Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Medieval Thanksgiving

Okay, that title is a cheat, because of course there isn't any such thing as a medieval Thanksgiving. The whole point of the American Thanksgiving holiday was to commemorate those first Pilgrims who came to America, those Puritans who left Anglican England (actually, many left England, moved to the Netherlands--didn't like that their children were developing Dutch accents--and left for a new world) to escape religious persecution...so they could persecute religiously in this country. Life was harsh in their new environment and only about half the Pilgrims survived the following March, and if the Native Americans had not felt sorry for these clueless white people, there would be no celebration...or no America as we know it...at all. But the next year the harvest was in and they celebrated (this feast is essentially a harvest festival and the first one occurred in mid-October, not November).

So let's look at the typical Thanksgiving feast as we now know it with a medieval twist. After all, I do write a medieval mystery series.  First up, in medieval England, there were no turkeys. Turkeys are New World birds. They didn't get imported to England from Mexico until about the mid to late sixteenth century. And they were expensive. Only wealthy tables could afford to have turkey for Christmas (because that was the big feast. Really, only farmers had a harvest festival). The average Joe cooked a goose. Oh the irony. Have you priced a goose lately? Care to spend $70 bucks and up on your goose? Meanwhile, now the holiday bird--turkey--is one of the cheapest things on the menu.

The Pilgrims were offered popcorn for their festive meal. But corn (as we call it in the U.S.) or maize (as everyone else calls it) is also a New World food (and incidentally, that's when our teeth started going downhill, all that corn consumption. There are a lot of natural sugars in corn and it isn't good for our teeth). As far as New World food, we can also put the yam, sweet potato, and potato on the list. No candied yams, no mashed potatoes, then. Cranberries are available in the Northern Hemisphere and could have been available to our medievalists but I can't recall many recipes including them. They're so bitter that you need a sweetener, and sweeteners--honey and sugar--were expensive.

Just what the heck could one have, then?

The Pilgrims had all sorts of shell fish for their meals. (Yes, the Natives complained of having to have lobster...again!) Oysters and clams would certainly grace a medieval table, as would some kind of stuffing or dressing (remember “stuffing” is cooked INSIDE the animal, and “dressing” gets cooked separately and goes along on the side). A good medieval stuffing is mostly meat (as are most of their dishes). So sausage or other ground meats mixed with cloves and mace and perhaps cinnamon. And then dried fruits would be added along with wine. You might add old bread and you might not. Stuff that into a bird and roast and you'll come out with something amazingly tasty.

I'm afraid pumpkin pie would also be off the menu. That New World thing again. (Remember, in Scotland, the first Jack-O-Lanturns were actually carved-out turnips.) What might you have for dessert?

Elderflower cheesecake, bone marrow custards, fruit stewed in wine, dried fruit baked in a tart; these are the kinds of things one might have to finish off the meal in a medieval kitchen.

I'm not having a medieval Thanksgiving and we aren’t camping as we have done in years past. But we are roasting our turkey on a spit which makes it very juicy and not a bit smoky. Medieval life was a lot like perpetual camping, what with having to fetch water, fetch fuel for your fire, smelling smoky all the time and a bit cold, too, so it wouldn’t have been out of character camping for your feast.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Don't Call Them the "Dark Ages"

 It seems I'm always talking about the various erroneous thoughts people seem to harbor about this most interesting period, the Middle Ages.

One mistaken idea was that this period in time was “Dark” as in “Dark Ages.” Everyone was just waiting around for the Renaissance. It must have been so tedious being in the dark and waiting to be enlightened! “Boy, I sure hope the Renaissance comes soon!”

Scholars of any repute do not refer to the Middle Ages as the “Dark Ages.” This usually means the period between 500 and 800 CE. We call this the “Early Middle Ages.” The Early Middle Ages has also been called the “Gothic Period,” but this is also an insult, although an acceptable one. The Italians in the first throes of the Renaissance referred to some of the old, outdated architecture from this early period as “Gothic,” in other words, created by uncivilized barbarians like the Goths who hacked their way through Europe from Germany. (No, they weren’t wearing black lipstick and nail polish with a cynical take on the world.) These were some of the original barbarians (along with the Vandals of Spain. Ain’t history fun?) The Visigoths were the fellows who sacked Rome in 410 and cut a swath in the Empire, tolling its death knell.

