Category Archives: Historical Fiction

St. Kunibert

Medieval Cologne and St. Kunibert Through The Eyes of a Main Character

St. Kunibert

Built in the mid-thirteenth century, St. Kunibert is Cologne’s youngest Gothic Cathedral. (Photo Credit: The Great Jesus Experiment)

Where in the world is Ivo Bauer?

It is the 24th of April in the year of our Lord 1248 and Ivo Bauer sits perched in an oak that’s just beginning to leaf outside St. Kunibert’s Gate in Cologne. If he cranes his neck, he can see beyond the Gothic towers of Cologne’s newest cathedral to the dozens of trading vessel flocking to Rheine Gate.

Writing takes me—and my characters—to wonderful places. If you couldn’t tell already, today we are in thirteenth-century Cologne just outside one of its many famous gates. If you keep up with my blog, you’ll know that Cologne has a rich and fascinating history. The parish of St. Kunibert is no exception.

St. Kunibert

The historical map (bottom left) shows the city of Cologne. The map (at right) shows the city’s divided into parishes. St. Kunibert is located in the lower left. The map on the upper right is a close-up of this section of the city.

A Brief History of St. Kunibert

St. Kunibert’s Cathedral still stands today in the southeast of Cologne. The youngest Gothic cathedral in the city, it was consecrated in 1247, despite not being finished. To celebrate, Cologne’s infamous archbishop—Konrad von Hochstaden—threw a feast for Cologne’s elite. A year later this same archbishop laid the cornerstone of the city’s famous cathedral after the previous cathedral burned to the ground.
The area of Kunibert has a long history. Prior to the cathedral, a seventh-century basilica dedicated to St. Clement sat on the grounds, but when Cologne’s beloved bishop Kunibert died and his remains were interned at the church in 663, the basilica soon became synonymous with him.
Two fairly famous legends surround the area. In May of 1030, when a fire in St. Mary of the Steps threatened to burn the city cathedral, canons from St. Kunibert lugged the sainted bishop’s shrine to the cathedral steps and it’s said that the fire extinguished instantly. Perhaps even stranger, the cathedral houses a room beneath the altar with an ancient well. Women once believed drinking its waters increased their chances of fertility. I’m not quite sure why they have blocked it off. It makes me wonder if people, believing the legend, still attempt to drink from it.

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Sources:

http://www.koelntourismus.de/sehenswertes-kultur/romanische-kirchen/st-kunibert.html
http://willkommeninkoeln.de/05sight/sight09e.htm
http://www.koeln.de/tourismus/sehenswertes/kirchen/st-kunibert_615192.html

Using History to Guess Who Will Win The Game of Thrones

meAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series –The Countess’s Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut later this year.  She regularly posts about Medieval history on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

George R. R. Martin says A Song of Fire and Ice is loosely based on The War of the Roses.  I believe the series more closely resembles The Great Interregnum: a twenty year Game of Thrones taking place in the 13th century Holy Roman Empire.  My five minute documentary, which compares The Great Interregnum to the Game of Thrones, posits who will end up on the iron throne.  (Take a guess who it is before you watch it.)

 

The Six-Month Siege of Aachen

meAndrea Cefalo is a Medieval fiction author and Medieval history blogger. Her debut novel, The Fairytale Keeper,  was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series –The Countess’s Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut later this year.
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Frederick II Excommunicated by Innocent IV

Emperor Frederick II Excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV

Medieval history is rife with clashes between popes and kings—and the thirteenth century was no exception.  Disagreements between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Innocent IV—over Frederick’s attempts to extend his power in Italy and his reluctance to go on crusade—led to the excommunication and attempted ousting of the Hohenstaufen emperor. With the help of his allies, Pope Innocent selected men to take Frederick’s place. The first of these antikings, Henry Raspe, died only two years after his selection. William of Holland was elected king ten months later.

