army of authors · blog tour · romance · time travel

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Laura Vosika

The Battle is O’er

Book Five of The Blue Bells Chronicles, by Laura Vosika

Shawn means self and Kleiner means centered, one of Shawn’s (many) ex-girlfriends proclaimed. So begin The Blue Bells Chronicles, a tale of time travel, mysteries and miracles, romance and redemption, in an epic adventure ranging across modern and medieval Scotland against the backdrop of Scotland’s Wars of Independence in the 1300s.
Shawn has it all—wealth, fame, women—until the night Amy, his girlfriend, has enough and abandons him in an ancient tower. He wakes up in the wrong century.
Two years in medieval times, two years of fighting beside Robert the Bruce and James Douglas, two years of living with and as his medieval twin, the devout and upright Highlander Niall Campbell, working to protect those he has come to love, and perhaps mostly, his growing friendship with Niall, whom he initially despised, all work changes in Shawn.
Throughout their adventures, he and Niall seek a way to get Shawn back across time, to fulfill his desire to ask Amy’s forgiveness and finally be the man she always saw in him—succeeding at last in the middle of a fierce battle for Niall’s home, Glenmirril, against their old enemy, the MacDougalls.
Safely back in his own time, Shawn is steadily regaining all he lost—his career as a world-traveling musician, the son he feared he would never know, and finally, maybe—even Amy’s heart.
He can’t let go of the past, however, or stop agonizing over what happened to Niall and all his beloved friends, left behind in a fight for their lives. In his search for answers, hoping to find that all ended well, he learns instead of the dangers still lurking in fourteenth century Scotland: to Niall who will pay a horrible price for Shawn’s last deed, committed in Glenmirril’s tower just moments before escaping to the safety of his own time; to his own infant son, the subject of prophecy and an ancient letter predicting a fateful battle; even danger to the whole world as Simon Beaumont, known to history as the Butcher of Berwick, seeks to use his knowledge of the future to destroy it.
In this gripping conclusion to The Blue Bells Chronicles, Shawn faces the ultimate test. His selfishness once cost him everything. His newfound selflessness may do the same.

Find The Battle is O’er on Amazon

If you decide to grab a copy, be sure to leave a review for Laura.

Reviews keep authors writing! 

Thanks for reading.

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

T is for … Tatar

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Tatar

Tatar (Tatar tele, Tatarça, Татар теле, Татарча) belongs to the Western Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. Its closest relatives are Bashkir (Bashkort) and Chulym. It is not the same language as Crimean Tatar. There are 5.2 million speakers of Kazan Tatar most of whom live in the Russian Federation and in the former Soviet republics. Majority of the Tatar-speaking population is concentrated in the Republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan in the central Volga region as well as in Moscow, St.Petersburg and elsewhere. Tatar is the largest minority language of the Russian Federation.

There are two main theories concerning the origins of Tatars of Tatarstan. According to one theory, the Volga-region Tatars are direct descendants of the Tatars of the Golden Horde. Another theory holds that the ancestors of these Tatars were Bulgars, a Turkic people who were displaced from the Azov steppes by Arab raiders and who settled in the Middle Volga region in the 8th century and converted to Islam in 922. After the Mongol invasion of Europe in 1241, Volga Bulgars were absorbed into the Golden Horde. The Kazan Khanate which succeeded the Golden Horde was annexed by Russia in 1552.

The “Pyramid” in Kazan

Fascinating facts about Tatarstan

 

Tatarstan (510 miles southeast of Moscow) is one of 21 internal republics in Russia. Located in the Volga-Urals region, it covers 27,100 square miles (roughly the size of Ireland) and is home to 4 million people and lies on the middle part of Volga River.

Efforts are being made to bring back the Tatar language and culture.

Tatarstan is rich in oil.

Tatarstan was established as an autonomous republic in 1920 for one segment of the large and widespread Tatar population of the Russian Republic. In the 1980s, less than one-third of Russia’s Tatars lived in the republic designated for them. The population of Tatarstan, about 3.8 million in 1995, is second only to that of Bashkortostan among Russia’s republics.

