Flash Fiction

Flash fiction, by definition, is fiction that is very brief. A few hundred words or fewer in its entirety.

I occasionally participate in weekly flash fiction contests on other authors’ sites such as Madi Merek‘s and Siobhan Muir’s blogs. These contests are very informal, mostly for people to just stretch a wing or play with a new idea in a brief vignette. The goal is to tell a story in the scope of of just a couple hundred words or so, which makes it a bit of a challenge, as you can imagine.

ThursThreads WinnerWell, I actually won one of these little contests last week and thought I’d share it with you. This one is from Siobhan Muir’s blog and she will host another flash fiction contest Thursday, May 1st, from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Eastern) on her blog. What she does is provide the flashers (ha!) with a prompt chosen from a prior week’s winning flash fiction piece.

For the one below, the prompt was: “Be right there.”

And that’s where this came from. For the rest of the stories from last week, check out her blog.


“You could call 9-1-1,” Shawn reminded her sensibly. His tone reassured her that his centrally located booster seat—he was four and a half years old and still needed one—had kept him pretty safe during the accident.


She tried to chuckle, but the effort hurt. “I could, but I don’t know where my phone is.”




Her mind tried to untangle itself, to prioritize.




“Can you get out of your booster?”


Two clicks. “Hey! I can!” Then, “Ow! Mommy! That hurt!”


She tried desperately to turn to smile at him. “Good job! Okay, you need to be very careful and—“


“What’s that smell?”


Her heart stopped. Gas. Ruptured fuel line? “Honey?” Her voice was strained. “Do your best to get out through that window, there.”


“Broken glass, Mommy,” he complained, crying and perhaps realizing more than a little boy should ever have to know.


“I know. Try, baby. I know there’s a fire truck on the way and you can watch for it, okay?” The car creaked and scrunched a little. “Hurry!”


“But what about you, Mommy?”


“I’m coming, honey. You go.” The smell of gas was really strong, now, and she was trying to undo her seatbelt to get free.  “Go on.”


He slid, crying about his hand on the glass. “Mommy!”


“Go on. Find the other driver!”


He ran, but she could still hear him. “Mommy!”


“Be right there.”




Metal sparked against metal. “Mommy!”


And, yeah. I left it there. The word limit for this contest is always 250. I came in at 248 or something. Interested  in trying your hand?   Just click on the link given above tomorrow after 10 a.m.  Eastern. 🙂

Sunday Sneak Peek – April Emerson

A Flawed Heart
A New Adult Romance coming from Secret Cravings Publishing in July, 2014 
by April Emerson
Claire Brighton has just finished college and is abandoning her warm, southern home in favor of gritty New York City. She searches Craigslist for the perfect roommate and finds Lydia Taylor. Lydia lives a life of privilege in her father’s Manhattan penthouse, but like Claire, she’s ready to go out into the world on her own.
Claire and Lydia find a little apartment in the hipster mecca of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, not far from Lydia’s older brother, Jason. Claire is intrigued by Lydia’s stories of Jason, who is the black sheep of the family—and a musician. The minute Claire hears him sing, she falls for him. Though Jason is involved with someone else, Claire and Jason’s attraction is too powerful to be denied.
Claire thrives in her new urban surroundings, treasuring her time with Jason, […] but both Claire and Jason carry shadows with them. They’re each fighting to move on from wounds of their past, but they learn that they will need each other to do it.
Jason takes a seat at the table where Lydia and Kat are chatting. I’m distracted, watching his body move. I don’t want to get caught looking, so I focus on my food. When I do look up, Jason’s staring at me with a sexy little grin on his face. I feel a current running between us and I wonder why he’s affecting me with such intensity. I’ve never felt something like this, for anyone.
 I open my mouth to make small talk with Lydia, but I don’t get the chance to get the words out.
“Are you enjoying your sandwich, Claire?” Something about the way his mouth shapes my name is doing things to
my body.
 “Yes, thank you.”
watch him as he eats. His lips are big and pouty for a guy. He breaks a piece of the grilled cheese off and pops it in his
mouth. Rather than using his napkin he licks his fingers.
 His jaw bone protrudes as he chews and his Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. He slides back in his chair and relaxes as he eats. When he finishes his sandwich, he places his plate in the sink and walks out of the kitchen without looking at me again.
“You mind washing the dishes, Lydia? I can’t risk having the dish soap dry out my hands before the show.” He calls back at us, and I hear him laughing.
The door opens and in walks a guy wearing a Metallica shirt and green cargo pants. He has short, dark hair, and from where I’m sitting, he looks like he’s eight feet tall.
“What up. I’m Ben.” He gives me a salute.
“This is my roommate Claire. She’s from Georgia,” Lydia says.
“Welcome to the jungle.” He walks toward the bed rooms.
 “That’s Jason’s roommate. You ready to get out of here?”
 I nod. “Alright, yeah, let’s go.”
 Lydia, Kat and I walk out onto the sidewalk and Skye, Ben, and Jason join us shortly. Jason has his guitar case slung on
his back and he’s smoking a cigarette. Skye chats with Ben about someone named Alana and Lydia joins them. I reach into my bag and grab my cigarettes but I can’t find my lighter and I fumble around with the zippers and pockets.
“Hey, let me light that for you.”
Jason pulls out a Zippo. His thumb flicks it and it opens with a flame. I wrap my lips around my cigarette, place the tip in the flame and look up at him. He looks from my eyes to my mouth and back to my eyes again. The flame is reflected in his eyes and he still has that sexy grin on his face. I puff and pull away from his light but not his gaze.
“Thanks, Jason.”
Lydia grabs my elbow and pulls me along with her, which ends the moment.
“Let’s go get wasted.”
She squeals and tugs me along beside her. We walk about ten feet ahead of everyone, her arm linked in mine. I look back over my shoulder and Jason is holding Skye’s hand. I feel a lump rise in my throat.
“How long has your brother been dating Skye?” I ask Lydia.
“Like a week. I don’t think they’re, like, really a thing though. I don’t think Jay asked her to go out, or whatever. She’s totally into him and she’s like, mentally willing him to be hers or something. I don’t trust her. She’s a typical groupie. She has a boner for Jason because he’s a musician. Maybe she thinks she’ll be a rock star’s wife one day or something. She’s pretty lame, but I’m sure Jason could do worse. Ben, on the other hand, has been talking to Skye’s friend Alana. She’s awesome. Oh, that reminds me—Alana wanted me to tell them she’ll be coming late tonight. I’ll be right back.”
Lydia frees her arm from mine and runs back toward Ben and Skye. Jason is no longer walking with them. He’s walking toward me. He takes long strides and quickly catches up.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I reply.
His pace is even with mine. The wind blows and I get whiff of his cologne. It smells spicy and I recognize this smell from his pillow. blush at the memory, wishing now more than ever that my fantasy had been real.
“So, you moved in today?” he asks.
“Cool. You have a job yet?”
“No. I was thinking of looking into substitute teaching or something. I was an English major.”
“Really?” he turns his head and looks me up and down. “I had you pegged you for a dancer, what with your legs and everything.”
Just then I trip over my own feet. Jason grabs my elbow before I eat the pavement.
“… Yeah, I’m definitely not a dancer. Beauty and grace are not my thing.”
His gaze locks with mine and I’m once again caught in that crazy current. He lets go of my elbow and slides his hand onto the small of my back. I startle at the intimacy of his touch, and the closeness of his body. He brings his mouth to my ear, and I feel his hot breath on me as he whispers, “Hmm. I don’t know about that.”
Connect with April Emerson:

Two Historical Fiction Authors Talk VIKINGS – Episode 9

All Vikings images herein are the property of History Channel and are used solely as illustration.

