Monday, August 12, 2019

Breaking new ground, female journalist and war corespondent, Claire Hollingworth.

   As a young woman, Hollingworth was eager to report about the growing European conflict so, in 1939, she traveled to Warsaw, Poland to aid refugees from the Sudetenland, the region of Czechoslovakia that had been annexed by the Nazis the previous year. 
She wrote about the refugees' plight in small British publications and The Telegraph hired her as a correspondent for the region. 
Three days after being hired, on August 28, she commandeered an official car from the British consul general and drove over the border into Nazi Germany. Thanks to an old but still valid German visa she’d gotten for a ski vacation, she was able to enter Germany and shepherd refugees to Poland and then on to safety.
   At age 27, on her return trip, a gust of wind led her to the scoop of a lifetime. The wind lifted part
of a tarp which had been erected to hide the German side of a valley from view. Through the gap, as Hollingworth later wrote, she saw “large numbers of troops, literally hundreds of tanks, armored cars and field guns." 

    She knew immediately that Germany was preparing to invade Poland and she hurried back to send the news to her editor. Hollingworth's article, a world exclusive, was published on August 29; German forces invaded Poland on September 1, marking the start of WWII.

      Hollingworth worked as a correspondent for British news throughout WWII
except for a period in 1943, when General Montgomery banned British women correspondents from the front lines; undeterred, she took a job with the Chicago Daily News covering Dwight D. Eisenhower’s command in Algiers. In reflecting on that period in one of her books, she observed, "It was essential to be able to go without washing, sleep in the open desert and live on bully-beef and biscuits for days on end. Many male correspondents got themselves sent back to Cairo because they could not take it.”
          Hollingworth received the Order of the British
Empire in 1982 for her services to journalism and lived for the last 30 years within sight of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong, where "Claire's Table" was always reserved in her honor. In 1989, at nearly 80 years old, she was seen climbing up a lamppost in Tiananmen Square for a better view of the Chinese government's crackdown on democracy.

When Hollingworth turned 100, her eyesight failing but her vigor unabated, she was asked what she would do if she were young. “I should look through the papers and say, ‘Where’s the most dangerous place to go?’ because it always makes a good story.” 
Claire Hollingworth died January 10, 2017 at the age of  105.  

 Follow Garrick Allen, my Crimean war correspondent in Lady Gallant. Along with Nurse Josephine Posey they fight to save the soldiers and each other. 
   Disowned by her father and still mourning the death of her fiancĂ©, Josephine Posey joins Florence Nightingale’s brigade of nurses bound for the Black Sea. Thousands of British soldiers desperately await these angels of mercy and a new life awaits Josie. Amidst the chaos of death and despair, she finds a spark of hope, lighting the flame once more inside her soul. 

    In search of the truth, Garrick Allen, one of Britain’s first war correspondents also journeys to the Crimean Peninsula. To him the soldiers seem all but abandoned by Queen and country, and as he smokes his cheroots and makes friends with a bottle, he writes his bold but honest dispatches for The Times.  Not wanting anything more than to finish his job and go home, Garrick is blind-sided by a nurse with attitude who offers him a new slant on life and a reason to love.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

Free Audio book in exchange for your Review

           A Cowboy's Fate & Special Delivery
 Saddle up for a FREE trail ride into the Old West               

A must read...5 stars/ from Still Moments Magazine   

Winner of Maple Leaf Award, best short story.

Net Galley 5 stars, a fast-paced tale set in Colorado 

Five Stars/from 
Fall Into Reading Reviews. The chemistry between these two excellent characters is riveting.

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             E-mail me at gini@ginirifkin.com 
 Tighten your cinch for Romance and Adventure.
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                          A Cowboy's Fate 
When East End London 
meets the Wild West, sparks fly.
    Kicked out of England for offending the Royal Family, Britania Rule heads for Leadville, in the Colorado backcountry. Passing herself off as a highborn lady, she pursues her dream of opening a parlor of spiritual enlightenment.

