Just in time for Halloween!

If you’re looking for something creepy to listen to around your October campfire, try my newest audiobooks.

The first is “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge,” narrated by the fabulous J. Rodney Turner. Here’s a bone-chilling sample:

And don’t miss Old Man Stuckey and yours truly on the Travel Channel’s “Most Terrifying Places in America” the whole month of October.

The next is my newest book “Witch Dance,” narrated by Sarah L. Colton. Her voice is pretty sweet, but the story? Not so much. Watch out for the evil witches!

Sleep well, my friends. 🙂

The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge
Witch Dance

*****************************

Lori Crane books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Audible

Lori Crane is a bestselling author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Look for Lori on “Most Terrifying Places in America” on the Travel Channel the whole month of October, where her book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” will be featured! Coming episodes will air:

Sunday Oct 21 2pm ET | 1pm CT
Thursday Oct 25 12pm ET | 11am CT
Monday Oct 29 5pm ET | 4pm CT

New Release! Witch Dance

Title: Witch Dance
Author: Lori Crane
Genre: Historical Thriller
Release Date: September 15, 2018

Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.
When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.
The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.
With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two-thousand-year-old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?

He heard a faint crunching of leaves in the forest. He listened but did not move a muscle. It was not an animal. The rustling sound was human footsteps. Who would be out here this late? The leaves rustled again. He shifted only his eyes toward the sound, and witnessed a figure emerging from the woods, cloaked in black, hunched, shuffling to the center of the field. Chiksa thought it must be the old medicine woman, but he wasn’t sure. After watching for a few minutes, he realized the medicine woman moved much more slowly than this person. No one he knew looked like that…at least he didn’t think so. It was hard to tell in the darkness. Chiksa remained motionless and barely breathed.
When the figure reached the center
of the field, it stood up straight, as if being pulled upright by a string on the top of its head. As it uncurled, its hands extended to the sides with its palms facing upward, and it grew from what looked like an old hag to a healthy person. As if picked up by the same string, it rose straight up into the air. Chiksa’s eyes widened as the figure floated above the earth. A breeze caught the figure’s cloak and the edges swirled. A wind intensified, blowing around the figure, slowly spinning it in circles, but there had been no breeze a moment ago. A cloudy vortex formed around the figure, resembling tight circles of light gray smoke from a fire, extending from the ground into the clear heavens above. Even though he was known to be a mighty warrior, Chiksa’s hands began to sweat and his heart beat wildly, pounding in his ears. He had seen many things in his lifetime, but never anything like this. What kind of creature was this? When the figure hovered about four feet off the ground, the black cape dropped from its shoulders, floating to the ground like a fall leaf, revealing a woman. A young and beautiful woman. Her skin glowed under the stars as if she were the moon itself, coated in shimmering gold. Chiksa gasped and jumped to his feet.
The figure heard him and instantly returned to the ground. The vortex stopped so quickly, he wondered if he had imagined it. The woman retrieved her cloak, covered her nakedness, and walked toward him.
He couldn’t move from his spot.
There was no sense in running.
She covered her head with her hood as she neared him. “Why are you here?” she asked in a cracking voice.
“I came to visit with my father,” he said in not much more than a whisper.
She cocked her head. “Your father?” She gestured around with both hands, indicating no one else was there.
He pointed to the mounds. “My father died a short time…”
She held her hand in front of his lips
as if to silence him. Her fingers were long and bony, covered in deep wrinkles. Her nails were yellowed claws. This was not the beautiful young form he had witnessed only moments ago.
“There is great pain in this place,” she said.
“My people have recently lost their chief.”
“No. No people. Pain in you.” She pointed to his heart, her finger only inches from his chest.
He said nothing.
“Sa…lee…Salina?” she said slowly, her head cocked as if listening to something only she could hear.
“My wife.”
“A great blackness has taken her.”
“Yes.”
“She will die.”
He shook his head. “She can’t.”
“She can.” She paused and narrowed her eyes at him. “But she can be healed.” The old woman looked up at the sky and her cracked lips parted. Small black gaps between what looked like fangs emitted a foul stench that wrapped around Chiksa. Her yellowed eyes twinkled and she nodded toward the sky.
Chiksa didn’t move. He didn’t know if this creature had put a hex on him or if he was frozen in fear. It didn’t matter. She said Salina could be healed. That’s all he focused on.
“You can heal her?”
She was still staring at the sky.
He didn’t dare ask again. He didn’t want to anger her.
After a moment, she looked back at him. “Yes, yes, I can, but all things come at a price. I will decide the price and will be here again on the full moon. You come. Bring her.”
She turned away and moved toward the woods. He couldn’t say she walked; it was more like gliding, as if she floated just over the ground’s surface.
“What is your name?” he called when she reached the edge of the dark forest.