Since the time of Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperors and kings were traditionally crowned in Aachen. In Spring of 1248, William’s men rode ahead of their new king to the Medieval city for the coronation, but the gates were barred. The people of Aachen remained loyal to the emperor and refused William’s entry. A skirmish ensued, and sixteen of William’s men were killed.

Because there was an emperor and king already on the thrown, William needed an official coronation so Europe would see him as more than a Church-sponsored pretender. William arrived with his armies approximately a week later, and the siege began.

Siege of Mortagne near Bordeaux in 1377.

Painting of 14th cent. Siege of Mortagne

According to the book The Medieval City Under Siege, siege warfare, though common, was ineffective during the thirteenth century for two reasons. First, a lack of gains in military technology meant that city walls and defenses were often stronger than the weapons used to destroy them. Second, most nobles had difficulty rallying an army large enough to  surround a city’s walls. Even if they could, they usually couldn’t feed and supply a large army for months at a time. Luckily for William, he had a strong ally in the pope who had strong allies of his own.

By summer, troops from Picardy, Flanders, and Brabant came to William’s aid. They damned the river flowing through Aachen, causing a third of the city to flood. After the addition of Frisia’s troops in the fall, William’s army finally had enough men to surround the city. Though the people of Aachen lay starving in a flooded city under constant bombardment, they remained loyal to the emperor. It wasn’t until a rumor of Frederick’s death circulated the city that Aachen waved the white flag.

Cologne’s Archbishop, Konrad von Hochstaden, aided in arbitration. The city nobles and the imperial bailiff pledged fealty to the Church and to William of Holland, gaining their freedom and the end of the siege in exchange. William entered the city on October 19th, nearly six months after the battle began. He was crowned on November first.

 

Sources:

Corfis, Ivy A.., and Michael Wolfe. The Medieval City under Siege. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1995. Print.

Rogers, Clifford J., William Caferro, and Shelley Reid. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.

The Rafflecopter Has Landed…And It’s Giving Away Fairytale Retellings

The Fairytale Keeper Joins the Fantastical Tour

Book blogger Laura, from Burgundy Ice, recently invited me to join a week-long celebration of fairytales and fairytale retellings.  The Fantastical Tour begins January 26th and ends on February 1st.  I’ve listed the specific books and blogs featured on the tour below.  But here’s the best part! The fairy godmother has arrived in the form of a Rafflecopter giveaway, ready to doll out fairytale swag.  Click the link for your chance to win some pretty sweet prizes.  Best of luck!

Fantastical Tour Andrea Cefalo
The Tour:

January 26 @ Blogs everywhere: Launching the Tour
January 27 @ Mythical Books: Shadowskin by Bethany Cassel
January 28 @  Wonderings of One Person: Beyond the Hollow by Kristy Tate
January 29 @ I Am a Reader, Not a Writer: Enchanted Fairytales by Cindy C Bennett
January 30 @ A Backwards Story: EnchantedHero by Alethea Kontis
January 31 @ Bookworm Lisa: The Fairytale Keeper by Andrea Cefalo
February 1 @ Blogs everywhere: The Grand Finale

Proposal Power: Writing the Proposal that Publishers Want

I am very pleased to present this highly-informative post written by Charles S. Weinblatt, published author of Jacob’s Courage along with many other books both fiction and nonfiction.  Charles has very graciously stopped by today to give novice authors a few tips on getting publishers to pick up their work. Take it away, Charles!

Proposal Power: Writing the Proposal that Publishers Want

Red PenAs resume writing is a path to a successful career, the publishing proposal is a gateway for being published, especially for fiction. Unfortunately, very few neophyte authors are experienced in publishing proposal writing.  Novice authors are rarely considered by publishers. Why should a publisher spend several thousand dollars on an unknown, unproven author? Since very few rookie authors have a literary agent, it’s up to the author to design a proposal that not only meets their expectations, but sweeps editors off their feet. Non-fiction authors who are known subject matter experts should still design a proposal. But it is vastly more critical for unfamiliar fiction authors.

