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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The differences of historicals and historical fiction

From the Haywain Triptych by Hieronymus BoschI'd like to point out a few ways in which historicals are - well, different. I love reading historical novels of all genres and I love to write them, so are my five 'star' points that I look out for in the stories that I really enjoy.
1. Realistic reactions. In the past, the roles and pressures on people were different to now and a good historical reveals this. Women's liberation as a movement did not emerge until the late 1960s. Women (and working class men) did not acquire the vote in Britain until the early 20th century. Before then, the role of women was determined by family and peer pressure, by the church, by society's expectations, by class and above all by biology. (My great-grandmother had 14 pregnancies, 12 births, 2 miscarriages. In the days before reliable birth-control, women often spent their child-bearing years doing just that.)

In earlier warrior societies, where brute strength was prized as a means of winning booty, only a very unusual woman would be big enough and strong enough to fight as an equal warrior. Remember, food would often be in short supply and the sons and men ate first, not simply because of their higher status but because of survival. Men are generally more physically strong in pushing heavy ploughs, and so on. They needed to be well-fed.

2. Realistic dress. Fashion and past fashions is a fascinating business to me, but in a good historical dress also reveals class and tactile elements. A heroine who is changing her gowns every chapter may not be realistic. Clothes were costly and time-consuming to make. Fashions in the country would be less cutting edge than those of the city. Even cloth and colours would vary - the rich would have access to silks and more expensive dyes.

3. Realistic settings. How people lived in the past is very different from modern-day life (at least in the developed parts of the world) and that is worth showing in a historical. The daily trudge for water would be part of someone's life, as were the anxious waiting on crops and the hunger experienced while the harvest slowly ripened. In an unscientific age the fear of the unknown affected everyone - was the hail storm the sign of an angry god? Was a sudden illness in the village the result of witchcraft? If illness is not understood, then the evil eye becomes as good a reason as anything else. If 'everybody knows' that disease comes from the stench of the gutter, it becomes understandable to protect your cottage from pestilence by growing fragrant roses around the door.

4. Realistic plotting. In the past, communications were a major problem. In a world without the internet, battles could be lost because the flanks of an army literally could not talk to each other. A messenger could take days to ride or run from one part of any country to another. There were no policemen in ancient Greece, where the family was expected to take revenge and seek redress if any one of their people was murdered or injured. A good historical is aware of these difficulties and exploits them.
5. Realistic names. Sorry, but - unless the story is fantasy or timeslip - in a story set in 10th century AD somewhere in western Europe, or in China or India, 'Brad' or 'Chantelle', although pretty names, simply don't fit the places or the period and pull me out of the story.

Those are my 5 key points. What are yours?


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book review: A Summer Bewitchment by Lindsay Townsend

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When a shadowy piper kidnaps seven beautiful girls, can a wounded knight and his witch-wife save them? Will Sir Magnus and Elfrida find them in time—and at what cost?

Magnus, the fearless, battered crusader knight, and his fey wife, Elfrida, are happily married, but each of them carries a secret. Elfrida believes that being peasant-born will one day undermine her husband’s love for her. Wounded and scarred, Magnus fears nothing—except, perhaps, that he will not be able to give Elfrida her greatest wish—children.

Their fears are sharpened when high-born Lady Astrid appears at their manor and demands their help to find the seven missing girls. Though the lady clearly regards low-born Elfrida beneath her, why has she truly sought out Magnus, a ruthless knight? Which one of the kidnapped girls does she really want to recover so badly—and to what hidden purpose?

In the scorching summer heat, Magnus and Elfrida search together for the missing girls. Will they be able to rescue them in time? And can their own marriage survive?

My Review:

I utterly adore that we got another The Knight and the Witch story!  Magnus and his Elfrida are some of my favorite characters in this time frame, and I'm pretty sure I love them more now than I did with their first book (and I really adored that one!).

One of my favorite tropes that seems to be a rare find for me (and well done), is when our hero and heroine are already married and for the most part, secure and solid.  Sure, there'll be bumps and tumbles along the way, but when they're already bound to each other, the emotions and (healthy!) possessiveness (you're mine!) seems deeper, stronger, infinate.  So getting to be with Magnus and Elfrida after they've been married a year-ish and seeing their bond, and how they face their struggles together was a delight.