“Oma.”
Bestselling and award-winning author Lori Crane is a writer of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 list many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She’s a native Mississippian, currently residing in greater Nashville, Tennessee. She is a professional musician by night, an indie author by day. 

Lori’s passion is genealogy and American history, which you’ll find weaved through each novel she writes. She is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United States Daughters of 1812, as well as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Look for Lori on “Most Terrifying Places in America” on the Travel Channel the whole month of October where her book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” will be featured!
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Saturday Snippet – Witch Dance

Here’s a snippet of my coming book, Witch Dance. Release is next week!!! 🙂

***************************

When the figure reached the center of the field, it stood up straight, as if being pulled upright by a string on the top of its head. As it uncurled, its hands extended to the sides with its palms facing upward, and it grew from what looked like an old hag to a healthy person. As if picked up by the same string, it rose straight up into the air. Chiksa’s eyes widened as the figure floated above the earth. A breeze caught the figure’s cloak and the edges swirled. A wind intensified, blowing around the figure, slowly spinning it in circles, but there had been no breeze a moment ago. A cloudy vortex formed around the figure, resembling tight circles of light gray smoke from a fire, extending from the ground into the clear heavens above. Even though he was known to be a mighty warrior, Chiksa’s hands began to sweat and his heart beat wildly, pounding in his ears. He had seen many things in his lifetime, but never anything like this. What kind of creature was this? When the figure hovered about four feet off the ground, the black cape dropped from its shoulders, floating to the ground like a fall leaf, revealing a woman. A young and beautiful woman. Her skin glowed under the stars as if she were the moon itself, coated in shimmering gold. Chiksa gasped and jumped to his feet.

The figure heard him and instantly returned to the ground. The vortex stopped so quickly, he wondered if he had imagined it. The woman retrieved her cloak, covered her nakedness, and walked toward him.

He couldn’t move from his spot. There was no sense in running.

She covered her head with her hood as she neared him. “Why are you here?” she asked in a cracking voice.

“I came to visit with my father,” he said in not much more than a whisper.

She cocked her head. “Your father?” She gestured around with both hands, indicating no one else was there.

He pointed to the mounds. “My father died a short time…”

She held her hand in front of his lips as if to silence him. Her fingers were long and bony, covered in deep wrinkles. Her nails were yellowed claws. This was not the beautiful young form he had witnessed only moments ago.

“There is great pain in this place,” she said.

“My people have recently lost their chief.”

“No. No people. Pain in you.” She pointed to his heart, her finger only inches from his chest.

He said nothing.

“Sa…lee…Salina?” she said slowly, her head cocked as if listening to something only she could hear.

“My wife.”

“A great blackness has taken her.”

“Yes.”

“She will die.”

He shook his head. “She can’t.”

“She can.” She paused and narrowed her eyes at him. “But she can be healed.” The old woman looked up at the sky and her cracked lips parted. Small black gaps between what looked like fangs emitted a foul stench that wrapped around Chiksa. Her yellowed eyes twinkled and she nodded toward the sky.

Chiksa didn’t move. He didn’t know if this creature had put a hex on him or if he was frozen in fear. It didn’t matter. She said Salina could be healed. That’s all he focused on.

“You can heal her?”

She was still staring at the sky.

He didn’t dare ask again. He didn’t want to anger her.

After a moment, she looked back at him. “Yes, yes, I can, but all things come at a price. I will decide the price and will be here again on the full moon. You come. Bring her.”