 Cody James, her guide, thinks he must be half-crazy to hire-out to a female. But his luck at the gaming tables has run dry, and she’s his meal-ticket out of town. Betrayed by the only woman he ever loved, and shot and left for dead by a man he once called friend, Cody declares himself a loner.

   Traveling side by side, they deny their desire for one another, but the Tarot cards say otherwise—and their hot night of passion confirms the prediction. Will love be waiting at the end of the trail? Or could Cody’s past destroy their future?

                          Special Delivery
Clover City, Colorado—1888
A mysterious letter and the drop-dead handsome town marshal, are the last things Mariah expects to find making rounds as a midwife. 

Mariah McAllister plans to be married before her next birthday. Too bad Marshal Virgil Kincaid barely knows she’s alive. Not one to give up easily, she’s determined to show him she has an abiding passion for more than her work.

Virgil Kincaid loved a woman once—after she broke his heart, he spent three years in prison. Women can’t be trusted, no matter how good they look. He’s sworn off relationships in favor of Saturday night poker games. Life is simple—the way he wants it…until a stranger turns up dead in the road. 

Forced to work side by side with Mariah, Virgil begins to wonder if she might be his second chance at love. As they trade kisses and oh so much more, he’s willing to take the gamble. But when a killer threatens their once peaceful town, all bets are off.  

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Unicorn of the Rain Forest

The mysterious okapi remained a legend to Western scientist until 1900.
Also known as the forest giraffes, they have the body of a horse, striped legs like a zebra, and the males have two small skin covered horns which when seen from the side gave rise to the unicorn fantasy.
Generally solitary and territorial, the Okapi has a thick oily fur that keeps them dry when it rains, and in addition to being a great utensil for eating, their prehensile tongue is a remarkable tool for grooming and is so long they can reach their eyes and ears with it.
           They have scent glands on their feet that spread sticky, tar-like territory markings to alert others of their region. An okapi can eat between 45 and 60 lbs. of vegetation each day, but clay from riverbeds is also important to their diet for minerals and salt.               
     These wonderful African animals are native to the Democratic Republic of Congo and are typically found within the dense Ituri Rain Forest. Once found in Uganda, they are now extinct there.   
After a gestation period of 14-16 months, female okapis typically only give birth to one baby at a time. 

The okapi is listed as endangered because of the rate of population had decline severely. As usual this is due to human habitation and hunting.

Although known to make coughs, bleats and whistles, Okapi are not noted for any distinctive call. However Mothers have an amazing gift of communicating with their calves by infra-sound noises falling below the normal limits of human hearing.
To this day, the Okapi continues to interest and baffle scientist due to its atypical chromosome count. Some had 46 per cell some 44 or 45. Yet they appear normal physically as do their offspring.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The real Captain Jack:This one got caught.

Image result for image rackham's cay bahamas

Captain John Rackham, known as Calico Jack (because of the calico clothing he wore) was an English pirate operating in the Bahamas and in Cuba during the early 18th century.

 John (Calico Jack) began his seafaring days as quartermaster on Charles Vane's brigantine Ranger in 1718. They operated out of New Providence island in the Bahamas, which was so notorious a base for pirates it was known as the "Pirates' Republic". 

    Vane and his crew robbed several ships outside New York City, then encountered a large French man-of-war. Because Vane refused to fight the man-or-war he was branded a coward, and Rackham demanded a vote from the crew in which Vane lost and was put off the ship, thus making Rackham Captain. 
                              Related image
     While in Cuba, Calico Jack captured and English sloop being held by the Spanish. Active towards the end of the "Golden Age of Piracy" (which lasted from 1650 to 1730) he sailed the ship to Nassau and accepted a pardon for his crimes 1719 .  But having a penchant for adventure, he was soon again on the wrong side of the law.
                       Image result for image rackham's cay bahamas
       While in Nassau, Jack met Anne Bonny, who was married to James Bonny at the time. Anne had been refused a divorce and whipped based on charges of adultery. Seeing no alternative, she ran away with Captain Jack, and their new crew which included Mary Read, who had come aboard disguised as a man. Calico Jack Rackham's pardon was voided when they stole a sloop belonging to John Ham.
                       Image result for image anne bonny pirate
    After a short run, Captain Jack Rackham was captured by Royal Navy pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet. In 1720, he was put on trial in Jamaica, and was hanged in November of that year in Port Royal. His body was gibbeted and put on display at a main entrance to Port Royal now known as Rackham's Cay.

