Friday, December 20, 2013

THE END! I finished Book 5 in the Curse of the Lost Isle series

Yep, I wrote THE END on the last page of the manuscript of CHATELAINE OF FOREZ, Book Five in the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series.

I'm going to polish it to a shine during the holidays, and send it to BWL as soon as they reopen in January. Publication date will depend upon how long it takes the editors (some of them in England), and BWL's talented cover artists, to put it together. I predict it will probably be in late February or early March.

Anyhoo... I'm very excited and celebrating right now. Although this is my... let me count... Twenty-third title (I had to go to Amazon to check how many I had already published), the thrill of finishing a book never gets old.

CHATELAINE OF FOREZ follows Melusine (after Lady of Luxembourg) on a new adventure (still based upon the authentic legends, this time in the independent province of Forez (France), where I had a great time researching the local archives a few years ago.

Here is the short blurb:

Still afflicted by the ondine curse, Melusine seeks the reincarnated soul of her lost beloved in the young Artaud of Forez, who reigns over the verdant hills south of Burgundy, on the road of pilgrims, troubadours and merchants. But this dark and brooding Pagan lord is not at all what she hoped. He knows nothing of their past love, her Fae nature, or her secret curse. Must Melusine seduce and betroth this cold stranger to satisfy the Goddess and redeem her curse?

The gold in the rivers instills greed in the powerful, and many envy the rich Lord of Forez, including his most trusted vassals... even the Archbishop of Lyon. When a mythological creature is sighted in the swamps, initiating a holy hunt, will Melusine find redemption from the curse, or will she and Artaud burn at the stake?

Find the first four novels of the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE in kindle on Amazon HERE
There is also a box set including the first three novels (best deal)

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Great Apple Hunt

Every August, I wait and watch for the new crop of apples. I begin the process of filling my fridge with apples, and proceed to bake apple pies and apple bread. Then I fill my freezer with applesauce. The habit began early.

My parents had three acres in Skaneateles, NY which came with the remains of an orchard. There were seven trees in a row on the eastern side of the house, and I remember the shape and habit of each one well, blooming in spring or illuminated by sunrise. Nearest the road was a classic Golden Delicious tree with low, spreading limbs. It was my particular haunt, because it was easy to climb into. During hot summer afternoons, there were almost-comfortable notches you could get into with a book, but actually, the best thing was just to zone out and watch the ever-changing shadows of the leaves dancing across my skinny arms.   Besides this shapely tree there was also a Schuyler Plum, a Bartlett pear, and a single apple tree each of Rome and Cortland. We had one mystery tree which shed rock hard golden-with-pink-blush fruit very late in the season. To this last, my parents could not give a name until they consulted the local old-timers. This, we finally learned, was a Winter Banana. Although initially “hard enough to shoot through an oak plank”, we found that if you wiped these apples and stored them in a cool place inside a big cardboard box, by early January they would become tasty, juicy and delicious. These heritage apples kept so well, that we often made pies or sauce or even Waldorf salad as late as April. We rarely bought store apples.
Winter Banana

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Massachusetts and so had plenty of excellent northern apples to eat, and so my craving—after dearth years in the West Indies--was satisfied. The newly developed, sweet and crispy Macoun, glowing in those picture-perfect Massachusetts orchards was a revelation. For work, though, we had to move south. The apples here came earlier, and what I found were of poor quality. At the farm stands, the Macs, Romes and Cortlands, and even the ordinarily good keepers such as Staymen, all too soon in the long southern autumns, became mush.  Friends who lived up north sent me fruit by post, but I was an apple exile--deprived.

Moving again, into Pennsylvania, I hoped to find better apples, but at first, I couldn’t locate them. People here liked Lodi, for they come early, but about all they are good for is a mild, soupy sauce. No, the early greens are not favorites—and don’t even mention the awful saw-dust-look-but-don't eat supermarket Red “Delicious”!  The antique varieties our grandparents knew had been destroyed by subdivisions and marketing. I’ve lived in PA for 30 years now, and that once world-famous Pennsylvania export, the York Imperial--of "Treasure Island" fame--has never crossed my seeker’s path.
Happily, we are returning to a time in which people crave good taste again, and at the renascent farmer’s markets I'm again finding the old favorites.  It’s catch as catch can, depending on weather, rain and whether I find them fresh off the tree. There are some new, tasty varieties—the Ginger Gold, the Braeburn, the Gala, and the magnificent, late season Goldrush.  Among the newbies, I confess to a weakness for Empires and Jonagolds. The older breeds, however, to my old taste buds, will always be tops. My heart leaps when I find a hard, tart Jonathan or a traditional Winesap, or even a Cortland or a Rome, fresh from a good tree. This year, during my  annual apple hunt, I encountered my Holy Grail of heritage apples—Northern Spy—and enjoyed a brief time of rejoicing in each crispy, crunchy, tangy bite.     

Heritage apples/Assorted
~~Juliet Waldron
Historical Novels @

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Night Before Christmas ~ A Poem by Shirley Martin

'Twas the night before Christmas                               
And inside my house
I sat at the computer
Clicking the mouse
My writing was great
And I couldn't complain
So I thought I'd celebrate
With a glass of champagne
But it's time for a break
I thought with elation
But how much time should I take
When I take my vacation?
Oh, I'll see it all
I'll see Venice and Rome
But after the Taj Mahal
'Twould be time to come home
I headed for the kitchen
To get the champagne
While thinking I'm just itchin'
To see Paris again.
As I took a sip
I heard the door chimes
And a woman outside called,
"I'm from the New York Times."
I opened the door
And there before me
The woman said, "You're the very person
"I've wanted to see."
"You're on our bestseller list,"
She quickly explained.
"Why, you're all I thought of
Before I even deplaned."
I gasped and I stammered
I turned ten shades of red
I giggled and said, "This
All goes to my head." 
"And look what we have here,"
She said in shrill tones.
"A big brass band with
Seventy-six trombones."
I turned from the doorway
And there on the street
A band started playing
With an ear busting beat.
"Now don't complain about the noise," she said,
"And don't call the cops.
Just listen to these girls and boys
Why, they think you're tops." 
"May I come visit a while,"
She asked with a smile.
"I've come all the way from New York
So let's pop the cork."
My success was assured
Or so it would seem
But then I woke up
It had all been a dream!
Still, 'twas a nice dream
When all's done and said,
So I set down my drink
And went on to bed.
Copyright (C) 2013 Shirley Martin
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