Tackle your TBR List and Enter my Giveaway

The Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon is well underway! If you missed the start, that’s OK. You can still join through the 20th of September.

Today I’m adding my own giveaway to the event and also making an announcement! The new Clean Reads Repository I’ve been putting together over the last couple of weeks is now LIVE!

It is called PureFiction–check it out! Suggest a clean book to add to the repository to enter my rafflecopter giveaway. You’ll have the chance to win a bundle book with the entire Wind Rider Chronicles, including novella Into the Shadow Wood, and all of the related short stories.


September 11th to 24th sees the fifth TackleTBR Readathon, thanks to Tressa at Wishful Endings.

The goal you set is entirely up to you – maybe you don’t even want to set a goal.  

Apart from reading books to shorten your list, though, the read-a-thon includes challenges from participants (with prizes to enter for), activities to join in, and general fun and mayhem.

Read all about it at Wishful Endings and sign up at any time through to 20th September.

I’ll be setting you a challenge on 19th September, for which I’ll be giving a prize.

Sign up now to reduce the length/size of your reading pile.  

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Ancient Tunnels and Present Day Mysteries

Today I’m giving you a peek at my latest newsletter. These go out every couple of weeks, and in them I share deeper insights into my book world and inspirations. You’ll also get bonus stuff, like links to a wide variety of free books by other authors, Rafflecopter giveaways, and the chance to participate in surveys that shape my series. Additionally, when you subscribe, you’ll get a free copy of Ancient Voices: Into the Depths, the second book in my series.


Ancient Tunnels and Present Day Mysteries

I love a good mystery, don’t you? Winding its way beneath the green hills of Europe is the erdstall tunnel system.

These tunnels are believed to have been constructed in the Middle Ages, but no one can figure out who built them, or why. And there aren’t just a few…over 2,000 tunnels have been discovered so far! They are smooth and rounded, carved right into the bare earth. They aren’t very large, only a few feet tall and wide. “Slip outs” are small holes that connect passages that are running at different elevations. Some of these are so tight, a person would have to literally squeeze through them to move from one tunnel to another.

Erdstall tunnels have only one entrance and exit, typically buried in the wilderness or among the remnants of old settlements. Not especially convenient! They also have no system for ventilation, and some flood with water. These tunnels are not places where anyone would be able to hang out for long.

Adding to the mystery is the complete lack of archaeological and historical evidence. Their construction is not officially recorded anywhere, and no human artifacts seem to have been left behind in the tunnels themselves.

What are some of the theories? Some say they were used for storage. Not likely given they were small, dirty, wet, and difficult to get in and out of. Another theory is they were places where people hid from marauders. The small size of the tunnels, and lack of oxygen inside, would make this fairly impractical, too. Not to mention with only one way in and out, if their hiding place was ever discovered it would become a tomb rather than a way of escape. Some think the tunnels might have spiritual significance; a place for the souls of the deceased, or perhaps even dark spirits to dwell. Austrian folklore gives goblins the credit for their existence.

I kind of wish I’d known about these erdstall tunnels when I lived in Germany so I could experience one for myself. In reality though, I’m horribly claustrophobic, so you’d have to practically kill me to get me in there. I’d no doubt peer with wonder into the small, dark entranceway, get a nose-tingling whiff of damp earth, take a couple of pictures, and that would be the extent of my adventure.

Mysteries such as these are a wonderful source of inspiration, though. One can imagine the erdstall tunnels weren’t carved by people at all (hence the lack of artifacts or construction records), but by serpents, or maybe hosts of dark fae. Austrian folklore could have it right after all.

In my own stories, I reference secret underground libraries which are connected by hidden tunnels and entranceways. Very few know they exist, and those who do are bound by oaths of silence. It is in my imaginary world that I can fill in my own answers to these questions that no one has been able to fully resolve in the real world. I can turn thousands of seemingly purposeless, dank tunnels into a vital network. Some of them are perhaps decoys, built only to confuse and misdirect. Yet others lead to glorious, irreplaceable collections of the world’s most sacred artifacts.

What do you imagine the erdstall tunnels were for? Who built and used them? You don’t have to be a writer to dream up a few ideas. It seems that even the historians are having to use their imaginations on this one.


Click to view the rest of this newsletter. I won’t always post peeks on my blog, so subscribe to make sure you don’t miss an edition. They’ll get sent right to your email twice a month, and if you change your mind, you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

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.


He has been on the road for more than a week now, alone. He’d slipped out in the dark of night with his most trusted steed, his sword, and just enough food and money to get by. All else was left behind, and gladly. With his head hung low and buried in the hood of his cloak, he managed to go unrecognized long enough to get into the mountains. His steps will be harder to trace on this stony, frozen path, so long as the wind and snow continue to cover them.

Every once in a while he peers back the way he has come, just to be sure he’s not being followed. No doubt by now everyone has been alerted to his flight, but he took care of that too, strategically planting clues intended to misdirect. By the time they figure out they’re going in circles he should be well away, and anything left of his trail gone cold. If he’s careful, and wise, he just might make it to the other side.

Who is this man, and where is he going? The rest of this story is up to you...


Did you miss last week’s Fantasy Art post? Find it here.

