Sunday, July 23, 2017

Exciting Day for #OurAuthorGang

It is such an exciting day for Our Author Gang!
Our books were chosen by the Judges & Readers as
Finalists in the Golden Quill Award Contest.


Historical Fiction

War is coming to Saxon Briton.
As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.
Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.
Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves. Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?

Historical Fantasy

Morana waited centuries for the chance to reunite with her beloved Joland and gain the power to rule the ancient clan that still exist hidden among us with its strict hierarchy, deadly rules and traditions. Ilona doesn’t know that she was chosen to stop Morana’s evil plan. She doesn't know about her heritage besides legends and rituals when begins to remember her mother’s instructions concealed as rhymes and is unaware that her pleasant life as a doctor is about to change and she will be thrown into a dangerous world filled with secrets. The discovery of her healing power and ability to freeze time is exciting and frightening. A sinister man appears, and Ilona connects his presence with the series of mysterious deaths around her. She has been in love with her unsuspecting best friend when she meets a stranger. She is drawn to him and confused by the sudden magnetic feeling.

Heroic Fantasy

This time around, Dorgo falls in love with a witch known as The Girl Who Loved Ghouls, battles creatures from another dimension, and meets one very special cat named Crystal. It’s also the first time he hears about the ancient death cult — the Order of the Serpent. Then, after a young woman is murdered and a mysterious book of arcane lore is stolen from her, Dorgo comes closer to learning more about the snake-worshiping Order. But first he must battle both humans and demons in order to find and destroy The Book of Echoes. Finally, when called upon to help a young girl trapped inside an evil spell, Dorgo must confront fiends born of dark sorcery as he tries to save her and destroy the undying warlock who is the leader of the Order of the Serpent. 

Military Romance

Richard Dempsey grew up in Acorn Hills. He was a star athlete and his prowess put many trophies in the cases that lined the halls of AHHS. Upon graduation, Richard and a classmate enlist in the Navy and are shipped to Vietnam.
War and its remnants are cruel, as he finds out. One of the lucky ones that survived, his turn in Vietnam changed him. He followed the suggestions of his commanders and tried counseling, but it didn’t work. His nightmares continued. Richard met with a couple friends for a few beers. The conversation turned to suggestions of flying across the world to modern day Saigon. He agreed, hoping to slay the dragons that continue haunting him.
Richard’s Relics, Book 5 of the Acorn Hills series, details the uglyness of PTSD, is filled with history of the Vietnam war, and a few surprises that emotionally engage you in this epic story.

Young Adult Fantasy

One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever
And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.
Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.
But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.



Blake McIntyre had held his position at Bankston Promotions for fifteen years. He is the top music artist promoter in the business. Potential clients by-passed the CEO’s daughter and sought out his expertise. He assumed that was why he was fired. With an interview scheduled in less than six hours, he needed sleep and to be on his A-game, but the wailing coming from the apartment across the hall prevented it. 
Renee Manelli, a frustrated musician, had worked twenty years as a paralegal. Her goal was to stockpile money, write songs, retire early, and hit the road performing. Her most creative time happened to be at 2 am. Her crystal-clear voice and messages in her songs make her the fastest rising independent artist in the country. 
A working relationship between Blake and Renee turned quickly into the personal journey of a lifetime under the stars and Moonlight & Music.

Military Romance

Richard Dempsey grew up in Acorn Hills. He was a star athlete and his prowess put many trophies in the cases that lined the halls of AHHS. Upon graduation, Richard and a classmate enlist in the Navy and are shipped to Vietnam.
War and its remnants are cruel, as he finds out. One of the lucky ones that survived, his turn in Vietnam changed him. He followed the suggestions of his commanders and tried counseling, but it didn’t work. His nightmares continued. Richard met with a couple friends for a few beers. The conversation turned to suggestions of flying across the world to modern day Saigon. He agreed, hoping to slay the dragons that continue haunting him.
Richard’s Relics, Book 5 of the Acorn Hills series, details the uglyness of PTSD, is filled with history of the Vietnam war, and a few surprises that emotionally engage you in this epic story.

Guest Author Bobby Nash #OurAuthorGang

 Our guest author today is Bobby Nash

Although he doesn’t run around getting into shootouts, car chases, or adventures himself, author Bobby Nash spends his days writing about heroes who do, like Abraham Snow and his friends.

