I’ve got my nose above water but that’s all


Happy New Year to everyone and failte oirbk back to my blog.  That’s welcome in Gaelic.

I decided to take a class in beginning Gaelic at UNC and I must say the first class was daunting. It’s a challenge to find the significant amount of time each day required to  master the pronunciation and vocabulary. I’m just auditing but the class is full of linguistic majors who are very quick learners. Why did I do this?                                                                   I am nuts!

At the same time I am doing two edits of The Last Pilgrim – now finishing up the last third of the book following comment from my editor (thank you, Alison Williams)  and going over it yet again before I send a few chapters at a time to my copy editor.

So I’ve sort of dropped off the radar….sorry. I do read blog posts but have so little time to comment, even when I’m itching to do so.

I will post another clip for you to read shortly, but in the meantime, here is the beginning mock-up of the cover, FYI.

You may hear a HELP! from me soon!

Wishing you the peace of the season


This is my favorite story of the birth of Christ. It is the Gospel of St. Luke, and I have heard it so many times I can recite it by heart. This Gospel fills me with peace and joy.


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”


Wishing you all the peace and joy of this season, no matter your religion.

Ani’s Advent Calendar 2019 ~ An Indie-Ani Christmas?


I am re-blogging this from Sue Vincent’s blog, Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo:

Sue has a really charming dog named Ani, with whom hundreds if not thousands are in love. Ani writes books and posts, so check her out!


Dear Santa, here’s my Christmas list,
It’s just about that time,
And as an Indie writer
Thought I’d submit mine in rhyme.
I know you’re overworking
And your mailbox must be full,
So maybe a poetic list
Might have that extra ‘pull’?

….You can read the rest at:

Ani’s Advent Calendar 2019 ~ An Indie-Ani Christmas?

Available from Amazon UK , Amazon US and worldwide for Kindle and in Paperback.

Happy Thanksgiving to All


Happy Thanksgiving, all y’all. I am here in Utah where the snow is coming down heavily, a snow bomb, apparently. We made it here on Tuesday when it was just spitting a few flakes, and my daughter and son-in-law came in at midnight last night, via Denver!, just before the dump started. We are visiting my son who is posted to the university here.

The snow is lovely and we rented a four wheel drive vehicle, so getting around is easy.

Growing up in Plymouth, I have always felt this particular holiday is special. During the writing of my new novel, The Last Pilgrim – the story of the longest living passenger on the Mayflower – I got to read a lot about how the native populations were treated by the settlers from England, the Netherlands and other European nations. At that time and with their customs, these immigrants did not see how devastating their settlement would become to the tribes of New England.

John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, made a treaty with the sachem of the Wampanoags, Massasoit, of mutual defense for both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags – which last fifty years. But during that time, many offenses against the natives occurred both in the expanding Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Eventually, this resulted in King Philip’s War, begun by Metacomet, Massasoit’s younger son. So writing this book gave me a somewhat different view of the time – through my modern eyes.

History is what it is – you cannot change it, only understand it. The Pilgrims were helped in many ways by the Wampanoags during their first year on the New England coast, and a feast of thanksgiving was celebrated by both groups. Governor William Bradford gave thanks to God for their survival and for the many gifts the Pilgrims were given by the Wampanoags.

So that is how I see Thanksgiving today. A time to celebrate, give thanks to whatever Supreme Being a person worships for the life and gifts they have been given. Being an American, I realize those gifts are many, deriving from the doughty group of men and women who came here on the Mayflower but also from those people who already lived here.

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris’s 1912 illustration, The First Thanksgiving, 1621

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald


The month of November is a time for remembrance with Veteran’s Day, but there is another early November date that resonates with me, thanks to Gordon Lightfoot.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the “Gales of November” came early

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was a freighter on the Great Lakes, which sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, taking with her the entire crow of 29. She was the largest ship on the Great Lakes at the time, and she remains the largest to have sunk there.

The Edmund Fitzgerald carried set records for seasonal hauls of taconite iron ore from mines near Duluth, Minnesota to iron works in Great Lakes ports, often breaking her own previous record. Her Captain, Peter Pulcer, was known for piping music day or night over the ship’s intercom while passing through the St. Clair and Detroit between Lakes Huron and Erie and entertaining spectators at the Soo Locks between Lakes Superior and Huron with a running commentary about the ship.

 Carrying a full cargo of ore pellets, she embarked on her ill-fated voyage from Superior, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of November 9, 1975. En route to Detroit, the Edmund Fitzgerald was caught in a mighty storm on Lake Superior, with near hurricane force winds and waves up to 35 feet high. Shortly after 7:10 p.m., she suddenly sank in Canadian waters 530 feet deep, about 17 miles from Whitefish Bay, a distance Edmund Fitzgerald could have covered in just over an hour at her top speed.

No distress signals were sent before she sank; her Captain’s last was, “We are holding our own.” Her crew of 29 perished, and no bodies were recovered. The exact cause of the sinking remains unknown, although it has been conjectured that the Edmund Fitzgerald may have been swamped, suffered structural failure or topside damage, run onto a shoal or suffered from a combination of these. Underwater exploration of the ship found no bodies, but the pellets of taconite ore are still visible in the hold.