Kazan (on the Volga River, 550 miles southeast of Moscow) is a city of 1.1 million and the capital of the Tatar Republic. Founded in the 13th century and capital of the Tatar state in the 15th and 16th centuries, it was claimed for Russia by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and later developed as the gateway to Siberia. Both Lenin and Tolstoy studied at Kazan University, one of Russia’s oldest. Lenin was thrown out for his revolutionary activities.

Kazan is an old historical city of Moslem minarets, Christian domes and military fortresses. Dominating a large hill, the kremlin has been built, destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current white limestone walls were built under Ivan the Terrible.

Thanks for reading 🙂

army of authors · blog tour · fantasy · steampunk · YA

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Raquel Byrnes

The Tremblers

by Raquel Byrnes

 

Weapons of Light & Power

“A soldier leaned out the window, taking aim at Charlotte. A frisson of energy pulsed from the weapon, barely missing her. She screamed, flailing.

Ashton flipped the rocket ignition on the power cycle and the force of the thrust slammed him against the seat as he shot skyward toward the roof. Pulling his tracer gun, he fired blindly at the building. The soldier dove for the floor.” ~Ashton Wells, The Tremblers

Creating the weapons for my YA Steampunk novel, The Tremblers took me on a fascinating path. The invention of destructive devices was vexing and addicting all at once.

Weapons of light — Tracer Guns are the weapon of choice for the soldiers of the Peaceful Union. Powerful blasters that syphon the glowing purple energy from the massive Tesla Domes caging the city-states are feared by the average citizen. Constantly recalibrating to the dome’s pulse, they are outlawed to everyone but the soldiers of the government.

Charlotte is a tinkerer and inventor. The daughter of a renowned soldier and chemist, her weapons needed finesse. I designed the metal spheres of her Shrieking Violet grenade to cluster together like a flower. Its shrill screech disables her enemies while a curtain of magenta gas shields her escape.

The outlaws and Lawmen of Outer City favor guns and pistols of the old world. Sheriff Sebastian Riley’s revolver helped him to rise to power among the pirates and pioneers of the sky settlement.

Another daunting tool as the Lightning Stick. Capable of lashing whips of energy. Used by the ruthless Lawmen of the floating ports, Charlotte learns of its devastating effects while trying to flee with Ashton.

However, it is the power and might of the Peaceful Union Aero Squad that strikes fear into the heart of every citizen. Their searing lamps and concussion bombs send rioters scrambling. Creating airship battles and designing the infamous rebel ship, The Stygian, was great fun! Myself the daughter of a military man, I grew up visiting airshows and sitting at the controls of massive machines of war.  I wanted to bring that fascination and awe to the Blackburn Chronicles.

If you love mechanica, mayhem, and monsters, then check out The Tremblers and Wind Reapers. The link to Amazon is here, and the book is also available now via other retailers.

For more about the author, check out her author page here.

Thanks for reading 🙂

British · comedy · crooner · entertaining · Memoirs · Sunday's Scraps

Sunday’s Scraps – Living Up to his Name

Week Five of Sunday’s Scraps

Living Up to His Name

#sundaysscraps #comedy #British #memoir #crooner

Oswald Arthur Postlethwaite had a name suited to comedy, but it was his “voice of an angel” that brought him the fame he went on to enjoy.
‘Who in their right mind would lumber their child with such a mouthful of a name?’ He always asked whenever he started his act at the holiday camps.
‘I mean, my initials are OAP! Do I look like an old age pensioner?’ A cheeky smile emphasised his dimples, and his rugged good looks were more than a match for the matinee idols whose faces were plastered on posters throughout the town.
The OAP quip soon became his catchphrase, despite an attempt to later re-brand himself as the more trendy Artie Postlethwaite—although trendy to whom even today is still a valid question.