Bobby is an award-winning author of novels, comic books, short stories, novellas, graphic novels, and the occasional screenplay for a number of publishers and production companies. Bobby was named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards. Rick Ruby, a character co-created by Bobby and author Sean Taylor also snagged a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Pulp Character of 2013. Bobby has also been nominated for the 2014 New Pulp Awards and Pulp Factory Awards for his work. Bobby's novel, Alexandra Holzer's Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt won a Paranormal Literary Award in the 2015 Paranormal Awards. The Bobby Nash penned episode of Starship Farragut "Conspiracy of Innocence" won the Silver Award in the 2015 DC Film Festival. Bobby is a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers.

For more information on Bobby Nash and his work, please visit him at Learn more about SNOW at

What inspired you to start writing? 

I fell in love with adventure stories as a child and wanted to experience my own adventures. I started crafting story ideas and eventually started writing them down. As I got older, I started to take it more seriously and kept on writing. Eventually, I found a publisher, then another, and so on. Now, writing is my career and I love it. I’m still not where I want to be, and there’s still some literary mountains to climb, but I’m loving the journey and still seeking adventure.

What genre do you write?

I have written many genres, but I tend to gravitate toward crime fiction. The beauty of writing crime fiction is that is easily mixes with other genres, which is a whole lot of fun for me.

Abraham Snow's career ended with a single shot, but now he’s back behind the wheel and looking for a saboteur.
The Chambers Racing team hires Snow Security Consulting to get to keep their people and equipment safe and to get to the bottom of whoever is trying to put them out of business and why.
Archer Snow volunteers Abraham Snow and Big John Salmon as part of the pit crew. Can they keep the team's young hothead out of trouble long enough to stop the saboteur before the next race?
Meanwhile, an old enemy sets her sights on Snow when a bounty is placed on his head.
SNOW DRIVE is the third book in the continuing adventures of Abraham Snow.

Abraham Snow was excited.

He hadn’t been to the racetrack in years. The last time he had visited the Atlanta Motor Speedway, his dad had surprised him, Douglas, and Samantha with tickets. He had agreed to take the kids to the races to give their mom a much-needed day off.

Or so they had been told at the time. Snow would later learn that his mother had stopped taking her medication and was having issues dealing with things. When this happened, Snow’s grandfather, Archer would step in to help. Like everyone else, Laura Snow loved the old man and listened to his soothing words. It was the exact opposite reaction she had to her husband, Dominic.

Snow and his dad rarely saw eye to eye, even when Snow was a kid. He couldn’t put his finger on the reason their relationship was strained, but it had been as long as he could remember. No matter who was at fault, and Snow admitted that there was enough blame to go around, there was one thing that he and his dad had in common.

They both loved the races.

Since he had returned to Georgia after retiring from his previous profession, Abraham and Dominic Snow had given one another a wide berth. They were civil when they saw one another, but there was definitely a chill in the air. Not surprising as things had been chilly between them for a couple of decades.

When Archer Snow, who was not only Abraham’s grandfather and Dominic’s father, but also the owner of Snow Security Consulting, ergo, their boss, asked them both to accompany him to the Atlanta Motor Speedway to meet with one of their clients, they both agreed to be on their best behavior.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Guest Author KJ Waters #OurAuthorGang

KJ Waters

KJ Waters is the author of the #1 best-seller Stealing Time and the short-story Blow. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, was just published on June 27, 2017 and the next day reached #6 on the UK Amazon site, and was #2 as a hot new release for one category, seating neatly after Michael Crichton’s Dragon Teeth.  
In addition to her writing, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit.
She has a Master’s in Business and over 15 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.

What inspired you to start writing?

My favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, has a book called the Outlandish Companion where she described her somewhat haphazard way of writing a story. It inspired me to give it a try, with the pressure of a structured story removed, and I found my way to the bookstore to find some writing guides. 

What genre do you write?
I write in a Romantic Suspense genre, but it’s more of a mixture of Historic Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Sci-Fi. It involves a lot of elements that I really enjoy writing. Because it’s time travel I get to include whatever points in time I’m intrigued by and it’s set during the hurricanes of 2004 in Florida. 

I invite you to check out my Stealing Time Series so you can experience the power of the storm: Here is one recent review: Shattering Time is a page turner, and for that reason is a quick read. I definitely recommend it, even to those who never thought they would enjoy time travel fiction. Oddly enough, I only recognized the complexity of the characters after I completed the book and let it all sink in.

The number one best-selling thriller Stealing Time continues its “breathtakingly original” journey.

Ronnie Andrews returns from eighteenth-century London shell-shocked from her first terrifying time travel encounter. Her boyfriend, Jeffrey Brennan, casts doubt on her sanity leaving Ronnie wondering if she went back in time or is having a mental breakdown.