All Vikings images herein are the property of History Channel and are used solely as illustration.

a2alissapicCannot believe this was the penultimate episode for this season of Vikings! Thanks to everyone who came to tweet with Lissa Bryan and me last night! It was quite the evening. Between the battle and the reunion between Athelstan and Ragnar and more signs of betrayal… All kinds of plot-packed goodness. Lissa and I have our thoughts below, with hers being in purple.
Lissa: Athelstan translating Caesar for Ecbert was a lovely scene, with Ecbert pacing and analyzing Caesar’s battle strategies. I like his character more with every episode.

Sandi: I confess I wonder about his motivations, but I cannot help but honor a man who seeks to learn about the history of his land, for whatever purpose he may intend. He treats Athelstan well, too. I know I tend toward suspicion, so I’m trying not to be too paranoid about King Ecbert’s plans, but so far Athelstan seems to be benefiting by the arrangement as well.


Horik isn’t interested in talking with Ecbert. He wants battle and he wants revenge.


In this, he is very much a man of his time, I believe.


Ragnar and Björn have a talk that evening where Ragnar reveals part of what the Seer told him about Björn’s future… That he would marry a princess and sail a tideless sea. He didn’t tell him, however, that he was destined to outshine his father in fame and glory. It gives Björn a little boost of confidence to know he’s not destined to die in this battle.


I very much enjoy the times that Ragnar spends with his children. This father/son moment is no exception. As you say, Ragnar withheld some information from him, but I’m cool with that; a man has his pride and there is no reason to encourage cockiness in a mostly untried warrior.


vikings_episode9_Horik Floki plotHorik seems to be hinting around to Floki that something needs to “happen” to Ragnar. Floki smiles at him, but I wonder if Floki is being a bit of a trickster, here. After all, he has seemed willing to go along with dastardly plans in the past, only to be revealed as truly faithful.


Well, this is a weird place for the character to be. Floki has demonstrated his dissatisfaction with Ragnar to Helga, in private, in such a way that I have no doubt that he feels that way. And Horik is playing up to Floki in a lot of different ways, encouraging the divergence between the friends. But then, Horik kept referring to Loki, in the old story, as “The Sly One” which leads me to believe that we the audience are being reminded that Loki is a trickster and that Floki could be one as well. A very interesting character to play, I’m sure! The majority of the evidence, though, is currently pointing to Floki being a malcontent who is at least letting his mind react to Horik’s blandishments, even if his heart hasn’t entirely given way, yet.


vikings_episode9_Shirted Rollo battleBut the battle does not go well. Aelle’s forces plus Ecbert’s are too much for Ragnar’s men and he has to order a retreat, leaving a gravely injured Rollo behind.


The way this was presented was wonderful. The division of the Northmen’s infantry as Horik clearly was expecting all the troops—his, Ragnar’s, and Lagertha’s—to follow him into the fight. But the jarls chose to hold back and make their stand a bit apart from the king’s. And then in comes the Wessex cavalry, all with their shiny plating and big horses. The kings, Ecbert and Aelle, barely have to do a thing but kick back and watch. I almost expected popcorn. The contrast between the dirt, mud, and blood of the Northmen to the pristine cleanliness of the kings was vastly understood.


Let’s discuss a bit about medicine of this era. Rollo seems to have a gut wound of some kind. (I’m glad he wasn’t left to the tender mercies of English medicine! “Bleed him. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll bleed him again. And then give him a purgative.”) 


vikings_episode9_Athelstan Rollo battlefieldThe study of medicine outside of Rome wasn’t highly structured at this point. The universities of Europe weren’t a settled thing until the 11th Century, really, so medical practices were as varied as the people who were considered physicians in the lands of Wessex and Mercia – and Scandinavia, too.  A gut wound was generally considered fatal, but the healer would often check for that by having the patient drink something with a large amount of garlic (or something equally noisome) to see if the odor could be detected as coming through any bandaging and indicating that the stomach or intestines were compromised. If so, there wasn’t a lot that could be done, at that time. If not, the patient was often given poultices and teas and hoped for the best.


We didn’t see too much of it, but later, it was cauterized, which I asked you about in our Twitter discussion. Cauterization didn’t seem like the best choice, here. What did the Vikings use for infections?


Burning was actually considered one good way to deal with infection. It was accompanied by a poultice, generally, that would have included what we now consider antibacterial herbs. Burdock, garlic, goldenseal – these are among remedies that would be used to treat an open wound in a topical manner. After a cauterization, a poultice of burdock would have been considered wise, but it would have been alternated with the wound being allowed to scab over, too. A messy, time-consuming process.


We also see another scene of a “Viking funeral” of a pyre set alight and sent out to sea. Both you and I raised a brow at that, because it seems highly unlikely they would pause in the midst of defeat and what had to be a hasty re-entrenching to do such a thing. 


I concur. After a retreat such as they had just made, taking the time for a full-on funeral would not have been the usual practice. However, it seems clear that they hadn’t taken the encampment down or planned to high-sail it (see what I did, there?) back him to Kattegat, either. Still, I think burial would have been better, even for warriors going to Valhalla. The burning of valuable wood which could have been used in weapons-making, is out of character for a people who are accustomed to shepherding their resources wisely.
Found on tumblr at FortheAllFather

Found on tumblr at FortheAllFather

I’m not sure if you and I discussed this before, but the “flaming-boat-on-the-water Viking funeral” is mostly a myth. Vikings were usually buried, though there are a few accounts of cremation on land, with mounds built over the ashes. Brunhidla – Aslaug’s mother – immolated herself on her husband, Sigurd’s, funeral pyre. There are also some burials where the deceased was actually buried on a ship (the famous Oseberg burial is one of those).


Rulers might have been set alight in a longship, but that was largely before the era in which VIKINGS takes place. In Éire’s Captive Moon, I do have a burning boat for a funeral, but that was for wealthy, high-ranking people in their own home who had died defending their land. It was still more common to bury folks or to set up a pyre. But again, that fire takes wood and wood was a valuable commodity.


Vikings gods friendsWhen Rollo sees Athelstan, he tells him if he had the strength, he would kill him. He sees Athelstan as a traitor. When Athelstan is sent to present King Ecbert’s offer to the Vikings, he encounters a great deal of suspicion. Floki mocks his priestly garb. Ragnar offers to walk part of the way with him, and they are tracked by a mysterious figure with an arrow notched to fly. Athelstan confesses that he still retains a belief in the Norse gods as well as the Christian faith. Ragnar expresses the wistful hope that the gods can all become friends. It’s obvious that Ragnar still retains a lot of affection for Athelstan.


Rollo may or may not have known that Athelstan was likely the one to whom he owed his life. A man of this era wanted to die in battle—it was an honor and a privilege to go to Valhalla (since we all know Rollo did not accept his Christian baptism with a real belief, and he is still a follower of the Northvegr). So even if he knew Athelstan had “saved” him, he might still be mad because he, Rollo, hadn’t been allowed to die.


ragnar athelstan reunionThe reunion was understated, but I got all “Awww…” when Ragnar gave Athelstan his arm ring back. That he had kept it, had it burnished clean, and was ready to return it without hesitation speaks worlds of Ragnar’s faith in his friend. Athelstan was not as comfortable accepting it, but he understood the negative implications wearing it might have with King Ecbert & Co.


