we are provided a front-row seat to witness the battles—both victories and defeats, private and epic—against the Anglo-Saxon’s nemesis, the great heathen armies of the Danes of the 9th Century.

No spoilers here but Pit of Vipers ends on an unexpected cliff-hanger that provides what I hope is a tantalizing transition to the third book of Millie Thom’s Sons of Kings trilogy.

I look forward to reading the final installment of this classic adventure.

Book Review: Conor Kelly And The Four Treasures Of Eirean

Conor Kelly Book 1
Just finished reading “Conor Kelly And The Four Treasures Of Eirean.”

In this book, Ali Isaac has created a fascinating, imaginative tale spun between two worlds: present-day Ireland and an enchanted four-thousand-year-old realm of Irish mystical gods, kings, villains, and heroes. The author successfully brought the two domains together, painting both present-day and ancient Irish landscapes with vivid, beautiful descriptions.

She gave voice and clarity to the ancient characters of Irish history and mythology all the while providing a modern, positive message of hope and accomplishment through a young boy’s quest to find and secure the coveted, magical Four Treasures Of Eirean.

Wheelchair-bound Conor, the fourteen-year-old protagonist, transitions between the two worlds with the aid of magical realm friends, learns a vital truth about his heritage, and eventually overcomes his doubts and limitations to emerge as the most improbable of heroes. A wonderfully interesting, entertaining story for adults and young adults alike.

Learn more about the author, Ali Isaac, from her website at http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com.

Ancient Celtic Blacksmiths

In Ritual Of The Death Hearth, I have a Celtic blacksmith character that provides valuable help and information to the protagonist as well as a vital clue in a subplot that runs through the story line of fictional Celts living in the fictionalized 400s A.D. setting. I did extensive research on the Celts of Ireland, the British Isles and on the Continental Celts for my murder mystery series and am always interested in learning more. So imagine my fascination when I found a blog post by author Ali Isaac about ancient Celtic blacksmiths.

At aliisaacstoryteller you will find an interesting and informative interview and pictures of Dan Crowther, a modern Celtic Blacksmith, at work.

celticsmithingDanCrowther

Dan Crowther making a simple hook at “Connecticut Irish Festival” in New Haven, CT – USA 2010

Dan in his own words: “I’d been a blacksmith (mostly in a hobbyist capacity) for nearly a decade when in 1998 this passion combined with my historical interests. As a result, my wife and I founded the reenactment group Ancient Celtic Clans. Now, one of the advantages ACC has is that Sarah and I are both blacksmiths. This is key because almost without exception every other Celtic skill, either directly or indirectly, needs a blacksmith to make tools for them. It also means that we can recreate all the period correct tools we might need when learning any other new skill. This core dependence on the blacksmith was just as true back in 300BC as it is for our group today. It was very rare for a community not have at least one blacksmith.”

You can visit Dan’s site at Ancient Celtic Clans and Ali’s at aliisaacstoryteller

I hope you will take time to visit Ali Isaac and read through her many interesting articles. While there, make sure to check out her two current books The Fenian King and The Four Treasures of Eirean