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ARE YOU OFF-KILTER, SPUNKY?

Cat (right) Escorting Dog (left)

Do you find things slightly off-kilter? Not much, but just enough to cause a little internal unrest, perhaps causing a little emotional dizziness?

A black cat attached himself to the side of a little black dog and proceeded to escort him through the yard. Dogs are supposed to chase cats, right?

Another cat lay placidly in the yard while a bird swooped and threatened. She just turned her nose up at it. Has she lost her appetite for fowl?

Seems like everywhere you turn there are these pesky little anomalies.

Plans Slipping?

Have the scenes of your upcoming vacation become tilted? The promise of relaxation rolling down the beach, tumbling into the ocean?

Have your friends lost the bounce in their steps?

Fear of contracting a dread virus making you reluctant to try new adventures?

Here’s the answer! Read a book and get back on center. Let vivid characters, exciting romance, twisted plots, and puzzling mysteries carry you through to a happy ending.

Standing In My Shadow by C. S. Arnold has all the right ingredients. Copy and insert the following link into your browser for the ticket that you need to jump on the trailer. https://youtu.be/RmN10204Cw (You can skip the ad!)

Check out the website for all of my books: conniesarnold.com

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Now What Do I Do?

Bit off more than you could chew? In over your head? Up the creek without a paddle? Any of these old clichés fit? Now you’re in a pickle. Me, too.

Okay. I started out right. The correct character has been murdered; the vulnerable ones kidnapped; the two main characters have been identified. What a great beginning. Questions, questions with no answers.

Now in chapter 5, I’m bogged down, experiencing writers’ block. The scene is right, the police are set in motion, the main characters are experiencing emotional upheaval, but is now the right time to introduce additional antagonists that will cause more mystery and intrigue? Is it too soon to introduce a future love interest?

I can’t leave the newly-created characters wallowing in despair in their great room. There’s only so much coffee to offer, only so many details to consider. The plot has to move. I brought these fictional characters into existence, and it’s my responsibility to get them off center. I have to make a pathway out for these grieving, hand-wringing people. Gotta move!

The only way I know is to scotch the indecision and pretend I know what I’m doing. I do know how it’s going to end. I just don’t know exactly how I’m going to get out of the jam I’m in. I think I’ve tasted this jam before.

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A Little Excitement

Writing a book is a lonely journey which those of us who don’t require a lot of social interaction might finish to reach our destination: the last word of the last line in the last chapter. Finding just the right substitute word in the thesaurus might even be enough to carry us through to the next chapter. A bit of research into Google may open our minds to a whole new scene that is just the thing to spur us on. It doesn’t take much to excite us. We’re a simple lot.

Today I received some snail mail that just may be the thing to remove my writer’s block on my latest novel. The Library of Congress in the United States Copyright Office sent to me Certificates of Registrations on my books. What’s the big deal, you ask? I’m not sure, but it makes me feel official along with my books! Even if someone wanted to, they would be breaking the law to copy my work. It’s mine. I created it, and the United States Copyright Office says you can’t poach on my land. They say Connie S. Arnold owns these works. (I have it in writing.)

So my characters in The Patchwork Princess, Blaze the Dragon, Mudcat the Pirate, Dangerous Legacy, the Second Son, and Standing in My Shadow may now rest easy between the covers of their books.

Maybe I need to get out more, socialize, get a wider perspective. But here I sit with my computer on my lap, typing away.

What a Trip!

ReadersMagnet created a virtual booth platform from which 150 or so of their authors could have on-line booths. Now keep in mind that for the most part these writers are raw recruits. These authors may be experienced in writing, research, and editing; but computer-savvy?, not so much. Workshops were held on line to educate those of us participating in this new venture. It was successful only to the degree of the attendee’s understanding. The endeavor was dubbed Festival of Storytellers, and I think it is a great, ground-breaking idea.

After several failed attempts (on my part I hasten to add), I think I’ve got it! My author relations officer, Jam Comoyong, is most patient and knowledgeable. I went live from my Let’s Talk About Fairytales booth and had a blast. I had missed interacting with other readers and writers, and I got the opportunity to respond to those “chatting” with me during my live time. I must admit to nervousness at first; but as I talked about a subject that I like, the thoughts and words bubbled out. I can’t wait to do it again.

GUEST BLOGGER REVIEW FROM THE GOLDMAN AGENCY, NEW YORK, NY

Historical fiction novels may be best consumed in large gulps by me. There is no question that C. S. Arnold is a brilliant writer, and her plots are peppered with surprise spirals throughout the novel.