The period from 900 to 1100 is referred to as the “High Middle Ages,” and the period between 1200 and 1500 is considered the “Late Middle Ages,” just in case you wondered.

The notion that the Middle Ages was a stopping point in man’s creativity and scientific exploration is ridiculous. The medieval period—a period roughly between 500 and 1500 CE—was coined by the Victorians. “Medieval” means “middle ages,” that is, the period between the classical period of Greece and Rome and the modern (Victorian) era. In fact, it was the Victorians who grabbed hold of the idea when fourteenth century Italian scholar Petrarch coined “dark ages,” and he made that remark because he lamented the lack of any good literature in the period. What about Le Chevalier de la Charette (about Lancelot) by Chretien de Troyes or The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer? The Victorians glommed onto this idea that this was a dark age, with an oppressive Church that stifled science and prevented art. 

One thousand years is a long time. And in that period, there were many innovations, not the least of which is the button and the button hole. There was also the growing science of optics, begun in earnest in the Muslim world around 800 CE, including the notion that the speed of light was finite. The discussion of optics didn’t reach medieval Europe till about the twelfth century and between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, monks were using “reading stones,” crystal orbs cut in half for magnifying tiny writing.

Optics for glasses didn’t come about till the sixteenth century and lenses for microscopes and telescopes a bit later.

Paper was created in the 1200s, which was handy for all that printing that was about to happen on those printing presses with moveable type, invented in 1440 or so, by the German goldsmtih Johannes Gutenburg.

The hourglass and then the clock were also medieval inventions. The first tower clock in London got to ticking in 1288. Time pieces were first created so that monks and nuns could follow the Divine Office, a series of prayers done in set times throughout the day. Bells were rung to let the populace know when these hours of prayers arrived. Eventually these time pieces became more and more sophisticated.      

But before that, there was the sundial, invented in this time period, along with astrolabes for figuring latitudes, and compasses for naval navigation.

Don’t forget the creation of musical notation. That was again, an innovation of that oppressive Church we’ve all heard about. Chants and songs needed to be taught and passed down, even to other monasteries and parishes. Eventually, even musicians took to using these notations and we still use them today.

And as for art, what about all those stained glass windows, carvings, paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts…the list goes on.

Yup, as you can see, they were just sitting around twiddling their thumbs. In the dark. Do you ever get the feeling you were cheated in school all those years ago?

Friday, November 16, 2018

Who's Reading?

Who IS reading? You? Me? The dog?

Readership is at an all time high, the headlines say. And Millennials are heading the pack! At least this article from Forbes last year says so. Except that Millenials don't read from devices. They like old-fashioned print books. Or do they?

Yes, they do.

Of course, book sales are down in bookstores, so says this Publishers Weekly story. So...

Well, my ebook sales have always been higher than my print sales. Or ARE they? But I also know that all my sales are dropping because of a glut of cheaper indie books on the market.

Blah, blah, blah!

Who do you believe? I know that in terms of these statistics, Publishers Weekly and other barometers often don't take self-published books into account, probably because those statistics are hard to come by. Amazon ain't telling. So what IS the real story?

Well, I do know from talking to my fellow authors that it's down all around for us. I'm talking the midlist author, the author that doesn't make it to the bestseller lists and sales are always modest but mostly level. (Many of us rely on library sales to keep us aloft.)

Is reading going out of style?

No. It never will. And print will always be there. And some form of digital will always likely be there until we drift downward into our climate change dystopia, then look for print to be king again. Look, September--when they do these studies--is coming off of summer. Students are going back to school. Leisure time is over. Christmas is a-coming right about November, and it's tough to give a digital book. People like them in their hands to wrap and present. So, keep one eye on statistics and the other on your keyboard. Keep writing. Don't let it bother you. Although, you may have to adjust WHAT you're writing. Trends are gone like autumn leaves, and what seems solid now is already waning. That's what I was told about paranormals. People love them, right? All over the television and such. But then would-be authors flood Amazon with their own fantasy series and now editors are soft on it. Lucky me! What good timing I have, grandma!

Anywho, write the book you want, set it aside if it won't sell right now, and start writing something else. These things go in pendulum swings. You might just get lucky and hit it at the high.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

All Books Are REAL Books

Can we please put this one to rest. Have you seen this meme on social media?

I have. And I'm sick of it. All books in any format are real books: print, audio, and ebook. A book. With words that tell a story. What is this tribal clenching of pearls that insist that the only REAL book is that which has slain trees? 