              Related image

    Anne Bonny and Mary Read both claimed to be pregnant at their trials,  and so were given a temporary stay. Mary Read died in April 1721, most likely of fever related to childbirth. There is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution.

Although art might imitate real life, Captain Calico Jack, didn't have the screenplay luck of Captain Jack 
                          Image result for image jack sparrow doll

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats /Colorado Romance Writers finalist!

Thank you Colorado Romance Writers 
and the Wild Rose Press,
 (especially my editor Amanda Barnett). 
Keep on dancing. 

                        Both seek retribution, 
                     neither is looking for love.
   Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.

    No stranger to trouble, Nic's only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated. 

    Back on the ranch in Colorado, Ochessa works as hard as any man. Then Nick tempts her into playing even harder as a woman—both are overwhelmed by their growing love for one another.

    Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will playout, bullets fly...                                
       Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.

Available in paperback and e-book at....

“I’ve come for the job,” Nic said.
Ochessa hesitated only a moment. “I don’t need any more ranch hands.”
“Not a job, the job.” Nic retrieved the bounty poster from inside his shirt, leaned forward, and held it up in front of her face.
Of course. Naturally he would be offering a gun for hire, not a strong back for bending.
Re-folding the paper, he tucked it away in his back pocket. Several similar fliers were poking out of his saddlebag. He must have collected all the ones she tacked up in town.
“It doesn’t say anything about expenses,” he continued.
“That’s because I don’t intend to pay any.”
“That should narrow down the applicants considerably.” His gaze settled on her lips. “Or are you planning to offer incentive of a more personal nature?”
“Listen, Breedlove. Don’t get your hopes up—or anything else. Whoever I hire can live and eat at the ranch for free. And they can stay at Will’s cabin if the search takes them back to Kansas.”
He seemed disappointed. She didn’t care, or at least she shouldn’t care. What this man thought held no consequence for her. Being a drifter, he would most likely ride out of her life as quickly and unexpectedly as he’d galloped into it.
“Well…” Nic urged the mule one step closer.
“Well, what?”
“Do I get the job or not?”

Monday, June 10, 2019

Female Viking Warrior no longer a myth

In the Viking Age, the 8th to the late 10th century, the town of Birka, Sweden was a key center for trade, most likely offering furs and iron goods as well
as craft products in exchange for various materials from much of Europe and western Asia.

Founded around AD 750, Birka flourished for more than 200  years with and estimated population between 500 and 1000 people.
  By the early middle ages, there were narratives about fierce female Vikings fighting alongside men. Although, reoccurring in art as well as in poetry, the women warriors were generally dismissed as mythological phenomena.

                                UNTIL NOW!
     The entombed skeleton in question was discovered 128 years ago in Birka. Surrounded by military weapons, it was assumed to be that of a battle-hardened male. 

The artifacts entombed with the 1,000-year-old bones and unearthed in 1889 included two shields,
a sword, an ax, a spear, armor-piercing arrows and a battle knife - not to mention the remnants of two horses, one mare and one stallion. Also a full set of gaming pieces indicating knowledge of tactics and strategy stressing the buried individual's role as a high‐ranking officer.

Now, modern-day genetics testing on the DNA extracted from a tooth and an arm bone has confirmed the skeleton, known as Bj 581, belongs to someone with two X chromosomes. In other words, a female.
The dental wear of the lower molars was clear but moderate, suggesting the individual was at least above 30 years of age.

