Sunday, 24 January 2021

She Sees Ghosts by David Fitz-Gerald


David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. She Sees Ghosts―A Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls is the next instalment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

She Sees Ghosts―The Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls

Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series

by David Fitz-Gerald

Publication Date: October 25, 2020 

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Page Length: 270 pages

Genre Historical/Supernatural

A blazing fire killed her family and devoured her home. A vengeful demon haunted her. Ghosts of the Revolutionary War needed help that only she could provide. A young woman languished, desperate to survive, and teetered on the edge of sanity.

Mehitable grew up in a freshly tamed town, carved from the primeval forest. Family, friends, and working at the mercantile filled her days and warmed her heart. For Mehitable, life was simple and safe, until tragedy struck. When her family perished in their burning home, she retreated into a world of her own making.

As a young girl, she had seen glimmers, glimpses, and flickers of the spirit world. She closed her eyes. She turned her back. She ignored the apparitions that she never spoke of, desperately hoping they would leave her in peace. She was mistaken.

Grief-stricken, Mehitable withdrew from the human world. Ghosts were everywhere. They became bolder. She could no longer turn her back on the spirit world. Her friends feared for her survival. Nobody understood her. She would have to find her own way.

Fans of TV’s Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium will especially love She Sees Ghosts. This historical novel features memorable characters and delivers bone-tingling, spine chilling goosebumps. It stands on its own and it is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series by the award-winning author of Wanders Far―An Unlikely Hero’s Journey. David Fitz-Gerald delivers a historical novel with a bittersweet ending that you won’t see coming.

Would she save the spirits’ souls, or would they save her? Only time would tell.

Read an excerpt

At the end of Perry’s snare-trail there were two large boulders, side by side in the woods. They decided to take a break before returning home. They sat facing each other on the rocks and talked about many things. When Perry had finally finished talking about Aurilla, at least for that moment, Mehitable decided she had something confidential that she would like to share as well. She said, “Perry, I want to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before. Do you promise to keep it a secret?”

Perry turned his head slightly and twisted his face in confusion. Then he nodded his head earnestly, agreeing to keep her confidence.

Mehitable put her hands on her kneecaps, leaned forward, and whispered loudly, “Sometimes I think I can see ghosts.” Then she nodded, as if to confirm all the questions that might be asked. The questions came nevertheless.

“Ghosts? Like the Holy Spirit? Like dead people?” Perry asked excitedly.

Mehitable held her index finger up to her lips, reminding him that she would like him to keep such information to himself. Of course, there wasn’t anyone within the sound of her voice. It was the first time she had ever mentioned it out loud.

Perry asked what the ghosts looked like, and whether they were scary.

“Most of the time ’tis like a flash. A quick flicker of movement I see from the corner of my eye. Like a mouse scampering along the base of a wall, gone from sight before you fully realize what you’ve seen.” She shuddered at the thought of seeing a mouse, something she found more unpleasant than ghosts. “Sometimes ’tis like fog in the shape of a person. If I look at it, it starts to come into focus, so that I can see what the person looked like. Usually I just close my eyes or look away.”

Perry asked, “Have you always seen the ghosts?”

Mehitable placed her right hand on her cheek, and looked off into the woods, as if she might find the answer to his question in the forest. “I guess I have always seen them. I have always had the good sense to look away. Maybe the spirits knew I was afraid. Since I started working at the store, I have been seeing them more and more. The ghosts no longer seem content to be ignored. They don’t seem to care that I wish they’d stay away.” She looked at her brother having admitted her fear. She nervously bit her lower lip, and a wrinkle of worry dashed across her forehead.

Perry tried to lighten the moment by joking, “If I ever die, I’ll come back and haunt you. You best not be afraid of me!”

Mehitable laughed and flung a woolen mitten at her brother’s face. She was glad to have shared her secret, and she was glad the conversation was over. She thought, perhaps, that having given voice to her concern, the ghosts would refrain from showing themselves to her in the future.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Introducing The Orphan Train Saga by Sherry A. Burton

Born in Kentucky, Sherry got her start writing by pledging to write a happy ending to a good friend who was going through some really tough times. The story surprised her by taking over and practically writing itself.What started off as a way to make her friend smile started her on a journey that would forever change her life. Sherry readily admits to hearing voices and is convinced that being married to her best friend for thirty-eight plus years  goes a long way in helping her write happy-ever-afters. Sherry is the author of The Orphan Train Saga novels, a planned eighteen book historical fiction saga that revolves around the historic orphan trains. books in the safe include Discovery, Shamelss, Treachery and Guardian. Loyal, the fifth in the saga, is expected to release summer of 2021. Sherry resides in Michigan and spends most of her time writing from her home office, travelling to book signing events and giving lectures on the Orphan Trains

Discovery: The Orphan Train Saga Book One

By Sherry A. Burton 

While most use their summer breaks for pleasure, third grade teacher Cindy Moore is using her summer vacation to tie up some loose ends concerning her grandmother’s estate. When Cindy enters the storage unit that holds her grandmother’s belongings, she is merely looking for items she can sell to recoup some of the rental fees she’s spent paying for the unit. 