The affection and desire between Magnus and Elfrida is still intensely burning bright, which is what helps to carry them through their next adventure saving seven girls.  So not only are they united on a mission, but as a consequence from that same mission (and other things), some insecurities rise to grip each of them tightly, adding another layer to the story.  I appreciated that we got to spend time in both their heads, hearing their thoughts, because even though they struggled with fully understanding and communicating their worries to each other, I as the reader knew exactly what those worries were and how each felt and responded and that made me empathize and ache with them all the more, and also rejoice when revelations broke free.

There was also quite the adventure in rescuing the girls, gifting readers with some unexpected surprises, interesting twists, and definitely several moments of nail-biting anxiety - oh and some eye rolls to with certain characters. haha!

I love how even though it's addressed and we know Magnus has his physical scars/wounds and Elfrida has her magic, we view one through the other's eyes so much that we forget all about that and just see them through love filled eyes.  Definitely a testament to it's what's inside that shines brightly to make the entire package a breathtakingly beautiful package.  They genuinely love each other and fulfill a need in the other so perfectly, that even when they are at odds, they still are together (and that's another kudos to the author!).

So that's alot of words to say, this is an amazing follow-up story to The Snow Bride, complete with all the heat and adventure and beauty you'd expect.  And I really do hope that we get more of their story soon!

Purchase Links:


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Rupture in The Cause

     After ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, it quickly became evident that its wording was too weak to encourage many of the states (states still controlled suffrage eligibility) to encourage black enfranchisement. Congress then designed the Fifteenth Amendment to address this issue directly. It explicitly forbade the states to deny the right to vote to anyone on the basis of ‘race, color or previous condition of servitude.’ It also gave Congress the power to pass any necessary enforcement legislation. The federal government did not specifically define who was allowed to vote, but the amendment specified who could not be prevented from voting if conditions set by the state were met. African American men were protected in this amendment. Women were not.

    Frederick Douglass and other former abolition leaders backed away from their support of woman suffrage to concentrate on fight for black male suffrage. This caused a serious rift between the two movements. It also caused a split within the women’s rights activists. Susan B. Anthony and her supporters wanted women to be included with black men. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began publishing a women’s rights newspaper called The Revolution. Lucy Stone and her followers supported the amendment as it was, believing that women would win the vote soon.

     In February 1869, Congress passed the amendment, enfranchising black men but not women.
     At a meeting of the American Equal Rights Association in May, Stanton voiced her sense of betrayal by longstanding male abolitionist allies, and her belief that "educated" women like herself were more worthy of the vote than men who had just emerged from slavery. She and Frederik Douglass had a public argument about the relative importance of black man versus woman suffrage. Stanton, Anthony and their supporters walked out of the meeting and formed the National Woman Suffrage Association.
     That same year, Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe formed the American Woman Suffrage Association, which maintained its ties with the abolitionists and the leadership of the Republican Party. They expected to get women’s suffrage enacted soon after black male suffrage had been fully inscribed in the Constitution.
     In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified.

     Afterward, the American Woman Suffrage Association focused on winning changes in state constitutions, counting on winning over a majority of male voters.
     Meanwhile, the National Woman Suffrage Association centered its efforts on the national Constitution. They doubted that an additional federal amendment would be passed but sought a way to base women’s suffrage in the Constitution’s existing provisions.
     For the next twenty years, these two competing organizations fought for influence and for woman suffrage. Neither group suspected it would be fifty years before women finally won the right to vote.

Coming next month:  Hope Emerges 

Previous installments:
Voting in Colonial America:


The Fight Begins: 

Ann Markim

 Buy Links:      Paperback at Amazon    Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Writerly Inspiration

With the daily news full of nothing but Corona, it's hard for anyone to find inspiration, especially writers. But we've been through this before, and each time, the people living through it are certain life will never return to normal. But it has, and it will again. I recently wrote an article for my History Imagined blog about how the Native Americans were nearly decimated by the diseases brought to America's shores by the Europeans. You can read the entire article on Virgin Soil Epidemics here:

