Page the Second

Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Random Busy-ness and A Dangerous Affection Review

Wow! Been pretty dang busy. Recent and to come soon busy-nesses=

*Christmas with the minions
*A new baby in TX plus anniversary trip
*Getting ready to go on a pioneer Trek as Ma Murphy
*A wedding in the family in a month
*Writing on three books at once (FUZZY TUESDAYS TASTE SKY BLUE, NO JOY  FOR THE DEATHLESS, and some EVERLOST)
*Doing debut stuff for LOVE UNDEFINED, an anthology I'm in
*Figuring out how to hike on a lame knee and dr visits for such
*Planning various things for the BSA
*Running self sufficiency meetings
*Running this loony bin

I'm certain I've forgotten a ton of extremely important things I'm still supposed to do. Like I should be right this very minute going to the doctor to get him to flesh out my physical form that I didn't take the first time...sigh.

But one thing I'm doing is spreading the word about a book I just finished. It just so happens that Wanda Luce's book cover and mine share a model. We're cover sisters.

I took this book on my trip to Texas and it helped greatly to make the miles and miles of nothingness of West TX more bearable. (East Texas I would gladly move to.) In fact, it was difficult putting it down for bouts of baby kissing and playing with the elder henchmen (and women).

So this is the deal:

Wanda Luce has written a book called A DANGEROUS AFFECTION. At first I thought it was going to be one of those fru-fru bodice-rippers with bare bits on the cover. Boy was I wrong! And happily so. Much more meaty and less cotton candy flossy.

Anne Fitzroy is the daughter of a British Earl and the ambassador to the Austrian court. Nefarious men work a plot in which the ambassador is framed with a spurious grant of bribe money, supposedly to betray the Austrian troops and British spies to the French. When the ambassador discovers the plot, he is assassinated and his daughter, Anne is implicated in the plot as the person most likely to have hidden the plot to save her father. Unless she uncovers the secret plans and casts light on her father's detractors, she could hang or be transported to Australia, or killed by those who wish to save their traitorous hides.

Anne and her sister become the targets of some vicious gossip with the threat of more stringent measures. Anne fears she will face, at the very least, the unkind gossip of the English Ton. She has given up on ever finding a husband, not only because of the blot on her character, but because she's considered a bluestocking and perhaps somewhat of a hoyden. I kind of like how she has the guts to work on her own mystery and brave the odds to discover the truth. She doesn't simply sit around letting men do all the work.

One of her greatest detractors, the Earl of de Rothesay (Nic) has already painted Anne with the name of traitor before they even met. He is convinced she covered for her father's treachery, which resulted in his brother's possible beheading at the hands of the French.

He comes to believe that Anne, at least, has been framed and is being stalked by a murderer who wishes to silence her forever to keep her from exposing the plot to betray Austria to the French. Can Anne enlist this handsome man instead, to clear her father's name?

This book, while it had a few little grains of sand, really intrigued me. For one thing, it was well written. Ms. Luce knows her stuff in relation to the speech, dress, habits, problems of the day, and happenings of the Regency era, enough so as to put the reader directly into Anne's shoes without bogging us down with verbosity.

There are a couple of times where I would have had the characters discuss something earlier, or show more difficulty coming up with the answer to the riddle. It would have been good to flesh out the Villains a bit better, but I felt these things didn't detract from the story. I was so pleasantly pleased that Ms. Luce set some of the action in Austria because so often Regency books never leave the ballrooms and sitting rooms of England. I enjoy a different venue. I like my heroines to actually do something and be loved for something other than their great beauty or flirting prowess. Go Brains!

In this suspenseful tale full of intrigue and romance, Anne has the guts to go out and do her own sleuthing, regardless of the considerable danger to her and her sister. In spite of the abuse she endures at the hands of those who want her family's money and to ruin her father, she pushes on to clear the family name. She convinces one of her greatest detractors that not only is she being truthful, but her father is as well.

I give this book two thumbs and an elbow up

You can buy this book here or here.

