Medieval Monday: ‘Broken on the Wheel’

Archaeologists discover medieval man ‘broken on the wheel’

An archaeological dig in Milan has uncovered the remains of a young man who suffered massive injuries, likely caused by torture and execution while being ‘broken on wheel’.

The team of researchers from Università degli Studi di Milano were examining the remains of 56 individuals that were discovered buried at San Ambrogio square in the Italian city of Milan. These skeletons date from between the era of the Roman Empire to the sixteenth-century, but their focus was on individual found with two buckles. Radiochemical tests were performed, which dates the body to between the years 1290 and 1430. He was between 17 and 20 years old when he died.

The individual was found with numerous wounds, which the researchers noticed as having a very specific distribution. All the long bones on his forearms and legs were fractured in a way that the weapon hit the bones perpendicularly. He also had blunt force injuries to his face, a stab wound that hit his vertebrae, and a deep fracture at the back of his skull, which the researchers believe was caused during a clumsy attempt to decapitate him.

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Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover other topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

Author Interview w/ Speculative Fiction Author Stephanie Ayers

Greetings guys and gals. Today on my blog I am sitting down with Speculative Fiction Author Stephanie Ayers, in her very own interview. Hope you will stick around to check out what she has to say and her books provided below. Happy reading…

Author Interview

Tell us about yourself?
I am the word whisperer living in southwest Ohio. I am a unicorn disguised as a human with an addiction to coffee and the mugs you drink it from, garage/yard sales, flea market and thrift store shopping, and a loud and proud football mom.

What genre do you write?
Some would say its speculative fiction, but I think it’s more horror and fantasy specific. Why? I follow where the voices in my head tell me to go. This usually means it will dark twist somewhere.

What books do you like to read?
Everything, but most especially fantasy—Xanth, Middle Earth, Narnia, Wonderland…

What is your favorite food?
Tacos. Isn’t that the only right answer?

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?
Well, I’m a weirdo by nature, so everything I do is weird, but in VA where I grew up, it’s weird to put mayo on your hot dogs. I’m sure that’s not the weirdest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s almost as weird as ketchup on eggs.

Are you a pantser or plotter?
The idea of planning anything makes me break out in hives, but I have found as I get older, having some bullet points help redirect me when the story wants to go off in the wrong direction.

How many books have you published so far?
A bunch between solo works and anthologies.

Tell us about your latest released book.
Catching Dragons released on August 10, 2019. This is the second book in the high fantasy series, Destiny Defined. It follows up with Edgar with a focus on his kingdom and all the things that have gone wrong since the dragon queen invaded.

What should we expect from you in the coming months?
I have books releasing every month through the rest of the year, and 4 on the schedule from April-October of next year.

Do you have any special closing statement you would like to share with your fans? Without my fans, my writing is pointless. Like Ursula le Guin says, without readers to breathe life into my stories, they are nothing more than words on paper. Thank you for bringing them to life.


StephA published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is a coffee guzzling, word whispering, world building creative ninja and unicorn living in Ohio disguised as a human. She mothers her children, loves her husband, attends church, and avoids all things housework and zombies. When she isn’t doing any of these things, she can be found stretching her creative wings designing book covers, promotional graphics, logos and more.

Stephanie has been a regular contributor and leader for Bloggy Moms and Just Be Enough, and currently writes content for Blogmutt. She is a strong supporter of the indie author community.

Her debut novella, Til Death Do Us Part, was published by Bannerwing Books in 2013, and her work appears in several anthologies and collections, notably Precipice 2, Flash Fiction: 1x50x100, and Endless Darkness. Her poetry has been featured in Ambrosia: A Poetry Anthology, and the first volume in her serial short horror story collection released in October 2017. Her fantasy debuted with “Wings,” a free short story from the Destiny Defined series, which will begin late 2018, early 2019.


“The blank page is a canvas on which the writer paints a story.”-Stephanie Ayers



The Book

Catching Dragons ebook coverA reluctant hero, an enchanted kingdom, a crazed prince…

Out of the ashes of doubt, courage is born.

As Derik whisks Edgar away from Willowglen where he’d been championing the dwarves, he can’t help but wonder what has really happened to his kingdom since his departure. Tales of an attack from the sky and an army of black knights precede him, and nothing is as Edgar expects when he arrives back home in Northend. His city lies under an enchantment, and they need him to break it. Tasked with regaining his lost magick and armed with a pouch of fairy dust, Edgar is determined to do the right thing.

Will he find the courage to confront the man responsible for his father’s death or will he run away like the coward Derik believes him to be?