To add to the tension, Hurricane Frances, a storm the size of Texas, is barreling towards Florida and her fears of a repeat time travel experience mount. Ronnie’s best friend Steph, along with her friend Nick and Steph’s younger brother Ian, shield Ronnie from the dangers of Frances but cannot save her from traveling back in time. Unfortunately, their meddling brings Ronnie to the brink of destruction as they are caught in the throes of the hurricane’s wrath.

Once again, Ronnie is transported to dangerous places and plagued with desperate situations, while experiencing perilous cultures including one of America’s first mysteries -- the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. 

A stunning conclusion brings Ronnie face to face with a dangerous ally who may hold the key to her past while offering salvation for her future. 

Please check out my #1 Best Selling short story, Blow, on Amazon here: It has 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Here is one short review: Action packed short story about the intensity of Hurricane Ivan. I was so immersed in the tale, I had to look up to check that my roof was still there once I had finished. Waters is a great story teller!

Please sign up for my newsletter on my website ( and see my weekly sales and contests. I’m always offering ways to win copies of my books, and other special sneak peeks. I’m also offering a Goodread’s Giveaway here of my latest release – (Starts July 10)

Friday, July 21, 2017

THE VIKINGS #OurAuthorGang



On July 7, 1974, when I was 20 years old, I tried my hand at some Nordic verse, inspired by all the movies and books I had read. 

Cast off the gauntlet and hang up the sword,
Tell our women and children we have conquered their horde.
Stoke up the hearth fires and break out the ale,
Listen now closely whilst I tell ye the tale . . .
They came out of the night to pillage and plunder,
The sound of their oaths was the roaring of thunder.
Through field and through forest they burned and they slew,
But the raiders were many and our warriors few.
Our enemies spread death as they swept through our land,
Spilling rivers of blood as we made one last stand.
They raped our young women and slaughtered the old,
Their crimes were too many to even be told.
But word quickly spread and our friends took up arms,
Coming to join us from towns and from farms.
We gathered together where the Vikings made shore,
They would pay with their lives, this we all swore.
We attacked them at dawn whilst they readied to sail,
We gave them a battle that made their hearts quail.
We kissed them with steel and embraced them with death,
No chance did we give them to even draw breath.
'Twas Erik the Tall who sounded the charge
And now he lies dead on the funeral barge.
But mighty was he and he held to his ground --
It took more than one foe to cut Erik down.
The sight of bold Ragnar riding off into doom
Filled me with pride and touched me with gloom.
His sword flashed like fire, dealing death to our foes,
But at last he was felled by their murderous blows.
And there, too, was Gunnar, swinging his axe,
He cut through our foes as if they were wax.
Then did he fall and was seen nevermore,
As down from Valhalla, Odin's tears they did pour.
I shall never forget the rage of that fight,
The cries of the dying still haunt me each night.
Many brave men lie in sweet endless sleep,
Like rain are the tears their families did weep.
The sun was a witness to that terrible day,
When good men were forced to fight and to slay.
The sky was a shroud that covered the Earth,
And each of us learned what a man's life is worth.
We fought 'til our arms were as heavy as lead,
We fought 'til the Earth was covered with dead.
When at last it was over and we stood by the sea,
I wept for my sons -- those glorious three.
Now I pray that I die with sword in my hand,
Whilst fighting to rid our foes from our land.
I pray that I'm worthy of Lord Odin's praise,
When the Valkyries come at the end of my days.

"Death of a Viking Warrior," by Charles Earnest Butler, 1909

"The Vikings," by Joe Bonadonna. Copyright © 1974 Joe Bonadonna

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gaining Exposure Through Book Awards #OurAuthorGang

How To Gain Exposure Through Book Awards

By Mackenzie Flohr

One of the ways you can help your book get more exposure is through book award contests. These contests help get your materials out to people who may have never known about you or your book, and can ultimately lead to a frenzy of media exposure.

It gives your book a new sense of creditability. For example, it may perk a reader's interest, who otherwise would have skipped over your book due to you being an unknown, enough to give your book a try.

This can lead to more sales and even bestseller status. And, if you end up one of the winners, it can also lead towards finding agents, publishers, movie/television offers, as well as help convince book sellers to carry your book in their store(s).

What To Watch Out For:

Before applying, make sure to do your research. While it may seem like entering multiple contests is a great idea, you want to make sure these are:
  1. Not one where everyone automatically earns a badge/prize because they entered.
  2. Has a high cost to enter.
  3. Is reputable and real. 
For example, my first book award contest, which shall be nameless, was a contest where the winner was supposed to be announced at a conference.
To this day, I still don't know who won. There were no badges, no announcements of runner ups, nor any congratulations mentioned on any of this site's social media platforms. It was as if this contest never existed. (Maybe it really didn't).