Dangerous Legacy, the Second Son  is a book that depicts life as reality, crafting multiple stories of major and minor characters, molding them all together into a story that holds a reader’s interest with mild tension, and a desire to see what happens to the people who inhabit the book’s pages. It is also where the references should end because there is no doubt that Ms. Arnold can stand on her own. Dangerous Legacy is a compelling story, one worth the time to read slowly.

Bottom line: Excellent writing with a plot based on WWll, with characters that leap off the pages and allow you to get to know them.

Historical fiction authors of this caliber are rare. C. S. Arnold has earned her kudos and honors for our good fortune. Highly Recommended.

GADZOOKS! THE SKYLIGHT SHINETH

In the Middle Ages of 1226, Jupiter and Saturn came remarkably close together. The Traveling Troubadour Trilogy was set in the Middle Ages. Perhaps, just perhaps now mind you, Ra-me, the Traveling Troubadour was looking at the sky at night and witnessed the two round balls coming close together. You can meet Ra-me at conniesarnold.com. Our hero would have looked at the glowing orbs and felt compelled to compose a ballad. Maybe he called it “Ode to Skylight.” He wouldn’t have known that it should have been entitled “Ode to Dome Shine.”

A Middle Ages Troubadour:  Minstrel Singer

Then we move on. Galileo made his first telescope in 1609, but when Jupiter and Saturn passed close again 14 years later, they hardly made a ghost of a showing this time. Don’t know if Galileo saw them or not. It might have been a dark and stormy night.

Now we’re told that Jupiter and Saturn will once more be passing close by each other like they did in the Middle Ages. The figure given us is 0.1 degree apart. The astronomers went on to explain that’s just 1/5 of a full moon diameter. I’m sure that these dimensions mean about as much to most of us in this Modern Age as it would’ve to those in the Middle Ages.

It seems that we are in for a new sky show. The next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be December 21, 2020, but you can watch them as they are coming together now, near the starry band of the Milky Way.

  This is a depiction of a conjunction.

The 21st of this year is also the date of the December solstice.

VIKINGS: THE FIRST PIRATES

VIKING LONGSHIP

In the Middle Ages the Viking sailors were a force to be reckoned with on the waters and by those towns hugging the coastlines. Sailing from Scandinavia, these fierce warriors of the seas were the first known pirates and raiders to plague the Middle Ages. While some set out only to fish or trade, others boarded any ship within their reach, looting and raiding freely from the 8th through the 12th century.

Many Viking warships sported animal figureheads at their bow, and Viking warriors could be seen in helmets adorned by animal horns. Some figureheads are those of women. These figureheads may relate to the role of the ship and were carved on both ends of the boat.

Pirate longships were double-ended, the symmetrical bow and stern allowing the ship to reverse direction quickly without having to turn around. This trait was particularly useful in northern latitudes where icebergs and sea ice made sailing hazardous. The warships were long, narrow, and shallow.

Without maps and compasses, the sailors in these open, wooden boats braved the North Sea and the Baltic. Using landmarks on the coastlines and the sun, they discovered Iceland and North America. They explored rivers flowing through Europe. It can only be left to the imagination as to the number of souls lost in their treacherous travels.

Pirates were free to roam and attack at will. No central power existed in the Middle Ages, and often countries or even landowners hired pirates to add to their own possessions. Rulers and warlords often sent out their own ships for the purpose of piracy.

The threat of walking the plank was one way the captains used to keep control of their crew. If an enemy ship overtook them, that enemy ship confiscated all treasure aboard and hung the offending captain from the yardarm. There were no ‘peacekeepers’ of the sea in the Middle Ages.

In our book, Mudcat the Pirate, we find our hero, Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour, sailing through stormy waters to rescue the maiden kidnapped by Mudcat the Pirate.  This pirate, too, has been sailing the coastal towns, stealing their treasures. The book, Mudcat the Pirate, Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour the third book in the Ra-me trilogy, can be seen at conniesarnold.com

Book Feature: Blaze the Dragon by Connie Arnold

by ReadersMagnet 

Blaze the Dragon by Connie Arnold banner

Arnold’s book Blaze the Dragon is the second book from the Traveling Troubadour trilogy.

The Adventures of Ra-Me the Traveling Troubadour is a series of children’s books written by Connie S. Arnold. It begins with The Patchwork Princess, followed by Blaze the Dragon. The latest installment in the trilogy is the book Mudcat the Pirate. The main protagonist of these stories is a young musician named Ra-Me who roams from place to place searching for adventures. His only weapons are his musical instruments. Since working on these books in 2018, Connie Arnold and her works have come a long way. Her works have gained critical success and positive reviews from a number of children’s books literary circles. Today, ReadersMagnet takes a closer look at Arnold’s book Blaze the Dragon, the second book from the series.

