Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Glad Tidings to All - Special Holiday Promotion


I'm pleased to announce my 2013 Holiday promotion. All of the Kathleen Kirkwood e-books are now on sale through December 31st at a reduced price.
 
Visit www.KathleenKirkwoodHistoricals.com for details or go to the Kathleen Kirkwood Purchase Links Page for direct links to all of the books available for purchase from all of the major retailers that carry them. Please note that it takes anywhere from a few minutes to a few days for the price changes to propagate through the vendors' ordering systems. If you don't see the reduced prices yet, please check back with them later.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

In memory of my beloved brother . . .




James L. Barbour, Jr.
8-9-1946 to 11-9-2013

 Grieve not ...
nor speak of me with tears...
but laugh and talk of me...
as though I were there beside you.
I loved you so...
'twas Heaven here with you.
- Isla Richardson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chronicles of Valsemé - Volume 3

Hi, this is Mr. KK again. Kathleen is still on travel. Her brother passed away rather unexpectedly, so she will not be back for a few more weeks. And, there will not be any more blog posts until this is all behind us.

Here is the final Chronicle of Valsemé and the teaser for The Defiant Heart which was originally released in July of 1993 and re-edited and re-released in June of 2013. Please enjoy and may you all be well!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chronicles of Valseme - Volume 2

Hi all -

Mr. KK here. Kathleen is still off on travel and it looks like it will be at least another week until she returns. She asked me to put up the second Chronicle for your viewing pleasure, so here it is:


To view it in full resolution, click on the image. To save or print, right click and tell it to do so.

Please enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chronicles of Valsemé




Friends,

We have been swept off to the hinterlands this past month plus, seeing to special needs of our extended and far flung family. I'm still far afield but Mr. KK is tucked back into his man cave and able to rescue the blog which has been sorely languishing. Happily, he has unearthed The Chronicles of Valsemé from storage and will be posting those next and adding them to the website as well.
 
For those who have not read The Valiant Heart (first book of the Heart trilogy) the Chronicles are a bit of a spoiler so be warned! They fill in the timeline after the closing pages of The Valiant Heart and before the opening ones of The Defiant Heart. There were two years between the release of those books and The Chronicles served as a newsletter of sorts to keep fans in touch with ongoing developments in the barony. Mr. KK will post them here in sequence and then add them to the website along with the genealogical chart (previous post) for the Houses of Valsemé and Hericourt which traces the families appearing in all three books of the trilogy.
 
Here's the first Chronicle . . .

 
 
Click on each image to enlarge for viewing or printing.
 
Enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Genealogy Chart for the HEART Trilogy and an Update


Thank you to all my wonderful readers who have made the HEART Trilogy — and my previous works —such a success.

For a bit of fun, here is a genealogy chart for the main characters appearing in the three books of the HEART Trilogy — VALIANT, DEFIANT, and CAPTIVE. Mr. KK and I developed it years past for a little diversion. He has now updated it with the new cover images. Enjoy!

Note: To view the chart at full resolution, left-click on the image here on the blog post. That will bring up a new window with the full definition image in it. Right-click on the image to save or print it. The chart is best printed on legal sized paper, but will print okay on letter sized paper if you tell your computer to fit it to the page (it just won't fill the entire height on letter sized paper).

Of course, looking to the future, the chart will need an additional update for THE GALLANT HEART. You met the hero and heroine to come in the pages of THE CAPTIVE HEART. Any guesses as to who they might be?

A little update plus a mea culpa is in order. Due to a number of challenges, I’m behind in my blogs (mea culpa) and also about to head off for an extended trip to connect with family. The promised blogs on the aurora borealis, volcanoes and Viking cooking are coming soon. plus some wonderful links to share. The manuscript for PIRATES’ MOON is going with me on travel as well, since I won’t be firmly back in my nest until late October. For that reason —knowing additional holidays will quickly be upon us and overtake time —PIRATES’ release date has been revised to early 2014. As soon as all the “i’s” are dotted and “t’s” crossed. Captain Damian Wynters and his crew will sail forth from the mists of time on the night of the Blood Red Moon to haunt the Chesapeake once more, as in centuries long past. Please watch for updates.

Have a wonderful day and thank you for your support and your patience.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Congratulations Winners!


Congratulations to the nine US and one Canadian winners of THE CAPTIVE HEART Goodreads giveaway!

We shipped out trade paperback copies to the US winners today via USPS Priority Mail. We’re drop-shipping the Canadian copy directly from Createspace. You should have your books soon.

ENJOY and THANKS so much for your interest and support! Your positive feedback is always appreciated.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The HEART Trilogy is here!




I'm pleased to announce the release of Kathleen Kirkwood Collection #2: The HEART Trilogy in e-book formats. 

This collection includes the full text of all three HEART series books. It's available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks and Smashwords. My website Purchase Links page has links to purchase this collection from all of the major vendors.

The individual HEART books will continue to be available at their special promotional prices through August.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Adventures in Iceland (cont’d): Memories of a Navy Wife


 
As I mentioned several blogs back, when my husband was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Keflavík, Iceland, it was not only the beginning of a great adventure for our little family, but it sparked my interest in the Viking Age. This ultimately led to my penning the HEART trilogy.
In future blogs, I’ll write more on the Viking connections and inspirations from our days in this fascinating land — a glimpse “behind the scenes” of some of the things that went into the creation of those books. Before diverting in that direction, however, I’d like to share a few more fun reminiscences of my life as a Navy wife in Iceland during the years 1972 to 1974, and some photos that we’ve retrieved from our archives.
 