I have a storage problem. I have no more room for print books on my shelves. I've even--the horror!--gotten rid of books because there are just too many. I don't buy print novels anymore. I have a Kindle Paperwhite for my fiction reading. It's a REAL book by REAL authors with WORDS I can READ. That makes it a book, kittens. Plus, many authors like me were saved from publishing limbo when ebooks started to make a difference. I still sell more ebooks than print. It's cheaper for the consumer, for one, cheaper for the publisher (though you wouldn't know it by some of the prices they charge). Of course, now there's a glut on the market of both traditionally published and self published ebooks out there, which makes it hard for authors. Royalties have gone down because there are price differences between the writer who types "The End" and immediately pushes the "publish" button  versus--as I mentioned--clueless publishers who charge as much for an ebook as they do for paperbacks. But no matter. 

A book, is a book, is a book. 

The only print books I do buy are for research. I need to be able to flag texts, to highlight, and to bookmark them. "You can do all that in an ebook," I can hear you techies say. Indeed, but there are studies out there that show that retention is higher with print books. This is not as important in novels, but it is if you are in school or writing medieval mysteries and want to get the history right. 

But according to some metrics, print books are outflanking ebooks again. Here's an article that lays out some of the reasons. And the writer does make an important distinction. A print book is immortal from its hardware. You don't need to upgrade them--unless they fall apart. You don't need specialized software or hardware to access them. I found out how bad videotape was when trying to look at all the recordings we made of our son, some nearly 30 years ago. The videotape degrades. Who knew? Who knew film was better? Digital recordings, you say? Even that won't work after we go several generations into the future. 

But we were talking about books. I think all these formats are here to stay. But let's stop talking about any one being superior over the other. Let's just enjoy books. Let's read them. Let's buy them or encourage our libraries to get the ones we want. A book is a book is a book. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Meet the Author

What is an in-store appearance worth these days? You know. When the writer comes to a bookstore and throngs of people are there to listen to her words of wisdom and stand in a long line for her books?

Yeah, that doesn't much happen anymore, if ever. I used to get bigger crowds at my actual launch, and it was a thrill as, year after year, the number of friends and relatives were out-paced by people I didn't know! But with the advent of ebook readers and cheaper pricing on the internet, people maybe feel that they have no stake in showing up to an author event where they have no book to sign. Or...they just don't know about them--which in my case seems crazy since I bombard my poor readers with my appearance schedule.

No, I think that there are just fewer people coming out for these things. Yes, the big names will always draw the crowds. They are even ticketed events! And there are some authors, maybe not necessarily bestsellers, who can attract crowds wherever they go. But for the most part, midlist authors like me have seen these events dwindle in crowd size.

And now it's even harder to book those bookstores. I can't blame them for wanting you to prove you can bring in a crowd. They go to the expense of obtaining the books and they have to go to the trouble of shipping them back to the warehouse if they don't sell them. But even some libraries are cashing in on authors. This last book release for me, I found usually friendly libraries asking for outrageous rental fees for their spaces, where before I never spent a dime...except for the time and travel it took for me to get there, and the books I carted with me. I was shocked, to say the least. I thought I had a relationship with some of these libraries, but of course, the people who coordinated events with me--who INVITED me in the first place some years ago--had moved on. And it isn't as if I'm a household name.

What's an author to do? You still want to get your name out there, still want to cultivate those personal relationships with bookstore owners and librarians, still want to be accessible to the public. The answer has been to cut back on appearances. To have ONE bookstore launch and a few appearances at libraries. And I prefer to do "events" rather than sitting at a table with a pile of my books, waiting for the hapless reader to stumble upon me. Of course, you never just sit there. You grab your bookmarks, you get in front of that table and accost the shoppers. "Do you like mysteries?" you say as you thrust a bookmark at them. With a little snakeoil salesmanship, you might lure them to your table. And then you have to convince them that, yes, you are the writer in the flesh! not just a salesperson. But of course, you ARE a salesperson. "Hey mister, wanna buy a mystery? I got one right here." That's what I hate about sitting in a booth at book festivals. Yes, I've sold books that way that I wouldn't ordinarily have sold, luring them in by calling out to the gawkers, but it has an unsavory feel to it.

