Acceptance, Book One of the Acceptance Series

For more than two thousand years, a small community of humans has lived in harmony with vampires, giving their blood and obedience in exchange for protection. And for all that time, it’s been a peaceful occupation.

When Kalyn Reid comes of age and pledges herself to the vampires, she has no reason to worry. She’s paired with Anselm for her training, and she couldn’t ask for a kinder, more patient mentor. She also couldn’t ask for anyone better-looking.

But before she has a chance to learn her new responsibilities–or get a date–her idyllic life goes up in flames. Without warning, the humans and vampires in her group are murdered by a strange new type of vampire and the few survivors are forced to flee.

Anselm and his brother, Micah, vow to hunt down the murderer, and they take Kalyn with them–thinking they can keep her safe. But when the killer finds them first, it’s they who must rely on her if any of them are to survive.

It reminded me of Game of Thrones, except with less incest and more vampires. - Author Michelle Proulx

You can purchase this book on:

Smashwords (all e-book formats available)
Barnes and Noble Nook
Amazon Kindle
Amazon print

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The Five MOST DANGEROUS Weapons of the Middle Ages

In a recent Rolling Stone article, the following guns were named the most dangerous in America (based on how often they were used in a crime):

1. Pistols
2. Revolvers
3. Rifles
4. Shotguns
5. Derringers

Not to be outdone by the journalistic standards of Rolling Stone (and because you know I like medieval stuff), I have compiled a list of…

 The Five MOST DANGEROUS Weapons of the Middle Ages

 1. Swords

1. Swords  Swords are most commonly a double-edged weapon (although you may see single-sided, “saber” style blades in the middle east during this period). They differ from daggers (a type of knife) only by their length. There is no consensus as to where a long knife ends and a short sword begins, but swords are generally characterized by their usefulness in maiming and killing people, whereas knives tend to have less violent uses (such as cutting up meat). Swords were also worn as by the wealthy as a status symbol and a visible threat that kept 99% of the population repressed.Swords are most commonly a double-edged weapon (although you may see single-sided, “saber” style blades in the middle east during this period). They differ from daggers (a type of knife) only by their length. There is no consensus as to where a long knife ends and a short sword begins, but swords are generally characterized by their usefulness in maiming and killing people, whereas knives tend to have less violent uses (such as cutting up meat). Swords were also worn as by the wealthy as a status symbol and a visible threat that kept 99% of the population repressed.

 2. Arrows

archeryArrows could be used for hunting (which most medieval people did for sport rather than food acquisition), but they were most often used to deadly effect during wars. Crossbows (which shoot “bolts”) were so deadly that one medieval pope banned their use against “good Christians” (in typical medieval Christian supremacism, though, pagans, Jews, and Muslims were not protected by this ban). Possibly to get around this ban, the English invented a “long bow” which was like a regular bow, only longer. It proved to be even deadlier than the crossbow, thanks to its long range. Tens of thousands of French freedom fighters died in a hail of arrows from the English invaders during the “Hundred Years War.”

3. Poll weapons (including, pikes, halberds, poll axes, glaves, etc.)

Poll (or “pole”) weapons come in a variety of lethal configurations, but most of them consist of at least one bladed edge affixed to a long pole (although many also contain one or more spikes as well). Whereas swords were worn even during peacetime, and arrows were used for hunting, poll weapons were used solely on the battlefield and had no other purpose except to maim and kill—which they did horrifyingly well. Many of the gruesome injuries that are seen in medieval skulls come from these powerful weapons. In fact, the term “poll weapon” comes not from the pole that it was attached to, but from the fact that you were supposed to use it to strike your opponent on the head, or “poll.”

 4. Knives and daggers

knifeThese came in two forms: a single-edge knife and the double-edge dagger. Knives were typically used for practical purposes, such as eating meals, but daggers were commonly used as weapons. Both types were common among peasant criminals who were not allowed, by law, to own a sword–although the nobility also carried knives and daggers into battle where they might use them as a measure of last resort if they found themselves otherwise unarmed. After battles were over, however, these implements were frequently used to loot the corpses of the slain, cutting off armor, purses, and anything else of value.