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Medieval Monday: The Service of Magic

In medieval England magic was a service industry used by rich and poor alike

by: Emily Costello

Chances are that when you hear the words “medieval magic”, the image of a witch will spring to mind: wizened old crones huddled over a cauldron containing unspeakable ingredients such as eye of newt. Or you might think of people brutally prosecuted by overzealous priests. But this picture is inaccurate.

To begin with, fear of witchcraft – selling one’s soul to demons to inflict harm on others – was more of an early modern phenomenon than a medieval one, only beginning to take hold in Europe at the tail end of the 15th century. This vision also clouds from view the other magical practices in pre-modern England.

Magic is a universal phenomenon. Every society in every age has carried some system of belief and in every society there have been those who claim the ability to harness or manipulate the supernatural powers behind it. Even today, magic subtly pervades our lives – some of us have charms we wear to exams or interviews and others nod at lone magpies to ward off bad luck. Iceland has a government-recognised elf-whisperer, who claims the ability to see, speak to, and negotiate with the supernatural creatures still believed to live in Iceland’s landscape.

While today we might write this off as an overactive imagination or the stuff of fantasy, in the medieval period magic was widely accepted to be very real. A spell or charm could change a person’s life: sometimes for the worse, as with curses – but equally, if not more often, for the better.

Magic was understood to be capable of doing a range of things, from the marvellous to the surprisingly mundane. At the mundane end, magic spells were in many ways little more than a tool. They were used to find lost objects, inspire love, predict the future, heal illnesses and discover buried treasure. In this way, magic provided solutions to everyday problems, especially problems that could not be solved through other means.


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Inspiration Sunday

yellowstone-national-park-1581879_1920The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11

Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.

Beautiful, yet forlorn, this place is slowly succumbing to the ravages of time. The lonely figure walking this crumbling corridor is determined to remain its companion to the very end. It was a glorious place once, built by a wealth and power that has long ebbed away. But when this structure was new, and whole, it gave the lives of those within it meaning and purpose. This robed figure has not forgotten, even though its noble arches are now draped in vine, and the crows brazenly come and go as they please. There is writing etched deep into the stones beneath the pillars. Each word is a plea from the past; a silent but unyielding voice that demands a place in the present. The robed figure knows what they say. Do you?

Crows’ Abbey

Interview with Pat Nichols

Happy Tuesday! Today I am sitting down with Contemporary Fiction author Pat Nichols. Hope you will join us as we get to know her and her books. Happy reading.

The Interview

Tell us about yourself?
After retiring from a twenty-seven-year corporate career, I am proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams. I was born in Illinois, grew up in Orlando, and have called Georgia home since the eighties. My high-school-sweetheart celebrated our fifty-fourth anniversary in June. We’re still best friends. Although Tim doesn’t like to read, he listens to my chapters during the draft process, gives me excellent feedback, and answers an important question, “Would a man say that?”. We have a son, a daughter, and four grandchildren—one is with the angels. We’ve been fortunate to travel to all our favorite places in the world—Italy topped the list. Now we’re homebodies enjoying time with family and friends.

What genre do you write? Why?
During my corporate career I worked with hundreds of amazing women from all walks of life. Their life stories compelled me to write contemporary fiction about women pursuing their dreams amidst life’s challenges.

What is your favorite hobby?
I enjoy reading and watching movies. Every so often I tackle a jigsaw puzzle. The last one had 2000 pieces. Took two months for my husband and me to finish it. When I ride in a car, I enjoy Sudoku. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve math, just patterns.

What is your favorite type of fantasy creature?
Any talking dog.
Although we no longer have pets, when our children were home had black Labradors. I loved those dogs and often wished I could read their minds.

Do you like to write with a pen and paper or computer?
I write with a laptop. Funny thing, I took typing courses in college and nearly failed the class. Who’d have guessed I’d learn to type with speed and accuracy. Oh, did I mention the value of spellcheck and the fact that I can’t read my own handwriting?

Who is your favorite character you have created?
That’s a difficult choice, but Sadie Liles edges out the others because after spending thirty years in prison, she had had the most to .

Who are your top favorite authors?
Two of my favorite authors are Francine Rivers and David Baldacci. Quite different genres and styles. I’m also a fan of Ane Mulligan, and newer authors Lindsey Brackett, Marilyn Marriott Howton, and Sherri Stewart.

What should we expect from you in the coming months?
Book two in the Willow Falls series—The Trouble in Willow Falls—will release in October and book three in 2020. Later this year I will plot book four. When a reader asks how many books I plan for the series, my answer is God and my characters will let me know when to stop.

What would you like to say to your fans?
Your comments and reviews touch my heart and encourage me to continue perfecting my craft. I wish I could personally meet each of you and thank you for reading my debut novel.