Having done the research on that, and fully aware that the earth will right itself, some friends of mine were putting together an anthology on finding love in spite of the virus and asked me to participate. I initially thought the subject too depressing and declined. But then, I saw a photo in my local paper featuring the senior citizens all queued up in the dark, waiting for the grocery store to open at 6AM for dedicated Senior hour. Inspiration suddenly took hold and I prepared a short story about finding love in the Senior queue. It's cute, clean, and was a hoot to write. I didn't need to stray too far from reality to write the story, since it's about a historical romance writer who lives in North Carolina in a condo overlooking a golf course. Since all the other stories in the anthology were young people abandoning the six foot rule and throwing caution to the wind, I thought a story about senior citizens who don't take many chances would be a nice counter balance. The anthology is called Love In The Time of Corona, Vol. 2, and will be available on Amazon on April 22. I'm sharing a bit of my story here today. It's called Choosing My Own Bananas. Hope you'll enjoy it.

This was a mistake. She should have listened to her sister, who implored her to figure out how to use the on-line ordering system for her groceries. Then, all she would have had to do was drive up, pay an extra fee to have her groceries already bagged up and waiting to be loaded into her car. But other than having to pay someone to shop for her, an indulgence she could ill afford, she just couldn’t wrap her head around someone else picking out her bananas for her. Instead, she got out of bed before the sun broke over the golf course, and drove herself to the store, where she waited in the dark with all the other old folks in town. At least it seemed like every other senior citizen was queued up and waiting.
“Good morning, Sunshine!” The man in front of her in line turned and saluted her with his coffee in its sparkling white container, wrapped with a slice of cardboard to keep his fingers safe. Maybe, if she’d thought to grab a cup of coffee before she left home, she’d feel a bit more sunny. As it was, she merely nodded to him and stared at her empty cart. 
“You’re Esther Williams, aren’t you?” The man attempted another tack of conversation. She should just ignore him, but Esther Williams? She glanced up at him. 
She checked behind her, but she was last in line, so he couldn’t be speaking to anyone else. “Are you talking to me?” 
“Yeah. You’re always in the pool at the health club, down at the shallow end. You wear that black suit with the see-through bits at the hip.” 
Holy crap! Seriously, she should have taken the time to get some coffee. Her brain was working at only a snail’s pace, but he had described her bathing suit in perfect detail. Who was this guy? And where was the snappy retort she should have had at the ready?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

#WhirligigsAreJoyInMotion by Sarah J. McNeal

Whirligigs Are Joy In Motion by Sarah J. McNeal

I have loved whirligigs all my life. I remember going up to north central Pennsylvania on visits to my grandparents. Because of the large numbers of Amish there, handmade wooden items are easy to find, whirligigs among them. Passing by shops with all kinds of animated whirligigs brought to life by the wind, made me laugh.

I suppose I ought to start by explaining just what a whirligig is. A whirligig is an object that spins or whirls, or has at least one part that spins or whirls. There are several kinds of whirligigs that include pinwheels, buzzers, comic weathervanes, gee-haws, spinners, whirligigs, whirlijig,  whirlybird, or plain whirly. Whirligigs are mostly powered by the wind but can be hand, friction, or motor powered. They can be used as a kinetic garden ornament. Some are designed to transmit sound and vibration into the ground to repel burrowing rodents in yards, gardens, and backyards. There are four types of whirligigs: Button, friction, string, and wind driven.

Button Whirligig

Button whirligigs:

Button whirligigs, also called button spinners and buzzers are the earliest whirligigs. They are very simple. Native Americans designed them with a piece of clay or bone and a strip of hide since 500 BC.  Many children during the Great Depression from the Appalachians and Ozarks made them with a button or coin and a piece of string. They were entertaining toys and I even made them myself.

Buzzers are button whirligigs that make a sound which can be adjusted depending on how quickly the button is spinning and by the tightness of the string. Button whirligigs are still seen in craft shops and souvenir stores in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Friction and string whirligigs

String powered whirligigs require the operator to wrap the string around a shaft and then pull the string to cause the whirligig’s motion. String Whirligigs have ancient origins. The bamboo-copter or bamboo butterfly, was invented in China in 400 BC. While the initial invention did not use string to launch a propeller type piece, later Chinese versions did. The first known depictions of whirligigs are string powered versions in tapestries from medieval times.