5. Axes (short-handled)

BruceBattle-axes were popular in the early middle ages when primitive steel swords were too expensive even for many in the noble classes. Viking “berserkers” had a spine-tingling reputation for using axes to hack everyone—soldiers and innocent civilians alike—into bloody giblets. But even in the high middle ages, we see them used on battlefields as a back-up weapon for the nobility, or as a primary weapon for the conscripted peasant soldiers. Robert the Bruce famously struck Henry de Bohun at the Battle of Bannockburn with an ax—driving the blade through two iron helmets and the skull, before lodging it into the brain.

And rounding out the top ten:

6. Flails, ax handles, and other blunt objects
7. Pitchforks
8. Torches, Greek Fire, and other portable incendiary devices
9. Spears (this would have ranked #6, expect I had to factor in the Peasant’s Rebellion)
10. The Inquisition

Honorable Mention: War Horses. Heavy horse were often used to mow down opponents and break up enemy formations. However, while some people were undoubtedly killed by trampling, horses, by and large, only caused injuries, not direct death.

The One True Century

Here is another picture of me with my new ruffled veil–this time with the proper dress and hairstyle. I’m absolutely loving it!

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And a quick alternate with the flat ram’s horns.

 

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Medieval Combat Society Ruffleception! This German figure is wearing two veils–one on top of the other–similar to mine, then she has a wimple that has a matching ruffle around the bottom edge. I kind of like it.

Head of a Noble Woman(You know, I just realized I have my medieval face on: hooded eyes, pasted-on smile.)

 

Star-Spangled Fourth

In honor of the Fourth of July, I thought I would spend a little quality time with our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Because it began life as a poem, and because of the time in which it was written, it can be almost as hard to understand as it is to sing. So let me set the mood a bit, then break it down so it can really be appreciated.


 

Imagine you are on a boat near the coastline, just as the sun is rising. Beginning the day before, and continuing all night, the British navy has shelled Fort McHenry, which guards the entrance into Baltimore’s harbor.

Washington BurnsThe British have already sacked Washington D.C. and set it ablaze. The First Lady, Dolly Madison, just barely managed to cram the presidential portraits—including that of George Washington—into her carriage and flee before the British arrived to destroy the White House.

Now, the Redcoats are poised to take Baltimore—one of the largest cities in America, and possibly its most important port. The loss of Baltimore will be catastrophic not just for morale and for the inhabitants who will lose everything they can’t carry out, but the loss of the port will make it difficult to resupply the American army and move troops.

All you can do is keep a helpless watch from a distance as the bombardment lasts all day and into the night.

FrancisScottKeyStarSpangledBanner,PercyMorgan,1913-500Oh, say, can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,

You don’t trust your eyesight—the light is dim, as the sun is just beginning to lighten the horizon, and the air is still thick with the smoke from black powder—so you ask the man standing beside you, hey, can you see…

What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight’s last gleaming?

The night before, as darkness fell, the last thing everyone saw was a huge American flag flying above the walls of the fort, defiantly proclaiming it to be in American hands. Now the question is: does the flag still fly? Is the fort still in American hands, or has it fallen, in the night, to the British?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.

Our Flag Was Still There - Fort McHenry-700x600The fort’s commander, George Armistead, had commissioned the enormous flag as a show of defiance, saying that he wanted “a flag so large, the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.” And it was towards the flag that the Brits aimed their long guns, trying to shell the fort into submission and cause the flag to be hauled down in surrender.

And the rockets’ red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.

War_of_1812_Fort_McHenry_BombardmentAs the day turned to night, the fighting raged on. The British ships sent up red flares, trying to give their gunners enough light to see what they were doing and where their target was. And the light from those flares, and the exploding shells which rained down on the fort, provided little bursts of light, like flashes of lightning, showing that the flag was still yet flying over the fort.

Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?

Does the flag still fly? Does the fort still hold? Have the British been kept out of Baltimore? The freedom of the young nation may well depend on that single fort.


There are actually three more verses to the song, although I’ve never heard anyone sing them, never learned them in school, and don’t know anyone who knows them.