Contests The Rite of Wands Currently Appears In:

Some of the contests I'm excited to be participating this year include: 
  • Golden Quill Awards (I'm a semifinalist)
  • 2017 Summer Indie Awards
  • Reality Bites Magazine 2017 Book Awards
What Are Some Good Contests To Enter:

According to Scott Lorenz, President of the PR and marketing firm, Westwind Communications, some of the top book awards contests in 2017 for indie authors include: 
  • The National Book Critics Circle Awards
  • Indies Choice Book Awards
  • The National Indie Excellence Book Awards
  • IndieFab Awards

Where to get your copy of The Rite of Wands signed next:

(Left to right: Carol Ochadleus, Mackenzie Flohr at Fenton Open Book)

Mackenzie will be taking a hiatus from #OurAuthorGang blog for the next couple weeks as she travels to Rust City Book Con (Troy, MI) , Once Upon A Book Con (Frankenmuth, MI) , Swartz Creek Art Fair (Swartz Creek, MI) and Kerrytown Book Feast (Ann Arbor, MI) to sign copies of The Rite of Wands.  

Where You Can Purchase My Book

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tips to Promote Your Book #OurAuthorGang

Picture credit: free image from

Book Marketing: Three Tips to Promote Your Book(s)
Without Alienating Readers

By N.N. Light

You’ve just published a book. Congratulations! You’ve done something that many have tried and few have succeeded. Give yourself a pat on the back… then put on your thinking cap. It’s time for the next step: promoting your book.

Book promotion is something most authors dread. I get that and I’m here to help. Being an author myself, I know how overwhelming it is to sell and market your book. In today’s publishing market, both traditional and indie authors are expected to promote and be active on social media.

As my first post on A Small Gang of Authors I thought I’d share some book promotion tips with you today. Who am I? My name is Mrs. N and I’m one-half of the pen name N. N. Light (my husband is the other half). I am a social media marketer by trade and I have the social media reach of over forty-five million. I’ve been in the book industry for over twenty-six years and I specialize in matching books to readers. In addition, I’m the author of four books (with more on the way) and I firmly believe in authors helping authors succeed.

Below are my three tried-and-true tips to promoting your book(s) without alienating readers. The key to effective book promotion is to balance your selling of your wares with connecting with your followers/readers.

Tip #1:
Be a real live person. In the digital age, robots and automation are everywhere. Don’t be a talking billboard on social media. Don’t scream at the top of your lungs, “BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!” Instead, connect with your followers and take an actual interest in their lives. Say hello and talk about things that interest you.

When I first joined Twitter, I had no followers. I started following people who shared similar interests. I soon had a following and made connections. I built a trust with my followers and laid a foundation that’s more valuable than money. Sure, it was a slow process but these same followers are still with me today.

Love to bake, shop, hunt, travel or another hobby? Talk about it online. Intersperse news about your writing and books with what you like to do in your free time. Your following will soon grow and readers will connect with you, the person.

Tip #2:
Pick three social media outlets and be consistent. Every day, a new social media outlet pops up. It’s hard to keep up. I mean, who has time to tweet, pin, facebook, tsu, post pics on Instagram, etc? I surely don’t. Readers want consistency so here’s my advice: pick three social media outlets that work for you. For me, it’s my blog, Twitter and Pinterest. I post to my blog every day (Monday through Friday), tweet 24/7 and add pins to my Pinterest boards at least once a week.

My followers know that if they want to connect with me, the first place they do it is Twitter. It’s my go-to platform and I’m always on there. I’m a social butterfly and I love how Twitter is like a global social club. I meet people from all over the world, get news I can’t get elsewhere and connect with people I’m interested in. I can share my thoughts on a topic without having to explain myself. If I have news to share (whether personal or professionally), it goes out to my followers and even strangers (when I use the right hashtags).

My blog is my secret weapon. Secret weapon? Yes! Every day, I create new content online and Google grabs it, sorts it and ranks it. Through SEO (Search Engine Optimization), I’m able to help Google get my writing into the hands of readers. Since I started blogging, my followers have sky-rocketed.

Authors underestimate how powerful a tool a blog can be. Not only can you have one place where you can promote your book(s), the more you write, the higher your blog gets ranked by Google. Think about it for a second. Every time you post something on your blog, your writing goes out into the world. If you post twice a week for a whole year, that’s 104 sales pitches for you as a writer and author.

Sales pitches? 

Yes, sales pitches. Each time you write a blog post, it’s a sales pitch for someone to read, secretly disguised as an inspirational thought, writing tip, recipe, book review, vacation memories, holiday remembrance, etc. Someone who’s never heard of you will run across your blog post and read your writing.