The female warrior, was probably of nonlocal origin and, had moved to Birka. This assumption is based on
her genetic affinity to present‐day inhabitants of the British Islands (England and Scotland), the North Atlantic Islands (Iceland and the Orkneys), Scandinavia (Denmark and Norway) and to lesser extent Eastern Baltic Europe (Lithuania and Latvia) 

Major arguments against the grave belonging to a woman are that she just happened to live like a man, or when someone buried her, what she was buried with might not have been of her choosing. 

Poppycock! I believe she was a true Viking Warrior. What do you think?

More than 3,000 Viking graves have been discovered encircling Birka, but only about 1,100 have been excavated.

For more details and sites used to glean the above information, go to...

Looking for a romantic Medieval adventure? Try my book IRON HEART, rated 5 Hearts from Sizzling Hot Books “Iron Heart gives the classic epic adventures a run for their money.” 

England: circa. 879 A.D.
    With the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet, Faran Kilbraun travels far from home in search of the sword and shield of his ancestors. Protecting the ancient relics was his responsibility. Now, to regain his honor, he must recover the stolen artifacts and battle a life-long enemy.  

    Following the accidental death of her cruel husband, Leanora Wrenn is wrongly accused of his murder. Forced into exile, a small north shore island becomes her lonely refuge—exoneration her only hope. 

     When Faran discovers Leanora's remote sanctuary, both their lives are changed forever. Comrades-in-arms, they fight side by side for their chance at redemption and love. 

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

     Saint Walstan, the patron-saint of farmers, farmhands, haymakers, herdsmen, farms and farm animals, is often in my thoughts as I trim hooves, mow the pasture, or put up fences!  
                                   An Orthodox icon of St. Walstan of Bawburgh
According to legend, St.Walstan was born around 975 A.D. to Benedict and Blide, nobles related to the Royal Family. 
                             Image result for images stack of medieval books library
 His parents, who possessed a library, fostered little Walstan's love of reading. He especially liked the Holy Scriptures, impressed by the verse in the Gospel of Luke, Whosoever that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple. Walstan decided, at the early age of seven, to renounce all, for the love of God. 
                                  Image result for image peasant child
   Shortly before his thirteenth birthday, he told his parents that he must leave their home forever. Warned by an angel in a dream of their son’s destiny, Benedict and Blide consented to his wish, though they grieved in their hearts

                           Image result for image east anglia
   Known as Walstan the Generous, he lived in county Norfolk, which lies in East Anglia, bordered by the North Sea to the east and the north. In his travels he gave away all his worldly possessions and dressed like a beggar. 

              Photo: tournorfolk.co.uk
                                      photo: tournorfolk.co.uk
   A man named Nalga who owned a large farm offered Walstan work, and this young man of God became a farmhand working on Nalga’s lands until the end of his life 
Image result for image white calf   The only gift of remuneration he would accept from Nalga were two white calves and a wagon as an angel had commanded him to do so. 
A picture of St. Walstan and an angel inside the garden room near the Our Lady and St. Walstan's RC Church in Costessey, Norfolk (provided by rector of RC church, Costessey)
    When he died, in 1016, he was placed on the wagon, and God guided the calves. When they stopped three times in their travels, holy springs with clear water gushed forth at each place...Taverham, Costessey, and Bawburgh.

  During his life he healed many peasants and animals, and after his death the water from the three wells and the surrounding moss is said to have healed many more beasts and humans.

His sites remained destinations of pilgrimage until the Reformation, when his relics were destroyed in 1538. But the villagers of East Anglia never forgot him and continue to this day to flock to his holy wells.
St. Walstan's well in Bawburgh, Norfolk (source - Evelyn Simak from
  St. Walstan's Day is celebrated each year on the nearest Sunday to May 30 (his feast according to the old calendar)
                       Church of Sts. Mary and Walstan in Bawburgh, Norfolk