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Archive for May, 2011

Today I am delighted to welcome author Nicole Zoltack. “Champion of Valor”, the third novel in her Medieval Fantasy Romance Series, Kingdom of Arnhem, has been released by Desert Breeze Publishing. Today she’ll be discussing Religion in the Middle Ages. Congratulations and welcome, Nicole.

Religion in the Middle Ages


The medieval people lived in trying times. Many children died before their first birthday. Many mothers died during childbirth. The plague. The Crusades. It comes as no surprise that the medieval people were extremely religious, with many attending daily mass.
Woman of Honor, the first book in my medieval fantasy romance series, is the most historical book in the trilogy. Aislinn is a young girl who wishes to be a knight – this book focuses on her knightly training and the love she finds along her journey.
Knight of Glory introduces different races like dwarves and wind-dancing trolls and focuses more on the fantasy aspect of the world as Sir Geoffrey finds himself torn between two different and mysterious women.
But I felt that I would have been remiss to ignore how religious the medieval world had been so Champion of Valor has religious undertones. The war between Arnhem and Speica mirrors the war between angels and demons as Lucifer tries to bring about the apocalypse before its time.

Excerpt:

Heaven

Christopher glanced down at Terra between the clouds. With the heightened sight of a warrior saint, he was able to see Arnhem castle, his home throughout his knightly training. The marketplace had come a long way since the horrific fire. A large smile graced his face when he saw the queen, his sister, help a young child to an apple from a market’s cart. She, too, had come a long way, her tenacity and determination earning Aislinn her shield and the heart of Arnhem’s young king.
“She has an even harder journey ahead of her.”
The deep voice of his commander, Saint Michael the Archangel, stirred Christopher from his thoughts, and his heart fell slightly. “Aislinn must face more hardship?” he asked, dreading but already knowing the answer.
“I am afraid so. She will survive it, do not fret.”
Christopher breathed a sigh of relief. Although he longed to one day be reunited with his beloved sister, he did not want to rush her death. “Do you want me to warn her again?”
As a soldier in the Battle for Heaven, Christopher was allowed, at certain times and with his Archangel’s consent, to visit one still on Earth about the trying times ahead, to prepare her, to ready her heart, and to increase her devotion to the Lord. He had already visited his sister several times.
“No.” Saint Michael’s large, ethereal wings glittered as he shook his head. “The war between Speica and Arnhem is rapidly engulfing the entire continent of Alethereia. If things continue at this rapid pace, Europe and the rest of the eastern world may come to grapple with the destruction as well.”
Christopher blinked and furrowed his brow. “But Europe and the other continents are still ignorant of magic.”
“Yes.” Saint Michael glided beside Christopher and gazed down upon Terra with a mild look of concern. “Now is not the time for magic to be revealed to them. We cannot allow that to happen.”
“How can we prevent this from occurring?”
“As you told Aislinn many years ago, the battles waged on Terra parallel those fought here in Heaven.”
Christopher nodded with understanding. “We must fight Lucifer and his demon angels.”
“We must win, and soon.” Saint Michael’s gaze shifted to Christopher. “Your time on Terra was cut short, and I am sorry for that, but the Lord had need of you here. You have proven yourself time and again in battle. It is time to ready the other warriors.” Saint Michael nodded his head and vanished in a brilliant flash of white.
Christopher stole one last look down on Terra, his eyes now drawn to the dark castle of Speica. The hint of black magic vibrated and hummed even across the great distance. He shuddered. At least in Heaven, Christopher did not have to worry about dying again, but those fighting for Arnhem, and the light, would have a dangerous road ahead of them. Christopher did not envy them.

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win some signed post cards and magnets. Each comment during the Champion of Valor Blog Tour gives you an entry for the grand prize: a copy of the entire Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy – Woman of Honor, Knight of Glory, and Champion of Valor.

Woman of Honor
Knight of Glory
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What a pleasure to welcome JoAnn Carter today and discuss her new release, “Paradox.”

This morning while I was lying in bed in the early pre-dawn I heard a bird singing out a beautiful melody. Normally, this would make my heart happy, but then I’d just turn over and try to catch a few more moments of rest. But not today. Today was extra special. Why? Because crazy as this may sound, this little birdie was lifting it’s sweet praises in the midst of a thunderstorm. Amazing! God used two rather “ordinary” things to create and extraordinary experience for me—God showed me something awesome and real—a perfect picture of peace. Thunderclouds rolled in, lighting flashed across the dark gray sky, and rain teamed down the windowpane yet this bird was secure. In fact, it was more than secure, it was full of joy, willing and wanting to sing.

