With more and more people self-isolating during this time, reading is a great way to escape the confines with our imagination. I’ve just released a free short story, called “The Merging: It’s a heightened reality fantasy story just over 7,000 words long; if you’d like to download it, just click on the image below! Enjoy, and let me know how you liked it in the comments below!
Category Archives: Publications
For those of you unfamiliar with calligrams, they are images created out of spatially-arranged text, usually related to the image they create.
I began doing calligrams several years ago, and enjoy the “bite-sized” research involved in gathering facts, history and general information about a subject. The first one I made was probably a Viking ship or the wassail tree; the latter, I accidentally found being used as the back cover design of an art magazine online out of Romania; I asked them to attach my web address and credit the image to me, and they did so, but it taught me a valuable lesson: embed my name into the calligram!
Below is one that I did recently while on holiday in Lugano. You’ll hear more about that soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this calligram! Just click on it to enlarge it. The image itself is based on a vintage postcard collage.
If anyone would like to use this in any way, please contact me through the comments below; whenever using any image, please give credit – whenever possible – where credit is due!
I’m fairly savvy in a lot of things to do with technology; I’m usually the one in our house who figures out how something works, from electronic gadgets to computer programs. Having said that, I’m probably a complete novice when it comes to all things “webby” – web design, computer programming, SEOs, and their ilk.
I found out about something recently that I thought I’d share with you – especially those of you who are authors with e-book editions: Pure URLs.
When you do a search, say, on Amazon, for your book, the URL will reflect the search phase. If you use that URL as a hyperlink in your ebook, it won’t work for anyone else – which is hard for you to know as, when you test it, Amazon will recognize your computer and reinstate that search result.
Here’s an example:
If I do a search on Amazon for one of my books, the URL looks like this (with spaces added to prevent conversion):
https: // www. amazon .com / Cardinal-Part-One-Stephanie-Huesler-ebook/dp/B00PKS2EWO/ ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1501893862&sr=1-1 &keywords=Stephanie+Huesler+The+Cardinal+Part+One
the pure URL will be shorter, like this:
https:// www. amazon .com / Cardinal-Part-One-Stephanie-Huesler-ebook / dp/B00PKS2EWO
If I remove the spaces and paste the pure URL into this post, it will look like this:
I hope this helps you as you prepare your document for publication. It’s something I am in the process of editing in my already-published books (in preparation for updates). As always, honing skills means that there will be cringe-moments when looking back on writing results from years ago. Bringing out a new book is good reason to go back and give the other documents (which need to be updated with new book information anyway) a good run-through!
These days I’m getting ready to publish my fifth novel, the third instalment in The Northing Trilogy, called Asunder. In preparation, besides all the tasks such as final editing, formatting, writing blurbs, back cover copy, graphics and cover designs (to name a few!), I’ve also been reading books on the technical aspects; I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid the bits such as marketing. That term tends to engender visions of those flashy pop-up ads that interrupt my focus with demands. I hate those things. Though marketing is integral to getting the word out about my books and other publications, I used to think of it like a kind of math homework… I put it off as long as possible! I’m gradually warming up to it.
Having said that, I’ve just read a great book by James Scott Bell, called Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing. How did he know? It was a relief and an encouragement to realise that a) I must not be alone in my feelings toward that topic, and b) I’d been doing a lot of it right instinctively, with one exception: In light of his advice, I’ve decided to set up a mailing list.
Here’s my idea: With those who sign up on my contact page, I’d like to share occasional insights into my writing process that I don’t often share on this blog; I’ll also share things like information on resource material that I use in either publishing or research. I’ll let you be the first to know about new releases, and to inform you when a sales promotion or special offer is coming up.
Don’t worry – I won’t flood your inbox with emails. Our generation is on information overload as it is so I will keep my emails to a minimum, but I hope to make it well worth your while to read them when they arrive. I’m looking forward to this new venture; it’s been a long time since I wrote letters to friends, and that’s how I see this – from me to you.
To sign up, just fill in this contact form. Thank you, and I hope we have a great journey together!
In researching for my novel, “The Cardinal“, I did a lot of research into the Viking Age of Scotland, Norway, and in modern-day Britain. The following is a snippet of the notes and thoughts I percolated over while studying into this amazing time in world history. Some of the speculations, such as the motivations behind the Lindisfarne attack, are my own, based on studies and extrapolation.
I think it’s impossible to do justice to any information about the Vikings; their existence, culture, language, mentality, and the effect of their actions have had repercussions that echo down through the ages. They gave names to countless cities throughout the world, and even entire regions: The Norse kingdom of Dublin (Old Norse for “Black Pool”) was a major centre of the Norse slave trade; Limerick, Wexford and Wicklow were other major ports of trade; Russia gets its name from them, and the list goes on and on. Had they not been so successful in the slave trade and conquest, entire regions of the earth would be populated differently, place names would be vastly different, and English would be a far poorer language than it is today.