Before we go any farther, if you think that this article will enable your book to be published by HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House or any other major publisher – STOP READING. Only trusted, well-connected literary agents deliver author proposals into the hands of major publishers. If you don’t have such a literary agent, or a close friend or relative in the industry, you will NOT have a proposal read by a major publisher – PERIOD.

Many small independent publishers around the world specialize in one or two genres. However, you can have a proposal read by one of the many thousands of small independent publishers around the world; and that’s a good way to start an author platform and propel your nascent writing career.

New Books

Publishing proposal writing is a science and an art form. Your proposal must not only explain very succinctly the synopsis of your book, but also how it compares to similar successful books in the same genre. It must contain, at a minimum, one section each on: the author, a concise synopsis, a market analysis, a competitive analysis, promotional and marketing concepts, a chapter outline; and sample chapters. This cannot be thrown together and submitted carte blanche to any and every publisher. It should be re-worked and customized for each publisher.  You must explain why you and your manuscript are a good fit with each publisher, based upon the publisher’s past experience, areas of success, author and genre predilections. You accomplish this by analyzing each small publisher and demonstrating why your manuscript will make sense given the publisher’s preferences.

The author is the easiest section to complete. Expand upon all of your accomplishments as a writer or as an author of fiction. This can go back as far as your high school newspaper. Include all writing competition awards, published articles, prior published books, media outlets that have accepted your work, positive reviews from persuasive review organizations, etc. Include all major media interviews via radio, television, cable, Internet and local newspapers, journals and magazines. This section tells the publisher that you have had successful writing responsibilities and that you have been rewarded and recognized for your talent. It explains what makes your writing and literary experience relevant to this topic and to the specific publisher.

The synopsis sounds easier than it is. In about 500 words or less, you must describe your target audience, why your book is exceptional and why it is a worthy expenditure for the publisher. Concisely describe the most compelling and persuasive aspects of your book. Lead with a powerful description. You must grab the editor’s attention immediately. Here is one example that led to a publishing contract for one of my novels about young Jewish lovers during the Holocaust:

How would you feel if, at age seventeen, the government removed you from school, evicted you from your home, looted your bank account and took all of your family’s possessions, prevented your parents from working and then deported you and your loved ones to a prison camp run by brutal taskmasters? How would you feel if you suddenly lost contact with everyone that you know and love? How would you feel if you were sent to the most frightening place in history and then forced to perform unspeakable acts of horror in order to remain alive?”

If that doesn’t grab your heart, maybe you don’t have a pulse. It makes everything that follows easier from the publisher’s perspective. No, the paragraph above does not constitute the synopsis. It says nothing about the protagonists, the story line, scenery, character development, dialog or the ending. But, it’s a start that may be sufficiently emotional to grab the editor’s attention. Avoid creating a long-winded, detailed synopsis, which is a very common mistake. Your synopsis should be about one page. Keep editing it until it describes everything relevant in your manuscript within a page. You do not need to explain the ending. But you definitely must hook the publisher’s editor.

English: Graph showing total number of books p...

The market analysis is relevant and essential. It tells the publisher that you comprehend the market for such books and how your manuscript is consistent with market needs. In describing the potential for your book, you must compellingly submit how expansive that market is today and where your book fits into it. Describe which authors are doing well with which similar books within this genre and why. This is where you’ll explain who will purchase and read your book, how many readers enjoy such books, where they are and why they will pay for it. You’ll need to perform enough research to cite specific examples and statistics to back up your claims.

The competitive analysis is perhaps the most critical portion of the publishing proposal. Here you contrast and compare your book with at least three similar books that have achieved prodigious public success. Select these three similar books carefully. They certainly do not need to be contemporary. Feel free to select a book from the Eighteenth Century, if it is relevant. Explain why people by the millions purchased that book, which is very similar to yours. Then explain why your book adds to the success of that genre.