I prefer to prepare an amusing powerpoint presentation that relates peripherally to the book, takes an element from it to talk about (my latest paranormal, I talked about the history of witches and wiccans), so that it isn't a hard sales pitch. Libraries prefer that your talk is more general. And I usually have refreshments and displays (for my medieval mystery, it's medieval weaponry. For my paranormal it's spooky stuff like skulls and Ouija Boards). So it's rather a big deal to put together. In my earlier days of my medieval mystery, I even had the presence of knights doing sword fights. This got expensive, and I cut back on all of that. And perhaps I should cut back even more. A simple event might take the sting out of few or no audience.

I try to Skype to out of town book groups, and always do a Facebook virtual launch for readers in other states and across the pond, with a presentation and giveaways. The last one seemed fairly well attended, and I can do those in my jammies.

There's no answer. It is what it is these days. I still get invited to the occasional luncheon to speak, to come to libraries and conferences, but I think there will be fewer solo events and more panels. Having more authors with you widens the field of interest. I think my expectation of bigger events is now part of the past.

Yet, I think it's important to authors to prepare for public events. You should have some talks prepared ahead of time that relate to the book. And as your career moves ahead, you will be asked to give talks on writing, getting an agent, promotion, etc. It's an ever-changing field. And hey, you MIGHT be the one tenth of one percent who makes it big, and then your publisher will send you on your junkets (after all, they spent a bundle on you with that big advance) and this won't be a worry. But for the rest of us, we have some thinking and reassessing to do.

Don't give up, though. Keep working on cultivating those relationships, especially if you belong to writer organizations (Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, California Writers Clubs, Historical Novel Society, and a host of others more befitting your particular genre). Networking gets you on panels and in front of audiences. Every little bit helps, just don't bankrupt yourself doing it. Give yourself a travel budget for going to conferences or tours and stick to it. Even if it's only local. But more importantly, keep writing. Maybe we've come back to the time of the shy person, where you can do most of your interaction online. Maybe this is your time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spirit Board

For my paranormal series, Booke of the Hidden, I've had to do a lot of interesting research on demons, gods, and various supernatural creatures. But one of those mysterious things I got to look at was the Ouija Board, or Spirit Board, or Talking Board.

Way back in the 1890s, it was touted as innocent family fun. It was essentially a toy that the whole family could play that would tell you "about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy" and promised "Never-failing amusement and recreation for all the classes," a link "between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial." Doesn't that sound like fun?

The notion that the spirit board would bring evil spirits into your parlor was not on the menu in the latter part of the 19th century nor the early part of the 20th. After all, seances were all the rage. Lots of people of all stripes were checking into the spirit world to talk to deceased relatives. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame, and who was duped by those adorable little girls who claimed to see fairies in their garden and took pictures of them, was a seance fancier.

Maybe you've used one once or twice. Even Hasbro, the venerable toy company, makes one. It's all in good fun. Of course, there are a few people who love using them and others who will tell you it's the devil's work and to use one is to invite evil into your home. Ooooo. ARE Ouija Boards a dance with the devil...or is it far simpler than that?

Because there are people who will SWEAR by them that they actually work, and that they have gotten numerous messages from the great beyond. But is that really true?

Here's how the board works. On the board--made of wood, cardboard, or even imprinted on a cloth--you will see the alphabet, some numbers, a "yes" in one corner and a "no" in another and most often a "goodbye" at the bottom to let you know your session is over. You have a arrow-shaped placeholder called a planchette that you touch that the spirits will move across the board for you, spelling out messages. Sometimes the planchette has a hole in the center with a little window to see where the pointer lands on. Anyway, you alone or you and your friends all sit around the board and touch the planchette, and when you ask the spirits to talk to you, it will move the planchette and spell out the answers. Neat, huh?

Scientists have studied spirit boards (if there is a thing out there, a scientist at one time or another has studied them) and they say that it is NOT spirits, but something called the ideomotor effect (pronounced “id-ee-aah-moh-ter”). From Vox: The ideomotor effect is an example of unconscious, involuntary physical movement — that is, we move when we’re not trying to move. If you’ve ever experienced the sudden feeling of jerking awake from sleep (known as the hypnic jerk), you’ve experienced a more abrupt version of the ideomotor effect: your brain signaling your body to move without your conscious awareness. The obvious difference is that the ideomotor effect happens when you’re awake, so the reflexive movements you make are much smaller... In the case of a Ouija board, your brain may unconsciously create images and memories when you ask the board questions. Your body responds to your brain without you consciously “telling” it to do so, causing the muscles in your hands and arms to move the pointer to the answers that you — again, unconsciously — may want to receive...

