Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Blogger: John Wills on his new book, "Healer"

Hi folks,

Welcome my first guest blogger John Wills who wants to shout the news about his newest book. Enjoy!

Thank you for allowing me to visit with you and your readers. I have exciting news!—my latest novel, HEALER, is now available on Amazon, or at my publisher’s website: Oak Tree Press. HEALER is the heartwarming story about 16-year-old Billy Anderson. Billy has experienced more than his share of tragedy in his young life. Made fun of in school because of a birth defect, he first endures the loss of his mother, and then his father dies in the war.



One day, as Billy attends Mass, his life takes a dramatic turn. An elderly woman dies in his arms. But before she takes her last breath she tells him, “Receive the gift of healing.” Those words instantly change his life. However, Billy has no idea whether his supernatural ability will be a blessing or a curse.

Billy’s story will both surprise and comfort readers. He’s a remarkable young man whose parents imbued in him old fashioned values, morals, and ethics. His honesty and compassion will refresh and inspire. HEALER is a story the entire family will enjoy—from young adults to senior citizens. It’s a journey of faith and courage that will both leave you in tears and soothe your soul.

I was inspired to write this story after reading stories in the Bible about the Apostles and other saints who had the ability to heal those who were sick or lame. I wondered how such a gift might be looked upon in the present day. But as with much of my writing, I didn’t shy away from the reality of human nature. I include hardships like crime, addiction, homelessness, etc. Real life is gritty. To ignore that fact would certainly detract from my stories.

My previous novel, The Year Without Christmas, is an award-winner that chronicles how homeless people survive on the street. It’s a gut-wrenching story about a small town family whose peace is shattered by a tragic accident. The husband disappears as his grandson faces a life-threatening disease. It’s a tale about loss, faith, and the power of love.

About me: I served 2 years in the Army, and then 12 years as a Chicago cop. I left the police department to join the FBI and retired after 21 years. I’ve written 10 books and published more than 150 articles on police training. I also write short stories and poetry. I live in Fredericksburg, Virginia with my wife Christine. We’ve been married 44 years and have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.

Links:

My website: www.johnmwills.com
Amazon Healer link: HEALER



as always, stay safe out there!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Thing to Behold: The Holy Grail

Sir Percival

...And “O my brother Percivale,” she said
“Sweet brother, I have seen the Holy Grail:
For, waked at dead of night, I heard a sound
As of a silver horn from o’er the hills
Blown, and I thought, ‘It is not Arthur’s use
To hunt by moonlight;’ and the slender sound
As from a distance grew
Coming upon me-O never harp nor horn,
Nor aught we blow with breath, or touch with hand,
Was like that music as it came; and then
Stream’d thro’ my cell a cold and silver beam,
And down the long beam stole the Holy Grail,
Rose-red with beatings in it, as if alive,
Till all the white walls of my cell were dyed
With rosy colours leaping on the wall;
And then the music faded, and the Grail
Past, and the beam decay’d, and from the walls
The rosy quiverings died into the night.
So now the Holy Thing is here again
Among us, brother, fast thou too and pray,
And tell thy brother knights to fast and pray,
That so perchance the vision may be seen
By thee and those, and all the world be heal’d.”

From ‘The Holy Grail’ chapter, Idylls of the King

The Cup of Christ, or the Holy Grail, has been a subject of wonder since medieval times.  Legend says that the Cup was used during the Last Supper. Later, Joseph of Arimathea caught blood dripping from the crucified Christ within its recesses. After the death of Jesus, Joseph and his family either traveled to England, or Joseph gave the Cup to his brother, Bron, who made the journey to England.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hit them with the pointy things: A history of Archery

“The wild beasts quivered at the cry of the questing hounds;
Deer ran though the dale, distracted by fear,
Hastened up the high slopes, but hotly were met
By the stout cries of the stable, staying their flight.
They let through the antlered harts, with their handsome heads,
And the brave bucks too, with their branching palms,
For this fine lord had forbidden, in fermisoun time
That any man should molest the male of the deer.
The hinds were held in the valley with hey! and ware!.
The does driven with din to the depths of the dale.
Then the shimmering arrows slipped from the bowstring, and slanted,
winging their way from every tree in the wood.
Their broad heads pierced the bonny flanks of brown;
The deer brayed and bled, as on the banks they died.”

from the fourteenth century English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Bow and arrows have been around for a long time. It is reported that cave drawings dating back to 20,000 BC have been found in Spain. Parts of archery equipment, shafts estimated to date from 9000 BC and flint heads back to 25,000 BC have been discovered by archaeologists. In 1991, a body of an ancient male with 14 arrows was found in the Swiss Alps. The re-curve bow was developed by the Assyrians and the weapon perfected by the Hittites for use by chariot men. In 1363, a law was passed in England requiring mandatory practice of archery by the common folks on holidays & Sundays. It is said that Confucius was an archery instructor and who can forget the legendary Robin Hood and his Merry men who were primarily known as bowmen.

Greek Archer

Friday, September 12, 2014

Feed me, Seymour! Medieval food and spices

Plain or not? That was the question of people in the Middle Ages. Spices were an important part of the people’s diet. Spices added flavor to the daily meal; the product disguised the taste of bad meat as no refrigeration was available. Traders from the Far East and the Middle East brought a variety of spices to Europe while others were available locally.



The most important additive was salt. During some parts of history, salt or sodium chloride, was worth as much or more than gold. The chemical has been used to preserve meats & fish and enhance recipes since 6000 B.C. Salt was obtained in many of the same methods we use today: mining or evaporating water. It was also used in the dying process and in the making of soap (among others).
Pepper was obtained from India and the Mediterranean. In addition to cooking, pepper was used in medicine. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, mustard, galanga (a root similar to ginger), cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric, anise, caraway, and nutmeg were important parts of cooking. These could be expensive due to the costs of trade expeditions to obtain them. Saffron was used in the dye process.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hockey Season is almost upon us!

The temperature is beginning to drop. I doubt we'll have any triple digit days and maybe we won't see the thermometer rise past the low nineties. It means two things: the summer is almost over with fall on the horizon and it's time for training camp!

That's right, the ice hockey pre-season is just around the corner.

I have been going into withdrawals, not having live hockey to watch. Sure, the NHL Channel is showing old games from last season but it's not the same thing. I know the score when I view the previously broadcast games. It seems like cheating when I watch a game I've already seen. It wouldn't be so bad if the shows were good games (when San Jose won) but the only ones I have seen so far include the losing post-season series.