King Ecbert makes an offer to Ragnar, Lagertha, and King Horik. He will give them 5,000 acres of land and treasure, as well as returning Rollo to Ragnar. Princess Kwenthrith will also employ any Viking as a mercenary. Lathertha and Ragnar immediately accept. Horik seems less well-pleased, but what could he do at the moment?


The rapid acceptance astonished me, I confess. It served, though, to unite Ragnar and Lagertha against Horik in terms of goals and expectations, which cannot have been misunderstood by anyone at that table.
viking me tweet epi 9


Princess Kwenthrith upsets me. This show has been great with keepig its characters in line with their roles in society, belief systems, and customs… Then comes this girl. I characterized her as an English Messalina in the last episode. It’s worse than that. No princess would have ever behaved like that, groping men in public.  As in any era, the rich and powerful can get away with a lot more than the average person, but this is preposterous. It’s crass, and it’s a blight on an otherwise enjoyable show.


Yeah… Her Royal Majesty of Mercia irritates me as well. In the prior episode, her predilections were displayed more or less in private. This made her strong and using the weapons (as it were) at her disposal without being more than a Messalina-type of character.
Exactly. We all know that what went on behind closed doors could have been entirely different than the pious face presented to the public. But a female of that day, even a princess, would have been under the control of a man. Even if the men in her immediate family (father, brother) were dead, she would have had some male relative or godfather that assumed guardianship over her until she was safely married. Becoming femme sole (an independent woman able to make decisions about her life in her own right) was a status usually only accorded to elderly widows.


A princess of her wealth and power probably would have been married off very soon after her father/brother died. Eleanor of Aquitaine faced this when her father died in 1137 (about 200 years after this story takes place.) He had no legitimate son, and so Eleanor – who may have been as young as twelve – was a great heiress. She was married within a couple of months of her father’s death to make sure no other lord kidnapped her to force her into marriage.


But her behavior in front of the mercenaries was crass and out of character in my opinion. One, the Northmen would have had no respect for any female who was so blatant in her public behavior. She would have been seen as loose, a prostitute, a woman of little value.
As free men, the Northmen would have objected to being handled like slaves. They might have been all right with her admiringly stroking their muscled arms, but rooting around in their smallclothes?

And Ecbert seemed to ignore her behavior, which I didn’t quite understand, either. I’m not sure what the writers have planned for her, but at this juncture, who would respect her? Not me and likely not the men whom she’s hired to go fight for her.

Perhaps Kwenthrith’s motive in the story is to make herself as unattractive a marriage prospect as possible with her behavior, but even in that era, her wealth and title would have made her attractive enough, and her husband could have locked her away. 
vikings_episode9_Aslaug braidedBack in Kattegat, Aslaug has set Porunn free. Coming right after the girl expressed a desire to be like Lagertha, I have my suspicions it wasn’t out of the goodness of Aslaug’s heart. Is she trying to get Lagertha’s son to marry beneath himself, to diminish his dynastic importance?


This is possible.  Aslaug hasn’t really said Word One about the fact that Ragnar has a firstborn son who could become jarl after Ragnar himself. And a woman in that time and place mostly exerted political power through the men in her life (Lagertha being a recent and notable exception). So if Aslaug’s sons do not take leadership, then she will not be in such a nice place if they all live that long. Discrediting Björn by having him perhaps marry for emotional reasons a woman who was merely freed and not adopted, say, into a family of status, could injure Björn’s reputation as a leader. Well, at least before he was given the name Ironside. 😉
Hail Bjorn Ironside.jpg-large


One episode left! Can you believe it? This season has just flown by!


It has! I cannot wait to see the finale!

Burnish those weapons, braid that hair, and find Lissa and me on twitter next week!

@LissaBryan and @sandyquill

Cover Reveal – Lorenz Font


cool TWCS logo

        PRESENTS. . .

Cover Reveal


​Pieces of Broken Time


Lorenz Font


Release Date: July 24, 2014

When wounded soldier Blake Connor returns from Afghanistan, he wants nothing more than to hide from the world. He’s plagued by the memory of his best friend’s death and the pain of his own injuries. On top of all that, he has another burden to carry.

Take care of our girl.

Blake’s vow to watch over the woman who was left behind is overshadowed by his self-contempt and bitterness, making it impossible for him to reach out to her like he’d promised.

Jennifer Owens had expected to get married the moment her fiancé returned home from the war, but the news of his death changed everything. Shattered by her loss, she is still struggling with feelings of guilt when she receives an unexpected letter that raises new questions and reopens old wounds.

Jennifer’s need for answers leads her to Blake’s doorstep, but she is met with hostility and rejection from a man who only vaguely resembles the head-turning charmer she remembers from so long ago. Blake is determined to keep her at arm’s length, and Jennifer soon discovers that she must decide whether to push back or let him go.

Caught up in circumstances beyond their control, Jennifer and Blake have to learn to accept the truths that lie below the surface. She comes to recognize the beauty underneath the scars, and Blake realizes that he’s broken in more ways than he cares to admit.

Nothing will ever be the same for this ex-Army Ranger once he faces the truth. If he can learn to accept the help he needs, he might be able to overcome his warped self-image and emotional scars. To be the man Jennifer deserves, he must heal his wounds before he loses the woman he loves forever.


“What is this?” She traced one finger along the shape of the body art.

“It’s Trent’s dog tag,” he whispered.

“Why are you wearing his name?”

“It is tribute to a brave man and a friend.” His gaze was unwavering, so intense that she shuddered. When she didn’t say a word, his voice was filled with uncertainty. “Am I disgusting you?”

Jennifer shook her head and spoke in a firm voice. “I love everything about you. This . . .” She traced a finger on the raised skin. “Is what makes you, you. I would never ask for anything more.” She lowered her mouth to kiss each scar, feeling his breath hitching with every touch of her lips.

He cupped her face and planted a kiss on her lips. “I want to be perfect for you.”

FINAL 945C0814


About the Author:

Lorenz Font discovered her love of writing after reading a celebrated novel that inspired one idea after another. She is currently enjoying the buzz from her vampire novels Hunted and Tormented, the first and second book of The Gates Legacy trilogy, Indivisible Line, a romantic thriller, and Feather Light, an erotic romance.

Lorenz’s perfect day consists of writing and lounging on her garage couch, aka the office, with a glass of her favorite cabernet while listening to her ever-growing music collection. She enjoys dabbling in different genres, with an intense focus on angst and the redemption of flawed characters. Her fascination with romantic twists is a mainstay in all her stories.

Lorenz lives in California with her husband, children, and two demanding dogs. She divides her time between her full-time job as a hospital office manager and her busy writing schedule.

Connect with Lorenz Font on: ​



Sunday Sneak Peek – T.M. Franklin

Sneak Peek Sunday Banner

Today, we get a sneak peek at the fun upcoming release from T.M. Franklin!



Seventeen-year-old Oliver Wendell Holmes (Yes, his parents are just that peculiar, but his brother’s name is Sherlock, so it could have been worse) knows that he’s different. He’s quirky, awkward, and he’s okay with that. Oliver also likes making lists—meticulous procedures for achieving his goals, step-by-step. Whether it’s “How to Get an A in Chemistry” or “How to Get Accepted to MIT,” he has a process, and it’s worked for him so far. He doesn’t even care that the popular kids mock him. Oliver’s got his eye on the prize.

