Happy Medieval Monday! This past weekend was our anniversary. My sweetheart and I took a short holiday -- a long weekend -- to celebrate, so I don't have much in the way of a post today. But I was inspired to look up some medieval wedding images.
Priest, no priest. Handfasting. A simple exchange of vows, no witness required. A royal procession. A good number of the marriages were arranged. During the long, medieval era (approx. 500 - 1500), wedding traditions varied widely. They also changed in the course of 1000 years. None of that is surprising, right? Even now, in our modern times, no two weddings are alike, which is as it should be.
My own wedding was 41 years and one day ago. I was 19 and my groom, 25 -- so young and in love. It was a formal occasion, honestly over our heads. I hardly remember a thing. Isn't that crazy? I don't mind, though. It was a happy, exciting day that I think of as our family's birthday. I could not be more grateful.
Most of the medieval paintings and engravings depict royal weddings or, at least, those of the nobility. They were more political alliances than anything else. But I like to think that at least for some of the couples, it was a happy, exciting day.
Just like ours was. :)
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit authors Barbara Bettis and Mary Morgan.
Wishing you a magical week ahead!
I’m thrilled to welcome Susie Black, whose latest book in her Holly Swimsuit cozy mystery series recently launched. Susie, congratulations on Death by Pins and Needles! So exciting! We are eager to hear all about it, but first, let’s learn more about you.
1) What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you have a favorite book or series? SUSIE: As a young child I was given the Mary Jane series and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew series from my mother-these were her books when she was a child, so they were of course, quite special to me. When I was older, hands down, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series were my favorites. I also loved the biography of Amelia Earhart.
2) What sort of books do you enjoy reading nowadays?
SUSIE: I enjoy reading books in the mystery genre in general, but gravitate towards the same type of books I write -- humorous cozy mysteries.
3) Around what age did you realize that you liked to write?
SUSIE: Actually, it was at a rather young age. I can remember writing short stories in the third grade. In junior high, high school, and college, I was a reporter and wrote for the school newspapers. I was ultimately made the Editor-in-Chief of all three.
Oh, wow! Bravo!
And when did you know that you wanted to write books?
SUSIE: While writing the daily journal entries that chronicled the interesting people I encountered and the crazy things I got myself into and out of during my career as a ladies’ apparel sales exec was when I knew I wanted to turn my experiences into books.
4) What’s the first thing you wrote that you remember being proud of?
SUSIE: My first column as the Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper.
5) Tell us about the creative force within you.
SUSIE: The creative force within me is how I see the world. That is why I write in the first person. So, it is my voice that the readers hear in their heads when they read my books.
The way you see the world, then, is with a wry and wonderful humor.
What inspires you to write, to create?
SUSIE: I am a people person. People are utterly fascinating and are my inspiration to write and create. I can sit for an hour in the mall food court or an airport departure lounge and people watch and come up with hundreds of stories about the folks I observe.
6) What’s your writing space like?
SUSIE: I have commandeered our family room as my writing space. I have a large-screen computer on a computer desk adjacent to a copier, a TV, and a stereo. If the writing is going well, I listen to either jazz or rock N’ roll oldies. But if I am struggling, I find music a distraction and turn it off. We live in the southern California desert on a golf course. I can look out the window onto the fairway and watch the hapless duffers whack away or observe the ducks and geese in the water hazard lounging around for comic relief. It is a very peaceful atmosphere and always gets my creative juices flowing.
7) Do you have a favorite time of day to write?
SUSIE: I don’t have a set daily schedule or a set number of hours a day to write. I try hard to write at least something every day, but candidly, life often gets in the way of the best-laid plans…That said, I can tell you that I rarely write in the morning. I am a night owl and often do my most productive writing late into the wee hours.
Any habits or little rituals that put you in a writing mindset?
SUSIE: Before I sit down to write, I make sure there is a full pot of fresh coffee brewed and keep a jar of mixed nuts next to the computer. When I am plotting, I step away from the computer and walk. Some people do their best thinking in the shower or the car. I do my best thinking while walking.
8) Time to talk about your latest release (rubbing hands together)! But first, how did you come up with the idea for the Holly Swimsuit Mystery series?