She turned away and moved toward the woods. He couldn’t say she walked; it was more like gliding, as if she floated just over the ground’s surface.

“What is your name?” he called when she reached the edge of the dark forest.

“Oma.”

*********************************

Lori Crane books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooksWitch Dance will be available Sept 15 and is also coming to audiobook at Audible Oct 1.

Lori Crane is a bestselling author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. 

Look for Lori on “Most Terrifying Places in America” on the Travel Channel the whole month of October, where her book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” will be featured!

witch dance cover

Goodreads Giveaway!

witch dance cover

 

 

Goodreads is hosting a Kindle giveaway for my coming book WITCH DANCE!

Hop over and enter!

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/282085-witch-dance

The giveaway runs until September 11, 2018, at which point, 100 lucky winners will receive a Kindle copy of Witch Dance. No purchase necessary. Nothing you have to do except click the button that says “enter giveaway.” You do need to have a Goodreads account, but we all have that, don’t we?

You probably want to know what the book’s about, eh?

Okay, here ya go…

Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.

When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.

The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.

With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two-thousand-year-old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?

Go enter and win your free copy!!  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/282085-witch-dance

Book Characters

One of the funnest parts of writing is creating characters. I don’t know that anyone remembers every character, but after spending so much time writing, an author will definitely remember all of them for all time.

In the beginning, a writer wonders what they look like? How do they respond to stresses? What makes them do what they do? Sometimes they change looks in the middle of writing the book. My favorite is: What recognizable quirky trait do they have? Do they always run their fingers through their hair? Do they bite their fingernails? Do they laugh awkwardly when they’re nervous? Many of my characters in past books were based on people I know, but it’s also fun creating a person out of thin air!

If my character isn’t someone I know, once I have a pretty firm grasp on how they look, I roam the internet looking for them. If I was casting a moving and everyone in the world could act, I would be the best casting agent ever!

 

witch dance cover

My coming book, Witch Dance, is about a late-thirties couple with two kids. The cast includes the wife’s childhood friend and his grandmother. Also in the story, is the grandmother’s friend.

The secondary story takes place 2000 years earlier with some indigenous tribal people in the same area.

The main focus of the book are witches from the same time period who make an appearance in current times and cause havoc for my late-thirties couple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

margaret speedwell

One of the premises of the book is the late-thirties woman is a doppelganger for one of the 2000-year-old Indians. So, you know she needs to look Native American. That’s pretty easy. Here she is:

 

 

emily and sarah

The problem started when I wrote her children as young blondes before I had a solid idea in my head about momma’s looks, and then my book-cover designer subsequently created the cover above with a blonde girl on it. Well, if momma looks Indian, where did these blondes come from?

 

 

 

Thomas Speedwell

I searched and searched for their lawyer daddy and found him here!

What a good looking family, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

rich martin

 

Now for the woman’s childhood friend.

He is a newspaper reporter, never married, still lives with his grandmother, and I pictured him in my head as an uber-dork. How about this? Minus the typewriter…or maybe not.

 

 

 

 

grandma ivyHis grandmother is everybody’s favorite grandmother, whose house smells like cornbread and sweet tea. She has the most heartwarming blue eyes. This is Grandma Ivy.

 

 

myrtle

Her friend is named after a lady who lives down the road from me in real life. I’ve never met her, but I drive by her house on occasion and see about one hundred goats in her yard. One day, I mentioned the property with the goats to a friend, who said, “Oh, you must be talking about Myrtle Brooks.” The name stuck with me, and I knew I’d use it in a book someday.

 

 

 

Salina

Finally, I had to find a young Indian girl from 2000 years ago. Here she is:

It was so much fun casting my novel. I don’t know who any of these people are. I just stole their pictures from the Internet. If we ever make my new book into a movie, I’ll have to go back and find out who they are, because they definitely have a job!

I know you’re waiting for some pictures of the witches, but they seem to change shape/age/etc. frequently, so I couldn’t nail them down. Sorry. If we make the movie, they may have to be CGI.