So when he decides it’s time to declare his feelings for Ainsley Bishop, the girl of his dreams, it’s only natural for him to make a list—a point-by-point strategy to win her heart. He knows it will take a grand gesture for her to see all he has to offer, and her approaching birthday provides the ideal opportunity for Oliver to put his plan into action.

Finding the perfect gift is a challenge Oliver meets with his usual dogged determination. He’ll need to watch her carefully for clues to pinpoint exactly what he should give her. And along the way, he might just learn that what Ainsley really needs is not quite what he expected.


I hesitated for a moment, scanning the parking lot as I tried to decide whether I should approach her or continue on. On the one hand, it was a chance to interact with Ainsley without interruption. On the other hand, it was a chance to interact with Ainsley without interruption. I gulped, my mouth suddenly dry. After all, it was one thing to have a list, a plan of action. It was often another thing to implement that plan when the object of your affection made you feel like you might throw up at any moment.

I was pretty sure that would not aid my cause.

On the other hand, she was sitting there all alone and looking a little sad, if I wasn’t mistaken. And yes, I realized that was three hands, but I was kind of panicking a bit and unsure what to do and counting hands was a low priority at that moment.

“Oliver?” Ainsley looked up and waved, effectively making the decision for me.

I took a deep breath in a fruitless attempt to calm my racing heartbeat and put on what I hoped was a casual, yet friendly, expression as I made my way to her. She smiled, and I remembered that might be a good idea. To smile. So I did.

“Hi,” I said, my voice cracking. It always chose the most inopportune times to do that.

Ainsley was too nice to point it out, though. “Hi,” she said.

“Are you, uh . . .” I could do this. I could be brave. I could take the bull by the horns or the girl by the . . . whatever. “Do you need a ride or, uh, something?”

Good. That was good. Not too pushy, but helpful. I was a helpful guy. I could be helpful. Of course, then she’d be in the cab of my truck with me. A closed-in area where I’d have to make conversation without making a fool of myself. I felt the panic edging up again.

“Oh, no, that’s okay,” she said, waving a hand toward the football field. “I’m waiting for Ian. He’ll be done soon.”

Oh. I wasn’t sure if I felt disappointed or relieved. Disappointed. A little relieved. But mostly disappointed. “Okay then. I’ll just . . .” I made a vague gesture over my shoulder as I started to back away. I really needed to practice these interactions in front of the mirror or something.

“I was surprised to see you at practice,” she said, stopping me in my tracks. “I mean, no offense, but Drama Club doesn’t really seem like your kind of thing.”

Despite my strongest efforts to keep it down, a flush inched its way up my neck. “Oh . . . no. Yeah. It’s totally. My thing that is. Drama Club. Very Drama-clubby. I am. I mean.” I reached up to tug at my hair. Why couldn’t I form complete sentences? “I like plays,” I said finally, pleased that at least that made some kind of sense.

Win an ARC

Want to read more? Well, here’s your chance – a signed print ARC of How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You is up for grabs – so Enter now for a chance to WIN!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You by T.M. Franklin

How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You

by T.M. Franklin

Giveaway ends April 22, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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BLOGGERS: If you’d like to request an ARC of Ainsley for review – or sign up for the blog tour in June – do it here!

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Ainsley will be released JUNE 12, 2014!!

Two Historical Fiction Authors Talk VIKINGS – Episode 8

All Vikings images herein are the property of the History Channel. Click here to go there.

All Vikings images herein are the property of the History Channel. Click here to go there.

Bjorn and Rollo sparGotta say, after the !!! moments from last episode, it was a bit of a relief not to be cringing into my chair for this episode! There was action, plot development, and some very nice Viking men to look at, yes, but nothing that made me say, “Oh, no they didn’t!”
a2alissapicLissa Bryan, author of historical fiction novel Under These Restless Skies, and I tweeted during the show last night and are here again to share our thoughts on what happened. Much of the things that occur on this show are from the old Sagas and have historical backing, which makes this all the more fascinating for me. Sometimes, the writers take liberties, but it is still a world I believe really existed more than one thousand years ago. Her remarks are here in purple.

Lissa: As Aslaug predicted, her baby was born with disabilities. It was so sad to see Ragnar tucking the blanket gently around his newborn son, even as he left him to die on that river bank.


Ragnar waiting for birthSandi: I was just relieved Ragnar didn’t take an axe to him so that the blood would call to predators. (Yes, my head so went there.) As twitter user @Kennethmd told me last night, the sons of Ragnar are better known that Ragnar himself, so the son was not, ultimately, killed. Though Ragnar did indeed sacrifice him. That was his intent. And he walked away from it. That’s important.


Aslaug showed a certain strength of character in defying the cultural norms regarding disabled children. Ragnar, too. Both of them decided that they loved their baby too much to expose him. It will be interesting to see how the community reacts to this situation.


Indeed. Though history isn’t certain what the deal was with Ivar (it is possible that he wasn’t physically weak at all), the story here indicates that he is. In that time, it was the responsibility of the father to accept a child of his and allow that child to live. He had the responsibility, then, of seeing to it that the child would grow into a productive member of their society, not wasting limited resources. Which was why a baby that was seen as not healthy in some way was often exposed to the elements, so that the gods would take the child back before he was named and the society wouldn’t be compelled to care for someone who couldn’t give back to the rest. That was the idea, anyway, as far as I have seen.


Baby Ivar and parentsHistorically speaking, there’s some debate over Ivar’s actual disability. Some people think that the “Boneless” designation came from … ah … his inability to father children. Others think that the nickname actually translates to “Legless” but not in the form of a disability, but because he never needed his legs to leave a battlefield (meaning he was always carried off on his warrior’s shields as a celebration after victory.) Another interpretation says he couldn’t walk, but he was a very big, strong warrior never the less, a poweful shot with a bow, powerful enough to earn the Northmen’s respect,, despite the fact he had to be carried into battle. Whether he was actually disabled or not, Ivar was a renowned warrior with many victories.


The timeline here for the series has him born rather later than is often indicated, but it works well for the story. As the Seer said in the first season, Ragnar’s sons will have more renown than their father.
I had to raise a brow at Lagertha’s bathtub. That didn’t strike me as very accurate for a series that has thus far been commendable in this respect. Bathing seems to have been mostly a communal activity at hotspring pools and bath houses. It seems likely that if she’d had a personal tub, it would have been made of wood, not beaten copper. 
lissa tweet 4 17


My research (which has mostly focused on the Norwegian people of this era) has indicated that cleansing usually happened in steam houses. One might rinse off from that in a spring, river, or from a bucket poured over a person after sweating. It is my thought, as you said, that any bathtub would not have been made from metal. Metal was far too precious to use for something as luxurious as a bathtub. Though, one has to remember that Lagertha’s dead husband was – by her own word, I think -considered insane by some.


In this scene, we see again the man who struck the fatal blow at the feast after Lagertha stabbed her husband. He wants a piece of the pie, so to speak, to marry Lagertha or at least to spend the night with her. He claims that was the deal if he helped her slay her husband and become earl. Lagertha shuts him down fast. He doesn’t have the courage to carry out any of his threats.