SUSIE: I came up with the idea for the series based on my career. My protagonist’s name is Holly and she is a successful ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the Los Angeles area and an amateur sleuth. Holly is the me I always wanted to be. My journal is the source of all my writing all my characters are based on real people I have crossed paths in my apparel career.
Are there any interesting tidbits you’d care to share with us?
SUSIE: I inherited my maternal grandmother’s love of perfume, jewelry, taking chances, speaking my mind, a wicked sense of humor, and regrettably, her fear of death that we both nervously compensated with by laughing whenever we heard someone died. I incorporated this weird trait into my Holly Swimsuit Mystery series by giving Holly Schlivnik, the protagonist, the same affliction and response to death.
9) Now let’s hear about Death by Pins and Needles!
SUSIE: Set in the heart of the competitive Los Angeles Apparel Industry, Death by Pins and Needles is the story of one ruthless woman who didn’t care who she had to step on to get to the top. Lissa Charney is the showroom manager of a ladies’ swimwear line in the California Apparel Mart. Since Lissa didn’t think any of the rules applied to her, she had no problem breaking them all. From job stealing to dumping a boyfriend when he needed her the most, selfish and self-centered Lissa’s list of enemies rivaled those of Al Capone. So, when Lissa is murdered, no one on the swimwear aisle was particularly surprised…the only surprise was what had taken so long.
10) I comprehend that you’ve just recently published a book. I know what that takes. Still, I can’t help but ask – do you have anything waiting in the wings?
SUSIE: I do. After Death by Pins and Needles is released, I have three more new books that will be published this year, ninety days apart. I also have one half-completed manuscript that candidly should have been finished long ago, but kept getting pushed to the back of the “to do” pile. I have vowed to finish writing this one and submit it to my editor by the end of this year.
11) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
SUSIE: Yes, actually, two things: First, I want to thank you for hosting me on your blog and giving me the opportunity to introduce myself and my books to your followers. Second, on behalf of all authors, I’d like to ask your readers to please consider writing and posting a review for the books they read. Reviews are the life blood of all authors. Word of mouth is the most effective way to have the light of approval shined on our works. If readers aren’t quite sure how to write a review, I have a terrific guide to point everyone in the right direction. E-mail me at: email@example.com and I’ll gladly send out a copy.
As a fellow author, I thank you for your request on our behalf. Susie, thank you for spending time with us. It's a pleasure to host you and I love your latest book. Congratulations again!
And now, more of Death by Pins and Needles.
Who wanted Lissa Charney dead? The list was as long as your arm….but which one actually killed her?
The last thing Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected to find when she opened the closet door was nasty competitor Lissa Charney’s battered corpse nailed to the wall. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Lissa’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth sticks her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong to sniff out the real killer. Nothing turns out the way she thinks it will as Holly matches wits with a heartless killer hellbent for revenge.
Death by Pins and Needles -- Excerpt!
I’d combed the place from one end to another and found no sign of Lissa. Where the Sam Hill was she? Not in the showroom. Not in her office. Not in the kitchen. Not in the copier room. In the ladies’ room? Abducted by aliens? Hiding in a closet? I was out of options and time; so, for giggles and squeaks, I pulled open the doors to the enormous sample closet that stretched across the back wall and peered inside. Good news. I found Lissa Charney.
A dozen swimsuits picture -framed Lissa’s battered, bloody corpse like a museum exhibit. Ringed with matching black and purplish-blue shiners, her wide-open, sightless eyes stared into space as though surprised by her situation. No kidding. That made two of us. I was no doctor, but you didn’t need a medical degree for this diagnosis. No need to take her pulse. One thing was for sure, Lissa Charney had made her last sales presentation.
Naturally, I burst out laughing.
About the Author
Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Fashion & Foul Play Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
Looking for more? Contact Susie at:
Medieval Snack Attack: Pretzels
Happy Medieval Monday! For me -- and for other Eastern Rite Christians -- it is also Ash Monday. Like Ash Wednesday, which is in two days, it marks the beginning of Lent.
It is a time for reflection, penance, good deeds, and fasting. But the Church is a lot easier on believers than it once was. The "recommendations" for fasting have relaxed through the centuries.