And now to get over to the dang Dr before he leaves for the day...sigh. And buy some leather strings among other things. But first...get dressed and eat something.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Rupert and Egglantina's Ball

Rupert and Egglantina wish to invite you to their dance to be held in the concert hall at Julliard after Egglantina's latest symphony concert.

Egglantina stands in the wings, her bow rosined, her violin tuned. On cue, she strides on stage, bows to her audience, and turns to tune the orchestra. Then she takes her seat in the first chair position in the symphony.

After a couple of wonderful renditions, she comes to stand at the mic and plays a lovely sonata solo. The notes entice your ears and fill you with an unnamed longing. You remember long lazy summer days when you were young and unfettered, kicking back in the tall grass as clouds waft past against a cerulean sky. Your cares and troubles rise up to blow away with the clouds.

At the end of the piece, you come to yourself and realize she has single-handedly brought happiness back to your heart for at least a little while.

After the symphony has performed its last rendition, the stage hands clear away chairs, piano, and music stands and a forest of lit trees springs up around the edges of the stage.

Rupert joins Egglantina on stage, as do many other couples. He whispers, "You were magnificent tonight. I can't ever get enough of hearing you play, Sweetheart."

Egglantina's heart dances with happiness. "I hope you'll still feel that when we're old and crotchety and I can hardly lift the bow."

"Always. And when you're old, I'll be older and much more in love with you than ever."

Egglantina wonders how she managed to find and land the best man in the wide world. She glances first at her so-handsome fiancé, and then at the beautiful trappings of the old concert hall and shivers with extreme happiness.

If you'd like to read the story of Egglantina and Rupert, it can be found here and here (and also in Kindle Unlimited for $0.00) in the LOVE UNDEFINED Anthology under the name MUSIC IN MY HEART by H. Linn Murphy

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Witherwood Ball

The December ball season is getting off to a late start due to a late wedding engagement. I offer you an invitation to the Witherwood Ball:
Mr. Andrew Witherwood is pleased 
to invite you to a ball in honor of his 
newly affianced, 
Miss Sarah Marchmont 
on this Evening of the seventh day 
of December at the
Fezziwig Emporium in 
Hanover Street.

Sarah, or Molly as she was once known, dresses with care in a serviceable gown of blue serge, borrowed for the occasion from her sister-to-be. Almost she regrets her actions with the ruby. Almost, but not quite. For it would have been a very good thing to have at least one new dress in which to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. She gazes into the spotty glass, remembering the balls of yesteryear.

She remembers sitting on the steps to watch the guests arrive in their furs and jewels, to be met by Papa and Mama in a formal receiving line. Sarah closed her eyes, putting herself into the waking dream. The butler would have taken their wraps and she and Andrew would have proceeded down the line. When she came to Papa, she would have curtsied and Papa would have pulled her into a quick hug, while perusing Andrew over her head. 

She knew he would have looked askance at her beau, mainly because no man was good enough for his little girl. And Mama would have drawn her away in horror at the state of her shabby dress. They would have ascended to her rooms to don a more respectable gown and Amalie would have murmured over her hair. At the end of it, they would have descended, sparkling and resplendent.

Sarah stares at the shabby cuffs and hem. What she wouldn't give to be back in Mama's arms.

But then she wouldn't be engaged to Andrew, for he would scarcely have done for a Marchmont beau. She takes up her fan and reticule and proceeds downstairs to Andrew's arm. He turns her about and gives her the warmest of smiles.

"Never have I seen such a beautiful lady," he says, bowing over her hand. He draws it to his lips and she is lost again in the warmth of his kindness. Perhaps it is not only kindness which fills her with happiness this night?

The two proceed to Fezziwig's Emporium, laughing and conversing as they walk. They see the windows lit with cheerful candle light and Fezziwig himself holding forth in preparation for the dancing.

"Ah! The guests of honor!" he exclaims as Andrew and Sarah enter to the music of the ringing bell. "Everyone to their places. Let me take your wraps, Witherwood." Fezziwig bows and they all proceed into the room to be greeted by the guests. 