Pick up a copy of Witch Dance and let me know if I nailed it! I’m sure I did!! And let me know if you find a pictures of my witches. 🙂

 

WITCH DANCE IS HERE!

witch dance cover

pre order

amazon-logo_transparent._CB303899249_

 

WITCH DANCE is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

 

If you’d like a sneak peek of the opening chapter of WITCH DANCE, click here.

Please forward this to your friends and family, and watch for my coming television special about Stuckey’s Bridge this October on “America’s Most Terrifying Places” on the Travel Channel!

travelchannel_2400_color_dark_light

Saturday Snippet of I, John Culpepper

I began researching my ancestry as a teenager. I knew my Culpepper line came to America from England in the 1600s, and I knew they were wealthy land owners with much prestige in the English court, but I didn’t understand why they would give all that up to sail to an inhospitable land full of savage Indians, facing the possibility of shipwreck, starvation, and death. How did those aristocratic people end up as the modest family I knew in my youth in Mississippi? The journey to find these answers became a series of four books about my 10th great-grandfather, John Culpepper.

51hHerBrPbL._UY250_Follow the series as John rebels against his father, the English civil war destroys the family, John ends up as the family patriarch in the colony of Virginia, and finally, as John comes to terms with his life and his past. The first book in the series is I, JOHN CULPEPPER. The subsequent books are JOHN CULPEPPER THE MERCHANT, JOHN CULPEPPER ESQUIRE and CULPEPPER’S REBELLION.

Here’s the opening chapter of I, JOHN CULPEPPER, setting the stage with his tumultuous relationship with his dad.

************

CHAPTER 1

Fall 1626

“No! For the hundredth time, no!”

John looked down at the intricate grain of the walnut desk beneath his fingertips and shifted his weight to his other foot. He sighed, feeling his dreams disintegrate before his very eyes. The snap of the white sails, the taste of the salty spray on his lips, the smell of the tar that sealed the decks—the visions were quickly vanishing behind the thick fog of his father’s adamant disapproval. He pictured his mighty ship sinking into the black waters of condemnation, bubbling like a cauldron as it disappeared from sight. There was nothing he could do to change his father’s mind, and he wondered whatever possessed him to come to this man for assistance. He should have known better.

His father glared at John from behind the desk. He propped his elbow on the scrolled arm of the chair as his large hand methodically stroked his pointed beard. “Is there anything else?” he snapped.

John didn’t look up. He shook his head and mumbled, “No.” He turned and padded across the thick rug toward the door, listening to the man’s heavy breathing behind him. He reached for the brass doorknob, paused, and turned back. “You know I’ve always done everything you’ve asked of me. I went to school. I studied to be a lawyer. I did it all for you. I never wanted to practice law. I’d never be happy on the bench.”

“Happy? What makes you think life has anything to do with being happy? You are a Culpepper, and as such, you have an obligation to serve your family and your king in a manner befitting your station. This childish notion of owning a ship is nothing but rubbish.”

John released the doorknob and walked back toward his father’s desk. The intimidating man dwarfed the desk, his size exaggerated by the broad shoulders of his leather jerkin, yet he sat up taller in his chair in preparation for the quarrel to continue. It was a wasted gesture, as his opponent already knew the battle was lost.

John made sure he didn’t raise his voice. “Father, you have financed merchant ships for as long as I can remember. What difference does it make if I’m the one who owns the ship?”

“Culpeppers don’t own ships. I funded those expeditions as an investment—a losing investment, I might add.” He rose from his chair and his voice grew louder, echoing off the oak panels that lined the walls. “There has never been a Culpepper placed in a position of experiencing hunger and savages and shipwrecks, and there won’t be one now, not with my blood written on the purchase. I will not fund a ship for you, John, not now, not ever.” He pointed his finger in John’s face. “And if you somehow find a way to procure a ship, mark my words—I will disinherit and disown you. No son of mine will become a common sailor. I am finished with this conversation once and for all. Have I made myself clear?”

John exhaled, beaten. His shoulders slumped as he broke his father’s glare and dropped his eyes to the floor.

“John? Have I made myself clear?”

“Completely.”

***********

5-star-largeThe recipient of 5-stars at Readers’ Favorite, I, JOHN CULPEPPER is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. CLICK HERE.