At the same time, discuss how your book treats similar situations differently and why. NEVER try to convince a publisher that your book is “exactly like…” the famous book. It isn’t and you will be perceived as insincere or not to be trusted. As you compare and contrast your book with the big-time, well-known successful books, cite similarities and differences in plot, location, dialog, protagonists, narrative, descriptive scenery, etc. Your book can belong to the same genre, but it should always be sufficiently different and for good reasons. Compare your book to the best-selling books in its genre by listing the potential for millions of sales, Amazon sales rankings, number of customer reviews, academic credentials, reviews from the most compelling sources, etc. Facts and figures belong here, as well as why that book sold so many millions of copies and how your book has similar potential. Many editors and publishers view this section as the most critical part of the publishing proposal.

Promotional and marketing concepts is an equally critical section. Here you’ll demonstrate two things: 1) that you are willing to carry forward the bulk of responsibility for marketing and promotion, and 2) that you comprehend the various tasks, requirements, efforts and skills required to make promotion successful.

book signingToday, even large well-known publishers require authors with a platform to take on much of the responsibility for marketing. Unless your name is King or Clancy, it will be up to you to market your book. The days of an author delivering a manuscript to a publisher and then doing nothing are long gone. No matter who you are as an author, regardless of your platform success, marketing and promotion are YOUR job now. Show that you understand how to do this. If you are not willing to engage in repeated public speaking, bookstore signings and book tours, if you’re not willing to produce media interviews, if you won’t land newspaper, magazine and journal articles about your book, if you will not create and daily add to a Facebook fan page and a web landing page, if you won’t blog, write on others’ blogs and disseminate an excellent book video trailer, then no publisher, other than a subsidy publisher, will have an interest in your manuscript.

The chapter outline is extremely important. Here, the publisher anticipates that you will deliver a description of each chapter in several sentences (not paragraphs). The publisher wants to digest the content of each chapter within a few seconds. If your chapter descriptions are several paragraphs each, the proposal will go into the e-junk pile. I have worked very hard to reduce my chapter outlines and my agent continues to demand even more brevity. This is an exercise in being extremely concise.

The publisher will want to read a few sample chapters. This is often the first three chapters, because that’s where character development is born. But it need not be. If you believe that three later chapters will better sell the book, use them. However, be advised that if you use later chapters, and the publisher has no way to relate to your protagonist, the quality of your manuscript will be lost. If you decide that the first three chapters are too boring to use, consider that those first three chapters may need rewriting to incorporate more anticipation, expectation, character development and conflict.

Finally, when all is written, edited and re-written, create a table of contents and use page numbers to identify each section’s location. All publishers expect this.

You’ll never attract a publisher by suggesting that you’re a talented author. If you are a novice and have yet to win writing awards or obtain positive reviews from compelling review organizations, don’t worry. We all start in the same place.  Instead, show that you understand the publishing industry and your marketing and promotion responsibilities. Explain how you are creating an author platform that will be increasingly valuable to that particular small publisher. If the publisher has some interest in your book, they will be more willing to finance its publication. And if the publisher believes that more of those high quality books in the same genre are on the way, they will be more likely to donate several thousand dollars to print your first book.

Charles S. WeinblattCharles S. Weinblatt is the author of published fiction and non-fiction, including the popular Holocaust novel, Jacob’s Courage. His recent published books can be observed at http://charlesweinblatt.wix.com/charles-s-weinblatt.  You can also find Charles at:

Math in the court of Emperor Frederick II

About Frederick II

Al-Kamil (right) and Frederick II signed a tre...

Frederick ruled the Holy Roman Empire on and off from 1220 to 1250.  As many of you know, my Medieval series,  The Fairytale Keeper, takes place during Frederick’s reign. Frederick is featured in the second novel in the series, The Fairest of All, which is what inspired me to do greater research on this remarkable man who one might argue could have inspired an early Renaissance if it weren’t for his constant battles with the Church.