“Alone in the Mountains” by Daria Rashev

A Very Modern Map of Britain’s Ancient Roman Roads…

Let’s take the VII from Londinium to Letocetum.

Cartographer Sasha Trubetskoy didn’t set out to create a subway-style map of the Roman roads of Britain—not specifically. He had seen plenty of fantasy transit maps online and, he says, “I figured I could do better.” He just needed a subject, and he landed on ancient Rome, which no one had tackled before, despite its extensive network of roads across its vast empire.

His first fantasy transit map covered the whole empire.

After he published it, fans clamored for another installment, specific to the network in Britain.

See the result and read the article at:

Roman Roads of Britain

Source: A Very Modern Map of Britain’s Ancient Roman Roads…

A Brief Guide To A Fantasy Arsenal

This very informative article is shared from the blog of author Nicholas C. Rossis


I hosted the other day a guest post by my author friend, Charles E. Yallowitz, but today I’m sharing his excellent series of posts he has written on fantasy (Medieval) arsenal. Charles has recently shared posts on the types of swords, shields, and projectile weapons used in fantasy (and inspired by real-life Medieval and ancient weapons). I hope he continues this series, as it’s a great resource for all of us fantasy writers (by the way, if you haven’t checked out his blog yet, you should do so for his great tips on writing rounded characters, his fun fantasy short stories and a lot more).

So, let’s start with that staple of fantasy…

Swords

Here is what I’ve been able to find out about swords:

Two-handed swords

  • the European longsword, popular in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance.
  • the Scottish late medieval claymore (not to be confused with the basket-hilted claymore of the 18th century).
  • the Great sword, related to the Medieval long swords. These swords were too heavy to be wielded one-handed and possessed a large grip to accommodate both hands.
  • the Bidenhänder. The Bidenhänder or two-hander is the “true” two-handed sword. It was a specialist weapon wielded by certain Landsknechte Doppelsöldners. It is highly doubtful that these two-handed swords were used to chop off the point of pikes; however, the two-handed sword was an ideal weapon for protecting the standard bearer or a breach since a Doppelsöldner armed with one could fend off many attackers by using moulinets.citation needed]
  • the Swordstaff (Svärdstav). This is a Scandinavian sword-polearm hybrid, used in medieval times. It is made by placing a blade at the end of a staff, thus giving the same benefits of a sword with the reach of a spear or polearm. This helps the soldier fighting enemies both on foot and mounted. The length of the weapon makes it easier to fight mounted opponents, while the blade is still handy enough to use in close combat, as opposed to using a spear which is ineffective at close range because only the tip can be used to attack, or a sword which makes hurting mounted enemies significantly harder. The greater length of the weapon would also help when fighting more heavily armed opponents, since an attack can be executed with considerably more force due to the length of the weapon.

There’s lots more great information, so click to keep reading: A Brief Guide To A Fantasy Arsenal

 

Medieval Monday: Music

Medieval instruments illuminationAs Europe transitioned from the violence of the Dark Ages into the Middle Ages, music became increasingly important.  The earliest music was sung or played in unison, with harmonies gradually introduced over time.  Not all of it was religious in nature; the crusades brought in Arab love songs which were popular, and the French Troubadours and minstrels sang of romance and courtly love. These and other influences blended together with existing pagan and religious music traditions to create a rich, beautiful, musical heritage we can still enjoy.

A large entertainment industry grew up around music, for both the wealthy and the poor. Holidays, special celebrations, and festivals were filled with music, which was believed to aid in digestion. It was therefore frequently played at mealtimes and in between courses of food during feasts.

Medieval instruments2A variety of instruments were played, their varied sounds evoking the proper mood for each occasion.  Some we’re still familiar with today like the bagpipe, harp, harpsichord, lute, horn, whistle, bell, drum, and recorder.  Others are more obscure, such as the Kortholt, Lizard, Cornamuse, Shawm, and Zink. You can go to this site to see a more extensive list and hear samples of what these instruments actually sounded like.

And since no post on music should remain silent, I’ve included a YouTube video that plays an hour’s worth of authentic musical selections from the early Middle Ages.  Hope you enjoy it!

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.


Cold, harsh, and dangerous; this town sprang up right against the mountainside. No warning could drown out the siren’s lure of quick riches. Some have already found it…enough wealth to live like kings for generations. They are the cause of envy and inspiration, fueling the drive to keep looking, no matter how poverty-stricken, how desperate, how sickly. That melodious lure pushes men beyond reason, sometimes beyond sanity. Even broken bodies are not enough to scare away these determined seekers who dance each day on the edge of death. Somehow even those who find what they came for just keep looking for more, never quite satisfied enough to pack up and leave.

Those in the outside world call it a sickness and shake their heads. Few dare to settle in this place where strength, power, and cunning make the law, and wisdom means knowing how to watch your own back. There are no friendships here, only alliances which can be broken as quickly as they are formed. Those who dare to live in this little town don’t see the sickness, and any suffering is a small but necessary price they are more than willing to pay. As the sun rises each morning, they gaze upon the mountain’s glory and pray. Surely this will be the day they finally become like kings, and all their desires will be fulfilled. But it could also be the day the mountain decides to reclaim its treasures, crashing down its fists of snow and stone to bury them all.

“Mining Town” by Thom Tenery