Those pesky one-liners that are clever subtitles on book covers have become the bane of my existence!  Take my entire book and write just one sentence about it—are you kidding me?!  I can’t even write a book with fewer than 100,000 words—well, at least, not yet—and I’m supposed to distill the story down into a few words.  I don’t think I have what it takes.

When I send email updates to family and friends, they’re the longest emails in their inboxes and I almost hear a collective groan when they see who it’s from.  My daughter suggested I write some short stories (less than 7000 words) and I cringed inside.  I can’t even begin to think that short—my brain wants to keep going—expand!  Expand!  Never delete!  Keep going forward!  More!  More!  More!

Anyway, it was four o’clock in the morning and there I was with browser windows open to infinity looking for quotes, thoughts and musings that would complement my story.  I read articles about taglines and how important they can be.  I tried looking at book covers that had taglines—searching for inspiration.  I searched poignant moments in the story, waiting for the aha! moment.  Which never came.

Souvenir Thimble of Abbotsford
Souvenir Thimble of Abbotsford

I told my daughter that it felt like I was trying to take my story—now wadded into a biiiiig ball of paper—and set it on top of a thimble.  Try to picture me giving my all to shove that ball of paper into the thimble!  Of course, that doesn’t work, so I scale the massive wad and jump up and down on it!  And that works, right?  Um…nope.  Flattened thimble.

And I’m back to square one.

Never say die!  I want to be clever, too.  I decide I need a slogan.  Like in a commercial.  Short and sweet.  And to the point.  Believe it or not, I found a slogan generator online.  Cool!  I typed in a word, clicked the button and it said, “Winter – A Class of its Own.”  Okay, try again.  “Have a break, have a summer!”  Hmmm.  After a few rounds of that, I gave up.  They sounded more like a—well, a commercial, and I realized that wasn’t the way to go.

So here I sit twenty-four hours later and I’m back where I started, trying to think of a tagline for the book.  I’m tired and my brain is fried.  As I close my laptop and shut off the light, I realize I’m faced with a desperate choice.  I’ll either have to get better at writing taglines or forget it altogether.  I think I’ll just run to the store later to buy another thimble…

When Pepper Was Gold

While I was writing Forsaken, I did a lot of research.  A lot.  How the medieval world obtained pepper, salt and other spices was part of that research.  It was fascinating how something we don’t give much thought to was as costly as gold.


I’ll admit it.  We love pepper…a lot of people do.  We actually wore out a Peugeot pepper mill in just two years.  Everyone has access to pepper.  Everyone buys pepper, but we never stop to think how precious a commodity it was in times past.  We run to the store and buy a tin or a plastic shaker bottle—or peppercorns if you like grinding your own.  It’s inexpensive as spices go, but that hasn’t always been the case.  It was so valuable at one time, that the desire for pepper and other spices changed the course of world history.

Originally, pepper, like other spices, made its way west by way of trading.  The grower sold it to Trader A, who took it some distance where Trader B bought it and carried it further west.  Each time it was sold, the price went up.  By the time the pepper and spices reached the ends of Western Europe, it was so expensive that only Kings and wealthy nobles could afford it.  Spices became a status symbol—the Ferraris of their day.

Pharaoh Ramses II obviously loved pepper.  He must have, otherwise he wouldn’t have had peppercorns shoved up his nose after he died.  Not a very appetizing thought (as you stand at the stove with a pepper mill in your hand), but it did show that the Egyptians revered the little black peppercorn we generally take for granted.

The Greeks and Romans used pepper, too, and there seem to be many Roman recipes that contain pepper.  I read somewhere that when Hannibal rode his elephants through the Alps into Italy, he demanded more than one ton of pepper as a ransom.  I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s a lot of pepper!  And remember, the Romans used salt as a form of currency—it was a good thing if a soldier was “worth his weight in salt.”

By the time of the Middle Ages, a trade route had been established from India to Italy, which took about a year to make round trip and for more than a thousand years, Italy had a stranglehold on the pepper trade.  The Portuguese decided they’d had enough of the exorbitant prices and Italy’s monopoly.  They found a way to India by sailing around the tip of Africa.  Monopolies, however, are tricky things to maintain and even harder to keep.  Smugglers found ways around the trade routes and through the blockades.  By the 17th century, Portugal had lost its monopoly to the Dutch and English.

Back to the Middle Ages.  The Crusaders brought back many items from the Near East never before seen in their home country; fruits like apricots and lemons, perfumes and soaps, rice and pistachios.  Pepper was a luxury item, as were many spices.  They were costly.  What delicious fun to one-up high ranking guests by having an especially rare spice used in the dishes prepared for the meal!  Herbs and spices also improved the flavor of salted meats kept for winter use.

It’s amazing to think about how something as simple and seemingly insignificant as a peppercorn could influence history.  And yet, it did.

~ FORSAKEN ~ Released!

forsakenfinalMy medieval romance, FORSAKEN, has been released!


To all who knew him, Dane de Falaise is a dead man.  Hiding behind a mask, he becomes the Black Falcon, a man without a home, a name, or fealty to any man.  Both hunted and feared, he travels the countryside, searching relentlessly for the one who slaughtered those he loved and changed his life forever.


Taking her sister’s place, Morynha de Montbrai is kidnapped by a menacing, black garbed knight and becomes a pawn in a sinister game.  As she and her captor struggle to find common ground, Morynha must teach Dane that some things are more important than revenge.  Will they find a fierce, burning love born from the seeds of their hatred and mistrust—or will they discover that, when the good in man is over taken by evil, they are left with nothing?

Ebook available at Smashwords and other online retailers!  Amazon coming soon!