And the minion did not seem to fight much about it, which makes me wonder if he has other plans or if Lagertha’s strength is just that overwhelming, even when she is naked and unarmed. Or, perhaps, especially when she is naked and unarmed.


vikings_episode6_BjornandslaveLagertha doesn’t seem too impressed with Porunn. Doubtless, the status issue comes into play. Björn is the son of two powerful jarls, and his marriage would be a matter of alliances, not love. Lagertha would have no problem if Björn was just enjoying the company of a slave girl, but he seems to be getting very emotionally involved with her, and Lagertha is probably worried he will want to marry her soon.


It would make more sense, to her, if Björn were to take Porunn as a leman, or sex slave. Someone whose job it was to keep him thusly entertained. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was something Lagertha would consider: buying Porunn from her owner and giving her as a gift to her son. This would emphasize what would be considered their proper places in society as well as give Lagertha the opportunity to remind Björn of his duties. Marriage was not a thing of the heart, in this time and place. It was a business arrangement. Especially among powerful families. A man was considered to be of a good age to marry when he was perhaps twenty. Björn is close enough to this age that it is fine to consider an alliance but not with a slave.


Floki HorikFloki seems to be having some issues with Ragnar, whose faith he contrasts unfavorably with that of Horik. Horik is courting him, hoping to exploit Floki’s shipbuilding genius. I really enjoyed the seafaring scenes in this episode. 


Oh, don’t get me started on King Horik! He is wooing Floki away with words Floki wants to hear; he’s a fine manipulator. I wonder how this will play out. Will Horik get Floki to move his family at some point and build ships for King Horik’s purposes, thus leaving Ragnar without oars?


We meet Princess Kwenthrith in this episode. She was interesting at first because she seemed to have a sharp eye for the political situation, but then… They seem to be setting her up as a sort of Messalina-type character. She seems to be based on Cynethrith, a powerful queen of Mercia about whom little is known, but who was important enough in her day to have coins minted in her own name.


Ecbert and mercia princessShe comes in and takes no prisoners. King Ecbert’s response to her was quite amusing, sending in some of his men to, ah, keep her entertained. I will have to read up on her before next week’s episode.


Ragnar’s arrogance is getting him into trouble. He’s acting as a sole agent, as though his allies – including King Horik – are merely his assistants in the matter of raiding England. His tone was bordering on disrespectful when he addressed Lagertha by her title Jarl Igstat. It made me wonder if it was just the situation or whether he really doesn’t respect her claim to the title of her dead husband.


Horik and Ragnar conferRagnar lacks leadership skills. He is a good leader in battle, and can handle the ups and downs of a single region without incident, but he never learned how to “win friends and influence people” in terms of large-scale management. I am thinking that, in terms of Lagertha, he respects her but can’t seem to work his head around treating her as a social equal. As his former marital partner, thinking back to early in last season, they were equals in terms of their society. But now that she has won a realm (of sorts) for herself, it isn’t something he can mesh in his understanding. Then, too, his priorities have never been well-fixed. He would probably take her back as his wife in a heartbeat if she’d agree to share with Aslaug. Lagertha, though, is better able to adjust her perspectives.


Ragnar sent Torstein to parlay with Ecbert and was delighted when the king’s son came back to talk, carrying with him Athelstan’s torc. I imagine that Athelstan is one of the first things Ragnar is going to ask for when he speaks with Ecbert. Unfortunately, that meeting may be a little tense, because when the prince’s company leaves the camp, they’re ambushed. The prince is the only one who manages to stagger away.


Death at ambushOh, there was a sweet moment. Ragnar’s relationship with Athelstan has been, for me, one of my favorite aspects of this show. Even when they’re not in the same country, the friendship/brotherish bond is still there. And Ragnar is eager to see Athelstan again, and he gasps when Atheltstan’s armband is returned to him. But, yet again, Horik is going to mess this up.  Apparently, it was he who staged the ambush. I am thinking that he did this for two reasons: One, he is wanting to emphasize to Ragnar that it is Horik, not Ragnar, who is the big dog in this game. And two, Horik isn’t interested in amicable relations with the King of Wessex. Ragnar wants to relocate to Wessex. He is impressed with their resources. His interest lies in keeping the peace. But not everyone agrees with how he does things.  And sometimes, his choices get people killed.  However, the blame for this ambush lies entirely with Horik (and his son). As you say, things will be tense when Ecbert and Ragnar meet again.


I am guessing the conference will not take place in the bath.

Summer’s Music is Kindled!

Many years ago, I had an idea for a romance that eventually became Summer’s Music. I published it a little over five years ago through CreateSpace on Amazon as a paperback. That was quite an adventure! Ebooks were not as prevalent, back then, and I wasn’t sure if a Kindle edition was necessary.

I have decided that it is!

So this title is now available for your Kindle. Same sweet romance between country music sensation Tuesday Tennant and youth pastor Brendan Summers, but now in a new format.

Click here for the Kindle Edition!

Click here for the Kindle Edition!

Later this year, I am hoping to re-issue Silent Music on Kindle as well. Keep an eye open for it. 😉

Historical Fiction Authors Talk VIKINGS – Episode 7

All images from VIKINGS are the property of History Channel and are used solely for illustrative purposes.

All images from VIKINGS are the property of History Channel and are used solely for illustrative purposes.

After seeing some great images on twitter and hearing things like “Unbelievable episode” and “my favorite episode” from the History Channel and Clive Standen, who plays Rollo in the show, Lissa Bryan and I were primed for a night of amazing a2alissapicVikings awesomeness. Let me say thank you, here, to Lissa (author of Under These Restless Skies – prime reading for anyone interested in the court of England’s Henry VIII) for her broad knowledge of the legends and sagas, and to the History Channel for their quality presentation AND for being willing to interact with us on twitter on occasion. 🙂

As is the usual, Lissa’s comments will appear in purple, below. 🙂

Lissa:I seem to be saying this every week, but what an episode! Two weddings, a betrayal, a ruse, and a removal of internal organs. The cinematography was gorgeous, striking a great contrast with the brutality.

Sandi: The tension before the episode was–for me—at an all-time high. The producers of VIKINGS really know their stuff.

Floki and Helga are expecting, though poor Floki is frightened about what sort of father he’ll be. Despite his madness and fanaticism, I think he’ll be an excellent father. He has a lot of love in him. That’s one of the reasons why I was surprised when Floki didn’t want Ragnar at his wedding.

vikings_episode4_ragnar flokiFloki’s character has been morphing in the last couple of episodes, but here we see him presenting his inner thoughts, insofar as he is able. Helga is his long-time companion and the mother of his unborn child. He loves her and shares his heart with her, even though it is clear she has misgivings about some of those feelings. She supports him unstintingly, however, and one can only be glad of their marriage and upcoming “event”. Floki felt shunted aside with the increase of Athelstan’s importance to Ragnar for one thing, and for the other, it is as Floki said: Ragnar is the jarl. Everything is his, now, in a way. It’s an odd position for a friend to be in, and Floki seems to be uncomfortable and unhappy in it.

Frustrating moment between Ragnar and Björn… Ragnar asks Björn where he was the night Rollo attacked Horik’s men, and Björn says he was with Porunn. Which makes me wonder … If Björn didn’t know about the raid, why had he brought her to his room? Obviously, he knew there was something happening at the barn. He didn’t bring her there to seduce her. But then he complains to his father about Ragnar not telling him about the attack. After Björn confesses they couldn’t find him because he was with Porunn, Ragnar says Björn chose her over his father, which was completely unfair. As you said, he’s struggled with his personal relationships before, but Björn showed a lot of maturity and respect by not lashing out at his father for the unjust accusation.

vikings_s2_gallery_bjorn-EBjörn has had an interesting life so far. I think he’s seen a lot, observed a great deal, and has learned thereby. Figure that he’s spent the last few years with Lagertha as his main focus and you can see where he might have absorbed wisdom and canny patience. I was, admittedly, glad to find out that he hadn’t had inside information on the wreaking of vengeance against Jarl Borg and his men from the prior episode – he had seemed so innocent of it that to know he’d been aware of what was to come would have been hard. Even though, here, he wants to be included in Ragnar’s planning. This seems very in character for a Northman of his time. 