You too are invited. Enter and dance. And as you do, note that Andrew is much more handsome than his picture.

If you would like to read more about Sarah and Andrew, please go here or here and purchase the book, THE HEART OF FIRE by H. Linn Murphy

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Entry for Encyclopedia Murphanica

Every year on about November 11 the species Homo Sapiens Arizonus emerges from hibernation. Despite its baking habitat of sun, sand, and spikes, the species makes its way from dark, air-cooled holes and controlled habitats sporting a hide varying from blue-ish white to pale pink.

Upon entering the sun, said species applies a series of small swathes of material to its hide, and appliances called flip-flops to its feet, most likely to keep from getting third degree burns on the bottoms of its appendages, even as late as November. These bits of material and rubber are worn throughout the waking months. Also applied is a strange unguent which is said to keep the species from frying to a crisp in the strident rays of the sun.

Studies show that during hibernation the Homo Sapiens Arizonus gains several pounds per month, sometimes packing on one or two hundred pounds of blubberous fat in one hibernation. The female of the species then spends every waking moment bemoaning the fact of its gain.

Eyesight for this animal is rather weak after staring at screens of varying types for the entire hibernation. Upon emerging into bright sunlight, they apply dark lenses in order to keep from constant squinting.

Very few specimens emerge prematurely. Of those, the predominant action is to migrate north. Should you spot one of these elusive specimens, count yourself lucky.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Kavenagh House Review

Now and then you read a book that is such a distillation of the genre, such a perfect jewel of fiction, such a gem, that you can't lay it aside. For me, today, that was THE KAVENAGH HOUSE by Susan Dayley.

Parker has a problem. Her parents have moved into a completely mental house and now she has to leave her grandparents' place and go live with them. It's not just that she'll have to leave the kindness of her grands for the cold distance of her very busy parents.

It's also that the house was designed by a genius mastermind who built amazing scenes and traps and hazards and puzzle locks and hidden rooms and retractable stairs into the house. No one--not even the original owners--have found all the dangers. The delicious spookiness just keeps coming at you.

And it's that Parker can feel dead people. And her strange new house is lousy with them. At least one of those wraiths does not want Parker there and will defend its turf to the death. Her family members don't believe her, and since they can't perceive the ghosts, seem to be safe...until things start changing.

It's a race between a freaked-out Parker with her high school friend, Mason (who can see ghosts), a hundred-year-old victim(?), and Vincent, the crazy brain trust who built and enhanced the house. Vincent, who is so much more than a hundred-year-old ghost with an amazing amount of power and deviousness for a dead person.

 You should know that the book ends on a cliff. Fly to the bookstore and buy the next one as soon as Dayley writes it. I dare you.

This book was extremely well-written. The characters were richly drawn and fresh. I absolutely LOVED loved loved the house with its locks and traps and gadgets and carefully crafted magic. It was steampunk HEAVEN! Like Parker, I take a jaundiced view of people just tossing on a gear or two and a pair of goggles and calling it steampunk. To me the gadgets have to work and be logical and have a certain finesse to them. This house ROCKED MY SOCKS! I'm totally trying not to covet this fictitious house. The effort's not going well.

This was such a carefully crafted ghost story. Vincent totally creeped me out, such that I got just a bit shivery when I read by myself in my darkened house. I think Vincent embodies the name TOOL. He's so masterful and devious and such an evil genius, but you can't help being amazed by his brilliant attention to detail and extreme mastery of his art/science.

I love that this story seems to be set in an alternate America. That added so much scope for more mayhem. Dayley's world-building is excellent.

Dayley crafts this amazing collection of mechanical masterpieces without the need for bad language, gore, sex, or other unnecessary distractions. She still manages to creep the heck out of someone who usually spends her time picking things like that apart.

@Umpteen extremely cool and complicated locks
@Several hidden rooms
@An amazing steam generated sound system
@A spoonful of dry bones
@A sprinkling of wafting spirits
@And pluses I shouldn't even mention--but want to.