What happens next will be up to your writing. If your writing inspires/moves the reader, they’ll comment, follow your blog or even check out your book(s).

The best thing about using your blog to showcase your writing is that it’s absolutely free. It doesn’t cost you a thing and the results will astound you.

Remember one important thing about social media: be consistent. No matter what social media platform you use, be consistent. You don’t have to post every day like me. Find what works for you and do it. If it’s only once a week or once every two weeks, that’s fine. Just let your followers know what the schedule is so they’re in the loop. If they think you’ve abandoned them, they’ll leave and won’t come back.

Tip #3:
Use graphics in your promotion. Studies show that 76% more readers will click-through to check out your book(s) if a graphic/photo accompanies your blog posts/tweet/update. Readers are visual creatures and one way to pique their interest is to create a quote graphic.

Find a compelling quote that will draw readers in. Create a graphic using one of the many software applications available (Photoshop, Adobe, Canva, etc) and save it to your computer/device. I have a folder with all the graphics I’ve used for my books so it’s easy to post to Twitter/Pinterest/Blog.

I can’t stress this enough, use graphics in Twitter and on your blog. Trust me, you’ll get more readers intrigued with a visual aid than by saying you have a book for sale.

Readers will be more likely to buy your book(s) if you have established a connection and they trust you. I’ve built trust as an authentic author/blogger/reviewer and readers trust me when I tell them something is great.

I hope these tips have helped you to see that book promotion is not only essential but fun, too.  You’ve done the hard stuff, writing and publishing the book. Promotion is sharing your writing with the world while building your brand.

Sharing Time: What do you struggle with the most when it comes to book promotion? I’d love to hear from you. I’m happy to answer any and all questions, too. If you prefer, you can email me.

Author Bio: N.N. Light is the best-selling husband-wife writing team, commonly known as Mr. N and Mrs. N. Mrs. N. has been creating stories ever since she was little. Her grandfather remembers when she was two years old, she would stand at the top of the stairs and tell him a story filled with emotion (and in a language foreign to him) with her hands on her hips. Let’s just say she was a born storyteller.

They’re blissfully happy and love all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports, trains, history, cooking and baking. Their mantra is to spread the Light.

Most of the time you can find them on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest. They’re a proud member of ASMSG and Independent Author Network.

Subscribe to their author newsletter and you'll be eligible to win $5 Amazon gift card monthly:

In addition to being authors, they’re also book promoters/reviewers, social media marketers/influencers and the owners of N. N. Light Author Promotions. They both love books, have ever since they were young. Matching up books and readers is something that gives them great pleasure.

They’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites:
Amazon Author Page:
Independent Author Network:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Hometown, Sarospatak #OurAuthorGang

Sarospatak will always be my hometown
no matter where I choose to live.
by Erika M Szabo

I grew up in this lovely historical town, Sárospatak, in northern Hungary of the Bodrog river valley.
The area has been inhabited since ancient times and Sárospatak was granted town status in 1201 by King Emeric. Today the town is a tourist attraction and an important cultural center.
The Rakoczi var's ground was one of my favorite playgrounds when I was a kid. We played the wargame with my friends and defended the castle against the Habsburgs with toy swords and muskets.

The cultural center was beautifully rebuilt after I moved away. I have fond memories from my childhood researching in the library and enjoying the wide variety of programs in the theater.  

I found this picture of people relaxing in the cultural center's plaza. 

The waterpark is a major tourist attraction today. When I was a kid, there was only one pool where people relaxed in the hot thermal water that is known to ease arthritis pain. 
There is a beautiful tradition every year when the town celebrates the patron saint, St. Erzsebet's life. People dress up in costumes and reenact Erzsebet's life from birth to her death.

Hungarians have a special bond with horses and there is rarely a celebration without them.

Even Santa comes to town with the Krampuses on horseback.

The novella I published last year plays out in Sarospatak. Jayden, an archeologist from New York is fascinated by Hungarian history and participating in an important dig in Sarospatak. His sister, Emily, decides to spend her summer vacation from medical school in their grandmother's home and joins her brother. By coincident or fate, she meets her childhood playmate, Daniel, at the airport. Daniel never forgot his first love and they rekindle their bond on the long flight to Budapest. Emily meets her excited brother and Jayden tells her that he found a leather book in his grandmother's secret room. the book was written in 426 by a shaman. Emily can read the ancient runes, and they learn about their family's curse. They also find out that the curse cast by their ancestor remains unbroken, it will bring tragedy and ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries. Will they find the way to break the ancient curse? Could Emily find happiness with her childhood friend, Daniel?