“A.D. 793. This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery dragons flying across the firmament. These tremendous tokens were soon followed by a great famine: and not long after, on the sixth day before the ides of January in the same year, the harrowing inroads of heathen men made lamentable havoc in the church of God in Holy-island, by rapine and slaughter.” (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pg. 37)
This reference from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, one of the most famous history books available in English, is a reference to what would become known as the beginning of the Viking Age, the attack on the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne. Firstly, I’d like to clarify a few points: “Viking” is a term that first came into being, in its present spelling, in 1840; it entered English through the Old Norse term “vikingr” in 1807. The Old Norse term meant “freebooter, pirate, sea-rover, or viking”, and the term “viking” meant “piracy, freebooting voyage.” The armies of what we would call Vikings were referred to by their contemporaries as Danes, and those who settled were known by the area they settled in, or visa-versa. Those who settled in the northeastern regions of Europe were called Rus by their Arabian and Constantinopolitan trading partners, perhaps related to the Indo-European root for “red”, referring to their hair colour, or – more likely – related to the Old Norse word of Roþrslandi, “the land of rowing,” in turn related to Old Norse roðr “steering oar,” from which we get such words as “rudder” and “row”.
Oh, and not a single Norse battle helmet with horns has ever been found.
I’d like to focus on a key point of the Lindisfarne episode, if one could refer so glibly to the slaughter of innocent monks and the beginning of the reign of terror that held the civilized world in constant fear for over two centuries: Yes, the Vikings were violent; their religion of violent gods and bloody sacrifices and rituals encouraged and cultivated it to a fine art. Yes, the Vikings were tradesmen, but they were also skilled pirates and raiders, that skill honed along their own home coasts for generations prior to their debut on the rest of the unsuspecting world. Yes, it was known that monasteries held items sacred to the Christian faith, that just happened to be exquisitely wrought works of art made of gold and jewels.
Gold was one enticement; but their primary trading good was human flesh; slaves. It was by far the most lucrative item, and readily had along any coast they chose; if too many died in the voyage they could always just get more before they docked at Constantinople, Dublin, or any other major trading port. So why did they slaughter the monks so mercilessly at Lindisfarne, when they would have gained more by taking them captive and either selling them as slaves or selling them for ransom? The answer might actually be found in Rome.
Charlemagne (ruled 768-814 AD) took up his father’s reigns and papal policies in 768 AD. From about 772 AD onwards, his primary occupation became the conversion to Christianity of the pagan Saxons along his northeastern frontier. It is very important to make a distinction between the modern expressions of the Christian faith and the institution of power mongers of past centuries; Christianity then had extremely little to do with the teachings of Christ and far more to do with political and military power, coercion, and acquisition of wealth through those powers; it was a political means to their own ends with the blessing of the most powerful politician in the history of the civilized world, the Pope. Without his blessing and benediction, a king had not only very little power, but was exposed to attack from anyone who had “holy permission” to exterminate heathens; joining the ranks of the Christian church took on the all-important definition of survival, and protection from the others in those ranks being free to attack you at their leisure.
In the year 772 AD, Charlemagne’s forces clashed with the Saxons and destroyed Irmensul, the Saxon’s most holy shrine and likely their version of the Yggdrasil, the Tree of the World, of Scandinavian mythology. In the Royal Frankish Annals of 775 AD, it was recorded that the king (Charlemagne) was so determined in his quest that he decided to persist until they were either defeated and forced to accept the papal authority (in the guise of “Christian faith”), or be entirely exterminated [Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard’s Histories, trans. Bernhard Walter Scholz with Barbara Rogers (Michigan 1972: 51)]. Charlemagne himself conducted a few mass “baptisms” to underscore the close identification of his military power with the Christian church.
“In 782 the Saxons rebelled again and defeated the Franks in the Süntel hills. Charlemagne’s response was the infamous massacre of Verden on the banks of the river Aller, just south of the neck of the Jutland peninsula. As many as 4,500 unarmed Saxon captives were forcibly baptised into the Church and then executed. Even this failed to end Saxon resistance and had to be followed up by a programme of transportations in 794 in which about 7,000 of them were forcibly resettled. Two further campaigns of forcible resettlement followed, in 797 and in 798…. Heathens were defined as less than fully human so that, under contemporary Frankish canon law, no penance was payable for the killing of one” [Ferguson, Robert (2009-11-05). The Hammer and the Cross: A New History of the Vikings (Kindle Locations 1048-1051). Penguin UK. Kindle Edition.]