The sinking led to changes in Great Lakes shipping regulations and practices that included mandatory survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, increased freeboard (the distance from the water line to the upper deck), and more frequent inspection of vessels.

Gordon Lightfoot’s song contains a few artistic omissions, errors and paraphrases, which Lightfoot has changed over the years. The words and the music convey the deep sense of tragedy.

Here is the song:



Out now! Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog… posted by Sue Vincent


I dream of literary heights,
Of poetry and fancy’s flights…
Of philosophical debates
And tales the inner heart relates.

She dreams of tennis balls in flight,
Of sneaking cuddles in the night,
Of muddy walks and open gates
And chicken filling all her plates.

You can read the rest at:

Out now! Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog…

Can’t wait to read this!


Book Review: Robin Hood, English Outlaw by Richard Denham (@britanniaseries) #RBRT #Historical research

Robin Hood: English Outlaw (the origins of the legend and the search for a historical Robin Hood) by [Denham, Richard]

Richard Denham’s latest book, Robin Hood, English Outlaw, follows the investigative procedures he laid down in his previous publication, Arthur: Shadow of a God. Robin Hood is a later, but equally shadowy historical figure, based on medieval rhymes and gests (tales of adventures). Robin Hood’s existence was common knowledge by the 14th century, figuring in The Vision of Piers Plowman, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and The Gest of Robyn Hode, lengthy at 14,000 words, all from around the same time.

I grew up with Robin Hood on TV and in the movies and love this character, so reading this historical research book was fun! The author begins with placing Robin in England in ‘the greenwood.’ Where was this greenwood? In the late 11th century, about fifteen percent of the country was covered in dense forest – so where did Robin live? The author gives us a romp through the various places he might have existed.

When did he live? Based on historical texts, it might have been twelfth, thirteenth or fourteenth centuries! One thought is that Robin Hood lived in the late 1100’s, during the rule of Richard the Lionheart. Sir Walter Scott and his famous book Ivanhoe has Robin of Loxley fighting against the injustices of Prince John’s government in the 1260s. But perhaps he lived later, in the 1330s, when highway robberies were common, during the reign of Edward II.

Who was Robin? A yeoman, at the top of the working class? Or was he of the noble class, as Robin of Locksley? Was he a derivative of the Green Man, who figured in the May Day celebrations? Set against the society of the time and England’s internecine warfare between noble families, the author explores all these possibilities in each of the above time frames, along with the possible sources for the other Merry Men: Alan a Dale, Little John, Will Scarlett and of course, the plump Friar Tuck.

I particularly liked the discussion of Friar Tuck as a church militant and the various layers of church hierarchy. Tuck would appear to be a curtal or crutched (wearing a cross on his habit), traveling friar.  Then there is Maid Marian. The author considers her almost an afterthought in the tales of Robin, and she may have derived from the May Queen to Robin’s King in the Tudor May festivities. His discussion of women’s’ role in the Middle Ages is enlightening.

This book is nothing if not thorough – from a consideration of archers and their bows to Robin’s rivals, nothing is overlooked. I was hit by nostalgia in the chapter on Robin and the silver screen, recalling the early Errol Flynn movie and those who portrayed Robin in later moves: Kevin Costner, Cary Elweys, and Russel Crowe. Some might even remember the TV series of the 1950s with Richard Green in the title role.

All in all, this was a satisfying, thorough discussion of the possible existence of someone named Robin Hood in English history. As with Arthur, Robin Hood is character blurred by the mists of history, with no definitive information to prove he existed except for our own delight and belief in his adventures.

 About the author (from Amazon)

Richard Denham was born in the military town of Aldershot, the son of a sergeant in the British Army. He is a self-taught Roman historian with an exhaustive knowledge of this period.

Ever since studying the Romans at school, he has taken a keen interest in them, specifically Romans in Britain. As a boy growing up with swords, knights, tanks and all things military he also developed an interest in the legends of King Arthur. He then discovered that Roman Britain was much more interesting. The inspiration for the Britannia series was the cold, impassive footnote Richard would constantly come across “Romans leave Britain”. This would have been, for those who lived it, an apocalyptic time never known before; with the Romans having lived, fought, laughed, married and raised children on our island, “leaving” could never be as simple as that.

Richard is the co-author of the popular ‘Britannia’ series with M. J. Trow. These books follow a group of soldiers and their descendants through the madness of a chain of events which will eventually lead to the fall of Roman Britain and the descent into the Dark Ages.

His exhaustive research of this period eventually led him to Arthur and then onward to Robin Hood.

You can find the author on

Twitter: @britanniaseries

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8049810.Richard_Denham/blog

And his book, Robin Hood, English Outlaw, on Amazon:


A Forward: SOS (Save Our Small-dog) ~ Ani’s Advent 2019 #midnighthaiku


It’s getting closer.

Save a small dog’s dignity…

Fill my calendar!

Look, you know what she does to me at Christmas. The one day when two-legses go around talking about peace and love… and what does mine do?

Every year?

Ruddy antlers.

If Dog had meant us to have antlers, we’d grow them ourselves.


If this doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will. Read the rest of this hilarious post on Sue Vincent’s blog site:

SOS (Save Our Small-dog) ~ Ani’s Advent 2019 #midnighthaiku