Frederick II was a man of insatiable curiosity in a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to: physics, poetry, logic, linguistics, government, biology, mathematics, and zoology.  The plethora of intriguing facts about Frederick’s exploits in order to gain a better understanding of the world around him and that beyond him has lead me to break up one article on the Holy Roman Emperor into a half-dozen.  So hold onto your hats, Medieval enthusiasts, as we (rather briefly) explore the mathematical pursuits of Emperor Frederick II.  Links to the other articles that I’ve written about Frederick II can be found below.

 

Mathematical Pursuits

Not surprisingly, Frederick surrounded himself with the best and brightest mathematicians of his time.  As discussed in my previous articles, sultans of the east sent their best mathematicians to Frederick’s court.  Other members of his court, Michael Scot and John of Palermo, studied mathematics.  Leonard of Pisa, a man cited to contain “sovereign  possession of the whole mathematical knowledge of his own and every preceding generation,” communicated with the emperor, who took an active role in Leonard’s studies.   Based on their correspondences, we see that Frederick had a fundamental understanding of geometry.  Frederick applied his knowledge of geometry to his love of architecture, designing the towers of Capua.

SOURCES

“Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor and German King).” Www.encyclopia.com. N.p., 2013. Web.

Haskins, Charles H. “Science at the Court of the Emperor Frederick II.” The American Historical Review 27.4 (1922): 669. Print.

 

CAN’T WAIT TO GET YOUR HANDS ON A COPY OF THE FAIRYTALE KEEPER?  ORDER IT NOW.

 

 

Emperor Frederick II and His Scientific Pursuits

Frederick II’s Scientific Pursuits

Frederick II and his falcon. From his book De ...

Frederick II and his falcon. From his book De arte venandi cum avibus (The art of hunting with birds). From a manuscript in Biblioteca Vaticana, Pal. lat 1071), late 13th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As stated in my previous articles, Frederick studied many of the subjects that interested Aristotle, but it seemed that Frederick was especially interested in astronomy, astrology, geography, zoology, medicine, and human anatomy.   Piero della Vigna, a member of the Sicilian school of poets, remarked that Frederick had friars forming maps into globes, tracking the sun’s course through the zodiac, squaring circles, and converting triangles into quadrilaterals.  As discussed previously, Frederick sent questions of astronomy and astrology to the sultans of the east, gaining two astronomers for his own court and a planetarium for his collection.  Frederick was also interested in medicine and human anatomy.  Of particular interest to Frederick was the hygiene of crusading armies.  The correlation between hygiene and disease prevention was unknown at the time.  In fact, Frederick’s insistence on a Sunday bath was outright scandalous.  Frederick’s first crusade was stalled when Frederick fell sick.  Some hypothesize that the illness was faked because Frederick did not want to go, but his interest in disease prevention leads me to believe that he actually became very ill, so ill that he was inspired to find out how to keep crusading armies safe from disease.    Somehow Frederick made the connection between hygiene and the spread of disease.  In 1227, Adam, chanter of Cremona wrote a treatise on the hygiene of crusading armies and dedicated it to the emperor.  Theodore also examined the subject of hygiene.   Frederick also paid careful attention to his own hygiene in terms of bathing and bloodletting.

It could easily be argued that Frederick’s love of zoology, especially the study of hunting with falcons, surpassed his love of any other subject.  In 1231, Frederick brought a menagerie of animals unknown to most Italians including elephants, dromedaries, camels, panthers, gerfalcons, lions, leopards, white falcons, and bearded owl.  Five years prior, he took a similar collection to Parma. In 1245, during Frederick’s travels, the monks of Santo Zeon not only kept Frederick and his entourage, they also had to accommodate an elephant, five leopards, and the 24 camels that Frederick used when crossing the Swiss Alps.  His menagerie wowed the untraveled population of Germany, of which Frederick was the first person to bring a giraffe.