Friction whirligigs, also called Gee-Haws, depend on the holder rubbing a stick against a notched shaft resulting in a propeller at the end of the shaft to turn, as the result of the vibration carried along the shaft. The motion needed to power a friction whirligig is very similar to rubbing sticks together to create fire. Friction whirligigs are still found in craft shops and souvenir stores in the Appalachian Mountains.

Simple Wind Driven Whirligig

Wind-driven whirligigs

A wind-driven whirligig transfers the energy of the wind into either a simple release of kinetic energy through rotation or a more complicated transfer of rotation energy to power a mechanism that produces repetitive motions and/or creates sounds. The wind simply pushes on the whirligig turning one part of it.

The simplest and most common example of a wind-driven whirligig is the pinwheel. The pinwheel demonstrates the most important aspect of a whirligig, blade surface. Pinwheels have a large cupped surface area which allows the pinwheel to reach its maximum speed quickly at low wind speed. I know all of you have seen pinwheels. I used to make them myself out of paper, a straight pin and a straw.

Increasing the blade area of the whirligig increases the surface area so more air particles collide with the whirligig. This causes the drag force to reach its maximum value and the whirligig to reach its terminal speed in less time. The opposite occurs when thin or short blades with a smaller surface area are used, resulting in the need for a higher wind speed to start and operate the whirligig. Whirligigs come in a range of sizes and configurations, bounded only by human ingenuity. The two blade non-mechanical model is the most prevalent; exemplified by the classic bird with wings.

I once saw gigantic whirligigs in a magazine. One of them was a dad holding a kid as if he was teaching her how to swim. The arms of the child were the movable part; they spun around when the wind blew. This thing looked as if it was as big as a billboard. I can just imagine it on the grassy prairie with the grass looking like waves. I thought it was amazing.

Some interesting history:

The actual origin of whirligigs is unknown. Farmers and sailors use weathervanes and the assumption is one or both groups are likely the originators. By 400 BC the bamboo-copter or dragon butterfly, a helicopter type rotor is launched by rolling a stick had been invented in China. I have one I bought at a store in Chimney Rock. It’s just a stick with a helicopter-shaped blade on top. I can used my hands, with the stick in between and twirl it until it spins fast enough to lift off.

Wind driven whirligigs were technically possible by 700 AD when the Sasanian Empire began using windmills to pump water for irrigation. The weathervane which dates to the Sumerians in 1600-1800 BC, is the second component of wind driven whirligigs.

In Chinese, Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Roman civilizations there are ample examples of weathervanes but as yet, no examples of a propeller driven whirligig. A grinding corn doll of Egyptian origin demonstrates that string operated whirligigs were already in use by 100 BC

The first known visual representation of a European whirligig is contained in a medieval tapestry that depicts children playing with a whirligig consisting of a hobbyhorse on one end of a stick and a four blade propeller at the other end.

For reasons that are not clear, whirligigs in the shape of the cross became a fashionable allegory in paintings of the fifteenth and sixteenth century. An oil by Hieronymus Bosch probably completed between 1480 and 1500 and known as the Christ Child with a Walking Frame, contains a clear illustration of a string powered whirligig.

A book published in Stuttart in 1500 shows the Christ child in the margin with a string powered whirligig.

The Jan Provost late sixteenth-century painting ‘’Virgin and Child in a Landscape’’ clearly shows the Christ child holding a whirligig as well.

The American version of the wind driven whirligig probably originated with the immigrant population of the United Kingdom as whirligigs are mentioned in early American colonial times. How the wind driven whirligig evolved in America is not fully known, though there are some markers.

George Washington brought ‘’whirligigs’’ home from the Revolutionary War.

By the mid-18th century weathervanes had evolved to include free moving “wings”. These “wings” could be human arms; pitchforks; spoons, or virtually any type of implement. The 1819 publication by Washington Irving of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (one of my favorite stories) contains the following description: “a little wooden warrior who, armed with a sword in each hand, was most valiantly fighting the wind on the pinnacle of the barn.”