“In I, John Culpepper, you will be transported back to the time John lived and you will feel like you are a part of John’s life. The experience of reading this book was out of this world. … it is a magical experience and you will not want to miss it for anything! Amazing!” ~ Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

culpepper saga-001

Margaretta van Hesse from “John Culpepper, Esquire”

JC Esquire (1)In place of my usual Saturday Snippets, I’m writing about the people and places from the Culpepper Saga. The third book, “John Culpepper, Esquire,” will be released in July. If you missed books one or two, click HERE or HERE.

margaretta van hesse Lady CulpepperOne of the more tragic figures of “John Culpepper, Esquire” is Margaretta van Hesse, also known as Lady Culpepper (photo). She was an heiress from Denmark who married Lord Thomas Culpepper second baron of Thoresway in 1659 at The Hague. Lord Thomas (photo) was the son of Lord John Culpepper, known in the story as JC, cousin of our hero.

lord_thosFollowing the English Civil War, JC had taken his family to Denmark while he watched over the exiled prince, but when the prince was welcomed back into England in 1660 as King Charles II, the whole family moved back. Lord Thomas and his new bride took up residence at Leeds Castle. She was newly married, probably didn’t speak the language or understand the English customs, and Lord Thomas unceremoniously dropped her off at the castle and moved to London to live with his mistress Susannah Willis.

Fortunately for Margaretta, John’s nephew Alex was asked by JC to stay at the castle and help her get settled in. There is no proof of Margaretta and Alex having any sort of relationship, but there are a few strange coincidences that make me scratch my head.

Alex’s mom, Katherine, died in 1658.

LadyCatherineMargaretta, somehow without a husband around, gave birth to a daughter in 1670. The baby was named Catherine (photo). Hmmm.

In 1671, Lord Thomas appointed Alex the Surveyor General of Virginia and tried to send him away. Records show Alex in Virginia for a short time, but he almost immediately came back to England.

In 1689, Lord Thomas became ill and died in his house in London. Margaretta didn’t even find out about it until well after his death. His mistress had him buried. He left a will in favor of the mistress, but Margaretta had the will suppressed, making sure Catherine got everything. Before Margaretta went to court, with Alex along to assist her, Alex, now 58-years-old, quickly and conveniently married Lord Thomas’s sister Judith, who moved into Leeds Castle with them. The woman was old and died a year later.

Alex died in 1694 and in his will, he left everything to Margaretta. He was buried at St. Margaret’s Church in Bromfield, Kent, near the castle.

Margaretta never re-married. She died in 1710 at Leeds Castle and was buried at St. Margaret’s.

Thomas_Fairfax 5th baron of cameron, catherine culpeppers husbandA year after her inheritance, young Catherine married Lord Thomas Fairfax (photo) in 1690. Their children were: Thomas Fairfax, Henry Colpepper Fairfax, Katherine Fairfax, Margaret Fairfax, Frances Fairfax, Mary Fairfax, and Robert Fairfax. Family historians state that Catherine had all of her children baptized at St. Margaret’s and had built a family vault to bury her mother in. Nothing is ever mentioned about Alex’s connection or the fact that he is buried there also. Strangely enough, Catherine’s husband died the same year as her mother but was buried elsewhere.

Catherine died in 1719 at the age of 49. She was not buried with her husband. She was buried at St. Margaret’s with her mother and Alex.

The Culpepper Saga ends in the late 1670s, so we don’t learn about Catherine and Lord Fairfax, but in book two “John Culpepper the Merchant” their grandfathers were trying to kill each other during the civil war. I imagine their marriage was quite scandalous in both families, and I suspect there will be a juicy sequel about them coming this winter or early next spring. “The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal” sounds like a good title.

culpepper saga-001

Saturday Snippet – John Culpepper the Merchant

If you read the first book in the Culpepper Saga, “I, John Culpepper,” you’ll remember the red-headed wench John’s father was flirting with at the Blackwall Inn the day John was born in 1606. I was tickled to included her in the second book, and in an off-handed way, she is instrumental in saving John’s family at the end of the book.