Find this eBook in online stores:

Or download the eBook from my bookstore:

Excerpt from the novella:
Emily woke from a jumbled dream about the happy summers she spent with her grandma and Daniel. In her dream, she saw bits and pieces. For a few seconds they were riding the neighbors’ horses in the woods, and next, they were swimming in the river and rescued the tiny kittens that a cruel woman threw into the water. They played soccer on the field with Daniel’s friends and then snuck out of the coffee shop without paying for the pastries.

Emily turned to Daniel who was looking at her, smiling, and asked, “Do you remember the cream puffs? We never paid for them.”

Daniel laughed, “Oh, yes! I felt so guilty that the next day I broke into my piggy bank and went back to pay for them. Good morning, by the way,”

“Where are my manners? Good morning,” Emily replied.

The flight attendant started serving breakfast and announced that they would land in about an hour.
The time passed quickly, and, sipping their coffee, they felt the great plane begin to descend. Soon they saw Budapest from bird view, and the Danube River separating Buda and Pest. Daniel handed his camera to Emily and asked her to take a few pictures as the plane circled the city before taking the position for the final descent to the airport.

The landing was smooth and everyone thanked the captain and flight crew for the safe flight by clapping and cheering. After the plane had taxied into the arrival deck, the passengers started gathering their bags and left the plane.

After getting their luggage, Emily turned her phone on and texted her brother. “I’m here.” Jayden texted back. Emily, feeling a slight disappointment about parting with Daniel, texted back, “I’ll be out shortly.”

She turned to Daniel and said, “Jayden made it. I guess I don’t need to take you up on your offer.”

“Too bad, I was hoping we could ride together, but can we have dinner at my house? I’ll cook,” he asked with a smile.

“I’d like that,” Emily answered, and with a twinkle in her eyes, she said, “You cook? You’re a keeper, then.” She blushed as soon as the words left her mouth, “I mean… I didn’t mean to make it sound like that; it was just grandma… she always said that a man who cooks is a keeper.”

"I remember your grandma’s wise words and her wooden spoon too.” He laughed and continued,       "She was very quick about slapping our butts with her long-handled spoon when we stepped over the line of her rules.”

“Yes, she was strict.” Emily giggled and said, “But we learned to follow her rules quickly.”

“Emily!” She heard Jayden’s voice, and when she looked in his direction, she saw her brother standing by the door, unshaven and disheveled in faded jeans and dusty sneakers.
Emily hugged him and then took a step back, “I guess you didn’t have time to shower. You stink!” She grimaced.

“Sorry, I didn’t want to waste time,” he said. And then he noticed Daniel standing a few feet from them asked, “Who’s the guy?”

Emily motioned for Daniel to come closer, “This is Daniel. Do you remember? He was grandma’s neighbor, and we played together when we were kids.”

“Oh, yeah!” Jayden extended his hand, “How are you doing man?”

Daniel accepted his handshake, saying, “I’m doing fine. We ran into each other at the airport. I’m going to start medical school in the fall in New York.”

“Great, nice to see you,” Jayden answered hurriedly and turned to Emily, “Let’s go. I have so much to tell you.”

Emily and Daniel exchanged phone numbers. Emily promised to be at Daniel’s house at seven, and then they parted.
Jayden hurried toward the parking garage, pulling Emily’s luggage.

“Slow down, Jay,” Emily cried out as she lagged behind with her carry-on bag. “I can’t keep up if you’re running like that.”

“Sorry.” Jayden looked back and slowed down, “I’m so eager to show you what I’ve found.”

“What is it?” Emily tried to catch her breath.

“It’s a kind of book, leather sheets sewn together. It’s written with ancient runes. I think the letters were burned into the leather. I should’ve learned from Grandma to read it, like you did.”

“That’s so exciting.” Emily started walking faster. “Did you bring it with you?”

“Yes, it’s in the car, I thought you could start translating it on the ride home. Here is my car in this row.”

They reached the old Porsche that was their grandma’s car and Jayden packed Emily’s luggage into the trunk. He reached into the back and pulled a duffel bag from the back seat. He opened the zipper and took out a package wrapped in old-looking leather sheets. When Jayden unwrapped it, inside she saw what was indeed a book, made of leather sheets sewn together.

Jayden handed it to Emily and asked, “What do you think?”

She fingered the soft leather, “It’s old and still so pliable,” she mused. “Look, the Sacred Turul is burned into the cover.”

“May the sacred Turul guide and protect us,” they chanted the ancient line that every Hun whispered when they saw a falcon, alive or in a picture. The spirit of the falcon called Turul in ancient Hun mythology is the protector of the Huns for eternity.