This sends Goosebumps up my spine as I think about it. It’s a paradox and truly a God thing. Especially since this word, paradox, has been near and dear to my heart. In fact, I kid you not; this is the very title of the book that I wanted to share with you today. Yet, perhaps paradox is not a word you’re familiar with, so let me explain. Paradox is flowers on snow, joy in the midst of trials, compassion for others as your own heart breaks. It’s what many of us just celebrated, Easter– Jesus laying down his life for me, someone sinful and undeserving. It’s victory and life born out of death and suffering.

Through this experience, God reminded me that He delights in using those ordinary things to accomplish His marvelous purposes. And that’s super news! If He can use Fishermen, tax collectors, birds, and thunderstorms, I know He can use me—a very average, ordinary person to do extraordinary things for Him. Perhaps you’re feeling “ordinary” today. Take heart, it’s through that very thing that God can show His creativity, His power, and even His love just like He did for me in the midst of this early mornings storm.

A CONTEST TO HELP ME CELEBRATE THE RELEASE OF PARADOX:

Win a gift box filled with goodies! (A paperback copy of Teacher’s Plans, a gift certificate, a mug filled with a package of Green Mountain Coffee, pen and a Tee-shirt.)

How? Help me spread the word about Paradox by sharing the link to this post on your FB, Twitter, blog, etc. then e-mail where you posted it to joannwrites@gmail.com with “Blog Blitz” in the subject line. A winner will be drawn 5/26/11.


JoAnn Carter writes stories that will encourage your faith through inspirational fiction novels and novellas. She resides in Vermont with her wonderful husband and four children.

JoAnn is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women’s ministries events, school events, and church retreats.

Find her here:
Visit JoAnn’s Web site
Connect with JoAnn on Facebook
JoAnn’s Blog

I hope you’ll be able to pick up a copy of Paradox today @ http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok

You can watch the trailer here ~ http://youtu.be/mnOQeNeQuUE

Thank you for visiting, today, JoAnn, and best of luck with “Paradox.”

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THE WOLF’S TORMENT BLOG TOUR

I’d like to thank Regina for having me here today. My latest release is “The Wolf’s Torment,” a paranormal romance that takes place in Romania in the mid 1860’s. My hero, Prince Mihai Sigmaringen, is Romanian Orthodox. His intended, Theresa von Kracken, has converted to his religion to marry him. I did a bunch of research on Orthodox wedding customs and I thought I’d share with you today.

The Eastern Orthodox Church roots its traditions and rituals in the Christian Church along with Roman Catholicism. In the year 1066 A.D., Eastern Orthodoxy broke away from Roman Catholism and centered it’s church in the heart of the Byzantine Empire in a city called Constantinople (now modern day Istanbul).

The Orthodox Church while similar to Catholism does have several differences. Their popes are known as “patriarchs.” Their priests are allowed to marry. They have a beautiful wedding ceremony rich in tradition and rituals.

Orthodoxy is the main religion of Greece, Russia, Lebanon, Romania, and Serbia, however it can be found all over the world. The Orthodox Church allows for interfaith marriages, but at least one of the marriage participants and one witness must be Eastern Orthodox. There are several traditions that are followed before the wedding. For example, weddings usually take place in the morning and are not scheduled during Lent, Advent, and Epiphany seasons. Traditional music is used for the processional and recessional, but old hymns and chants are used throughout the wedding service. The best man is known as the “Groomsman,” and he must be Orthodox. On the wedding day itself, the couple takes the sacrament of Penance, then Holy Communion, cleansing them from all sin so they can approach the marriage altar pure.

The wedding ceremony has two parts. The betrothal service is conducted at the door of the church or the vestibule. The priest blesses the couple’s rings and puts the rings in the couple’s right hands. The groomsman than exchanges the rings between the bride and groom three times. This means that the bride and groom’s lives are now entwined forever.

The Priest asks the couple if they’ve come of their own free will. Once the couple answers, the Priests leads them into the church and to the altar.

When the couple arrives at the altar, they are given lightened candles, which they hold throughout the service. The candles signify that Christ is the light of the world and will light their way in their new lives.

The Priest joins the right hands of the couple and they listen to several passages from the Bible. The Priest then blesses the crowns that the bride and groom will wear. The symbolism of the crowns include that of creating a new house, which the bride and groom preside over. Crowns can be as simple as a wreath of flowers or as ornate as a real, jeweled gold crown.

The crowns are presented to the bride and groom. Each kisses the crown before the Priest puts in on their head. The couple drink from a common cup, signifying they will share their happiness and sorrows together.

Finally, the Priest leads them around the altar three times. The circle around the altar represents eternal marriage since a circle has no beginning and no end. The Priest then uncouples the bride and groom’s hands symbolizing that only God can now come between them.

The ceremony is very beautiful, but can be a little long and physically demanding. Movies such as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and the classic “Dracula,” have Eastern Orthodox wedding scenes in them.