You can get this book here: You'll only need half your seat--the front half--and only long enough for one massive single-sitting read. Buckle into your leather jacket, strap on your goggles, slip into your heavy gloves, and get ready for a bumpy ride! I give this one five out of five shivers.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

For Summer's Sake

This sweet little cutie pie is author Amelia Adams' (also known as Tristi Pinkston) great-niece, Summer. Summer's parents were killed two years ago in a horrible car accident when Summer was just one. She was in the car, but was miraculously saved, and she's now being raised by her grandparents, Amelia's sister and brother-in-law. She's the light of their lives.
Now it's time to finalize her adoption. Amelia is releasing her fourteenth Kansas Crossroads novella, A Joyful Noise. Pre-order now, and all the proceeds from the pre-order will be donated to help with the court costs. Any additional funds will go toward Summer's general needs, and the book will be delivered to your Kindle on October 3rd.
Will you help spread the word and send people to this page? Let's help Summer get her forever family!
(Note: No money will be exchanged through Facebook or this blog. Those who want to help will purchase the book through Amazon, and the author royalties will then be passed on to the family.)
Pre-order by clicking here!
Georgia Baker has worked at the Brody Hotel for several months now with only her employers knowing her secret - she's almost completely deaf. It doesn't stop her from doing her job, though, as she has learned how to read lips,…

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Estrella Memories

Estrella War number ??? I fought in 25 of them.
I haven't been to a medieval war in a few years. Before that I went every year and fought in sometimes two wars a year plus tournaments. Yes, I'm a girl, and yes, I fought in heavy armor and yes, I hit them with everything I had...:o)

Estrella War is fought traditionally in Phoenix, AZ at Estrella park, or in a place just outside of Phoenix called Queen's Creek. I've fought in both places. In the daytime it's hot enough to wonder if you'll see lava spilling out of a crack in the ground. At night it gets a little chilly--enough to put on a long-sleeved shirt, especially if you're chilling from exhaustion.
The Black Lance
The night air filled my ears with the sounds of laughter and drinking songs and my hair with the smoke of a thousand fires. The scents of the grass and hay bails mixed with that smoke will always remind me of how it felt at Estrella at night. I'd lie there gazing out at the torch light filtering through our red and gold pavillion, utterly spent, my muscles screaming until late, when the noise settled down.

We will have sat up, talking and laughing, telling the stories of battles and fights--no-kidding-there-I-was stories like the old epochs. Sometimes we'd shrug into our cloaks and go wandering, seeing the sights of jugglers, troubadors, acrobats and actors, or wandering the stalls of the mongers.
Sometimes the rain would patter down, filling the roads with sucking mud and the fighting field with a mass of slipping, muddy fighters, and the tent with a foot or so of filthy water. My armor would smell like muck, sweat, old duct tape, and wet leather. I always went out to fight in it, though. I couldn't sit back in camp and veg out. Not even bruises and (a couple of times) gashes in my head kept me from it.

This was actually a Baron's war.
We would march out in a long line, led by the King and Queen of Atenveldt and their fellow monarchs and retinues. Sometimes there were pipes and drums. Most of the time we sang. The heavy shield would knock against my cuisse and I'd carry my helm on the tip of my sword, slung over my shoulder.

We'd hit the field and find our units. My favorite times were when our commanding officer called our little unit and specifically plugged us into a task, like we meant something and were important to the 'cause'. We would tighten our straps and wield our swords and spears. I'd look left and right, down the long row of men gritting teeth and calling out challenges and insults. We jostled for a good position, trying to keep from getting knocked down and trodden under foot (me) and trying not to be fodder for arrows and rocks when the lay-on was called. You could see the guy next to you, smell his sweat, hear him messing with his chin guard or getting comfortable in his armor.

There was almost a hush before the first horn. Then the yelling and running, the beating of shields, the clash of armor and weapons meeting. We crashed together in a noise like a semi hitting a bus. Bodies and limbs everywhere, swords and spears slashing and jabbing. Sometimes  a man would fall dead and huddle under his shield or stride away with his weapons over his head. Sometimes we had to wait for a horn to blow the Dead-out signal, stacked like cord wood until then.