Born in 1914 to Annie and James Postlethwaite in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, Oswald grew up in his grandparents’ home, a terraced cottage with an outside toilet and no bathroom, with his mother, older sister Lilian, and Nanna and Grampy. His father, a former miner, was away serving in the King’s Own Light Infantry (South Yorkshire Division).
Oswald’s first memory of his father came many months after The Great War ended, when a stranger arrived at their home wearing an ill-fitting, grey suit and holding a heavy Great Coat over his arm, looking like he might drop it at any moment. At only five years old, Oswald’s recollection is sketchy at best and it was only during later years that he grew more aware of the man living in the back room that once had been his Nanna’s precious parlour.
The man screamed and trembled whenever a storm blew in. And, lightning sent him scurrying to his room to take cover under the makeshift bed which had replaced Nanna’s oak table and spindly-legged chairs. Oswald been given strict instruction from Mother not to enter that room, But that didn’t mean he couldn’t watch him from the safety of the staircase. The door had long since been removed to be used as firewood and through the railings, he saw the skeletal person cowering on the floor beneath a pile of blankets and overcoats.’
He often wondered why the man he learnt to call Father acted the way he did. He recalls asking his mother, one day. Her answer came with a huge sigh and a pat on the head for him. ‘It’s the war, my love. It made your father quite poorly.’

Six months later, Nanna died from influenza and his grandfather’s condition worsened. Black Lung disease, a common ailment in the mining community.
Breathing difficulties meant Grampy rarely left his bed and when he did, he’d often collapse, a result of chronic coughing fits. So, Mum banned Oswald from that room too. All he knew of Grampy’s existence was a string of handkerchiefs on the washing line. Mum would pummel the life out of them, scrapping them against the washboard to remove blood and phlegm stains. Then when she’d finished, she’d call him in for a “bath”. The smell of carbolic soap acted as a warning for him. As soon as it hit his nostrils, he’d hide away. She always found him, though. Thanks to Lil. He remembered his mother combing his blond hair after one such bath time.
‘Oswald Postlethwaite,’ she’d say, ‘you’re going to break a few hearts, my boy.’
She always twisted a lock or two of his hair around her finger, ‘Aw, Mum. Don’t do that. Makes me look like a girl,’ he’d say, pouting. He would shrug and wriggle from her grasp while she laughed, her blue eyes wide and twinkling.
Watching her throw the bath water across the yard later that evening, he’d see her wipe away a tear or two, before lifting her face to the skies and mumbling a few words.
‘What are you saying, Mummy?’ Oswald asked her as he was pulling on his pyjamas, the open backdoor drawing all the heat from the room.
‘Just a prayer for Grampy and your father,’ she said, returning to the kitchen and tousling his still damp hair.
‘Are they going to Heaven too?’
She drew him into her arms and sat with him on her lap, swaying back and forth on Nanna’s rocking chair that had been rescued, intact, from the wood pile in the yard
Grampy joined Nanna only weeks later. But his father, still a shell of a man, remained a hermit in the old parlour.

