Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caernarfon Castle - Wales

It’s hard to believe that many centuries, or almost a thousand years ago, men stood in the gatehouse at Caernarfon Castle sharpening their swords and arrow heads on the surrounding stone walls. At roughly twenty-four inches off the ground, there are thick, deep gouges in the stones, obviously made by someone sharpening a sword. Then, at approximately eye level, there are similar but narrower verticle groves, clearly where soldiers had used the stone walls to sharpend their arrow heads.
None of this I knew until I interviewed Paul Williams, who happened to be on duty that day at the castle. He was a wealth of knowledge, volunteering information that only someone very familiar with the history could possibly know. I originally asked him about the Murder Holes in the gatehouse, (previously posted on my blog) and it was then that he noted the score marks of the swords and arrow heads. He even demonstrated how the sword would have slid through the stone, to provide a sharp edge. It was a great interview, and I found the information fascinating.

I highly recommend a visit. Take a picnic, spread your blanket, and enjoy a wonderful day at the castle. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager

I have been a devoted listener of Dennis Prager for many years, and rarely miss one of his radio shows. He espouses clarity in all things, and his outlook on life is refreshing and inspirational. As part of his show, there's a segment entitled, “The Happiness Hour.” For me, this is one of the most interesting parts of his program – listening to what makes an individual happy. Often, the calls are backed up with listeners who simply want to tell him how he has affected their lives. Today was no different. Sometimes, I could cry at the plight of a caller, and, at other times literally roar with laughter.

By the way, Dennis believes that it is everyone’s duty to try to be as happy as possible. Indeed, acting in a positive, happy fashion can actually lead an individual into becoming happy on a regular basis. Once they see how their behavior affects those around them, their lives can change for the better. Who wants to be around a grumpy, negative person? Absolutely nobody! Dennis has often said that trying to be happy is as important as cleaning one’s teeth and wearing a deodorant – I couldn’t agree with him more!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Audrey Ledgerwood, Illustrator

Illustrator, Audrey Ledgerwood poses next to her original watercolor painting at Barnes and Noble last Saturday. After reading the synopsis of Forbidden, she allowed her mind to drift back to her visits to Scotland, the harsh coastline, the dark forbidding skies, etc. and she went to work designing the front cover. When the publisher saw the painting, Roth said, "Audrey's work encompasses the story, it is an intriguing illustration..." Needless to say, I am thrilled that Audrey's design was chosen, and delighted that she could spare the time to attend the book signing.

Audrey was able to give advice to visitors on Saturday. One young woman who had written a children's book wanted an illustrator. Audrey was able to offer suggestions and advice, and hand over her card. It was a pleasant day for everyone.

Barnes and Noble Event

Audrey Ledgerwood (right), who designed and painted the original water color illustration for the front cover of my book Forbidden, joined me for a book signing event at Barnes and Noble on Saturday, July 10th from 1:00 - 3:00 PM. Sales were brisk for the whole two hours and, although some books were left at the store, I'm told they too have already been sold.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Murder Holes

In medieval times, should intruders battle their way across a drawbridge and find themselves in the main gateway of a castle, they would often have to deal with Murder Holes. These holes, usually four to six in number, are located in the roof of the main gatehouse. Sometimes though, they can be seen in the curtain walls by means of an extended platform or projecting parapet of a castle.

Once the intruders had entered the gatehouse, they were defenseless. Poised above, the archers would rein a flurry of arrows below. At the same time, soldiers would drop heavy stones, boiling water, molten lead or tar. Occasionally, excrement and even the odd dead body would also be tossed from above - obviously to intimidate and disgust the attackers.

These particular Murder Holes are in the gatehouse at the magnificent Castle of Caernarvon, in North Wales.