By the last half of the 19th century constructing wind driven whirligigs had become a pastime and art form. What began as a simple turning of artificial feathers in the wind advanced into full blown mechanisms producing both motion and sound. Unfortunately, both the exposure to the weather and the fragile nature of whirligigs means very few wind driven whirligigs from this era survive. (A fate my own whirligigs have met.)The period between 1880 and 1900 brought rapid geographic expansion of whirligigs across the United States. After 1900, production seemed for the most part to center on the southern Appalachians. Craftsman from the southern Appalachians continued to produce whirligigs into the 20th century. During the Great Depression a resurgence in production by craftsman and amateurs was attributed to the need for ready cash.

Today Whirligigs are used as toys for children, as garden structures designed to keep birds or other garden pests away, as decorative yard art and as art.

A Mechanical Artistic Whirligig

Whirligigs as art

Whirligigs have become art. A number of museums now have collections, or examples in their collections.

Whirligigs in literature

William Shakespeare uses the whirligig as a metaphor for "what goes around, comes around" in his play, Twelfth Night.

O. Henry wrote a short story called "The Whirligig of Life", about a mountain couple who decide to divorce and the events that lead to their remarriage told from the perspective of the judge.

Lloyd Biggle, Jr. wrote a novel titled The Whirligig of Time as part of his science fiction series featuring Jan Darzek, a former private detective.

In Whirligig, a novel by Paul Fleischman, a boy makes a mistake that takes the life of a young girl and is sent on a cross country journey building whirligigs.

In the Newbery Award-Winning young adult novel Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, Ob, the main character's uncle, makes whirligigs as a hobby. After his wife who loved the whirligigs dies, the whirligigs continue to move and symbolize the fact that life must go on for Ob. I love this symbolism.)

Whirligigs in the movies:

Kinetic Metal Whirligig

In the movie Twister, Helen Hunt’s aunt Meg (played by Lois Smith) has a large collection of metal kinetic art whirligigs in her front yard to warn her of approaching tornadoes. (I loved her big metal whirligigs. They also made music like wind chimes.  They were beautiful.)

Whirligigs as folk art

When whirligigs became recognized as American folk art isn’t clear, but today they are a well-established sub-category. With recognition, folk art whirligigs have increased in value.

Whirligig Kinetic Art Public Library, O'Fallon, Illinois

A traditional whirligig commonly found in Bali, Indonesia is a musical whirligig of a farmer pulling a bull. They are still available, and are often used in the rice paddies as the sound they make when the wind blows scares the birds away. An example of this type whirligig was found near Clarkrange, Tennessee on the Highway 127 Corridor Sale. It represents an interesting example of a combination of a mechanical and sound producing whirligig.

This picture shows the mechanism for producing music

The propeller, the Balinese farmer and the bull are of tin. The farmer and bull are painted but the propeller blades are not. The body is of hand whittled bamboo, fastened with rusty nails and wire and a single piece of string. There are still pencil marks where various pieces were centered and/or aligned.

The farmer is connected to the shaft of the whirligig by a bamboo stick with an offset where the stick connects to the shaft. The result is: as the shaft turns the farmer’s arm lifts from the offset shaft which makes the farmer pull the string which lifts the bull’s head. The shaft contains a second feature, a set of knockers that create a bit of music on raised pieces of bamboo. There are a total of six knockers which strike six bamboo plates. The bamboo plates are raised by placing a circular piece of bamboo or something similar between the knockers and the bamboo base. Each rotation causes three knockers to hit plates so the sound is actually different at each rotation. The knockers are nailed in pattern to the shaft.

Whirligigs from folk artist Reuben Aaron Miller and others are considered highly collectable. However, whirligigs' value as folk art has been uneven. At a 1998 auction at Skinner Galleries a 19th Century Uncle Sam with saw and flag in excellent condition sold for $12,650. At a 2000 auction at Skinner Galleries a 19th-century polychrome carved pine and copper band figure whirligig in excellent condition sold for $10,925 and an early 20th-century bike rider of painted wood and sheet metal sold for $3,450. In 2005, a 20th Century folk art whirligig in good condition brought $2,900 at an auction at Horst Auction Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (30 miles from my hometown.)

I bought most of my whirligigs for $10-$20 dollars. Those same whirligigs now cost around $58. Just sayin’.

The modern craftsman:

There is still a role for the solitary craftsman, whittler or inventor as evidenced by the following cast of modern whirligig builders.