Emily got into the passenger seat, opened the book, and scanned the pages. Jayden started the engine and pulled out of the parking space. The traffic was heavy in the city, but soon they were driving northeast on the smooth highway.

“So, what do you think?” Jayden asked.

“Wow! Let me read it.” Emily turned to the first page and started translating.

I am Zoan, the humble Shaman of the Roaring Falcon tribe. I’m going to write Aisa’s story in details with the hope that the descendants of Aisa could read this and break the powerful curse in the future. It happened on the third moon of the year 426, the events that led to Tuana’s curse. The day Aisa was forced to leave her happy childhood behind and take the reality and responsibilities of adulthood.
Emily lowered the book to her lap and turned to her brother, “Jay, could this be written so long ago?”
“I think so, or rather hope so. Please read on.”

Emily lifted the book, and said, “I’m winging it here because I’m not familiar with this word átokja, but I think it is the old version of átok, which means curse. Also, there is another phrase— akarata erősségje. I think it means powerful.”

“Just do your best and you can do a more detailed translation later.”

“Okay, here it goes.”
Aisa, unaware of her fate, gave her horse a gentle squeeze with her knees, to run faster. Willow zigzagged between the jurtas that were lined up in a semicircle, leaving a broad plaza in the middle. Aisa glanced up at the tall wooden pole that stood in the center of the square. It had intricate designs carved into it and was painted with brilliant colors. On top of it was a giant carved falcon, standing with wings open wide, as if it was getting ready to take flight. Oh, I’m so late; my mother is going to kill me, she thought and prompted her horse to run faster. An old woman who was carrying firewood stopped and shook her head in disapproval. “These youngsters are riding like demons,” she mumbled, looking after Aisa.

Aisa reached her home. She slid off the mare’s back in a hurry and fastened the horse’s rein to a wooden pole. Her breaths came in short puffs, and her rosy cheeks glistened with perspiration. She patted the horse’s neck, gave her an armful of hay, and poured fresh water from a leather bag that hung on the pole into a clay bowl. She whispered, “I have to hurry, but I’ll be back soon, Willow, promise.”

She hurried up to the entrance of the tent-like building, called Jurta, with a few long strides. She parted her kaftan-like dark blue overcoat, pulled up her baggy trousers, and smoothed her white tunic that her mother had adorned with delicate flower designs. Aisa pulled the leather entrance cover aside with a heavy sigh, and she braced herself mentally for the long lecture that she knew she must endure.

As usual, she was late for her herbal lessons with her mother, a beautiful, statuesque, dark-haired woman who slowly rose from a curved sofa-like piece of furniture. Soft light coming from the opening at the ceiling shone on her green, delicately-decorated calf-length tunic that she wore with loose black trousers. Her hair was braided with thin leather thongs and hugged her shoulders.
Aisa took off her boots and placed them by the entrance. She winced when Mara’s high-pitched, angry voice hit her like a whip. “You are late, again, young lady! Didn’t I tell you to be home by the time the sun reaches the head of the Falcon? Look!” she pointed at the pole through the door.

Aisa quickly let the leather curtain slide back to cover the door, dutifully bowed, and whispered, “Yes, Mother. Sorry, Mother.”

She always wanted to please her mother, she really did, but she could rarely live up to her expectations. Luckily, Mara’s anger and lectures were as brief as summer storms, so Aisa obediently stood by the entrance and lowered her eyelids to hide the playful twinkle in her eyes. Her long, black hair, which was braided in two rows, slid off her shoulders as she bowed her head, and she adjusted her delicately-woven horsetail headband that kept the stray hairs out of her face. Aisa took a hesitant step forward on the thick, wool carpet that covered the dirt floor of the Jurta.

“Where were you?”

“We were… I was… I got some herbs, too. Look!” Aisa hoped that she could divert her mother’s attention, so she quickly opened the leather pouch that contained some flowers that she had collected. Lying wasn’t in her nature, but concealing the truth a little by trailing the conversation away from the sensitive subject was widely used in her tribe, especially by teenagers.
Emily looked at Jayden with suspicion in her eyes. “Jay, where did you get this?”

“I found it in a secret room in grandma’s house. It was wrapped up and hidden in a wooden trunk with a bunch of other books and stuff. When I opened it I saw it was Hun writing and it made me angry that I couldn’t read it.”

“A secret room?” Emily mused. “I thought I knew every nook and cranny of grandma’s house. How did you find it?”