********************************

The Merchant ebookJohn Culpepper the Merchant

January 1643, Oliver Cromwell

John and his brother rode through a cold and damp fog into London and went for an ale at the Blackwall Inn. They removed their hats and scarfs and took a seat at the dank, corner table nearest the soot-encrusted fireplace that was glowing warm with embers. A scrawny boy placed a few logs into the fireplace, and the brothers watched the red embers grow into a roaring fire. They ordered a couple pints of ale, and once the barkeep delivered the mugs to the table, Thomas began to fill John in on all the unrest in the land that John had missed over the previous year.

“JC wrote me of the king trying to arrest those five members of the House of Commons and of his raising his standard at Nottingham, but what happened in between?” John asked.

Thomas took a drink and sighed. “Did he tell you about Cromwell?”

John shook his head.

“After the fiasco in the House of Commons, the king fled London and was ambushed in Birmingham.”

“JC told me that.”

“That attack was instigated by Oliver Cromwell.”

“Who’s Oliver Cromwell?”

“Exactly. He’s a nobody, a man of modest means, barely inside the gentry class. He’s sat in Parliament for a few years but has been pretty much useless and quiet. His only claim is that he led a single cavalry troop some years ago, and for some reason, Parliament thought that enough to elevate his status. They placed him in charge of their cavalry. He’s a committed Puritan with deep-rooted desires to take the king down because of his past religious rulings. After remaining quiet and never participating in Parliament’s dealings for years, somehow he convinced Parliament to pass what he called the Militia Ordinance, proclaiming the people of London are bound by law to join Parliament’s militia if called, and he immediately began recruiting men of low birth.”

“What’s the punishment for not joining?”

“Beheading.”

John exhaled and shook his head in disbelief.

Thomas continued. “He’s not recruiting military men or men of gentry, he’s recruiting anyone he can get his hands on. He’s not a trained military leader, so from a strategic standpoint, it’s difficult to guess his next move.”

“How many men does he have now?”

“Probably twice as many as we do. He took over the king’s royal army in London and is recruiting men by force.”

“Have the members of Parliament lost their minds?”

“Apparently so, but not all of them. Many members have disappeared to their country homes. They refuse to participate in taking down the king. The ones who are left, like Cromwell, are now jockeying for position in what they think will be a new country. Parliament is supposed to represent the people, but sadly, the citizens are now afraid of Parliament and the king is nowhere to be found to protect them. Without an option, they’re joining Cromwell’s militia in droves.”

John groaned and looked down into his mug.

An older woman with slivers of gray in her long red hair set two more pints on their table.

“Thank you,” John said.

“You’re Culpeppers,” she said, unquestionably.

John nodded.

She looked into John’s eyes. “You look just like your father.”

“Excuse me, do I know you?” John asked.

“No, you don’t know me.” She smiled and pointed at the mugs. “These pints are on the house. Tell your father to come by and visit.”

“Our father is long dead, madam,” Thomas said.

She spun her head to look at Thomas, shock in her eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” A flash of sadness crossed her face and she looked back at John.

John wondered how this lowly, tavern wench knew a man of his father’s importance. She was middle aged with soft wrinkles around her eyes, but he could tell by her prominent cheekbones and full lips that she had probably been quite beautiful in her younger days. Perhaps this wench was the reason his father remained in London for lengthy stretches of time so many years ago.

The woman’s eyes became misty. “I’m very sorry to hear that. I was rather fond of your father. Well, if you ever need anything, my son owns the fishery in Maidstone, right on the River Medway. His name is Waller and the place is called Waller’s. You tell him his mother sent you.”

John and Thomas looked quizzically at each other and then Thomas said, “Um, Waller’s. All right. Thank you for the information, madam.”

“Of course.” She nodded at Thomas and slowly backed up from the table, stealing fleeting glances at John. “Just like your father,” she mumbled.

********************************

“John Culpepper the Merchant” is available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

For pictures, paintings, and documents of the people and places in the Culpepper Saga, please visit the Culpepper Saga Facebook page.

culpepper saga-001

Saturday Snippet – John Culpepper the Merchant

The Merchant ebookMy new release, “John Culpepper the Merchant” is the second book in the Culpepper Saga. It begins in England in 1642 at the onset of the English civil war. The king had been angering his people for his entire reign of seventeen years, and the opening chapter of the book sets the scene. It is one of the catalysts of the war.