Lester Gay of Fountain, North Carolina made whirligigs from his retirement until his death in 1998. Mr. Gay’s wind driven whirligigs were made of bicycle rims placed at nearly uniform height to create a "garden of whirligigs". He never sold one personally. At the end of his life there were said to be over 250 whirligigs in his yard. The whole collection was donated to the Fountain, North Carolina Volunteer Fire Department, which sold them off at $75 each.

Near Plantersville, Alabama between 2001 and 2008 Edith Lawrence made whirligigs that her husband Gene sold from their front yard. Gene became known locally as Whirligig Man. Edith's whirligigs were of the wind driven type, typically of cast off plastic. All of the proceeds they earned went to their local church. Edith died in December 2008 and Gene abandoned the business soon after.

Mr. Elmer Preston (b.3/17/1874-d.10/1/1974)lived in South Hadley, Massachusetts worked in a traditional folk manner, with the classic themes of Farmer Cutting Wood, etc.

Ander Lunde of Chapel Hill, North Carolina is credited with reviving the whirligig during the 1980s. A well-known painter and wood sculptor, Lunde won First Prize for a whirligig sculpture in the 1981 Durham (North Carolina) Art Guild Juried Exhibition. Lunde received two honorable mentions for his whirligigs at the first statewide Juried Exhibition of North Carolina Crafts in 1983. Lunde's contribution to the literature on whirligigs is substantial, with a total of eight how-to build whirligig books to his credit. (See bibliography.)

The most famous of modern wind driven whirligig makers is probably Vollis Simpson (1919 - May 31, 2013) of Lucama, North Carolina. Mr. Simpson has constructed a "whirligig farm" on his land in Lucama, North Carolina, which has been profiled by PBS, the subject of an online photographic essay at the Minnesota Museum of Science, and an article in American Profile. One of Simpson's creations stands in front of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Simpson was named the 2012 Arts and Culture winner of Southern Living's Heroes of the New South Awards. Simpson's farm contains some thirty to forty whirligigs at any given time, some of which reach fifty feet in height. The whirligigs are made from castoff metal machine parts and an assortment of odd and colorful pieces of various origins., He sells smaller versions to the public, but only from his farm.

Pine Shop Woodcrafters was established in 1989 in Bellows Falls, Vermont by John Whitney, and continues to reproduce this early American craft. John's whirligigs are from clear cut pine logs. All parts are handmade (even the crankshaft), and are individually traced, band-saw cut, and hand sanded to give them the best 4 season balance& durability.

Wilson, North Carolina holds an annual Whirligig Festival in November of each year which includes a whirligig building contest complete with nominal cash prizes. The contest is judged in part by Vollis Simpson.

My Whirligig Collection

I have used artistic wooden crafts in two of my Wildings series stories. Both wooden craftsmen were from the Thoroughgood family and both stories were Christmas short stories.



After the bags were placed inside the door, Banjo glanced around the room. “I see you’ve got a Christmas tree this year, Penelope.” He stepped over to the tree and examined it, touching some of the wooden ornaments. “Gil, these are nice. I know you made them. I can tell your work. You’re the best carpenter in town, maybe anywhere in the state. You ought to make these to sell.” He peered at Gil with those dark eyes framed in wire-rimmed spectacles. “The townsfolk talk about your rocking chairs and tables, but I bet they never saw anything like these beauties. Oh. Before I forget, Belle wants to talk to you about ordering new chairs for the Iron Slipper. Seems some rowdy cowpokes got into a scuffle over a card game last week and some chairs met their end.” Banjo grinned.

Gil wanted to dislike Banjo, but he just couldn’t. For all that he was orphaned as a baby and left to be raised by whores, he was one of the kindest young men he knew. “I’ll drop by her place on the way home and see what she wants.”

Just for a fleeting moment, Gil saw the shadow cross Penelope’s face. Probably just the mention of the Iron Slipper or Belle probably still brought the memory of Evan’s death to her and the pain that went with it.