Jayden gave her an excited look and said, “A few days ago Aunt Julia asked me to fix the leak on the roof when the ceiling in the corner of the living room got wet after a long rain. When I was trying to figure out the location of the leak on the roof, I noticed that above that corner of the living room the guest bedroom seemed too small. So, after I fixed the shingles on the roof, I looked around carefully in the room. I couldn’t find anything, but when I knocked on the wall, it sounded different in one area about the size of a narrow door. So I kept searching and the only promising thing I found was a round shape, a darker spot about the size of a dime on the wooden floor close to the wall.”

“And?” Emily urged him, her interest peaking.  

“So, that small dark spot wasn’t smooth. The impression of a flying falcon was carved into it.
I pressed it with my finger and when nothing happened, I tried to push it and tap on it with different tools. I almost gave up when I remembered the ring that grandma gave me.” Jayden extended his left hand and showed it to Emily. “See? It looks like a seal and it has the Falcon on it. So, I pulled the ring off my finger and tried it. It perfectly fits into the grooves of the dark spot on the floor and when I turned the ring, the hidden door in the wall opened.”

“Wow! It’s so exciting! Did you tell Aunt Julia about it?”
“Nope, I searched when she went shopping.”

“Maybe she knows… So, what else is in the room?”

“There is a lot of stuff in there. Old clothes, bows and arrows, and I saw a beautiful leather saddle and statues. Lots of statues.”

“Why didn’t you take the book to the Museum?”

“Maybe one day, but it belongs to our family and I want to know what’s in it. You can translate the pages a whole lot faster and more accurately than anyone employed by the Historical Society.”

“But if you don’t submit it, you can’t even have the book dated. How can you be sure is authentic?”

“My girlfriend works at the lab and I gave her a piece of the leather covering and a corner of a page two days ago. She said she could run the test and keep it a secret.”

“Can you trust her?”

“Oh, yes. We met last summer when I was working here. I asked her to come with me to New York when I went home in the fall, but she turned me down. She said that she couldn’t leave her home and family. We kept in touch as friends and when I came back and we found out that neither of us had started a relationship with anyone else, we started dating again. Anyway, her future with the group depends on her keeping it a secret because she’s not allowed to do unauthorized tests. So, she will keep it a secret, trust me. Anyway, she doesn’t know what it is. I told her that I found the small pieces in grandma’s attic. I asked her to do the test as a private testing and don’t document it anywhere.”

“Are you sure she wouldn’t tell anyone?”

“I’m positive. She could lose her job doing unauthorized tests anyway. Would you read more?”

“Alright. Let me see.” Emily turned the leather page and continued reading.

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Enjoy some ancient music

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bastille Day celebrations

 by Cristina Grau

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
A few days ago we celebrated Bastille Day. 

As I mention in a previous post, I am in the Alps Maritimes, in the middle of nowhere. So, the celebrations here were nothing to talk about. They had nothing in Puget Theniers, which is the closest village to where I am staying. In the next town, they had fireworks, and that was it.

I was fortunate to have been in Paris in 2001 during Bastille Day, and what a great experience that was.

Bastille Day celebrates the uprise of the Parisian people against the monarchy.

Paris was rioting around the Bastille, which is a fortress used as a prison. Parisians had to pay exorbitant taxes, leaving them with no money for food or necessities. well most of the time, they did not even had the money to paid the taxes. They were starving, and they were sick and tire of living that way, and they blamed the monarchy (with good reason) for all their sufferings.
On July 14, 1789, the population was demanding the release of all the prisoners in the Bastille. And a bloody fight resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy. And this was the beginning of the French Revolution. 

And hopefully, you all know what happened to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. They both met their destiny under the guillotine. 

The French revolution lasted until 1799, when Napoleon Bonaparte led a Coup d’État, but that is another story.

In Paris, the celebrations start the night before with fireworks and the ball of the pompiers. = firefighters.

The hostel I was staying is in the Latin quarters, and on the 8th floor they have a big terrace with a 180° view, from Montparnasse to Montmartre, with the Eiffel Tower right in the center. Obviously, we all watched the fireworks from the terrace. And what a perfect spectacle it was, seeing the Eiffel tower lighted up in red, blue and white, and the display of the fireworks was beautiful.

Every fire department hosts a dance, and it was great, I danced the whole night till 5 am. After the dance, a shower, some breakfast and to attended the parade at 10 am. After that, it was very difficult to decide what to do. They had so many free shows, and they were all great, but I could only go to one, so I choose Swan Lake. And it only took about three hours in line to get a seat.  The ballet was great, even that by then it was difficult to stay awake, but I made it. 

It was a great experience and so much fun. 

After being up for two days partying, I slept all night and all day, but it was worth it. 

Arch of Triumph
 Palace of Versailles
While Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived in opulence, the country was starving.