Oswald—and Lilian—attended the village school from the age of five, where the highlight of his day was the mid-morning milk break. His mother always attributed the daily milk drink to her son’s growth spurt, even though his sister—three years older—drank the same milk and still fell short of four feet ten when she left school. She would help her mother with sewing work and also had a daily shift, washing glasses at the working men’s club, but had to stand on a crate to reach the shelves.
One day, Frank Langton, the manager of the club where Lil worked—the same one Grampy had virtually lived in before he became ill—came to see Annie. He was looking for acts to perform at a Gala event in a fortnight’s time. She had sung there a few times in the past and Frank offered her a paid spot on the bill. It was too tempting an offer for Annie to turn down. Although, she told Oswald years later that she’d only agreed on one condition: That he’d be allowed to accompany her and watch from the sidelines.’
It was to be a turning point in Oswald’s life and an experience he’d never forget. ‘Mum spent the next few days singing at every opportunity, belting out tune after tune, hymn after hymn. We could hear her on the way home from school. It was great to come home to such a happy atmosphere. Mum laughed more, even our Lilian lost the dour expression she normally wore in favour of a smile. We’d dance around the tiny kitchen, dragging the table to one side to create more room.’
Annie’s singing was constant— infectious. By the end of the week, he and Lil knew every word too.
As the day dawned, Annie’s nerves intensified. Oswald overheard his parents talking. ‘Frank’s given me a free ticket, as a perk of the job. It’s yours if you want it. Please come and see me, James. The kids’ll be there.’
‘Get me another bottle of ale, love, and I’ll think about it.’
His father had scarcely left the parlour since his return from the war, some four years ago, except to go to the pub and drink himself daft. Bottled beer had just become popular and he remembers how the hallway became home to a daily line of empty bottles outside his father’s room, which now had a curtain draped across the doorway to afford him some privacy. Mother collected the empties every day, giving them to Oswald to return to the brewery and collect a few halfpennies which she then would spend again buying more bottles of Brown Ale for her husband.
‘Do you think Father will come, Mum?’ Oswald asked her when she returned to the kitchen, her eyes red and puffy.
‘Were you eavesdropping, my lad?’
He nodded, gulping back a lump in his throat at her harsh tone.
She just shrugged her shoulders and turned away from him, lifting the lid on a pan of watery soup that had no more licked a piece of meat or a vegetable than he had, since they were living off the last of the week’s rations: dried egg and soup sachets.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Next week’s scraps come from Ramelius – The King’s Own Sorceror.  No longer prepared to let the King continue with his killing spree, Ramelius is forced to act. It’s an act that defines his Afterlife and the lives of many more to follow. This is back story to The Nasrid Charm, my first fantasy. Eek!

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

S is for … Slovak

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Slovak

 

Slovak (Slovenský jazyk), also called Slovakian, belongs to the West Slavic group of the Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken by 4.75 million people in Slovakia. There are also expatriate Slovak communities in Canada, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Ukraine, and USA.The total number of Slovak speakers worldwide is 5.2 million. Slovak is close to Czech, and Slovak speakers in the western part of Slovakia and Czech speakers are able to understand each other. All Slovaks are able to understand Standard Czech thanks to the media. However, with the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the two languages have begun to drift apart with the differences between Czech and Slovak being primarily lexical and phonological.

Fascinating facts about Slovakia

 

 

Slovakia has the world’s highest number of castles and chateaux per capita: 180 castles and 425 chateaux in a country with the entire population far smaller than the city of New York. The real highlight amongst Slovak castles is undoubtedly medieval Spiš Castle, which belongs to the largest castles in the Central Europe and was included in the UNESCO List of World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage.

More than six thousand caves have been discovered in Slovakia so far. Most spectacular caves can be found in the national parks of Low Tatras, Slovak Paradise and Slovak Karst. Many of them represent unique natural wonders.

 

The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, lies on the borders with Austria and Hungary. That makes the city the only one capital in the world that borders two independent countries.

Near the village Kremnické Bane in Slovakia, right next to the St. John Baptist Church, is located the geographical midpoint of Europe. Unfortunately, another 7 European villages claim to host this hypothetical midpoint as well.

Slovakia has incredible sources of mineral water and healing thermal springs. Most of them are actively used for therapeutic and recreation purposes within 21 spa resorts.

Old medieval town of Levoča is a home of the highest wooden altar in the world. This remarkable work was created by Master Paul. It is located in Church of St. James right in the historical centre of Levoča. 18,6 m high and 6 m wide altar was made without the use of a single nail! The entire town centre is also included in the List of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Thanks for reading 🙂

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

R is for … Romani

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Romani

Romani (Řomani ćhib) refers to a group of languages spoken by the Romani people. These languages belong to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family and are the only Indo-Aryan languages spoken exclusively outside the Indian subcontinent. Romani should not be confused with either Romanian, or Romansh, both of which are Romance languages. The ancestor of Romani is thought to have been the language of the Roma people of central India. Linguistic data suggest that the Roma left the Indian subcontinent in the second half of the first millennium AD, passing through what is now Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia, and Turkey. The cause of the Roma emigration is unknown due to the absence of written records. What is known is that they reached the Balkan peninsula by the 14th century AD. Some Roma migrated south to North Africa and reached Europe through the Strait of Gibraltar.