Aslaug has an odd moment, too, when she tells Siggy that she had tried to refuse her bed to Ragnar and warned him if he had sex with her while she was already pregnant, their son would be deformed. The Christian belief during the time was that sex should only be for procreative purposes and it was actually medically dangerous for a pregnant woman, but I didn’t believe the Vikings had the same notions. Have you encountered anything like that in your research?

I haven’t, no. Men and women in this culture enjoyed sex and expected their partner to enjoy it, too. The only real stigma was if a woman had children by a man not her husband. If she avoided pregnancy, that was good. [Men, though, would customarily pay a small fee if found to be sleeping with another man’s wife.] I am thinking that for Aslaug, in this episode, her warning may have been either a manifestation of her völva’s gift or a wish to wield her only really effective weapon between them: sex.

There’s a tale in the old legends that Aslaug refused him access to her bed immediately after their marriage by telling him they had to wait for three days lest their child be deformed, but he insisted. Their firstborn was thus “Ivar the Boneless.” 

Someday, I need to read these legends! So was Ivar deformed, then? Or was it a failure of character?

Vikings Horik from siteHorik gives Jarl Borg hope … He tells him he will kill Ragnar and release Borg from his fetid prison cell.

Horik, Horik. In my research, he was King of the Danes. He wielded great authority. You have told me that he was thought to be eccentric (is that being polite?) by his contemporaries. Here, we see a man who has no scruples in turning one ally against another and lying if it got him his own way. And let us not forget arranging to watch his mistress have sex with his son. One cannot trust a thing Horik says; I wonder how this distrust will play out during the rest of this season.

Speaking of distrust… What about Rollo and Siggy? That he confronted her in bed was outstanding. Did she really alleviate his concerns about her having sex with Horik “for you, Rollo!” or is he just pretending? Like his brother Ragnar, Rollo can play a deep game.

Vikings epi 7 Siggy bed

We see two weddings: a Christian ceremony and the wedding of Helga and Floki. The show delighted me once more in this respect.

You were swooning on twitter. 🙂

There isn’t a lot of specific information on Viking wedding ceremonies… Just a few details mentioned here and there in the sagas.

One site that has some good information that I have found is from the Viking Answer Lady. Click here for her information on weddings and customs associated with marriage and divorce.

Vikings season 2 floki wedding twitterOne of them mentions retrieving a sword from the graves of an ancestor for the ceremony, and the bride giving the groom a new sword as a gift. (Now, how often these things were done in practice is a different matter, of course… It would be sort of like a culture a thousand years from now teaching about our wedding customs by watching soap operas and romantic comedies.) The rings, though, I thought were exchanged on the pommel of the sword, not the tip, indicating protection of the bride. Still, it delighted my geeky little heart to see how much effort they’d put into the details. I wish they would have shown us the week-long feast, and the bride’s morning gift.

In Éire’s Captive Moon, Agnarr and his mother, Gerda, have a discussion about retrieving Agnarr’s father’s sword. It was considered a big deal, from what I’ve read. But swords were rare – very rare – so I imagine that producing one at a wedding would have been like showing off hidden treasure. A measure of wealth and status. And I wonder if Floki would have given Helga a morning gift at this juncture? They’ve been cohabitating for a long time – it is possible he made that symbolic “payment for her virginity” years past.

And Ragnar, all alone in the hall, playing William Tell with one of his buddies while everyone else in Kattegat is at the wedding. He’s as drunk as a lord, as they say, but the show didn’t give us any other indication of how he felt to be left out of Floki’s celebration. He’s interrupted to be informed that a new earl has arrived, a new ally … Who turns out to be Earl Lagertha.

Oh, that scene really did strike me, too. Ragnar alone and three sheets to the wind. But, I do give him credit for accepting that he was not included and not forcing his way into Floki’s day. As Jarl, he could have done so without any major negative consequences. And then…! The strangely awkward messenger with the news about the new jarl in the woods!

Vikings tweet hail Lagertha

That was awesome. I actually bounced in my chair at home to see the new jarl. 🙂 Lagertha did it brilliantly, in my estimation, and I was (again) all kinds of impressed with her.

I was reading over the last week about Viking divorce customs. It said that if a man slapped his wife in public, she was entitled to be paid a fine equal to what he would have received if another man had struck him, and if he did it three times, she could divorce him, and claim a hefty portion of his goods, on top of the fine. Is that what Lagertha was waiting for? That third public slap before she left him for good? But then his humiliation of her caused her to snap?

That is very possible. The beating his men gave her was given in private so that didn’t count, but it is possible that she was waiting for that. It’d be nice to know for certain what the writers were thinking in their unseen backstory. (Any cut scenes from that one, I wonder?)

vikings_episode6_ragnaraslaugsonPrincess Aslaug has a chat with Ragnar while they watch Lagertha training with the men in the courtyard. She says she wishes she was like Lagertha. It’s like we discussed last week… she yearns for that respect. She is a wonderful home maker, but her blood is that of warriors. Had her childhood been different, she might have been the stuff of legends, but it doesn’t seem like the show is going to get into her background. Which is very sad, because it would explain a lot about her insecurities.

Unless those insecurities play a part in the plot, it is unlikely that the next three episodes will shed much light on her background, true. I did think it was game of her to say nice things about Lagertha. She has to know that the only reason she is with Ragnar is because he got her pregnant. They have built a relationship over the years, true, but if she’d been just a roll in the hay while Ragnar was raiding, Lagertha would still be Ragnar’s wife, in all likelihood. Though she would have missed some great opportunities and he would have been morose without a building baseball team of sons.

vikings borg prisonJarl Borg is woken when his cell door opens. Freedom! He snatches up his wife’s skull and runs out the door … only to find everyone out there waiting to watch his execution.

That was such a mean psych-out. I felt for him, but he handled it with extreme grace, I think, all things considered.

Borg sets down the skull and gives it one last caress before tossing off his cape with a lift of his chin, as though to say, “Let’s do this thing.” The scene was both horrifying and gorgeous… Filmed in warm, flickering firelight with beautiful shadows, but even the Vikings were gasping and cringing at the spectacle.

The handling of that whole sequence was phenomenal. Blood had to be shown, and it was, sure. But the focus was on the faces, as it had to be. Ragnar’s expression of avid attention, almost, as he drew the first lines on Borg’s back. Borg’s face as he went from focusing on handling the pain to just keeping himself from screaming. Some of the onlookers were clearly horrified or sickened while others watched with a distance clear on their faces. 

Ragnar showed his victim respect. When Borg’s arm fell from the supports and he nearly broke beneath the agony, Ragnar paused to come around to look into his eyes. He gently lifted his arm back into place and gripped his shoulder as if to give Borg encouragement and strength. Borg earned his place in Valhalla.

VIKINGS with Two Historical Fiction Authors – Episode 6

All Vikings images herein are the property of the History Channel. Click here to go there.