Frederick particularly enjoyed studying birds and horses, possibly inspired by his love of hunting.  He was well versed in Aristotle’s De Animalibus, which he utilized when composing his treatise on ornathology called De Arte Venandi cum Anivabis, which studies the anatomy and behavior of birds .  Frederick also commissioned a volume on the treatment of ailments afflicting horses.  It was very popular and translated into a variety of languages.

Frederick II’s Strange Experiments

13th century anatomical illustration showing t...

13th century anatomical illustration showing the circulation of blood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned earlier, Frederick was interested in the workings of the human body and unafraid to conduct unethical experiments to see if his hypotheses were true.  On one occasion, Frederick invited two men to dinner, feeding them very well.  He took on one the hunt and had the other sent to bed.  Both men were murdered and then disemboweled so Frederick could determine if digestion was better aided by exercise or rest.  His examiner determined that the man who had napped, digested his meal better.

Frederick also took an interest in linguistics.  Frederick sought to discover the natural language that children would speak, and hoped that in doing so he would discover the language Adam and Eve used when talking with God.  In order to discover this, Frederick took a group of infants from nearby orphanages and had them raised by nurses who never held or spoke with the children.  According to Slimbene Di Adam who recorded the experiments in his treatise  entitled  Chronicles, the infants were nursed, kept warm, and bathed, but never spoken to.  The hypotheses ranged from Greek to Hebreow, and Latin to the language of God.  Unfortunately for Frederick and these poor children, None of them ever spoke and not a single child lived past the age of two.

SICK: A Memoir

Part I

Late-summer rainstorm in Denmark. Nearly black...

It’s the same dream.  Not the only dream I have, but the only one I remember.

Dad’s driving down the interstate, the sky so dark you might mistake it for dusk.  A rain drop pelts the windshield.  And then another.  Then a few more.  Not long after, the torrent comes, an army of fat droplets assaulting the windshield.  The wipers slosh waves of rain back and forth, not fast enough at even their highest speed to clear one sheet of rain before the next covers it, distorting the view.   This is how the dream always begins, and it’s always at this point in the dream that an eerie sense of calm comes over me. I realize I’ve dreamed this before, but believe with every ounce of my being that this time it’s real.

The rain halts. The sky lightens slightly.  A cone-shaped cloud forms in the distance. It’s a tornado.   I blink, thinking how much this is like the dreams I have.  I’ve always wanted to see a tornado, I think.  They look so much like cotton candy spinning in the machines at the fair, so soft and innocent looking.  You want to touch it as it forms though you know you shouldn’t.   The cloud lowers, growing bigger and darker until it barrels into the ground and stirs up the earth.  On the other side of the highway, another cloud rotates, spiraling into a tight spin, stretching until its end reaches the ground.  The larger twister splits into two that dance around each other before heading in separate directions.

I look to Dad who is more mannequin than man.  His arms rock back and forth slightly, keeping the steering wheel in position.  His gaze remains forward, unwavering.  I don’t say a word.  We ride into the storms, mesmerized, until the very last moment of the dream when the clouds aren’t so pretty and soft, but angry and moaning.  The darkness surrounds us, and I realize this is a dream and my real nightmare is about to begin.  The desperate gasping wakes me.  It always wakes me first.

Part II

“Sadie’s choking!!!  She’s choking!!”  I scream as I race toward my parents’ bedroom. My older sister stands in the middle of the hall, grasping her neck, her mouth agape, her pretty brown eyes wide with terror.  “She’s choking.  She’s choking!”

Dad bolts past me before I even enter his bedroom.  Mom’s at his heels.  I race into their bedroom, pick up the phone, dialing 9-1-1.  I don’t know why the dispatchers don’t greet me by name.  Someone in my house chokes every other night, except for me.  It’s never me.