Instead, what she finds are secrets her grandmother has taken to the grave with her. The more Cindy uncovers, the more she wants to know. Why was her grandmother abandoned by her own mother? Why hadn’t she told Cindy she’d lived in an orphanage? And how come her grandmother never mentioned she’d made history as one of the children who rode the Orphan Trains? 

Join Cindy as she uncovers her grandmother’s hidden past and discovers the life that stole her grandmother’s love.

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Tuesday, 12 January 2021

A Rooster for Asklepios


A Rooster for Asklepios 

Marcus, a slave in the household of Lucius Coelius Felix, enjoys a better life than most slaves (and many free citizens) as the secretary and accountant of a wealthy aristocrat.  His master is rising in the civic life of the Roman colony of Antioch-near-Pisidia (central Turkey), and his responsibilities and income are growing as well. If this continues, he could soon earn enough to buy his freedom, set up a small business, and even marry.  

​Then misfortune strikes, and his master falls into a deep depression that is exacerbated by a nagging illness that his physician is unable to cure.  The future looks bleak until the physician receives a dream from the healing god Asklepios calling Lucius to travel hundreds of miles across western Asia Minor to his sanctuary at Pergamon for treatment and, he hopes, a cure.

Accompanied by Marcus and his new wife Selena, Lucius embarks on a long and eventful journey in which both master and slave encounter people and ideas that challenge long-held beliefs about themselves, their society, and the world around them.  Values are questioned, loyalties tested, and identities transformed in a story that brings to life a corner of the Roman empire that has been neglected by previous storytellers.

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A Bull For Pluto

(A Slave's Story Trilogy, Book 2)

By Christopher D. Stanley

After a lengthy and eventful stay at the sanctuary of Asklepios in Pergamon, the time has come for Lucius and Marcus to return to Antioch.  Selena had been sent home earlier when Lucius learned that she was pregnant, and the impending arrival of the winter snows could soon make it impossible for them to reach their destination before the child is born.

​To Marcus’s surprise, Lucius announces that he plans to stop for a while in Hierapolis to bask in the healing waters of the city’s renowned hot springs.  Here Marcus meets a young woman named Miriam who challenges him to embrace his long-hidden Jewish ancestry.  Marcus is torn between his budding love for Miriam and the cost of heeding her advice.

​A tragic decision by Lucius seals their fate, as their full attention must now be devoted to preserving Lucius’s life.  They reach Antioch in time to learn that Lucius’s son Gaius has failed miserably in his management of the household while his father was away.  If Lucius should die, Marcus, Selena, and her unborn child will be at the mercy of this tyrant.  To fend off this danger, Lucius must tell Marcus the full truth about his past, a truth that will ensure Marcus's future at the cost of his master's honor.  Can he bring himself to act before his inevitable end?

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 Praise for A Rooster for Asklepios and A Bull For Pluto

 "This compelling and enjoyable story offers the reader a superb 'insider' view of life in the first-century Greco-Roman world. I enjoyed traipsing around Anatolia with Lucius and Marcus!"

-Dr. Terence Donaldson, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament, Wycliffe College, Canada

"The realism of this story reflects the author's deep first-hand knowledge of the landscape and culture where the narrative takes place."

-Dr. Mark Wilson, Director, Asia Minor Research Center, Antalya, Turkey

"This well-researched book really brings the Roman world to life!"

-Dr. Alanna Nobbs, Professor of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Australia

"The amount of research, imagination, and effort involved in crafting this story earned my admiration, and stirred my curiosity, too."

Dr. Mark Nanos, Lecturer, University of Kansas, USA

   Sickness and Health Care in the Roman World

Health conditions and sanitation practices in Greek and Roman cities were vastly inferior to our own, producing serious health problems and short life expectancies (by modern standards) for the bulk of their citizenry.  Few authors of Roman historical fiction, however, choose to show their readers this side of ancient life.  

By contrast, matters of sickness and health play a central role in my two new historical novels, A Rooster for Asklepios and A Bull for Pluto.  A brief overview of the Roman health care system will provide some historical background for readers who are considering purchasing the books.

The Banality of Sickness

In Greek and Roman cities, very few people enjoyed what we would call a “comfortable middle-class lifestyle.”  Income and wealth gaps were huge, and everyone except the wealthy elites and those who served them lived on the cutting edge of survival.  Malnutrition was a constant threat, especially in times of famine.  Sanitation was poor, even in the larger cities that benefited from Roman sewers, and waste-borne diseases were common.  Public baths exposed bathers to all sorts of communicable diseases, while periodic floods spread germs over low-lying areas near bodies of water.  Those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum lived in dirty, crowded rooms on the upper floors of tenement buildings or in dank cellars, while the poorest residents slept in the open air on fetid sidewalks among disease-ridden pests. 