The second verse (which you can find on Wikipedia) conveys the triumph of seeing the flag still flying over the fort. (The British, running low on ammunition and having accomplished nothing because their guns performed so poorly at that distance, would soon withdraw; the bombardment had lasted twenty-five hours.)

The third verse celebrates the victory and mocks the invaders who thought they could easily win.

The final verse is a great one (although it sounds horrible when sung; give it a try):

O thus be it ever,
when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home
and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace,
may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made
and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must,
when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:
“In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave!

Have a happy Fourth of July!

My 14th Century Ruffled Veil

Well, we are officially moved and our house is officially sold! Now, on to the unpacking!

In the midst of all the chaos, I started a little project (because that’s what I do; I hoard projects like some people hoard plastic butter tubs) and I just finished it this evening.

DSCN0142This is my (faux) 14th century ruffled veil. It’s hard to see in the picture, but all of the ruffles are edged with gold thread. (That’s what makes edges look so obvious.)

There are, as far as I have researched, three different types of 14th century veils: random ruffles (as illustrated), starched rolls, and the honeycomb.  Of the random ruffles, there is the nebula veil and something which might not be a nebula veil.

Jan_van_Eyck_086

A 15th century nebula veil (by Van Eyck)

We’re almost positive that the nebula veil’s ruffles were made on the loom. The warp threads in the selvedges on either side of the fabric were loosely tensioned, while the rest of the fabric was tightly tensioned. This created a pucker or ruffle in the edge of the fabric. (One of my costume books has an essay on this subject and a recreation of the weaving technique; it works perfectly).

Nebula veils were woven out of silk or very fine linen and typically made a very narrow and thin ruffled edge. The veil would be several yards in length and it would be folded up so that multiple layers of the ruffles lay on top of one another, and that’s what created the “nebula” of ruffles around the face.

Weeper 1

This Beauchamp weeper’s veil most closely resembles mine.

However, there are some depictions of ruffled veils that don’t look like nebula veils because the ruffles are either quite deep (meaning they stand out from the face) or quite large. The weaving technique probably didn’t produce veils with that much ruffle. It is possible that a separate ruffle was sewn onto the veil and either gathered into a random ruffle or was starched into some sort of shape.

Weeper 3

The rolled edge.

It would appear that the sew-on-a-separate-ruffle was definitely the construction method for the rolled-edge veil. It would have then been starched into the rolls.

DSCF0688Katherine Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, is wearing one of the more rare honeycomb-style veils. These were much more common in Germany than England. I have conjectured that they were made by smocking the middle fold of a piece of linen, then stuffed (to get that padded roll effect around the face). I have found someone else on the internet who shares that view. However, I have also seen two other people who create the same look by starching or stitching ruffles into shape.

In truth, we’re not exactly sure how they constructed most of their veils–or even if there was just one construction method for each variant. There are multiple ways to knit a sock; why not multiple ways to construct a veil?

burgos

This medieval veil had the ruffles sewn into place, not gathered then stitched down. Also, the medieval examples use a woven tape, not a hemmed piece of fabric, like Cristiana and I used. This probably cut down on some of the thickness of the ruffles and may have made them stiffer and more likely to hold their shape.

For my veil, I used Cristiana de Huntington’s 10-hour Veil method. She calls it a cheat–because, instead of gathering the ruffle onto the veil and starching it, she sews it on so that it makes the rolls without a need to starch–but according to one of her documentary photos, ruffle edging could be sewn on so that it formed a distinctive shape (in this case, V’s) without the need for starch.

The nice thing about not needing to starch is that if you live in a humid climate (which Tennessee is), you don’t have to worry about your starch going limp and your ruffles falling out.

jenae-veil-5

Damnit, why didn’t mine look like that?

I will admit, my veil did not come out the way I intended (does any project, really?). Cristiana’s veils have a crisp, very obvious V-edge. When I did my first edge, it didn’t look like that at all. It might be that I didn’t sew it correctly, but, more likely, it’s because she was using a very crisp, stiff linen, whereas mine is a soft, garment linen.