The development of Romani was strongly influenced by its contact with European languages. The greatest influence came from Byzantine Greek which had an impact on Romani vocabulary, phonology and grammar.

The Roma are popularly known in English as Gypsies, a word which is derived from the word Egypt, based on the mistaken belief that they were natives of Egypt. The term was never used by the Roma to describe themselves. In Europe, Gypsies are also known as Tsiganes, Zigeuners, and Gitanos.

T’aves baxtalo – Welcome!

Fascinating facts about the Roma

During WWII in Nazi Germany and Nazi-controlled countries, the Roma were commonly persecuted for being “racially inferior” because of their traditions and beliefs. As a result, thousands of Romani people were slaughtered throughout the Soviet Union and Serbia after Germany invaded. Thousands more were then killed in concentration camps when neighbouring countries deported them. Imprisoned Roma were subjected to cruel medical experiments by the infamous Dr. Joseph Mengele and were killed in droves alongside Jewish and other minority victims. In the countries that the Nazis invaded or were allied with, Roma were frequently targeted by killing squads, and in Croatia nearly the entire Roma population of 25,000 people were murdered.

The Roma are descendants of the Dom caste in Northwestern India, who were known to be commercial nomads. Dom people were most often employed as cleaners, entertainers, metal workers, and sometimes farm workers. In modern times, the Roma have continued their legacy of living a nomadic lifestyle and do not typically settle in one area for very long, which has led to various social complications regarding the national policies of different European states.

Weddings in the Roma culture are multi-day affairs with various religious and cultural traditions blended together. In addition to church services, which usually incorporate Orthodox Greek religious and Roma cultural elements, the bride and groom participate in other practices. For example, one common ritual that is still practiced is a mock kidnapping where the groom’s family and friends will stage a break-in to the bride’s home to whisk her away to the ceremony. The groom will also then negotiate what is called a bride price, in a symbolic gesture to an old practice. Finally, the couple is crowned and the celebration begins. Marriages are often arranged by the parents and the wedded pair are usually just teenagers when they exchange their vows.

Roma live in bands of traveling communities known as kumpanias*, which are typically made up of 30 to 40 families that all share one primary profession or skill-set. These groups move from place to place for primarily economic reasons. Currently, there are approximately nine recognised kumpanias, although about one third of Roma have declared that they do not officially affiliate themselves permanently with one group or another. The decrease in their nomadic lifestyle habits can likely be attributed to restrictions that were placed on kumpanias based in communist countries like the Soviet Union, which frequently prohibited them from moving between areas.

 

*Update* “kumpania” (“kompaniya”) is a Russian word that means a group of friends. The Rom word for their travelling bands is “tabor,” and among themselves, they do note a distinction between “tabor Rom” and “city Rom.”

Thanks to koolkosherkitchen for the correction 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

Q is for …Quechua

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Quechua

Quechuan, called Runasimi in Quechua, from runa ‘people’ + simi ‘speech,’ is a family of some 45 closely-related languages spoken in the Andean region of South America by close to 10 million people.

Various theories regarding the origins of Quechua are hotly disputed. It is thought by some scholars that Quechua originated on the central coast of Peru around 2,600 BC. The Inca kings of Cuzco made Quechua their official language. With the Inca conquest of Peru in the 14th century, Quechua became Peru’s lingua franca. The Inca Empire flourished in what is today’s Peru from 1438 to 1533 AD. Although the empire lasted only about 100 years, the Incas spread Quechua to areas that today are Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century AD, Quechua had already spread throughout a large portion of the South American continent. The languages continued to spread into areas that were not part of the Inca empire such as Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Fascinating facts about Quechua

Quechua has the status of an official language in Peru and Bolivia, along with Spanish and Aymara. In rural areas, it is used for everyday communication in informal contexts. Since most native speakers of Quechua are illiterate in their native language, it remains largely an oral language. In formal contexts, such as government, administration, commerce, education, and the media, Spanish is used. The only cultural domain where Quechua is used extensively is traditional Andean music.