Buy Links (Kindle):  Amazon  



Matilda unwrapped the brown paper from the present using the utmost care so as not to damage it. Beneath the wrappings she found a box shaped like two doves, one with its head pointed in one direction and the other with its head in the opposite direction. The meticulous detail of the carved wings made the feathers seem real. Between the two doves was a red heart. The heart, the wings, and the beautiful fans of feathered tails moved slightly when she ran her fingers over them. Try though she might, she could not find the lid to open the box and see what was inside.

When she glanced up to ask Sterling how to open the box, he stood before her with a grin spread across his face. Before she could ask, he answered her unspoken question. “It’s a puzzle box, darlin’. There is a way to move the pieces to open the box. It took a while for me to draw up the plans and quite some time to get it to work just right. I thought about what pleasure it would be for you, so I was determined to make it just right.” The light of pride fairly glowed in his eyes.

“It’s a beautiful thing like a work of art. That it is made into a puzzle box with such intricacy and thoughtful design, makes it the most significant present I have ever received.” She heard something shift inside the box when she moved it to examine it more closely to discover how to open it. “There’s something inside?”

Sterling nodded his dark head. “Yes. In fact, the greater gift is inside the box.” Again, he grinned with a boyish delight. “I made it big enough to hold all your treasures. Do you like it?”

BUY LINK (Kindle): A Christmas Visitor

Diverse stories filled with heart




My Amazon Author’s Page

Prairie Rose Author Page

The Wildings

Prairie Rose Blog

Fantasy & Dreams Blog


Wikipedia, Pinterest (I did not, however, use any of those pictures due to the unknown copy rights), and my own whirligig collection.

Bibliography of books that might interest you:

         Bishop, Robert and Coblentz, Patricia; A Gallery of American Weathervanes and Whirligigs (ISBN 0525476520 / 0-525-47652-0); E.P. Dutton, NY, 1981.

         Bridgewater, Alan; and Bridgewater, Gill; The Wonderful World of Whirligigs and Wind Machines (ISBN 0830683496 / 0-8306-8349-6); Tab Books, 1990

         Burda, Cindy; Wind Toys That Spin, Sing, Twirl & Whirl; (ISBN 0806939346 / 0-8069-3934-6); Sterling, New York, 1999

         Fitzgerald, Ken; Weathervanes and Whirligigs; Bramhall House, 1967

         Lunde, Anders S.; Whirligigs: Design and Construction; Mother Earth News, 1983

         Lunde, Anders S.; More Whirligigs; Chilton Book Co., Radnor, PA; 1984

         Lunde, Anders S.; Whirligigs In Silhouette: 25 New Patterns (ISBN 0866750142 / 0-86675-014-2); Modern Handicraft Inc., Kansas City, MO; 1989

         Lunde, Anders S.; Whirligigs for Children Young and Old; (ISBN 9780801982347); Chilton Book Co., Radnor, PA; 1992

         Lunde, Anders S.; Easy to Make Whirligigs; Dover Publications, 1996

         Lunde, Anders S.; Making Animated Whirligigs; Dover Publications, 1998

         Lunde, Anders S.; Whimisical Whirligigs; (ISBN 0486412334); Dover Publications, 2000

         Lunde, Anders S.; Action Whirligigs: 25 Easy to Do Projects; Dover Publications, 2003

         Marling, Karal Ann; Wind & Whimsy: Weathervanes and Whirligigs from Twin Cities Collections; Minneapolis Institute of Arts,2007

         Pettit, Florence Harvey; How to Make Whirligigs and Whimmy Diddles and Other American Folkcraft Objects (ISBN 0690413890 / 0-690-41389-0); Thomas Y. Crowell, New York, New York, U.S.A., 1972

         Pierce, Sharon; Making Whirligigs and Other Wind Toys; (ISBN 0806979801 / 0-8069-7980-1); Sterling Pub Co Inc; New York, New York; 1985

         Schoonmaker, David & Woods, Bruce; Whirligigs & Weathervanes: A Celebration of Wind Gadgets With Dozens of Creative Projects to Make; Sterling/Lark, New York, 1991

         Schwartz, Renee, Wind Chimes & Whirligigs, Kids Can Press, 2007

         Wiley, Jack; How to Make Propeller-Animated Whirligigs: Penguin, Folk Rooster, Dove, Pink Flamingo, Flying Unicorn & Roadrunner, Solipaz Publishing Co., 1993