When I put my first edge on, I still had gobs of edging left (I’m still not sure how I ended up with so much, since I followed the directions), so I said “what the heck,” and I did a second layer next to the first. Then another. Finally, on my fourth time across, I used up the last of my edging. So that’s how it came to be. And even if it didn’t come out looking like it was supposed to, it’s more or less constructed in a period fashion (even the gold trim on the edges is documentable), and it’s pretty; I can’t wait to wear it to an event.

 

 

 

How Does This Thing Work? Do I Remember?

chattanooga

Chattanooga: The Scenic City

Hey, look, it’s a blog! Someone just left it sitting here idle….

So, finally, some good news on the personal front. For those of you who don’t remember what happened nine months ago, when the radio went silent here on… whatever I call this blog… Kinky Vampires Sniffing Potpourri, or something like that–I got a new job at my old company, which entailed a move to Chattanooga. Except that we had a house 140 miles away that we needed to get rid of, and the only way we could afford rent in one town and pay a mortgage in the other was if I had a small studio apartment that wasn’t big enough for two people. So my husband stayed at home and worked on packing, cleaning up, and making repairs, and I had the fun task of working all week, then driving the 140 miles home on the weekend to pack, clean, and make repairs. Every weekend. For nine months.

Except, partway through, I: 1) got a small promotion and my own office (yessss!); 2) the husband got a temp job in Chattanooga (that we’re hoping will become permanent); 3) since we couldn’t both fit into my studio, we got a nice house (we moved upstairs from the basement where I was living, actually; it worked out great); and 4) we SOLD THE HOUSE THIS WEEKEND!

So, hopefully, the closing will go through in 30-45 days, we will make one more run to Eagleville to empty our barn-garage, and then we’ll have our weekends back! (And, if we ever finish unpacking, we’ll have our evenings back, too!)

Okay, so now it’s confession time. You may think that with all this packing and commuting and general crazy-don’t-have-a-life situation that I haven’t had time to write. Well, I have been writing… fan fiction, of all things.

Oh, it started innocently enough. I was vegging out, playing some Legend of Zelda, when I thought to myself, this game is telling a story. And, frankly, it could be better; they’re a bit hazy on the back story–to the point that parts don’t quite make sense… like you’re missing a bit of information.

And I thought to myself, “Pfft, I could write a story for a game.” So, that’s what I set out to do.

I must admit, the project has gotten a lot bigger than I originally intended (isn’t that always the case?), but it does have an end, and I’ll eventually reach it. LOZ_CircleofDestiny2.jpg

I’ve learned some things along the way that have made the effort worthwhile. One, I had to plot the story in advance. For a story like this (any quest-type story, actually), you have to know where you’re going in advance so that you can put the people/weapons/magic thingamabobs in place before your character(s) need them. As you may remember from earlier confessions, I’m a pantser; I rarely have anything more than a vague idea for a plot in my head when I begin to write; I make it up as I go. So plotting each. and. every. chapter. in. advance. was a unique experience for me. At first, I didn’t like it, because I felt like it was stifling my creativity; I didn’t like having to stick to a script. But, eventually, I figured out that, while I really can’t take away chapters, I can add them. So, if I want to get off on a tangent, I can, so long as it fits between the chapters I’ve already written and the ones that I must write. (This is why it’s gotten a bit long; I got a little crazy with going off script.)

I think I’m going to apply this new-found knowledge of pre-plotting to The Bloodsuckers, since pantsing a serial novel is pretty damn hard. I think it would be easier on me to meet regular publishing deadlines if I took the time to sit down and plot my chapters in advance, and then write them. If I get a brilliant idea along the way, then I can just insert an extra chapter.

The other thing I learned is that I write relationships. Whatever the action or mystery, at the heart of any story I write, there must be people having at least some sort of relationship. I think this is why my idea for a dystopian novel has floundered. I think it’s a good idea, but it just doesn’t want to write. And I think that’s because the main character is alone and he stays alone (aside from a brief relationship). Dialogue has always been my strong suit and I just can’t do dialogue with only one person (or with people who don’t readily communicate with one another.)