All Vikings images herein are the property of the History Channel. Click here to go there.

Well! I did not have a good Thursday night blush so didn’t live-tweet with friend and author Lissa Bryan during this episode, but I caught it first thing Friday morning. (You can do that, too! Just go to their site and check VIDEO!)

a2alissapicThis week’s episode was titled “Unforgiven” — ominous enough all by itself, no? See what Lissa and I had to say about it here. Her comments are in purple. 🙂

Lissa: Crazy episode, huh? 

Sandi: For real! Ragnar and Rollo were playing a deep game.

First and foremost, it was great to see Siggy come clean about her motives. She wants her former position back and asks the Seer if the gods will ever smile on her again. He tells her the gods always favor brave women. Siggy is not a warrior, but she will fight in her own fashion to get what she wants.

Siggy’s time with the Seer at the outset was revelatory and totally in character. At this point in the season, it’s good for the audience to be in on her motivation.

It turns out you were right about what a poor decision it was to burn the grain stores. Kattegat is suffering hunger, and Ragnar has to apologize for his poor hospitality when King Horik comes for a feast. King Horik recounts what happened in England after Ragnar left and Ragnar asks about Athelstan.

Winters were hard in the north. Infant mortality was up to 30%, and much of that was due to a paucity of food. And Horik…! Well, yeah. He intimates that Athelstan is gone, and Ragnar’s quickly hidden reaction was great. Another tribute to the actor’s craft.

vikings_episode6_rollo to borgFloki announces his delight that Athelstan is gone. He says he never believed Athelstan was loyal to their gods. Horik wants to re-unite with Jarl Borg because they need his ships and men if they’re going to go a-viking and raid England again. Aslaug is opposed to the idea. They decide to send Rollo to talk to Jarl Borg because he “knows him best.” Considering Rollo punched him last time they chatted, I’m not so sure this is a great idea.

Floki’s stance was very clear to me. He was honest about his perceptions and he remains a loyal friend to Ragnar – even if he cannot abide Ragnar’s Christian friend.  The actor is fantastic. Horik’s position is, to my mind, ridiculous. The Northmen had a saying about revenge: A wise man takes his time to plan his revenge and a fool never takes it at all. So if Ragnar had never taken revenge for the serious wrong done to his people—not just himself, but all those beholden to him—he would have been deemed a weakling and a fool. He couldn’t let Jarl Borg’s invasion just slip into the mist.  Now, we don’t get a lot of Ragnar/Rollo discussion about a revenge plot in here, but clearly, it happened. I just wondered if it was before Rollo’s visit to Jarl Borg or after!

Horik goes to talk to Siggy, and brings along his son because he says he wants the boy to learn the game of politics…. and something a little more. He also wants Siggy to teach the boy about the delights of the flesh whil Horik watches. There’s no doubt in my mind this is all about his dominence over her and later Horik confirms this when siggy says she’s no whore, but Horik tells Siggy she’s his whore. Floki witnesses the exchange and Siggy goes over to ask him, “Can you keep a secret?”

Floki giggles. “No.”

Siggy picThat made me snort. Perfect, and it clearly disconcerted Siggy who likely needed a sympathetic ear. Women do like to talk out their problems.

Now, the Siggy/Princeling Sex? As soon as I saw that Horik had his son with him, I was thinking, “He wants Siggy to ‘make him a man.'” But watching? Ew? That put a whole new and dirty level on it, in my opinion. Ick.

Meanwhile, Lagertha has returned to that drunken lout of a husband. He says, with heavy sarcasm, how delighted he is to have his wife back, but is very unhappy she’s left his stepson with Ragnar. He tells her she’ll be sleeping alone that night, and sends in four of his men to her room to beat her unconcious. Lagertha fights like the shield maiden she is, but even she cannot fight off four warriors.

Oh, I was so thinking of you, Lissa! Lagertha was fantastic. It was clear she knew that something would happen, because she was tense in her solitary bed. (As a side note: What is up with the elaborate headboard? Did it say Game of Thrones to anyone else?) It was so hard to watch her just give up at a certain point in the fight. It was wise that she did, of course, but hard to see.

Ha! I noted the modern-style headboard, too. Looked like something you would find in one of those rustic home decoration catalogs for twelve thousand dollars, and think, “I could make that with some twine and kindling from my wood pile.”

But now that you mention it… There have been people on Tumblr noting some set pieces re-used from Game of Thrones

vikings_episode6_BjornandslaveIt seems Björn has fallen in love! A slave girl named Porunn has caught his eye. As you mentioned, there’s a bizarre little anachronism when Bjorn asks her if she has a “boyfriend.” 

The term “boyfriend” took me out of the moment. He could have asked if she were spoken for or if she belonged to another man. As a slave, it was highly likely her body was held to account somewhere.

Yes, as a slave, she more likely belonged to another man who had claimed her, not involved in a romantic liaison of her own choosing. Ragnar and Aslaug watch this exchange. She starts questioning him about trusting Jarl Borg again after everything he put her through. She had to sleep in a dirty house! OMG! Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but she has a point. There is some serious bad blood there. 

vikings_episode6_ragnaraslaugsonOh, pile on the sarcasm. I was rolling my eyes. A lot. “Daddy would have done it so much better!” Gak. There is bad blood, but Aslaug isn’t trusting her husband in this instance, in the purview that was rightfully his in the Northern view of marital responsibilities. She has dominion on all home and family matters; he has the authority on the military and farming matters.

I think Aslaug yearns for him to respect her mind, too, not just her domestic capabilities. She knows of his deep love and respect for Lagertha, and wants to try to attain the same position. But she just doesn’t have it. She’s not a warrior, and she never will be.

Rollo is talking it over with Jarl Borg and discovers the guy has more than a few screws loose. (Or, should we say wood pegs, to fit in with the time period?) He has the skull of his dead wife, which he kisses, passionately, and asks what he should do. Skull Wife seems to approve of Borg returning to Ragnar’s side. 

I was really creeped out by the kissing of the skull. And I thought, How Humiliating! to be the jarl’s new, pregnant wife. She had to watch and appear to give her tacit consent. Not nice.

vikings_episode3_gallery ecbertAthelstan is also talking to a king. Egbert reveals he’s deeply interested in the pagan Romans who conquered this land before him. He takes Athelstan into a room of scrolls and sculpture. I cannot describe the intense lust I had for that room. I yearned for it to be real and for them to discover it again one day, still stuffed with all of thos scrolls! Egbert tells Athelstan that his job is to decipher and preserve all of this knowledge, but if he ever reveals Egbert has it, Egbert will allow them to execute Athelstan.

Scene change! First, it was good to see Athelstan looking well. No visible scarring. No limp. A smile on his face as he got to work on the illuminated manuscript. Ecbert’s interest in Things Pagan was a surprise—but the threat to have Athelstan crucified if the monk breathes a word of it was not. And yeah…the depository was swoon-inducing. 🙂

Rollo and Jarl Borg arrive back in Kattegat, and after they agree to re-unite, Ragnar orders all of Jarl Borg’s men to be treated as honored guests. This ends up being the biggest issue I had with this episode. Rollo embraces Siggy, and then grabs an axe.

Well, here, Ragnar and Rollo have clearly conspired. But when? That’s what I wanted to know. That Ragnar had this planned out is clear by the end of the episode, but I missed chapter two or something.

Wonder if there’s an important “cut scene” or two out there that they’re hiding from us Americans!

Ha! Yes! And I wonder…does Rollo trust Siggy? Hmmm.