“Hello, 9-1-1.  What’s your emergency?”

“My sister’s choking! We need an ambulance!”

“Is there an adult there with you?”

“Are you sending an ambulance!?  We live at 88 Stratton Circle. You have to send them now!  She’s choking!”  I hear her fingernails tapping the buttons on a keyboard , hopefully typing in our address  and summoning the ambulance now.  I’ve done this too many times.  Best to get the ambulance en route and allow the dispatcher to ask her twenty questions afterward.

“Is there an adult there with you?”

“Yes!  They’re helping her.  Hurry!  You have to hurry!”

“What is she choking on?”

“Nothing.”

“You mean you don’t know what she’s choking on?”  The dispatcher asks, her voice laced with confusion.

“No.  She’s choking on nothing.  They do this every night!”

“Oh.”  She says, recognition heavy in her voice.

“An ambulance is on the way, Andrea, but I need you to stay on the phone with me.”

Thirty seconds, I think to myself.  It’s been thirty seconds, and the ambulance is probably just getting on the road.   She has a minute and a half before she passes out.  Four and a half minutes before she’s dead.  But they never pass out, I tell myself.  They never pass out.  She’s not going to die.  She’s not going to die.

“Hello?”

“I’m still here,” I say.  I look through my parents door to see my father slapping  Sadie’s back in a desperate effort to help her catch her breath.  His eyes, Mom’s eyes, and surely my eyes, reflect the same terror in Sadie’s.  She gives another horrific gasp.  I cover my ears and close my eyes tight as though that will somehow make it all go away.   Prayers race through my head.  God don’t take my sister.  Help Sadie.  Save her.  Make it stop.  And then, the squealing gasps soften, elongating into deep breaths, and I know it’s over.  At least for now, it’s over.

“She stopped.”  I tell the dispatcher.  “She’s not choking anymore.”

“Do you want me to still send the ambulance?”

“Mom, do you want them to still send the ambulance?”  I call, but I already know the answer.

“No,” she says.

Help Fund The Second Novel in The Fairytale Keeper Series and Get a Reward!

Andrea Cefalo with StudentWhether finishing a masterpiece or just getting started, the most daunting task for authors is coming up with the funds. In the not-so-distant past, writers relied on major publishers to fund the editing and marketing of their novels. But times have changed. With the help of crowdfunding, authors are ditching publishers and going out on their own.  Self-publishing is nothing new, but with the use of crowdfunding, authors can get the money to create novels that rival traditionally published books.

When author Andrea Cefalo published her first novel, The Fairytale Keeper, she was told that indie authors need at least $5,000 to help fund their projects. Sadly, that was a gross underestimate. Cefalo says she’s spent far more than that, even though she does much of the work herself. “If I can learn how to do it, I do,” Cefalo said. “I spend my money where I think it makes the biggest impact–editing, marketing and advertising.” In order to fund the editing and printing of her second novel, The Fairest of All, Cefalo is turning to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

Cefalo’s second novel is the much-anticipated sequel to The Fairytale Keeper and is book two in The Fairytale Keeper series. The novel combines Grimm’s Fairy Tale characters, key players from the world of 13th century Holy Roman Empire and dynamic characters with real historical settings and events to create a tale that leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins.

Since its publication, The Fairytale Keeper has become a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest, won Indie Book of the Day and was second runner-up in Writing.com’s Hook Us Contest.  As a result of these awards, Cefalo has gained positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, which says The Fairytale Keeper is “a…resonant tale set late in the 13th century… with unexpected plot twists. An engaging story of revenge and redemption… An opener to a future series.” A professional reviewer from Amazon’s contest says it is a “really great story. The author’s style reminds me of many great historical fiction pieces that I’ve read. Strong emotion injected into almost every page.”

So if you want to help an up-and-coming author see her dream of publishing her second novel become a reality, please visit her Kickstarter page, share it with your friends, and consider supporting her with a donation.  All donations come with a reward of equal or greater value than the donation itself!