Contagious illnesses spread rapidly under such conditions.  At least half of all children died before their fifth birthday, and the average age of death for those who reached adulthood was around 40 for men and 35 for women.  (The figure is lower for women because so many died while giving birth.)  Among the poor, it would have been unusual for children to grow up with living grandparents. 

Even the wealthy, however, were not immune from the threat of sickness.  Unlike modern cities where the rich live in their own neighborhoods apart from the poor, people of every social level lived closely together in Greek and Roman cities.  Any disease that struck the poor was likely to affect the rich as well unless they were able to escape in time to their farms in the neighboring countryside.  The wealthy did enjoy healthier diets and better means of tending to their bodies, including regular exercise at the local gymnasium, and they could always afford the fees of a physician when they needed one.  

But sickness and death remained a constant threat even for those at the top of the social pyramid.  Wealthy citizens who had good genes, healthy lifestyles, and an ample supply of luck might live into their 60s or even 70s, but few would have reached their 80s, and most who did would have been seriously debilitated by that time. 

Modes of Health Care

Every society in human history has developed mechanisms for tending and curing the sick.  In modern Western societies, the bulk of the care is provided by a science-based medical system that has proved so effective that most people regard it as the default mode of treatment.  In the ancient world, by contrast, medicine was only one of several competing systems of care.  

For most people the first resort was self-care within the family.  Common remedies included eating (or avoiding) certain types of food, taking home-made medicines, heating or cooling the body, exercise, and rest.  Many treatments included the recitation of spells or incantations that were believed to enhance their effectiveness.  Virtually everyone wore some type of amulet—items or substances that were thought to protect the wearer from harm—on a daily basis, and more amulets could be added to treat specific conditions.  Specialists in such “magical” cures (often women) were available to assist with more stubborn cases.

Equally common were religious modes of treatment.  Prayers and vows were offered to various deities to protect the household and heal the sick as part of the regular morning ritual that marked the beginning of every Roman’s day.  In more serious cases, animal sacrifices and other types of offerings might be presented at the temple of a healing deity, especially the Greek god Asklepios (or Aesculapius, as he was known by the Romans).  If this proved insufficient, those who could afford it might travel to a regional healing sanctuary in hopes of being visited by Asklepios in a dream either to heal them or to prescribe a treatment that would do the job.

A third mode of care was provided by physicians.  Physicians occupied a fairly low position in the Greco-Roman social order—most people regarded them as more like skilled craftsmen than professionals.  Many were slaves who had been bought by wealthy citizens to provide care for their households or by civic authorities to treat the general public.  Some plied their skills at healing sanctuaries, either as slaves who were owned by the resident deity or as freedmen, like the physician Heracleion in my novels.  Most came from Greek or native stock, even those who cared for Romans.

Medical training in the Greek world consisted of working as an apprentice to an established physician, not attending a medical school to earn a degree.  Medical treatises were few and far between, so the bulk of a physician’s education came from observing, asking questions, and applying treatments to live patients.  Here and there a group of medical trainees might live and study together at a healing sanctuary like the ones at Pergamon and Carura that appear in my novels, but even here their training did not include a formal curriculum or classrooms as in a modern school.

Greek medical theory was based primarily on philosophical speculation rather than scientific inquiry.  Greeks viewed the body as a mixture of the four basic elements of the universe:  earth, air, water, and fire.  These elements were represented in the body by four “humors” or fluids that circulated throughout the body:  blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.  In a healthy body, the humors were properly balanced and the organs worked as designed.  Sickness resulted when the humors were thrown out of balance by some type of disorder.  The task of the physician was not to diagnose the cause of the imbalance but to prescribe treatments that would restore the balance of the humors, including heating, cooling, diet, medications, exercise, purging, and bleeding. 

Needless to say, few of these treatments have any support from modern science.  But a general awareness of how people viewed and treated  illness in the ancient world will enable readers to better understand the various types of healing that Lucius pursues in the course of my stories. 

Author Bio

Christopher D. Stanley is a professor at St. Bonaventure University who studies the social and religious history of Greco-Roman world, with special attention to early Christianity and Judaism. He has written or edited six books and dozens of professional articles on the subject and presents papers regularly at conferences around the world. The trilogy A Slaves Story, which grew out of historical research on first-century Asia Minor, is his first work of fiction. He is currently working on an academic book that explores healing practices in the Greco-Roman world, a subject that plays a vital role in this series.

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Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Introducing Virginia Crow as part of The Coffee Pot Book Club Book Tour

As part of The Coffee Pot Book Club Tour I am delighted to welcome Virginia Crow to the blog.

Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her newly-published book "Caledon". She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book! When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music, and obtained her MLitt in "History of the Highlands and Islands" last year. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John O'Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 3rd year this April. She now lives in the far flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.

Book Title: Beneath Black Clouds and White

Author: Virginia Crow

Publication Date: 11th April 2019

Publisher: Crowvus

Print Length: 637 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Military Fiction/Family Saga


Despite adoring his family and enjoying frequenting gaming tables, Captain Josiah Tenterchilt’s true love is the British Army and he is committed to his duty. As such, he does not hesitate to answer the army’s call when King Louis XVI of France is executed.

Accompanied by his wife to Flanders, Josiah finds his path crosses with a man who could not be more different from him: an apprentice surgeon named Henry Fotherby. As these two men pursue their own actions, fate and the careful connivance of a mysterious individual will push them together for the rest of their lives.

But it is a tumultuous time, and the French revolutionaries are not the only ones who pose a threat. The two gentlemen must find their place in a world where the constraints of social class are inescapable, and ‘slavery or abolition’ are the words on everyone’s lips.

Beneath Black Clouds and White is the prequel to Day's Dying Glory, which was published by Crowvus in April 2017.

An excerpt

Now, all three girls watched excitedly as a large joint of beef, tureens of vegetables and the plate that housed the plum pudding were brought through from the kitchens downstairs. Arabella brushed a loose stand of hair from her face as she indicated to one of the footmen the food she would like. She was a lady in miniature, having learnt a great deal from her mother in her eight years, studying each movement that she made and trying to learn from the answers and instruction she gave. This great house would one day be her own, Arabella knew, and she wished to be prepared for such a day whenever it might appear. Imogen sat with her hands on her lap as she knew she should, having been taught ready for her seventh birthday next year, but her eyes sparkled as she took in the splendour of the spread before her. Catherine covered her mouth trying to hide the excited smile she felt creep across her face and she giggled into her fingers as her father stood to carve the meat. Being only four she had a long time to wait before she would be able to share this experience daily with her parents, and to be given an opportunity midweek seemed almost as exciting as the gifts waiting in the Drawing Room.

 Captain Tenterchilt, who sat at the head of the table, looked at his gathered family and smiled slightly to himself. Elizabeth, whose eyes never strayed from her husband’s, followed his gaze and felt a similar smile catch her own features as she took his hand in her own. Arabella watched on from the other side of the table, unsure whether she should take her father’s other hand but deciding against it.

 “Catherine,” Imogen hissed as her younger sister picked up one of the potatoes in her hand.

 “It is alright, Imogen,” her father said gently, while Elizabeth helped her youngest daughter with her cutlery. Generally, their mother would not do such a thing, but Christmas brought great acceptance and leniency within the family hierarchy.

 “My dear ladies,” Captain Tenterchilt said, rising to his feet. “A very happy Christmas to you all. I shall not make a long toast, or Cat may not be able to contain her excitement.” Imogen watched as her mother frowned slightly, but her father continued. “But with the events that brew overseas this might be our last Christmas together for a time.”

 “Josiah, please,” Elizabeth whispered as Imogen’s eyes filled with tears.

 “War is in a man’s nature, Elizabeth,” he replied, looking around the table. Imogen kept her eyes fixed on her father as he continued speaking.

 “I do not mean that I shall die, my dears, only that war does not know the holy days and festivals which we observe.”

 “But, Papa,” Arabella whispered. “You have missed our last two Christmases.”

 “It is the price military men must pay, my dears.”

 “I hope that my Christmas miracle might be that you are returned to us for next Christmas, Papa,” Imogen whispered with great earnest. Catherine looked across at her father and nodded, unable to say anything with her mouth full of plum pudding.

 “You could not wait, my little Cat,” Josiah smiled across at his youngest daughter who shook her head, giggling into her hands once more.

 “Her name is Catherine,” Elizabeth whispered, looking at her own plate but seeing nothing. She loved Josiah so overwhelmingly, but she had been forced to acknowledge that, while she held the highest position in his heart, he still belonged very much to the army. Her husband had only just returned to her from his exploits in India, where he had fought in the Kingdom of Mysore. That he was already planning and anticipating his return to conflict left a bitter taste.

 “Then, here is a health to my beautiful ladies,” Josiah continued, lifting his glass to them all. Arabella and Imogen copied him while Elizabeth begrudgingly lifted her glass and encouraged young Catherine to do the same. “Merry Christmas, my dears.”

 “Merry Christmas, Papa,” the three girls chimed as one before Elizabeth set her own glass on the table, untouched. At once the children began eating and their mother watched as the three of them, with varying manners, enjoyed their dinner. She tried to recall the celebration of the day, and smiled at each one of her family, but could not bring herself to engage in conversation.


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