Blaze the Dragon, the Adventures of Ra-Me the Traveling Troubadour

Following the events in the first book (The Patchwork Princess), Ra-Me heads on to another great adventure. After successfully saving the life of the princess from the fierce dragon and the black knight using his songs and musical instruments, Ra-Me gains popularity. In this second book, Ra-me is invited to sing and play in a dragon village. They are celebrating the coming-of-age of Blaze the Dragon. Each dragon in the village goes through a rite of passage when they turn twelve years old. However, the celebration goes awry when Blaze losses his ability to breathe fire. For dragons, breathing fire is the one thing that they must be able to do. Panic sets in the village as each dragon takes turns in making Blaze breathe fire. Their efforts were all in vain. The dragon leader turns to Ra-Me and asks him to play a song that will ease Blaze’s anxiety and make him breathe fire. The chief of dragons, Inferno is pushing Ra-me to do whatever he can so that Blaze can pass the rite of passage and become a true dragon. With the help of his instruments, Ra-Me begins to compose a song with magic and help Blaze breathe fire.

Just like the first and the third book, Connie Arnold’s Blaze the Dragon is filled with adventures and surprises. Blaze the Dragon introduces a whole new set of characters as Ra-Me finds himself in the middle of a dragon village and a looming disaster. Published in 2019, Blaze the Dragon takes young readers into another unforgettable adventure filled with songs and magic. 

BEHOLD THE GLASS GLOBE, or keep your eye on the ball

Modern glass globe found in many gardens

The technical term for gazing into a shiny reflective surface to obtain new information or predicting the future is called “scrying.” 

Medieval Times was a period when omens and superstitions abounded. A time when people endeavored to learn their futures by studying the world around them and by divination or looking into the mystical. A leader might seek, through magic, to know if his enemies were within or without.  Would his own brother fight to depose him from his throne? Would he be successful conquering a neighboring kingdom? He believed that magic might tell him many things if they could tap into it. Fortune telling was an occupation looked down upon in the Middle Ages, but it was available. Some fortune tellers ‘guessed’ right more than they were wrong and became rich. Others were not so good at guessing and were poor. You could tell them apart by the clothing they wore. The rich wore costly robes of purple and red, the poor costumed like other villagers.

Religious leaders throughout the world considered crystal gazing and scrying a forbidden occult. The Old Testament in the Holy Bible forbids divination, saying “for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:14).

Beware of Demons

The Koran forbids the pagan practice of El-Meysar, a method of magic and divination in Ancient Palestine and Syria. The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns against Spiritualism, using divination or magical practices. In the book “The City of God,” St. Augustine said scrying was “entangled in the deceptive rites of demons who masquerade under the names of angels.” DON’T BE FOOLED.

Beware of Demons in Disguise

Being forbidden may have given them a definite allure and certain practices became popular. The balls could be quite beautiful made of quartz crystal. The largest-known true crystal ball is now in the Smithsonian Institution. It weighs 106.75 lbs. Most globes are the size of grapefruits.

One of the most famous crystal balls is the Wicked Witch’s crystal ball from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” which is made of handblown glass. It sold at auction for $129,000.

Gazing Ball Belonging to the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz Movie
Crystal Gazer in Victorian Dress

The above picture is entitled The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse dated 1902. This crystal gazer must have been a successful one since she seems to be very well dressed. Or, perhaps, she was attached to the house of someone important. The Victorian Era ended in 1901, but this picture is reminiscent of that period.

Since the 13th Century, gazing globes have been a very important part of gardens, both spiritually and aesthetically. Many felt that the globe could ward off bad things like disease, evil spirits, attackers and even ghosts. It is known in some legends to keep the witches away.

In our time, we are most familiar with mediums who supposedly connect with the spirit world, calling upon those who have passed from this life to the next to send back information to the living relatives.

Fortune Teller That Could Be Seen At A Carnival

Or, there are fortune tellers available in their tents in any carnival, gazing into their “fake” crystal balls. Good news can be yours for a price.

Modern globes in modern gardens no longer have superstitions attached to them, but they continue to grace the landscapes. Gardens now have gazing balls, mostly made of glass and placed on a pedestal. Deep blue and brilliant green seem to be the favorite colors; however, some are made with a mirror-like finish to mimic the original quartz crystal.

The Patchwork Princess

In the book, The Patchwork Princess, the Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour Book 1, by Connie S. Arnold, King Lister would have had a gazing ball in the garden in the castle’s courtyard. Perhaps, he used it to divine where his kidnapped daughter had been taken.

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A Brief Overview of Poland During the Period of War

A Brief Overview of Poland During the Period of War

Connie S. Arnold’s Dangerous Legacy: The Second Son is a fiction novel set against the backdrop of the war-torn country of Poland during the German invasion in 1939. It centers on the journey of Stefan Zurowski, as he heads toward a strange land to exhaust his title as the new count after his entire family has been murdered in their home in the Masurian Lake District.  As a historical novel, Dangerous Legacy: The Second Son provides its readers with an illustration of Poland amidst the second world war. It gives them a glimpse of the terrible condition of the country and its people during those dark times.