Still not convinced (because YOU'VE done it to marvelous effect)? But here's the thing, as soon as you blindfold people who KNOW that it works and have made it work, their messages come out as gibberish. That's right, as soon as you can't SEE the board, suddenly your messages don't come out right. You can read more and see a Smithsonian Magazine video clip on this Vox article (if you can get past all the ads).

At any rate, I think they are a visually stimulating piece of graphic art, much like Tarot cards, and fun to have around. Don't fear playing with them, scary movies notwithstanding, and you can appreciate them as a quaint bit of fun from the past.

For more history of the Ouija Board, go here.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Outlaw King

The real Robert the Bruce by forensic sculptor Christian Corbet

Those of you who know me know that I write a medieval mystery series set in late 14th century London. And though I am not a scholar or history professor, I do my darnedest to get the history right because people who read historical fiction really want the history to be right and often learn history--right or wrong--from fiction. So I'm always leary of the historical film that presents history, because they inevitably fall prey to the "story" rather than the actual history.

Do I even need to mention "Braveheart" the 1995 Mel Gibson fiasco, attempting to tell the story of William Wallace in 13th century Scotland, a contemporary of Robert the Bruce for which this new Netflix movie gets its premise? In "Braveheart" we had Scots wearing kilts and plaid (neither of which was happening in that century); we have the all important Battle of Sterling Bridge without a bridge, we have Wallace in a romantic entanglement with Edward II's wife implying Edward III was conceived by Wallace, even though Isabella was a child of twelve and didn't even come to England until after William Wallace was executed...and so much more, but those were only the highlights.

I allow for a certain level of creative license, but not THAT much.

Studies have shown that students tend to recall more of the movie when films are used in a classroom setting than the textbooks they are studying, even when specifically taught that the movie is less than accurate.

So what about "The Outlaw King", the latest from Netflix? Well, it's free with your Netflix subscription, so that's a good thing. The costumes were better, and the battle scene was a good portrayal of the chaos, the intimacy, the bloodiness of medieval encounters. The hair was a curiosity, especially the Prince of Wales, the soon-to-be Edward II. Someone in the hair department thought to give him a King Henry V look, something from the 15th century, so that bugged me, something so simple to research. And when something like that gets screwed up, you tend to look askance at the rest of it.

There were a few things here and there left out--understandable when you have to move the plot along. Not having thoroughly researched that era myself, I can't say for certain that Robert the Bruce would have forgone consummating his second marriage out of--what? deference for the memory of his first wife? Both marriages were alliances so I can't see him being sentimental over it. Someone will likely correct me on this if I'm wrong. I suppose it was to make him seem more relatable as a character?

Overall the movie wasn't blatantly anti-historical (even though it left out Bannockburn, his most important battle), it just wasn't very...interesting. Not very memorable. Even the promised "full frontal male" scene was...uninspiring. My take: If you want to see a realistic medieval battle scene, go for it. Other than that (and a shot of Chris Pine's butt), it gets a "meh" rating from me.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Get Yourself An Agent Already

The point of this blog is that I won't hold any punches. I'm too old and cranky for that. And I've been in this business for 24 years--14 of which was just trying to GET published, so please hold your excuses. Besides, this is about a WRITER on a SPIT. We've all got our heels to the fire.

So you're a writer. You've got a book and now you're looking for an agent...for a whole week. But you were rejected! So the heck with it, you say. "I'm going to self-publish it." Hold on, cowgirl. You're letting the dogies stampede ahead of you. Perhaps you just felt like doing a little brain surgery but didn't want the hassle of going to med school. Okay, that's a rather drastic analogy but it's still apt.

You gotta learn your craft. You gotta learn the business. Amazon is chock FULL of self-published books where the author hasn't bothered to learn the art of writing, didn't hire an editor or cover designer, and thinks that's all there is to it.

Now I know a lot of you stopped reading right there. You're doing JUST fine, you say. You don't need the gatekeepers. But maybe there's a reason you get rejected. Maybe...your writing isn't very good. Maybe it isn't up to snuff. Maybe the timing is bad. Maybe the tone, the voice, the character development--oh so many factors. Take a step back. Have peers read your work, not just your mom or your boyfriend. Other writers who are also working to get published and those who already are. And then LISTEN to their criticism. Now you're becoming a professional.