***************************************************

John Culpepper the Merchant

Chapter 1

January 4, 1642, London, England

The king marched into the room unannounced. He walked through the middle of the active session of Parliament and was greeted with stunned silence. Never before had a monarch entered the House of Commons uninvited, and the nearly two hundred members present froze in place as if someone had painted their portrait, capturing the moment complete with paper strewn across tables, pens held in the air, and faces turned to pose for the painter. The king did not return their shocked gazes.

From his seat at a table in the center of the room, JC watched the king walk past him, easily slipping between the unmoving members of the House. JC’s jaw fell open when the king sat in the speaker’s chair. JC looked back toward the door, wondering how the king had entered the room without warning and saw the king’s sergeant at arms blocking the doorway. Behind the intimidating man stood the king’s soldiers—hundreds of them as far as JC could tell.

After a lengthy and excruciating silence, the king rose from the chair. The knuckles of his right hand turned white as he gripped the ball on top of his walking stick. His left hand remained at his side, balled into a fist.

“Gentlemen!” The king narrowed his eyes as he scrutinized each face. It was obvious he was not going to stay as he had neglected to remove his wide-brimmed hat, which matched his black velvet cloak. Underneath, he wore a red doublet and breeches, almost the same shade as his face. “I am sorry to have this occasion to come unto you, and I apologize for violating your parliamentary privilege.” His beard twitched as he clenched his teeth. “But those guilty of treason have no privilege.”

There was a collective gasp from the room, and a trickle of sweat dripped down JC’s back. Parliament had not been convened for nearly nine years, as the king thought it his royal prerogative to rule the country alone, but after Scotland had invaded the north in retaliation for the king’s religious rulings, he desperately needed money to fund his army. The only body that could legally raise taxes to fund an army was Parliament, so the king was forced to call on it. It denied the king’s request to raise taxes, and instead compiled a list of over two hundred grievances against the king, demanding he address them. The document had been delivered a month ago but Parliament had never received word as to the king’s reaction.

JC had not participated in the writing of the grievances. For the last nineteen years, he had worked in the king’s service, just as his family had done for many kings and many generations. He would never contribute to anything as treasonous as telling the king how to rule. During his service, JC had never seen the king’s demeanor this threatening. This unannounced visit to the House of Commons was not going to end well for someone.

The king lifted his hand and gestured for his sergeant at arms to enter the room.

All heads turned toward the door, and all eyes followed the sergeant as he walked to the middle of the room and unrolled a piece of paper. He held it with both hands in front of his face and turned clockwise as he read aloud. “I am commanded by His Majesty, my master, upon my allegiance that I should come to the House of Commons and request from Mr. Speaker five members of the House of Commons. When these gentlemen are delivered, I am commanded to arrest them in His Majesty’s name for high treason. Their names are Mr. Denzil Hollis, Sir Arthur Haselrig, Mr. John Pym, Mr. William Strode, and Mr. John Hampden.”

The sergeant rolled up the paper and stuffed it back into his breast pocket.

JC witnessed a scowl cross the king’s face while the sergeant read the names. The five men were the authors of the list of grievances.

Attempted_Arrest_of_the_Five_members_lenthall kneels before charles“Mr. William Lenthall,” the king bellowed.

A man wearing a black cape with a white collar emerged from the crowd and knelt before the king. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Mr. Speaker, where are these men we seek? Do you see them in this room?”

Lenthall kept his eyes to the floor. “May it please Your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but only as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am.”

The king stared at the top of Lenthall’s head. Lenthall remained still. No man risked a glance toward another or even dared to breathe for fear of attracting the king’s attention. The king sighed and said, “I see all the birds have flown.”

With a flick of his wrist, the king flipped his long hair off his shoulder and marched past Lenthall, leaving him kneeling in front of his own empty chair. The sergeant at arms followed the king from the room. When the door slammed, everyone exhaled.

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John Culpepper the Merchant” is available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

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