Indeed, the second world war was a horrible period of world history. It killed millions of innocent people, and destroyed hundreds and thousands of homes. It arguably began when Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party of Germany, invaded Poland in September 1939. Such invasion then prompted Great Britain and France, which guaranteed military support to Poland in case the Germans attacked, to retaliate. This, along with all the other conflicts in Asia and the Pacific, triggered a horrendous war between many countries, which would last for about five years.

To understand a bit more about the war, let us go back to the place where it all started: Poland. As can be reckoned from the Dangerous Legacy: The Second Son, Poland was a country heavily affected by the war, particularly by the invasion of the Germans. In this article, we will have a brief overview of Poland during the period of war.

Invasion of Poland

As mentioned, the second world war began when the Germans invaded Poland. For some historians, the second world war was merely an extension of the first one. It grew out of the issues left unresolved by the first world war, and these issues particularly lingered in the German territory. Following the end of this war, Germany suffered from great political and economic instability. The Germans eventually developed a strong resentment over the harsh terms imposed by the Treaty of Versailles (the treaty that ended World War I and that sought to punish Germany). All of these facilitated the rise to power of the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler.

Adolf Hitler was an enormously ambitious leader. He upheld the superiority of the German race, and sought to expand the German territory. Before invading the Poland, Germany first occupied Austria in 1938, and annexed Czechoslovakia in the following year. In 1939, the German forces then bombarded Poland on land and from the air, which signaled the beginning another global war.

Poland came greatly unprepared for the Germans. The German forces utilized a powerful strategy termed as blitzkrieg (i.e., extensive bombing that employs shock and surprise and that aims to destroy the capacities of the enemy early on), which made it easier for them to invade the Polish territory. The Polish military attempted to carry out several strategies for retaliation. However, it often fell short of calculations. Its under-equipped forces and the outmoded thinking of its commanders were not much of a help as well. In essence, the outdated state of its military led Poland to fall into the arms of the Germans.

After weeks of fighting tenaciously, Poland eventually succumbed to defeat. By October 1939, Germany was already able to annex former Polish territories along its eastern border including West Prussia, Poznan, and Upper Silesia. The western part of Poland occupied by the Germans (i.e., Krakow, Lublin, Radom, and Warsaw) was then organized under the Generalgouvernement (General Government) led by Hans Frank, lawyer of the Nazi Party. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and was able to occupy the remaining half of the country. Poland then remained under the German occupation until 1945.

Conditions of Poland During the War

The Poles suffered tremendously under the German rule. Hans Frank was particularly an unashamedly proud ruthless Governor-General who ordered the execution of millions of Poles, and allowed the commitment of countless war crimes. The crimes and executions were so colossal that by the end of the war, about one-fifth of the pre-war population of Poland perished – that is around six million Polish citizens.

War crimes and crimes against humanity were prevalent in Poland during the German and Soviet occupations. German soldiers particularly committed countless war crimes from the very outset of the war. They would drag out Polish civilians and soldiers everywhere, and shoot them whenever they can. They would even set an entire village on fire to make sure that nobody is left alive. Whenever Polish soldiers would merely shoot at them, the Germans would then revenge by taking hostages and executing them.

Aside from executions, many Polish citizens also became involved in forced labor under both the Germans and the Soviets. In German-occupied Poland, Poles residing in large cities were targeted by a round-up policy utilized by the Germans to indiscriminately collect civilians off the streets, and send them as forced laborers to Germany. In Warsaw, for example, this round-up policy had about 400 daily victims. In the part of Poland occupied by the Soviets, on the other hand, approximately 200,000 Polish citizens were conscripted as forced laborers in Soviet Union.

Malnutrition and diseases were also rampant in Poland during the period of the war. Many Poles starved to death because there was not enough food available to them, as the occupiers confiscated 27 percent of the country’s agricultural output. The general malnutrition of the Polish population then soon caused an increase in infectious diseases among the citizens. The rate of tuberculosis among Poles, for example, rose from 136 per 100,000 to 420 per 100,000 during the war.

Overall, the atrocities of the second world war are undeniable. The war indeed brought about the worst in humans. The innocent people of Poland were particularly great victims of a war initiated by greedy men. Just like the Zurowski family in the Dangerous Legacy: The Second Son, the second world war tore apart millions of families, and obliterated hundreds and thousands of homes. It brought numerous negative effects that are distressing countless of people even until now. In essence, war is but a lame excuse to kill the innocents. It is awful, distasteful, and utterly useless.