If you’re interested in this type of wedding ceremony, there are various resources you can look into including visiting your local Orthodox church, Internet search engines, and going to your local library.

REVIEW FOR THE WOLF’S TORMENT

From The Pen & Muse:

A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.

Link: http://thepenmuse.net/archives/2720

ENJOY THIS EXCERPT

THE SET UP: Mihai and Theresa are married.

April twentieth was a day Mihai would never forget. He stood in the entranceway of Saint Mikhal’s Orthodox Church waiting for Theresa to arrive. He exhaled a long sigh of contentment.

His father walked to the small window next to the wooden door and peered out. He looked thin and gaunt in his uniform, and his hand trembled slightly, but he wasn’t coughing and he hadn’t had any more episodes of memory loss since the time he confused Theresa for Alice. Mihai had to admit that unnerved him very much.

“Her carriage is pulling up now, Son.”

Mihai drew in a deep breath to steady his racing heart. He wore the military uniform of the Crown Prince. The church was full. Beatrice was Theresa’s maid of honor. Sonia didn’t feel comfortable in the wedding party. Her illness sapped her strength. She was sitting in the front row, waiting for them. His heart went out to her. It seemed that no matter how much she rested or how much she ate, she was ill in one way or another. She had stopped throwing up her food, thank goodness, but now his sister had headaches that left her practically immobile. Sonia devoured Beatrice’s botany book, but with her headaches, it was difficult for her direct energy in their lessons.

The door opened and all eyes turned toward Theresa. She walked into the entranceway, her arm threaded through her father’s. God, she was stunning. Her dress was pure white, and the bodice fell down past her collarbone, accentuating the full curve of her breasts. The sleeves of the dress tapered down to her wrists. The dress hugged her waist. Beatrice and Victoria, Theresa’s oldest sister, held her white train. Theresa wore pearl earrings and a matching necklace.

Theresa’s father presented her to Mihai, and for a precious moment, time seemed suspended between them. The bells stopped ringing.

Father Gregori greeted the couple. His purple and gold robe glittered in the candlelight. Mihai smiled at Theresa. She returned the smile. “Is there anyone who objects to the marriage of Prince Mihai and Lady Theresa?” asked Father Gregori. The vestibule was silent.

“Prince Mihai, do you come here of your own free will to marry Lady Theresa?”

“Yes.”

He grasped Theresa’s hand, reassuring her he did. Her lips curved into a smile.

Yes, I want this. I want to marry you. I pray you can feel my sincerity.

“Lady Theresa, do you come here of your own free will to marry Prince Mihai?”

“Yes,” she replied.

His father, King Stelian, stepped forward and exchanged the wedding rings between the couple. The last time, Mihai slid his ring on Theresa’s finger. When he looked up, Theresa’s eyes were moist, the apprehension gone.

Father Gregori motioned for the couple to enter the church. They followed the priest down the aisle. Beatrice clung to Mihai’s father, who Mihai suspected really clung to her. Victoria and Edward, Theresa’s other siblings, followed Beatrice and the king. When they got to the altar, everyone took their places and the wedding mass began.

Father Gregori presented them each with a candle. “Christ is the light of the world and will light your way through life as husband and wife.”

The prayers and readings were said. He and Theresa took communion. She exchanged her candle for a crown from Beatrice. Mihai kissed the crown and knelt before Theresa, reverence in his heart. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and Theresa placed the crown on his head. Mihai tried to push aside the rush of guilt that blasted him. Why hadn’t he waited for Theresa? He needed to stop feeling guilty about his time in England. England was far away and Theresa was his here and now.

He stood up, pushing those unwanted thoughts away and prayed Theresa had not felt them. He took the crown from his father and held it up before his bride. Theresa kissed it and knelt before him. Gently, he placed it on her head. Thank God, Theresa had been strong enough to perform the ceremony. He helped her to her feet and they followed Father Gregori around the altar three times. The final time, Father Gregori turned to face them.

“In the name of God, I pronounce you husband and wife, Crown Prince and Princess Mihai and Theresa Sigmaringen.”

The bells began to ring, announcing his marriage, and his heart soared with pride – and joy.

Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a ‘like’ at:

The Wolf’s Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher’s Website at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-163/Stephanie-Burkhart-Moldavian-Moon/Detail.bok

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children’s book, “The Giving Meadow” with 4RV Publishing. She’s an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her favorite movie “werewolf” is David Thewlis, Lupin from Harry Potter.

You can find me at:

Website:

http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

Blog:

http://sgcardin.blogspot.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166

Romance Under the Moonlight

A Polish Heart (inspirational/sweet romance)
short story in VTP’s Spring Anthology
Coming Late March 2011

Visit me at:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

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