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.

Universe, throw me a (royal) bone!

Richard III PortraitThere are times in your life when something in the Universe shifts and you get what you want.

Up until that point, it seemed impossible. It was the tallest Everest to climb without ropes, or the widest Pacific to cross in only a bamboo raft. The odds were always against you.

Finally, you get to an age where the magical thinking stops and reality sinks in. You accept the fact that what you want so badly, what you have wanted all your life, you will never have. You make peace with it. And inside you – really deep inside you – it does become okay not to have it.

Perhaps it’s that acceptance that causes the shift. Maybe, when the Universe is between hoisting weird coincidences upon hapless humans and laughing at them, it stands back, takes a look at your noble acceptance and hears your brave utterings of “It wasn’t really that important.” Then, and only then, the Universe says, “Ah, ha! Now let’s throw her a bone!”

It’s exactly what happened to me. The Universe threw me a bone. Actually, it threw me an entire skeleton.

In February, it was announced that the skeleton of King Richard III had been unearthed from beneath a parking lot where, back in the fifteenth century, the Greyfriars Priory had stood in Leicester, England.

I took the hint, and unearthed my own remains – of a novel I had finished years ago and had tried, but failed, to get published.

The time had come to try again.

In “Rings of Passage,” my unlikely romantic hero is King Richard III. In the centuries since he was slain by Henry Tudor’s army (528 years ago today), 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 infamous crimes, such as how he’d had his innocent nephews, the Princes in the Tower, murdered. (In my novel, you’ll find out who really did it.)

The Bard leaves us with the taste of ridicule in our minds when he writes Richard’s final cry as he falls in the throes of battle: “My kingdom for a horse!”

I mean, who is ever going to forget that? (Especially, if you’ve heard it spoken by Laurence Olivier.)

At the Battle of Bosworth Field, this was the real final cry Richard shouted at his usurping and unworthy cousin Henry Tudor: “Treason!”

Today, on the anniversary of Richard III’s death, my novel “Rings of Passage” has been brought to life. In it, Richard is loved by a modern heroine, Anise, who travels back in time to attempt the impossible: to change history and save the king from his tragic fate.

The excavation of an anointed King of England’s remains, followed by the DNA evidence confirming his identity, was the unlikeliest of outcomes – and yet proved successful.

The unearthing and resurrection of my novel? Well, let’s just say both occurrences are a bit of a miracle.

(To give credit where credit is due, I recommend you visit the Richard III Society’s article by Dr. John Ashdown Hill describing how this amazing archaeological discovery unfolded.)

And because today is August 22:

“PLANTAGENET, Richard. Remember before God, Richard III, King of England, and those who fell at Bosworth Field, 22nd August 1485, having kept faith. Loyaulte me Lie.”
Afterthought: My novel can be found here:

Now what was I going to blog about again?

Writer’s write. And in this day and age, writers blog.

When I found out my first novel, “Rings of Passage,” would be e-published by Lazy Day (lazydaypub.com) on Aug. 22, I realized there’s no getting around it. I’d have to start a blog, and soon.

At that moment, a rush of blog topic ideas flooded into my head. My mind’s eye read the story leads; my mind’s ear heard the phrasing of the sentences. There were a dozen blog topics on my idea tree, low hanging fruit, waiting for me to pick them and put them in a blog pie.

But first… I had to clean the kitchen.

There were chores, errands, maintenance, my crises, other people’s crises and, you know, a day job… that all had priority. So I didn’t write a single one of those ideas down. I never even made a mental note.

Now the time to write is here. I’m staring at the blank screen. The errands are done, the crises solved, the kitchen cleaned. But those wonderful, ripe ideas? The low hanging fruit that was so appetizing a week ago? All of it is lying on the ground beneath the tree, rotting. I can’t even tell what kind of fruit it was.

How I wished I’d written one of them down.

There’s no rhyme or reason as to why ideas dump themselves on you all at once, at the most inconvenient moments, when you’re near neither pen and paper, nor computer keyboard. What’s the deal? You’re driving. Or in the shower. Or it’s in the middle of the night, and you’ve dreamed it.

In those situations, there’s only one thing to do: you have to remember it. If the idea really reaches out and grabs you, you will. The Old English epic poem of Beowulf  – all 3182 lines of it  – was passed by oral tradition through the centuries by traveling poets who kept the whole thing in their brains. Okay, I’ll admit modern-day minds aren’t trained for that. If you can look it up in Wikipedia, why memorize it, right?

Sometimes we still need to do some mental shorthand.

Back in ancient Greek and Roman times, people didn’t have computers. Sometimes they didn’t even have papyrus. They used the method of loci, also called the Roman Room technique, in which they put the details of what they wanted to remember within the rooms of a building they knew well. To recall it later, they would mentally walk through the rooms and retrieve the memory. It’s where  phrases such as “in the first place,” originated.

My method isn’t nearly as elaborate. To use a simple example, a grocery list, I will memorize the fact that there are five things on the list. Then beside each of the numbers in my head, I list the item I have to buy. So when I get to the store, and I only have four items in the cart, I have something to associate it with. “Wait, what was #5? It was right under #4, Chef Boyardee Pizza Kit.” (Yes, really.) “So it must have been, um, mozzarella cheese?”

When it comes to remembering an “idea,” though… now that’s tricky. Say I’ve had a dream that sparks a great idea for a story. And it’s in the middle of the night, and I’m going to be unconscious again in, like, 30 seconds. I have to grab onto the one magical thing that has me believing it would be a great tale (at least to my addled, half-asleep brain) and make a mental note, lickety-split, and then…

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Because I’ve made that effort, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll remember it. There’s also a 90/10 chance that the idea is crap. For some reason, great ideas in dreams don’t turn out to be so wonderful in the harsh light of day.

Occasionally they do. And for that reason, it’s worth the effort.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to make a mental note.  Every once in a while, the universe lays it all out before you, fully formed. The idea is so freakin’ unbelievably, amazingly great, that it haunts you. It tracks you down, day after day, year after year, and sticks pins in your brain. You couldn’t forget it if you wanted to. Your job is write it down.

Lately, I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s insightful, “On Writing,” and he describes the experience:

“Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

So what was I was going to blog about again?