Good question. I wondered if he has suspicions about her and Horik. For a moment, I wondered if that was where he was going with that axe.

Lagertha’s face is terribly battered after what her husband’s men did to her. He stands up during dinner and announces how pretty her breasts are, and rips open her blouse to display them. Lagertha grabs the knife from the table and sticks it in his eye. One of his own men finishes him off with a blow from a sword.

Oh, this was marvelous. Her husband was being such a horrible person. It is clear he is attempting to prove dominance, but any man that has to resort to force and humiliation is not a real man at all. Lagertha’s swift and sure response was awesome. She had perfect aim.
From ledchristmaslighting.com

From ledchristmaslighting.com

The historical Lagertha stabbed her husband to death with a knife she had hidden in the folds of her gown. The Saxo Grammaticus implies she did it because she wanted to rule alone. I wonder why the show’s producers decided to do it this way?

I didn’t know that until I read what you wrote. I just saw it as as Well Done by the show, and saw that Lagertha had the apparent support of those around her husband’s table for her actions.

A motive for the marriage, perhaps? “Allow him to abuse me publicly until no one would question whether he deserved it…. And then I’ll be QUEEN!”

Björn has brought Porunn to his room, and it becomes clear why in just a few minutes, but the girl thinks it’s because he intends to have sex with her. She strips and asks “Master” if this is what he wants. But Björn wants her to be willing. 

The reason why he put her in there is because her usual lodgings – the barn – isn’t the safest place to be at the moment. Jarl Borg’s men are blocked inside. One of Ragnar’s men tells them they’ll be safe if they remain silent … right before Rollo torches the barn. He asks Floki where Björn is and Floki shrugs.

Now, see, at this point I wasn’t sure if Björn was in on his father’s plot or if this was just a fortuitous circumstance. How far had Ragnar taken his son into his counsel at this point? I hadn’t any idea. I think having Floki not know makes sense because, wonderful as he can be at times, he is not always big on discretion.

Jarl Borg remembers the Seer’s prophecy about the eagle right before Rollo comes in. “I told you I always look for revenge,” Rollo tells Borg, before Floki beats Borg to a bloody pulp.

That scene was very much about the eyes. Watching Rollo was an education. He seemed a bit distant in his expression, but entirely committed as well. He is really a fascinating character.

They drag Borg into the room where Ragnar and Horik are waiting. Horik asks if he’s dead and Ragnar says not yet… Looks like we’re going to see Jarl Borg become an “eagle” after all.

bloodeagle tweet historyThat was an evil place to leave off! I wonder if they are going to do the notorious blood eagle? I cringe to think of it, but… I put nothing past History Channel. They’ve done a great job thus far.

I think they will. They sent out a Tweet during the show explaining what the term meant, but not mentioning that its authenticity was in question. 

Here’s what troubled me: the Vikings had very firm beliefs and customs regarding hospitality. Of course, there are stories in the old legends about people violating it, but they were sort of like our movies about weddings being interrupted by crazy stunts where the bride runs off with another man. It has happened, but it’s an extreme rarity, and not something that would be looked upon with approval.

Not only did Ragnar and Rollo violate the rules of hospitality, they also broke their word. That wasn’t looked upon lightly in their culture. 

ECM_GirlI think, here, it comes down to the need and expectation for revenge. Hospitality is good, but men sought revenge. Even for a stolen weapon, it was sanctioned. So this? I think that the hospitality was more of a surprise than anything to anyone who observed Ragnar’s actions. That he wreaked such utter revenge did, to me, make sense in terms of the expectations of the day, as I referenced above. A wise man bided his time, but he took revenge thoroughly. This was why I had my character Charis do so in Éire’s Captive Moon. It gained her stature even among the Northmen; and no one seemed to think it was out of place.

I didn’t think of it that way, so I suppose you’re right. More of a trap than an actual guest/host situation.

Autism – The Daily Challenge

April is Autism Awareness Month. I know this. I’m a wife. I’m an author. I’m the mom of sons. I’m the mom of a child with autism. An autistic child, if you will, for he was born on the spectrum as much as he was born with brown hair with a tendency to curl and the nose that marks him as part of my genetic line.

i love a child with autismAs the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I am of course “aware” of autism on an hourly basis, day after day, and will be for the rest of my life. Just as the phrase “If you’ve seen one child with autism…you’ve seen ONE child with autism,” is true, so it is also true for those of us who parent autistic children. We have many commonalities – so many! It is why, when I meet people who have children on the spectrum, I want to know if they have a support system. If they know other parents of kids on the spectrum. There is nothing like being able to talk to someone who walks your path, or one similar to your own, to help you through challenging times.

But our paths don’t always start at the same places, and we each walk at our own pace, and that’s a good thing.

For me, finding out my son was autistic was a relief. Because as his mom, I knew there was something that wasn’t normative. Something that required attention, but I didn’t know what it was. My son didn’t have a period of normal development before exhibiting signs that he was autistic. There wasn’t a time when he called me, “Mama” as an infant or anything. No time when my face brought him especial joy. No time when he gazed intently into my eyes in that way babies do when they’re getting to know you. This was not part of our shared experience. For us, our bond was built on singing with the letter “L” as a primary sound. We danced for hours in the middle of the night, waltzing in a moonlit kitchen. I stayed up with him, hour after hour, for years while we lived through his sleeping problems. I became adept at finding new ways to count sheep in rhyme and song.

autism not-a-diseaseSo knowing that there was a name for this was a relief to me. Because a “label” means there are things one can do. People who have been where I was (and am) and have suggestions for how to interpret the world for my son and interpret him to the world.

I know that for many, the label of Autistic is a frightening thing. But for this mom? It was a blessing. It gave a name to the challenges I face all the time. It meant that I could be proactive, rather than reactive, more often. It meant that I could focus on positives and rejoice.

Some days, I face the challenges with the knowledge that I am as well-prepared for the day as I can be. That I have done all I can to guide my son into as much independence as he can achieve while seeing to it that he is bolstered as needed. My goal: to show him how to be a contributing member of society insofar as his dreams and abilities enable him. Some days, I think I am meeting this responsibility with honor and grace and intelligence.

Other days…not so much. I zig when I should have zagged. I treat as “normal” something that should have been heeded as “not normal”. I slack off.  I fail the challenge of the moment in some respect.

I’m human. I’m a parent. I am not perfect. I have learned to forgive myself.

My son will always have autism. I don’t want him to be anyone other than who he is. His challenge is to face each day, knowing it will be hard. Because it is. My challenge is to help him be strong enough, capable enough to meet his day. Sometimes, he needs me to be a warm blanket when it was a hard day. Sometimes, he needs a cheerleader to assure him that his imagination produces great ideas. Sometimes, he needs Iron Mom, who can stand firm against his outbursts of anger and resentment while getting him to see the need for growth and change – someone who is more stubborn than he is. Someone who is not hurt when he says hurtful things.

He’s a child. He’s not perfect. I forgive him everything.

So yes, it is Autism Awareness Month. And being aware of autism has enriched my life immeasurably. I take greater joy in smaller happenings. I relish the challenge of interpreting what I thought I knew into a new frame of reference. I look forward to seeing my son grow from where he is now to where he’ll be by, say, NEXT April. He’s an amazing person with a fantastic headspace.

I have great kids. 🙂 The challenge is to be the best mom I can be for each of them. And it’s a challenge I face daily, just like every other parent I know.