What inspires the setting of a story? #bookworm #booklovers

Sichartshof, eine verschwundene Ortschaft

At the base of the low mountain range Steigerwald, in a fertile little hollow called the Edelgraben, there once stood a sheep farm. The first inkling of this farm appears in the Dachsbach registry in 1450 as ‘Sigartzhoffe’ belonging to a man named Peter Sighart. The good man paid a chicken and some grain to settle his taxes.

Over the years, thorough searches in the archives have produced a few registry entries, a sentence here, a mere crumb of information there, regarding this mysterious farm: Sigartshoff, Sycharczhoff, Sichartshof. According to an undated entry in the Dachsbach registry that is believed to be before the Thirty Years War, around the year 1600, the little farm had grown into an accumulation of acreage of farmed fields, grasslands, and ponds for farming fish.

A patrician from Nuremberg named Sebald Tucher is then documented as having owned Sichartshof in 1629. He bought the farm from the widow Margarethe Hansen and had acquired more land to work. By this time, Sichartshof lay unprotected in the Aisch River Valley, the valley a well-travelled route for mercenary troops involved in the Thirty Years War.

Why would Sebald Tucher leave Nuremberg, a city protected behind massive, impenetrable walls, and move out to a country manor amid this time of agitation? Did he want to hunt? Did he want to drink? Did he need the products that the farm could yield for his family in Nuremberg? How did he live? Who lived there with him?

This forgotten hamlet is the inspiration for the farm named Sichardtshof in the historical novel series Heaven’s Pond. For the answer to these questions and more, read the historical novel The Master and the Maid. The forgotten hamlet comes alive again, its story just waiting to be told!

 

What Inspires a Novel? #video #history #MondayBlogs

 

 

The Weissgerbergasse is a street in the old town in Nuremberg, Germany. It means Tanners’ Lane in English. It is the inspiration for the Tannery Row, a setting in the opening scenes of the historical novel, The Master and the Maid.

This medieval street was named for its inhabitants, namely the Weissgerber. They were tanners who specialized in a tanning process using salts and alum to create soft, white leather for gloves, aprons and bookcovers.

Tanneries needed a lot of water and many of the houses on Tanners’ Lane have their own wells. They also made lots of dirty water so the street is close to the Pegnitz river and downstream away from the main town. Tanning hides was a very smelly business, and judging by these townhouses, a lucrative one as well.

In spite of the intense bombing of Nuremberg in 1945, the Weissgerbergasse was mostly unaffected. There are now about 20 of these painstakingly renovated half-timbered houses. They are part of Nuremberg’s Historical Mile, a tour of the city’s most important sights.

Today these town houses are occupied by hairdressers, art galleries, boutiques and cafes. The Weissgerbergasse 10 has been dated by experts as 1389 and belongs to the Altstadtfreunde, an organization dedicated to historic preservation in Nuremberg.

#booktrailer The Master and the Maid #historicalfiction

 

The Thirty Years War. Known as The Great War in Germany up until the 20th century. Still regarded as the most devastating era in Germany history. We know what the history books say. We know what the church fathers say. But what really happened?

Imagine life in the 17th century, through this revolutionary time in history:
1600 years after the dawn of Christianity, 200 years after the invention of the printing press. 100 years after the protests of Martin Luther. Nuremberg, Germany was the center of European trade in the middle ages. A flourishing city built on the strength of diverse and superior craftsman. A free city state. Independent of the Holy Roman Empire. Imagine the year 1616. Mankind had made leaps in terms of science, humanities, language, learning. The Renissance was giving birth to the early modern age, but there was a dark side to this period. Not everyone wanted this revolution of thought and practice. Some forces were fighting to keep progress down. A war was brewing.

But people were trying to live their lives as they saw fit. Women wanted to live their lives. A young woman named Andra-Angela refuses to obey. She is executed for witchcraft and leaves a newborn baby behind. Another young woman named Katarina is traded to a rich patrician in order to pay her fiancé’s debts. Katarina is forced to relocate to the patrician’s country manor. There she meets the newborn baby’s father, a crazed archer who forces the care of the child on her at sword point.

Protecting the child puts Katarina at risk. She could fall into disfavor with her master. She could be hunted by the zealots who killed the archer’s beloved. She could be executed herself. Can Katarina’s love for the baby and Sebald Tucher’s desire for her keep the wrath of the zealots at bay?

 The Master and the Maid is the first book in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. So begins the saga of Isabeau, how she came to be and the events that formed the beginning of her life.

#booktrailer The Soldier’s Return #RRBC

Watch the trailer for historical fiction novel The Soldier’s Return:

 

A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape in the territories situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But reliSoldiersReturn 700kgion only plays a minor role in this very lucrative business of war. What better way to wage war than with underpaid, starving, sick, desperate mercenary soldiers?