Pat Nichols

IMG_E0145Retired from a twenty-seven-year corporate career, Pat Nichols draws on her experience in seven different management positions working with hundreds of amazing women from all walks of life to create stories about women facing challenges in the pursuit of their dreams. Her debut novel, The Secret of Willow Inn, Willow Falls series book one, was released January, 2019. Book two in the series is scheduled for release October 2019 and book three in 2020. Pat received a 2018 NGCWC Georgia Peach Award for her short story, The Vet and Valentine’s Day and the 2017 CRW Woman of the Year Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International.

Connect with Pat!

Website | FB | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | Bookbub

The Secret of Willow Inn

TheSecretofWillowFallsCoverTwo women fighting for their dreams—one who’s long lost hers—are united by tragedy and a long-held secret.
Pregnant with her first child, Emily Hayes is eager to help her mother finish transforming an estate into the Willow Inn and write a novel about Willow Falls’ colorful history. A tragic event threatens her parents’ plans to refurbish an abandoned hotel and transform the obscure Georgia setting into a tourist destination.

Sadie Lyles left Willow Falls a murderer who’d killed the town hero. She returns as a despised felon and seeks solace in the town’s café. Emily struggles to unite the close-knit community and becomes Sadie’s biggest advocate. She strives to uncover the truth about the crime and save her town from dying.

To appease her father, Rachel, a VP in his Atlanta real-estate-development firm, relegates her acting dream to secret performances for imaginary audiences. After meeting charming, flirtatious Charlie Bricker, manager for Willow Falls’ future vineyard, she vows to break free from her father’s control.

The tragedy and Willow Inn’s secret past launch Emily and Rachel on a collision course with destiny and truth.

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Medieval Monday: The Labors of October

There is no doubt now, that fall is here. The weather is getting cooler, and the labors of summer have produced an abundant harvest. It is a time of plenty in the medieval world, albeit a cautious one. The harsh winter months are only just ahead, and what has been so carefully grown and collected must now also be preserved to ensure the survival of the community.

harvesting-grapesThe last of the winter grains are being sown in the fallow fields, and grapes are still being harvested for the production of wine, and a common medieval condiment called verjuice; a clear, sour juice made from unripe grapes, apples, berries, or other fruit. It was used mainly for cooking and adding flavor to foods.

October was a time to gather whatever wild nuts and fruits might still be found and preserve them for winter. It was also a time to make decisions about livestock, because storing enough food to feed them all through winter was costly and impractical. Cattle were the first to be fattened by permitting them to wander the fields and eat from leftover stubble. Sheep were the last, because they cropped everything so close to the ground they didn’t leave much behind.

swinePigs, a common sight in every village, were allowed to roam free and forage wherever they could year round. They were only semi-domesticated animals; lean and with coarse hair. They typically lived on what they could find, including scraps, and when well-fed in fall, quickly put on weight. It was said that “a pig that needed to be fed on grain was not worth keeping.” Since acorns were a favorite food of pigs, woods full of oak trees were especially prized for fattening them. Beechnuts, hazel nuts, and hawes were also favored by swineherds, who watched for the first signs that those trees were ready to drop. Poultry would be fattened as well, particularly geese, then slaughtered before they could lose their fat.

The 14th century husband-to-be who wrote the Medieval Home Companion had the following advice for his young bride regarding the month of October:

In October plant peas and beans a finger deep in the earth and a handbreadth from each other. Plant the biggest beans, for when they are new these prove themselves to be larger than the smaller ones can ever become. Plant only a few of them, and at each waning of the moon afterward, a few more so that if some of them freeze, the others will not. If you want to plant pierced peas, sow them in weather that is dry and pleasant, not rainy, for if rain water gets into the openings of the peas, they will crack and split in two and not germinate.

Up until All Saints’ Day you can always transplant cabbages. When they are so much eaten by caterpillars that there is nothing left of the leaves except the ribs, all will come back as sprouts if they are transplanted. Remove the lower leaves and replant the cabbages to the depth of the upper bud. Do not replant the stems that are completely defoliated; leave these in the ground, for they will send up sprouts. If you replant in summer and the weather is dry, you must pour water in the hole; this is not necessary in wet weather

If caterpillars eat the cabbages, spread cinders under the cabbages when it rains and the caterpillars will die. If you look under the leaves of the cabbages, you will find there a great collection of small white morsels in a heap. This is where the caterpillars are born, and therefore you should cut off the part with these eggs and throw it away.  Leeks are sown in season, then transplanted in October and November.

There are more Tales from the Green Valley to enjoy! This episode includes roofing with timbers and thatch, gardening, harvesting pears, period footwear, fattening the pigs, spit roasting lamb, storing/checking fruit for winter. Want to learn more about daily medieval life? Check out the Medieval Monday Index.