I think the other thing I’ve learned is that you can really get your ego stoked publishing fan fiction. I’ve only had one bad review out of 229 (and that was someone who was complaining that Link was too much of a goody two-shoes. I can’t help that; I didn’t invent him; he’s always noble and self-sacrificing in the games) and I’ve had over 53,000 reads, which is a median count of about 500 reads per chapter. That’ll make any author feel better about themselves. (Which is good, because I’m not exactly racking up huge sales figures for my published stuff.)

Speaking of published stuff…. Now that I’m soon to have time again, I’m going to try to salvage my publishing schedule for The Flames of Prague and, hopefully, get it published by the end of this year. I’ve read through it and have marked up the printed copy with my first round of grammatical edits (it’s already had a major structural edit). I just need to make those changes to the electronic file, then print another copy and do another grammatical edit (or three).

I read somewhere that if you have to proofread your own stuff (which, of course, is never a good idea, but when I looked at the price of professional proofreaders, it was going to be $1,000+ for Acceptance; I’m a long way away from affording that), you should start at the back of the book and read forward. If you read from front to back, you get caught up in the story and your eyes read faster and skip more; they will naturally fill in what’s missing. But, if you read from back to front, that doesn’t happen nearly so much and you can take it one sentence at a time.

But, let’s not talk about proofing, because that’s boring and everyone hates to do it. Let’s talk book covers. Yes, you know I’m a Photoshop junkie who can’t leave well enough alone. This weekend, I got a wild hair and started to play around with Photoshop (it had been so long since I used it, too, I had almost forgotten how).

This is my original idea for Flames, which I was never quite happy with:

Final-Cover-for-WebI mean, I liked the back and the layout, but I just wasn’t digging the front cover. It looked a little too ‘shopped. And, despite the fact that it’s a legitimate, Pre-Raphaelite piece of art, I thought that the naked woman was a little risque. Yes, it’s a romance novel, but it’s not erotica, for God’s sake.

So, here’s the alternative that I came up with, which I already like much better:

Cover-(Alternate)You can see that I left the formatting pretty much the same, but I went with a different type of flame and a very different picture (although still a Pre-Raphaelite piece; I can’t help it; they did a lot of romantic medieval pieces).

What do you think? Better than the first one? And yes, it’s supposed to look like they’re being burned at the stake. That’s in keeping with the threat they’re facing.

The only thing it doesn’t have going for it is any hint of a city, but, actually, Jakub and Alzbeta not only meet in the woods, but they flee to them, too, while the city is on fire.

14th Century Transitional Cardboard Plate Armor – The Evidence

Okay, as promised, I have pictures of my cardboard armor!

arms

Brass-trimmed arms.

I probably ought to be ashamed, but to the contrary, I’m rather proud of myself. I didn’t win my fight (making cardboard swords in a perfectly authentic manner actually makes them rather weak at the grip), but I did win “best dressed.” My prize? A roll of gold duct tape. I’m thinking I need to add gold trimming to my next harness.

combat-bascinet-with-side-pivotsSo, in other words, the entire thing was silly, but fun. And the spectators all got a good laugh.

But, despite the silliness of the thing, I took my armor seriously. My bascinet was a replica of 14th century klappvisor bascinets with an attached aventail. It was even padded inside.

And my body armor was based on a Wisby Type I coat of plates, which was also 14th century.

copinsidet

I modeled my coat of plates on this one.

100_6675

I had to use duct tape on the inside of my chest pieces to keep them held in a curved shape. Needless to say, as a woman, I needed more curving than is typical.

Eleanora has already declared that next year we’re going to make hobby horses and do jousting, mounted combat, and equine sports (like tilting the quintain.

HorseChamfron_13_hi

This looks like a great hobby horse to me. I wonder where I can get one.

Since my armor survived the fight fully-intact, I’m going to keep it and add arms and legs next year. I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to put barding on my hobby horse, but it’s going to have a chamfron, for sure.

english450games

Hobby horses and mock-jousting is totally period.

BL_MS_Royal_1ev_mocktornament

Cow jousting with basket armor. Yes, this is from a real medieval book (now, whether they did this in period is questionable… although I’d bet some money they did; they did some crazy stuff back then before there were insurance companies and personal injury lawsuits).