Direct in the path of these marauding mercenaries lies the once-idyllic farm called Sichardtshof. The master and the maid have lived here the last ten years in a semblance of peace but teetering on the edge of destruction. The attacks are more frequent and the soldiers are more brutal than before. With the soldiers come disease, the plague. And Franconia has found scapegoats to blame for all this misfortune. Witch hunts and executions are more prevalent than ever.

The Soldier’s Return, Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy, revisits Katarina and Isabeau and their journey of survival in the lawless German countryside of the early 17th century.

To be released in Spring 2017

Speaking of Guitarists… #electricguitar

     Terry Kath was the guitarist in the band Chicago. They called themselves Chicago Transit Authority for their first album and then shortened the name to Chicago in 1970. He was a multi-instrument musician and singer who impressed me with his solid, well-rounded guitar solos. He not only played lead & rhythm guitar, but also banjo, accordion, electric bass, and drums.
     I sit here and listen to ‘Free Form Guitar’ from the first album. This seven minute instrumental guitar piece was recorded in one take. According to a 1971 Guitar Player magazine interview, the Fender Strat he played had a broken neck held together by a radiator hose clamp. Can anything keep a real guitarist from playing? Sharp fret ends, bowed necks, chipped paint, dented tops, scratched backs? 
     Imagine this: Wikipedia says he actually had 20 guitars at one time! Is that all? If he was still alive, he’d probably have 200.
     Yes, the sad fact: on January 23, 1978, after a party, Terry Kath put a 9mm semiautomatic pistol to his temple, said to his buddy, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded,” and pulled the trigger. He died instantly. He was 31 years old.

If you’d like to see him in action:

I’m A Man: 
 
25 or 6 to 4:

https://youtu.be/7uAUoz7jimg

The full Tanglewood  concert:

The Early Modern #Witch Burning Stronghold #MondayBlogs

A look into the city of Bamberg, Germany: The Early Modern Witch Burning Stronghold

History... the interesting bits!

Today I would like to extend a warm and hearty welcome to Laura Libricz, with my first ever guest blog post. Thank you to Laura for taking the time to write this wonderful article on witchcraft in Germany. Over to Laura:

Bamberg, Germany: The Early Modern Witch Burning Stronghold

Kirche-und-Teufel Kirche und Teufel

Throughout the dark ages, Christianity had difficulties setting down roots among the Germanic tribes. Stories are told of saints who came to the German people and destroyed sacred trees and mystical places in order to show the people that their gods had no power. Even after Christianity took hold and the Catholic Church was established in the Germanic territories of the Holy Roman Empire, evidence shows that the Germanic people held onto their beliefs in goddesses, magic, herbal remedies, and pagan practices.

Persecution of heathens and witches was regular but not widespread in Germany in the medieval period…

View original post 1,161 more words

The Wild Kitchen #amcooking #herbs

Picture courtesy of http://www.kraeuter-verzeichnis.de/

Bärlauch: ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaf garlic, bear garlic, or bear leek

This time of year, the days are discernibly longer and in the evening, the blackbird sings alone on the rooftop. I watch the plants grow day for day, like my patch of Bärlauch. I stop by every morning to see how it’s coming along. This is going to be a good year for Bärlauch.

     Native to Europe and Asia, ramsons or wild garlic (Allium ursinum) was used by the Romans as a healing herb. The sulfurous substance Alliin oxidizes when the leaves are chopped, forming the medically effective Allicin, a naturally occurring antibiotic.

     The leaves need to be picked before they get too old. Once the plants bloom, the leaves lose some of their healing properties. But we have a few weeks until that happens. Actually, in Germany, wild garlic is on the Red List of endangered plants and it’s not really legal to pick it if you come across it alongside a creek. The leaves also bear a strong resemblance to the poisonous Lily of the Valley, so please be careful if you are out on a nature hike.  

Lily of the Valley
     Last year, stores were carrying fresh wild garlic. It’s hard to cultivate and it is expensive. In the garden, you need an undisturbed area, shady and damp, where leaves have settled over the winter and no overzealous gardener has been hacking with their hoe. No problem, we have lots of ‘undisturbed areas.’ 
     The saying goes that bears come out of their winter hibernation and search for wild garlic. They eat the leaves and dig for the roots. After a long winter sleep, wild garlic regulates digestion, is used to counter flatulence, stimulates appetite, and sinks the blood pressure. Traditionally, wild garlic was used to treat intestinal parasites: worms. 
     What do I do with it, then? The leaves are chopped and used fresh, like you would use chives. I’ve read that the leaves can be frozen, but I haven’t tried that. In order to preserve them, I chop the leaves and add and ample amount of cold extracted olive oil and some salt. That keeps in the refrigerator for quite some time, usually until I can’t bear to eat anymore of it. We top noodles with this like pesto, or mix it with cream cheese for a lovely dip with some roasted red pepper. A tablespoon can be stirred into a beef stew or vegetable soup. Or smeared on the bread of your ham sandwich. (Only if you don’t have to work the next day.) 

I’m all ears (or eyes). Share your favorite recipe with me!