The Influences on 13th Century Renaissance Man, Frederick II

Frederick II’s Intellectual Roots

Similar to his grandfather, King Roger II of Sicily, Frederick was interested in intellectual pursuits and legislative matters.  Roger consulted travelers and commissioned them to help him create a better world map, only recording what was agreed upon.  His pursuits resulted in a great silver map in the year 1154. The emperors following Roger, William I and William II, didn’t share Roger’s vigor for scientific pursuits, but like Frederick, did study and have Greek texts translated.

Frederick II Looks Back to Greek and Egyptian Thinkers

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a ...

Bust of Aristotle by Lysippos from 330 BC

Frederick made a conscientious effort to surround himself with the best and brightest minds of his time, reaching out to anyone who could answer his questions: Moslems, Jews, and Christians alike.  One such man, referred to as Michael Scot, born in Scotland (hence the surname) but educated in Spain, composed works on astrology, meteorology, astronomy, and pysiognomy and dedicated them to Frederick.   These works illustrate Scot’s familiarity with the works of Ptolemy.

Frederick himself was a known admirer of Aristotle.  Though Frederick didn’t always agree with Aristotle, he certainly shared his interests and methods.  Like Aristotle, Frederick studied physics, poetry, logic, linguistics, government, biology, and zoology. Also like Aristotle, Frederick often studied the scientific world through detailed observation, especially in the areas of zoology and biology. He collected animals from across the known world, including panthers, a giraffe, elephants, camels, and a menagerie of birds.  In his studies, Frederick went beyond Aristotle’s scientific method, conducting experiments, though not like what we know today as the scientific method.  Frederick certainly made hypotheses and predictions.  He also tried to set up controls.  However, many of his experiments couldn’t be replicated because they were highly unethical and often resulted in the death of the subject matter.

Frederick II Looks East to Moslem Leaders

Al-Kamil (right) and Frederick II signed a tre...

Al-Kamil (right) and Frederick II signing a treaty restoring Jerusalem to the Crusaders for ten years.

As said earlier, Frederick reached out across the known world for answers to his many questions.  In scientific matters, he often reached out toward Arab leaders. It was rumored that Frederick preferred the company of Moslems, especially when it came to learning.  While this cannot be confirmed, we do know that Frederick often looked eastward when trying to quench his thirst for knowledge.

Frederick was well-known for his acceptance of other beliefs and cultures.  So it’s of no surprise that he  was reluctant to go on crusade against the Islamic east, but after much pressure Frederick did go.  He brought a Sicilian Moslem to tutor him in logic while on crusade. Unlike most crusades, Frederick’s led to a positive relationship with Moslem leaders both commercially and politically. By 1236, the sultan of Egypt sent the emperor a scholar named Theodore, who was, for his time, an expert in math, astrology, and medicine. This however, did not quench Frederick’s thirst for knowledge.  Much like his grandfather Roger, Frederick wasn’t satisfied with a theory unless it was widely agreed upon.  Frederick composed questionnaires, in which he puzzled through scientific, mathematical, and theological mysteries.   Frederick sent his questionnaires to Moslem leaders in the hopes that they could tap their intellectual resources and find answers.

While on another trip to the east, Frederick asked if he could interview an expert on astronomy.  Rather than allow the interview, the sultan Malik al-Kamil sent Frederick an astronomer/mathematician by the name of al-Hanafi.  The sultan of Damascus, al-Ashraf, who was also aware of Frederick’s interest in astronomy, sent him a planetarium with figures of the sun and moon which marked the hours as they made their rounds, a gift valued at 20,000 marks.

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Sources:

“Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor and German King).” Www.encyclopia.com. N.p., 2013. Web.

Haskins, Charles H. “Science at the Court of the Emperor Frederick II.” The American Historical Review 27.4 (1922): 669. Print.

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