Although education In Peru is exclusively in Spanish, many primary-school teachers use a combination of Spanish and Quechua with monolingual Quechua-speaking children. Efforts to promote bilingual education in Peru have not been successful.

In Bolivia and Ecuador, there is a movement to revitalise the language, which has resulted in the introduction of bilingual education programs in those countries, although efforts are held back by lack of written materials in Quechua in general, and teaching materials in particular.

Quechua is known for only having 3 vowel sounds: a, i, and u.

The Quechua language has given names to many places in Peru, including the Ancash Region. Anqash is the Quechua word for blue, and it is thought that the name refers to the blue skies of Ancash.

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

P is for … Persian

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Persian

Persian, Fārsi, is a member of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a macrolanguage spoken by an estimated 110 million people worldwide, primarily in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. The language is known by several names. Persian is the more widely used name of the language in English, from Latin Persia, from Greek Persis. The Academy of Persian Language and Literature calls the language Persian. Farsi is the Arabicized form of Parsi, from Pars, the name of the region where the language evolved. Pars is called Fars in Arabic which lacks the sound [p]. Dari is the local name used for Persian in Afghanistan. Tajik (Tajiki) is the local name used for Persian in Tajikistan.

Fascinating facts about The Persian Empire

 

The Persians were the first to maintain a charter for human rights. A cylindrical baked clay, more prominently called the “Cyprus Cylinder” and dates back to 539 B.C., holds the account. The contents on the cylinder are in Akkadian Language and pertain to equality of race, religion and language.

According to Herodotus, a Greek Historian, the Persian adult (presumably from the elite section of the society) was liable to be militarily trained till the age of 20.

The royal protectors were named “Ten Thousand Immortals”. Ironically, if any protector “died”, an immediate replacement was called for and the number never went below 10,000 in the group.

 

The Royal Road was a famous road in Persian Empire built by King Darius the Great. This road was huge and had the length of 1,700 miles. It spanned from Sardis to Suza.

 

 

The Persian Empire is accredited with the invention of horizontal windmills for grinding grains and pumping water. They are also the mind behind refrigeration and underground ventilation technology, creating the first refrigeration systems known as “Yakhchals”.

During ancient times, one of the most expensive materials in terms of both rarity and monetary value pertained to a bromine-containing reddish-purple natural dye obtained from the murex shells. In fact, the craze for the dyes was so widespread, especially among the royalty, nobles and rich merchants, that even other cheaper alternatives with the purplish hue were costly and beyond the reach of common folks. This inspired many Persian royals to hoard purple-tinted clothes that were given as gifts to higher ranked officials.

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

O is for … Oriya / Odia

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Oriya

Oriya, also known as Odia, a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.

It is spoken as a first language by 32.1 million people most of whom live in the Indian state of Odisha, although there are also significant Oriya-speaking populations in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Oriya is thought to have descended from a Prakrit spoken in Eastern India over 1,500 years ago. Of all the languages spoken in Northern India, Oriya shows the least influence of Persian and Arabic. However, it shows significant Buddhist and Jain influences.

Breast Cancer Awareness in Oriya 🙂

Fascinating facts about Oriya

The curved appearance of the Oriya script is a result of the practice of writing on palm leaves, which have a tendency to tear if you use too many straight lines.

Poetry came in first in the Oriya language way before prose and essays which developed quite late.

The first Oriya printing typeset was cast up fully functionally in 1836 by Christian Missionaries.

The initial name of Oriya was officially changed to Odia following Presidential assent on 4th November 2011 to the bill passed by Parliament and issuance of a notification.

 

Thanks for reading 🙂