The defining of a heathen as less than human was actually not a unique idea; Scandinavians were familiar with that notion from their own cultures, which defined slaves as less than human and therefore tradable goods; and if a freeman announced his intention of killing someone (anyone) it was not considered murder as the victim was given “fair” warning.
The more I learn about Charlemagne’s brutal policies toward what he considered sub-human pagans, the more I understand the reaction of retaliation toward the symbols of that so-called Christian faith, the monasteries and its inhabitants. They slaughtered, trampled, polluted, dug up altars, stole treasures, killed some, enslaved some, drove out others naked while heaping insults on them, and others they drowned in the sea. The latter was perhaps a tit-for-tat for those at Verden who were forcibly baptised and then killed.
Lindisfarne was merely the first major attack in Britain that was highly publicized (as chroniclers of history were usually monks, and those such as Alcuin knew the inhabitants of Lindisfarne personally), in what would become a 250-year reign of terror, violence, slavery, raping, pillaging, plundering and theft either by force or by Danegeld. But as in all good histories, it’s important to remember that hurt people hurt people; the perpetrator was at one time a victim. One might say that what goes around comes around. It’s no excuse or downplay of what happened there, which literally changed the course of the civilised world, but it perhaps gives a wider perspective on the Vikings of the times rather than just the vicious raiders portrayed in so many documentaries. And it is important to remember that Vikings did not equal Norsemen; the majority of Scandinavians were farmers and fishermen, living as peacefully as their times would allow, and even themselves victims to the occasional Viking raid.
Originally posted on History Undusted on 14 July 2013
Image Credit: Origin Unknown, Pinterest
Another shameless plug… my husband’s second album is now on Spotify (as well as iTunes)! [It’s actually his first, but in the process of digitalisation it’s the second one now; in case you missed the first one, just click here. ] Just click on the image below to have a listen! Enjoy.
With this being the first album, we had toyed with the idea of recording an English version; my husband and I translated and smoothed out the text for each of the songs (not an easy task between Swiss German and English, to get the rhythms & sentence structures to match the already-recorded soundtracks!), but it was mothballed before we got started on the recordings, due to the complexities it would have entailed by recording it in Britain (with English-speaking kids). Maybe one day; but in the meantime, he’s written enough songs to fill five more albums. Technology has drifted from physical to digital, so I doubt another “album” is on the horizon (though oddly enough, LPs have been coming back into style since about 2010). You never know.
Last week I took a much-needed break from the computer after launching my latest novel, The Cardinal (Parts One & Two)! It is such a complex story with rich landscapes that it deserved the room to breathe and unfold, and so it became two novels, though that decision didn’t come until well into the second draft. When it was all said and done, I had formatted two books, twice each (one format for Kindle, one for paperback), designed four covers, written countless versions of blurbs, etc., and gone through the publication process four times. Trust me, I’d seen enough of my computer at that point to have a love-hate relationship with it for a while. During that break I managed to read five books in a week, not a single one of them research-related for the next project! I’ve since made peace with my computer, and I’m beginning work on the next novel – this time, back to the 18th century to complete the Northing Trilogy. I’m looking forward to exploring this new aspect of characters I already know well from the previous two novels; it will take me through the grime of workhouse orphanages and the salty brine of the British navy in the mid-18th century, and already the research questions accumulating portend at least one trip to London, which is one of my favourite cities anyway, and I’m sure you’ll hear more about that in the months to come.
With all of the push and shove of getting the books ready to publish, Christmas has snuck up on me! It hit home this weekend, literally, when we put up the Christmas decorations: Here in Switzerland it’s usual to put the Christmas tree and decorations up on Christmas Eve, so we’ve struck a compromise between our varying cultures and aim for the first Advent; it’s also a pragmatic compromise as, if we’re going to go to all that effort, we might as well enjoy it a bit. We went to the first Christmas market of the season, complete with hot wine punch, roasted chestnuts, and Christmas shopping. If any of you have cats, you’ll empathize with me on one point: As we walked through the market, again and again we saw things that we liked, “But…” A nice wind chime made of drift wood, stones and feathers in perfect balance? Cat toy. Ditto for the man-sized candle holder made of stones & driftwood. Scratching post. Now mind you, our cats are well-behaved, and they only scratch on their scratching post; but there’s probably too little of a difference to their perspective between the allowed version and the decorative, expensive version… Any cloth craft item is like catnip to our calico, Gandria – she carries off anything cloth she can get into her mouth (she’s even learned how to unzip my husband’s backpack; her favourite thing to steal is his tissue packs).
All of that just to say this: I have now re-entered the land of the living after having been sequestered with my book manuscripts in the final polish and publish phases. I’m more than ready for holidays, and blogging, writing, researching, plotting… in short, starting the next manuscript.