During the early medieval period, Lent was a time of gloomy deprivation with one small meal a day for forty days. Meat, dairy, even fish were forbidden, as were sweets of any kind.
Pretzels, made with flour, water, and salt, were easy and acceptable additions to the Lenten diet. A few sources have suggested that the monk invented them during Lent. In many countries, they are still considered a traditional Lenten food.
Tradition has it that in the seventh century, a European monk shaped some leftover dough into pretiola, little rewards, to reward his young students for learning their prayers. Shaped like arms folded in prayer, they also represent the Holy Trinity. Pretzels are in a surprising variety of religious art, appearing even in paintings of The Last Supper.
Pretzels caught on pretty fast. Monasteries and bakeries across Europe began producing them. German immigrants likely introduced bretzels to America.
Nowadays, pretzels are enjoyed in all shapes, sizes, and flavors -- hard or soft, sweet or salty, large or small. From delicate, anise-flavored treats to butter and cheese-stuffed mini-meals to the little, crunchy ones found in the snack aisle of the supermarket, they are well-loved treats.
I've always enjoyed the big, soft ones slathered in mustard, but I think I will be expanding my pretzel experience. Yummm. And you can bet I'll have some on hand this Lent.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit the lovely medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Wishing you a wonderful day and week ahead!
Sundar1, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands
And she says further: “A knight on a stalwart steed, himself clad all in glittering gold, hath to-day borne away the prize for all three days of the jousting. If ye tell the truth to my father, that it was you who jousted so well, then I dare say, surely, he will give you me and all his land. The marriage between yonder young prince and myself should be to-morrow; but here I make a solemn vow, I will never have any man but you! Therefore I pray you with all my heart, go not away, the morn!”
“Nor will I, my sweet lady. I will not go from your sight.”
Happy Medieval Monday! I thought I would share a medieval love story with you for Valentine's Day. Who has heard of Roswall and Lillian? This time, I don't think the answer is "everyone but me." I sincerely hope not, anyway!
It is consistently -- pretty much always -- referred to as a "medieval Scottish chivalric romance", but I'm not sure why. That is, why Scottish? The only reason I can come up with is that the earliest printed version is dated back to Edinburgh in the 1600s. But the story is considered much older than that, likely dating from the fifteenth century. It certainly has lots in common with other chivalric stories of the times.
The story begins with an act of compassion. Prince Roswall frees three prisoners against his father's wishes. At first, the king doesn't know who freed them and vows to hang the man who has done so. When he finds out it was his beloved son, he rushes to come up with a Plan B. He ends up sending the prince to another kingdom with gold and a steward to help him.
First chance, the steward threatens to kill Roswall if he does not hand over his gold and letters of introduction. Poor Roswall does so and enters the Kingdom of Bealm as servant to his servant, who abandons him shortly after.
A woman takes pity on the handsome young man and offers him shelter. He lives with them and attends school with her son. The young prince applies himself diligently and his integrity is so obvious that the King of Bealm's steward takes notice of him. He takes him to the castle, which is where he meets the beautiful Princess Lillian.
Of course, they fall in love.
But Lillian is supposed to marry a prince. As it so happens, it's the sneaky steward turned false prince. Surprise! A tournament is set to celebrate the upcoming wedding.
Roswall goes hunting in the forest and meets a white knight, who lends him his horse and armor so that he can enter the tournament. Roswall carries the day. The next morning, another knight gives him a gray horse and red armour. Roswall wins again. On the third day, he fights dressed in gold and riding a mighty steed.
Lillian doesn't know it's him at first, but she begs her father to allow her to marry Roswall. He refuses, insisting she marry the prince.
The night before the wedding, the knights come to the city and salute the king, queen, and Princess Lillian, but not her betrothed. When asked why they aren't saluting the son of their king, they explain that they don't see him. Upon finding Roswall they identify him and the king asks him (Roswall) for the truth.
As it comes to pass, those three knights are not only his benefactors from the forest. They are the knights he freed from his father's prison.
The evil steward is dealt with and Roswall and Lillian are finally allowed to wed. They rule justly and Roswall rewards all those who were kind to him in his time of need. They have many children and live happily ever after.
What's not to love?
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Happy Medieval Monday, Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Week ahead!
