Light the darkness through belief and persistence

Cynicism rules the modern landscape. But even in these troubled times, belief against impossible odds and the persistence to see a thing through to the end can shed light into the oldest and darkest of places.

My novel “Rings of Passage: A Time Travel Novel with Richard III” emerged into the light in late 2013, long after its burial on the virtual shelf.

Against all odds, the universe shifted, allowing a miracle to occur.

The word “miracle” is flung about loosely these days, but I believe this event qualifies.

Richard III PortraitThe bones of my novel’s romantic hero, King Richard III, had been excavated from beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. DNA comparison to living descendants of his sister proved his identity.

The discovery of the medieval king, who died in 1485, was made by a team of archaeologists of the University of Leicester. The excavation had finally been undertaken because of the fervent belief by Richard III Society members Philippa Langley and Dr. John Ashdown Hill that Richard’s remains lay in a makeshift grave beneath a city parking lot on the former site of the Greyfriars Priory.

They simply would not give up.

For those who can’t quite place which English king this is – he’s the one whose reputation is painted the blackest of all in British history.

In the centuries since he was slain by Henry Tudor’s army, Richard has been unfairly maligned by, oh, just about everyone. That’s what happens when the winning side writes history books.

To add insult to injury, Shakespeare wrote one of his greatest plays based around Richard’s alleged crimes: the murder of his innocent nephews, the Princes in the Tower.

The Bard leaves us with the taste of ridicule in our minds when he wrote Richard’s final death cry as, “My kingdom for a horse!” – what the king really cried was “Treason!”

By the time the Leicester City Council had finally agreed to the excavation, I had not thought about my Richard book for years.

Admittedly, I was a bit in love with Richard at the time I wrote it.

I got on the bandwagon after reading Josephine Tey’s “The Daughter of Time.” After studying the facts of Richard’ life and learning about the propaganda disseminated by Henry Tudor’s supporters, it troubled me that Richard had been given a raw deal by historians. Despite the fact that Tudor had gained the throne by winning a battle, and not through bloodlines, everybody seemed to be on his side.

I fervently wanted to show Richard III, the last Plantagenet king and the last English king to die in battle, as a good and honorable man who was worthy of happiness and love.

Bosworth battlefield, where Richard III fell in battle in 1485

Bosworth battlefield, where Richard III fell in battle in 1485

In my story, my heroine Anise time travels via a magic ring to the 15th century just prior to the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard is destined to die. In a plot setting the historical events of the final days of Wars of the Roses against a backdrop of magic devised by wizards to put Henry Tudor on the throne, Anise and Richard fall in love.

Completed in the ’90s, my novel identifies Greyfriars Priory as Richard’s confirmed burial place. As if channeling future events through my writing, I employ the plot device of excavating the King’s remains and using DNA evidence – even though, 20 years ago, the use of DNA in forensics had just come into common usage a few years before.

During my research trip to England so long ago, I visited that Leicester parking lot where Richard had been found. I stood there on a rainy day in September, on the street outside the city building, and tried to sense Richard’s presence. (blog post.) When I heard years later he had been found on that very spot, it left me breathless.

And now, as a member of the Richard III Society, I will be returning to Leicester. In another gift from the universe, my name was chosen in a lottery to attend one of Richard III’s reburial services in Leicester Cathedral at the end of the month.

Remarkably, through the persistence of Ms. Langley, Mr. Ashdown Hill, and other supporters of the excavation, Richard’s bones and the true facts of his life have been brought into the light.

Inspired by their unflagging belief and persistence, I unearthed “Rings of Passage” and rescued it from obscurity.

And to come full circle, I will be in attendance – a witness to history – when Richard III is finally laid to rest in a manner of respect and dignity befitting a medieval king.

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Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage: A Time Travel novel with Richard III

Rings of Passage is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

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Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time

Dangerous Reflections is a time travel historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. After Martie is bequeathed a magic wand from her grandmother, she steps through a mirror into the arms of a powerful wizard and a truly magical romance.

Lucky number 13

Book of Omens

This little book bought off the supermarket aisle rack when I was a kid scarred me for life.

A few days ago, we experienced Friday the 13th. This reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend:

“Do you have triskaidekaphobia?” asked True. “Or maybe you have friggatriskaidekaphobia?” She likes saying long words at the speed of light. (She also says “acetaminophen” so fast that my brain turns the last few syllables coming out of her mouth into “Muhbluhblah.”)

“Do I have what?”

“Paraskevidekatriaphobia. The fear of ‘Friday the 13th’.”  True, who used to write for Air Force newspapers back in the day, once wrote an article about Friday the 13th.

I shook my head. “Nope… the number 13 is lucky for me.”

I’m as superstitious as they come. When I was 13, I picked up a 25 cent “Omens” booklet from the rack at the grocery store checkout stand. It scarred me for life.

Some of the words of wisdom from this little book: “If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive.” That’s not advice to be taken lightly by someone with arachnophobia.

And here’s one: “See a pin, pick it up, and all the day have good luck. See a pin, let it lay, bad luck all the day.” (The bad luck being that you get a pin stuck up your foot.)

It’s considered unlucky for lovers to be photographed together. Based on how many marriages end in divorce, this has some merit: think of all those wedding photos!

And this: “White spots on the nails foretell wealth. It’s also said they signify lies.”  Well, duh. How do you think the person got the wealth?

But back to triskaidekaphobia. The superstitions to avoid bad luck are ones I follow faithfully. I don’t walk under ladders. I throw spilled salt over my left shoulder. I say “rabbit” every first day of the month when I wake up.

However, my relationship with the number 13 is quite the opposite.  I don’t avoid it. I celebrate it. For me, 13 brings me good luck.

Here’s an example. I’ve been a Rolling Stones fan all my life  – since I was 13. In 2006, I went to my 13th Rolling Stones concert, which was in Las Vegas. When the band came onstage, Mick Jagger announced, “This is the13th time we have played in Las Vegas.”

Later, I realized my hotel room at the Tropicana was on the 13th floor (labeled the 14th, but I wasn’t fooled by that old trick). My flight out of Vegas was on Nov. 13, and it was smooth and non-stressful.

That entire Vegas trip to see my favorite band, shared with two of my best friends Beverly and True, was magical – and it was wrapped up in memory paper patterned with the number 13.

Sometimes, one person’s triskaidekaphobia is another’s triskaidekaphilia (say that fast 13 times).

That thing that most people fear? It might be just  the thing that rocks your world. Your fascination with the Black Death or Jack the Ripper or vampires, might be the very thing that sets you apart from the crowd and brings you luck.

As the brilliant psychologist Dr. Carl Jung once wrote, “To confront a person with his Shadow is to show him his own light.”

Don’t be afraid of the differences within you that make you strong, even if they’re a bit scary.

Even if it’s the number 13.