And a professional needs an agent. Maybe not the first agent to say yes. Or the second. Or the third. They don't have to be your best pal, someone you'd invite home for Thanksgiving. It's not Tinder. This is a business association. You are in this partnership for business.

Getting an agent is tougher today than it's ever been. Your work has to stand out. And that means learning to write a query letter. "More work!" you say. Oh, boo-freakin'-hoo. This is a profession, remember? You have to take it seriously. And there are still some things you have to master. And writing a good query letter is one of them.

Once that's accomplished then there's MORE work to do. You have to narrow down your scope of agents to send these queries to. I recommend QueryTracker. It's a good place to find the agents who rep what you write. Make a list. Read what they want to receive from you. They will likely want that query letter and the first few pages, not the entire manuscript. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

"But I don't want an agent. I want to do whatever I want." Sure. Fine. You could just be that one tenth of one percent that hits it big without help. But, uh...not likely. So get an agent. What does an agent do for you? They can submit to publishers, publishers that pay you advances. Publishers that take care of the mundane details of content editing, copy editing, cover design, flap copy, sending the book to reviewers, and putting it in their all-important catalogs that are read by booksellers and librarians--the people who order the books, and finally a publisher formats, prints, and ships the darned things.

The agent negotiates the contract so you don't get suckered and sign away all your rights. They stand up for you. They fight to get your rights back. They get you foreign sales, audio sales...and a boatload of other things. And you don't pay them. Here's how that works. 

So before you rush to self-publish, remember this too. You are only a debut author once. And publishers love to make a big deal out of debut authors. Advances won't be big, but they are better than nothing, and they do pay a few bills.

Now. Go back to your computer and THINK about what I said. Sometimes this all takes time. A LOT of time. But remember, you don't want to do brain surgery without a medical license, and you don't want to publish without learning your craft.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Here Beginneth My Blogging...Again

Here I am blogging again, and I said I wouldn’t. At one point I had three blogs going; one for myself called Getting Medieval where I talked about getting my medieval mystery series published, and then more on history and mystery once it was; and a blog for my medieval mystery character, Crispin Guest, that I occasionally blog about as the character in first person on my website; and then I was part of a mystery writer blog called Poe’s Deadly Daughters. And after doing that year after year, I decided that I was done with blogging. And yet, here I am again. Why?

Well, when I began to blog way back when, I wasn’t yet published and I thought it a good way to get my name out there on the internet. And it DID prove useful. By the time I had gone to my first mystery fan convention (Bouchercon) at the urging of my agent, people HAD heard of me through that blog that was full of interesting interviews with authors, librarians, editors, swordsmiths, historians, and other characters both in publishing and in the world of medieval history. I worked hard getting myself blurbed on other’s blogs and online magazines. It helped. But I got tired, especially with new deadlines for my novels, raising a son, and having a part time job. And it seemed that blogging was waning in popularity. New things were taking its place; Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. There are only so many ways you can stretch a reader’s time.

Now we are in an age where midlist authors are even less appreciated, where it’s even tougher to get traditionally published and make any kind of living, where a reader’s time and dollars are divided between books, streaming, video games, cheap ebooks, and lots and lots of self-published books both good and bad. What’s a writer to do?

I whimper a lot. But besides that, I write. New things in a new genre. In addition to my Crispin Guest Medieval Noir novels (which I am winding down as we come to the end of the series), I have ventured into the realm of paranormal romance with my Booke of the Hidden series. So my audience is changing, morphing, shifting. Yes, I’m still on Facebook and Instagram, but I feel there might be a resurgence of interest in blogs. There are still many out there, and maybe I’ll be just another bit of white noise in the ether, but it might be useful to put my toe in again.

I’m a crank, a TV addict, and a sucker for an old movie. I like champagne cocktails and Moscow mules. Chocolate is always a must. And if I could eat lobster everyday, I would. I’ll talk about those things in addition to an occasional foray into the medieval and the supernatural. You can check out my novels and would-be novels on two websites (so far): JeriWesterson.com and BOOKEoftheHIDDEN.com.

Maybe YOU feel as if you are also a writer on a spit, slowly turning, roasting, getting nowhere, one step forward, two steps back. This is for you. And, let’s face it, as a narcissist, it's for me, too.