A Medieval Hike in Glen Affric
Lachlann stared at the Great Falls--Plodda Falls--
wondering how his heart could hammer so hard without
killing him. The name—and everything else—might
have changed, but they hadn’t. They didn’t even look
smaller. How that could be, when they were nearly seven
hundred years older and he was much bigger than he’d
been as a boy, he didn’t know. They seemed the same.
But where was the cave? He studied the rocks, but it was
hard to tell looking straight down from the platform at
the top of the falls. He glanced down the river. He
thought he knew approximately where they had fished,
but the trees were different. It was hard to be sure.
There’d been no platform, of course. They’d approached
the falls from the opposite side, at the bottom.
Rónán, wherever you are, help me.
Happy Medieval Monday! I thought I'd share a little scenery with you along with a scene from Tremors Through Time.
In the fourteenth century, Lachlann and Rónán liked to spend time at the "Great Falls". But when Lachlann visited twenty-first century Plodda Falls, he found that it looked different. The falls were the same, but the trees had changed.
And they had. While Glen Affric is still home to one of Scotland's largest Caledonian pine reserves, between 1895 to 1900, Lord Tweedmouth planted the area with Douglas firs. In other natural areas of Glen Affric, the Forestry Commission is slowly removing non-native species, but the firs around Plodda Falls remain. They are huge and, I must admit, stunning.
My husband and I enjoyed our time in Glen Affric and our day at Plodda Falls. I can understand why Lachlann and Rónán liked the area so well.
Excerpt -- Tremors Through Time
They hiked down and walked along the edge of the
stream, away from the falls in what he thought was the
right direction. Lachlann stared at the opposite bank,
trying to get a feel for his surroundings, to imagine them
as they were in his childhood. Desperately, he turned in
a circle, looking upriver and down.
He stopped instantly.
“Smell that.” Closing her eyes, she breathed in
deeply, then smiled at him. “It’s wonderful.”
“It’ll only take a minute.”
He frowned. Couldn’t they do this later? He had to
find the cave.
Stepping closer, she took both his hands in hers.
“Only a minute,” she repeated. “Breathe. Close your
eyes and breathe.”
He did as she asked, taking several deep breaths,
allowing the fresh, cool air to fill his lungs. He could
smell the trees. The familiar sound of the falls reminded
him of that day so long ago.
He cast his line. Rónán did the same. They usually
did a little fishing before hiking up to their cave. The falls
were a long walk from their homes. Although he would
never have admitted it, he was often surprised that Rónán
had been able to make it. An accident had crushed the
bones in his foot when he was small. It hadn’t healed
properly and still pained him, sometimes a lot. But his
friend was stubborn.
“Shouldn’t we bury our treasures first?” Rónán
asked, even as he collapsed on a boulder.
“We promised to bring trout home,” Lachlann
reminded him. “It’s important that we keep our word.”
“It shouldn’t be hard,” commented his friend,
drawing a hook from his sporan. “I can see them from
He spoke the truth. The clear river was running with
trout. Rónán had collected worms before Lachlann had
joined him that morning, so they were able to cast right
away. Their lines weren’t long and didn’t need to be.
Although it was a hot day, it was cool by the water’s
edge, in the shade of the great pine trees. They sat on
boulders and ate lunch while they fished. They didn’t
talk much, not even Rónán, who knew not to scare the
fish away. Anyway, he was pleasantly occupied eating.
Their lines were hit simultaneously.
Lachlann jerked his rod and stilled for a moment.
When his line went taut, he jerked it again and began
pulling in the speckled fish. Rónán did the same.
In less than two hours, they both had plenty of trout
to share with their families. They left their catch in their
nets at the river’s edge, hidden among some grasses.
They weren’t particularly worried about daylight--
the days were long in summer—but they didn’t want to
be too late in case their families were counting on their
catch for supper.
They trudged up the slope, clambering over the
rocks, to the steep path leading to their cave behind the
Lachlann opened his eyes. It all came back to him.
He smiled at his angel before releasing one of her hands
to look around. Then he saw it—the indentation that
marked the narrow path he and Rónán had taken up to
For more Tremors Through Time.
To enjoy more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis!
Wishing you a splendid day and week ahead!
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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