It was easy to forget that you weren't really going to die. I'd steel myself to berserk and just go plowing through, but mostly I advanced when there was a hole and try to kill and keep from dying. I'd try and partner with someone who knew what he was doing with his spear, and how to use a shield man. Those were the best, because I could shield him, and watch for incoming spears, trying to whack them down so the watching spear man could gack him. The spear, in turn, would shoot over my shoulder and kill people trying to spear me in the head.
The Lance going at it, probably in Baron's War
I knew what it was like to stare up at the sky through the grill in my helm, waiting for six or seven guys to pile on top of me trying to get through the gate--to feel them over me like a pile of smelly, cussing rocks and dirt. I was so thankful for that shiny helm and metal shield.

I also knew what it was like to run across a field, screaming--to then run up the massive shield in front of me and hack at the guy in back of it, until he died. I knew what it was like to charge down the side of a rock quarry, into the waiting shield wall, which we blasted into smithereens, then cleaned up the backfield. I know what it's like to fight at a river (wasn't stupid enough to go into it since I had just fixed my boots) and to fight in a castle. I've waited on a bridge, men so close around me that they could have held me up if I'd lifted my legs. We'd wait for movement, watching for their long spears to pick people off and trying not to be that clueless guy.

Happens to everyone. I've been killed by swords, spears, axes, hammers, a cannonball shaped like a large marshmallow, arrows, rocks, and ballista bolts. I also know what it was like to duck that arrow and watch it sail overhead to get someone behind me.
Waiting for Lay-on with a good friend

 Friday afternoons of the war, after the regular fighting had finished, there would be a Woman's tourney. I always tried to get a little rest and water between battle and the tourney, but it rarely worked. I'd mostly just sit in my armor and stew. 
The tourney was a bear pit, which meant that we paired off and fought as many fights as we possibly could as fast as we could and as well. We'd try to win, or at least to die quickly and win the next one. There were some incredibly talented fighters. I won third once. 
Some of the women wouldn't fight in the battles that day to be fresh. Not me. My fights would come after a full day of fighting. So it was a challenge just to stand up and keep swinging the sword so it would connect hard enough to cleave through her helm, or to out-fox her into letting down her guard.
I loved those tourneys, since most of the girls were at least my height. I could finally get some reach on some of them.

Then after the little awards ceremony, we'd slog home, shield slung, helm on sword or polearm. Sometimes I'd lean on my shield in the middle of the road, just trying to breathe. It would be all I could do to tear everything off before I collapsed in a camp chair and turned to mush. I'd sit and bemoan the fact that I had to get up and make dinner, or lazily chat and laugh with friends, as the swallows dipped and dodged and the pennons snapped above our tent.

After a bit, I'd rattle off to the showers, sometimes to a line in which we'd swap tales and compare bruises. It was always women's dress for the evening. Then I'd slip out of the tent adjusting a cotehardie or sideless surcoat over an underdress. We'd eat dinner and listen to the buzz of a thousand people chatting over a campfire or beginning to drink. We never did, but it was entertaining to watch others. The children would run around doing crazy things. I once watched a boy in my household knock himself out trying to impress a girl with a one-armed push-up. I won't mention his name...rofl

My Squire Brother, Mallock and I in the Atenveldt uniform
I miss the camaraderie. I miss being an integral part of something big. I miss the challenge and the struggle to be better than I was before. I miss my friends and standing in a shield wall with them, knowing they have my side and I have theirs. Knowing that if I drop dead, they might not have any protection anymore and we could find ourselves staring into each other's grills.

I've distanced myself, now, from old hurts and misunderstandings. My friends have mostly moved away or stopped playing. My body tries to betray me at every turn. Getting old, I guess. I still have my armor and recently got it back into fighting shape. I don't know. Maybe there is still a dragon to slay, somewhere. Twist my arm. (But not my knee.) Just don't expect me to hit you hard enough...;op

(I don't have many fighting pictures...because I was fighting, and because I never wanted my camera to get ruined, and because people were taking pictures of their spouses or other friends.)