 
Courtesy Bill Large

Upon arriving in the country, there were a few things to quickly come up to speed on (no pun intended): 
Driving: Iceland had recently converted from driving on the left side of the road(British style) to the right side of the road (American style). On the face of it, that was great for Americans – no adjustments needed on our part. On the other hand, we were advised that in the event of a mishap, an Icelander’s instincts might still be to swerve in the direction he’d formerly employed to avoid accidents (while driving on the left side of the road) – in other words, opposite to the direction now needed. Thus, they would swerve toward, rather than away from us!

Then there were the traffic circles we encountered in Reykjavík. Did I mention I hate traffic circles? According to Icelandic law, the person on the inside of the traffic circle has right of way because (as the story goes), once two young swains were rivals for the same girl’s hand. The one man trapped the other man in the rotary as they drove round and round for hours, not letting him out! Hence the law was changed. So now, we had to watch out for the guy on the inside of the traffic circle who might want out, remembering that the Icelanders were driving in the opposite direction they were used to and that their instincts might be to swerve in the wrong direction – in other words, straight into us! Did I mention I hate traffic circles?
Drinking and Driving: Laws are extremely strict in Iceland. Consumption of three Icelandic pilsners would put you just below the limit. However, consumption of only one American beer or a single glass of wine put you over the limit. Designated drivers were a must!

 
Sheep and Driving: Don’t hit! These animals roam freely and are protected. They are extremely important for their wool, milk, meat and other by products (rugs, coats, etc.) If a sheep is hit and killed, a large fine is levied. If memory serves, when a female (ewe) is killed, the offender must pay for the value of at least three generations of sheep and the goods they would have produced in their lifetime. Bottom line – give the sheep the right of way and let the critters pass!
Um … did I mention that roasted leg of Icelandic lamb (mutton really) is delicious? I was instructed to use just a bit of garlic salt to season the meat and the results were amazing. The taste was not at all strong or “lamby” as here in the States.

 
Courtesy Bill Large
 
Shopping: We lived off base during our first year and it was delightful in so many ways. Our apartment at Túngata 13 was just off the main street which was lined with individual shops. There were no department stores or “Five-and-Dimes” as we knew them. Bread and baked goods were found in the bakery (the cardamom pastries were heavenly). Meats, milk, cheeses, and other food items including such things as blood pudding, were found at the small grocers’. Here I hunted down the different forms of milk (mjólk) I needed for the family: undanrenna (skim milk, recommended for the baby – it came in pouches at the time) and nýmjólk (closest to what we are used to in the States). For a fascinating breakdown on the varieties check out this article: Got Mjólk?

Hardware could be found in its own interesting little shop, and a little further down the street, fabric could be purchased by the meter. This puzzled the American wives at first who arrived armed with their dress patterns. Were we getting more, or less fabric by the meter than by the yard? Happily, we received three extra inches by the meter – no need to adjust those patterns!

Mr. KK with the little ones in Reykjavík
There was wonderful shopping to be had in the capital city of Reykjavík and factory tours were offered that were well worth taking advantage of for the discounts and a fun day’s outing. These included the wool factory (yarn for knitting Icelandic sweaters, rugs), cheese factory (wonderful creamy white cheeses – I preferred the one with lobster in it and Mr. KK liked the caraway), pewter items including jewelry and drinking vessels, volcanic ceramics and more.

The Icelandic population is nearly 100% literate. Hence, bookstores abound with many titles in English as it is readily spoken in Reykjavík, Keflavík, Akureyri, and other population centers. 

Our favorite restaurant in Reykjavík was the Naust. Memories of the finest fish dishes still linger. While pulling together this blog, I discovered that, happily, the Naust is still in business. Should you be passing through be sure to stop by the restaurant on Vesturgata.
 
Sleeping: As mentioned in my previous post, Iceland’s year is divided between six months of darkness and six months of daylight. I arrived in summer when the sun still burned brightly at midnight. One of the first things I learned was the Navy wives’ trick to put foil over the bedroom windows so the children would sleep at night. Happily, it worked!

During the winter months, darkness reigns and snow falls with regularity. It’s a time to tuck in, sip some warm tea (or in my case, hot coffee) and enjoy a good book. OR, assuming weather conditions are favorable, the opportunity should not be missed to bundle up, head out and take in the magnificent view of the Northern Lights as they dance in the sky.

Next blog: Iceland’s amazing spectacles — Aurora Borealis and volcanoes

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Congratulations Winners!




Congratulations to the 10 winners of THE DEFIANT HEART Goodreads giveaway! We shipped out each of your trade paperback copies today via USPS Priority Mail to the US destinations. We’re drop-shipping the two books to Canada directly from Createspace. You should have your copies soon. THANKS for your interest and support!


Don’t miss the Goodreads giveaway for 10 copies of THE CAPTIVE HEART (the third book of the HEART trilogy), which is now underway! It ends on August 20th.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New HEART Releases and Goodreads Giveaway

THE CAPTIVE HEART is Here!
I love a strong villain or villainess and couldn’t resist bringing one back. As the pages of THE CAPTIVE HEART open, an old adversary returns from the past (THE DEFIANT HEART) to seek revenge. But when the beautiful Ailénor is mistakenly kidnapped, only the handsome Saxon, Garreth of Tamworth, can save her. Join Garreth and Ailénor as their story sweeps from the ducal court of Normandy, to Anglo-Saxon England and the cliffs of Ireland.

Visit www.KathleenKirkwoodHistoricals.com for more information and purchase links, and don’t miss the free sample chapters for all three books of the HEART trilogy in Sampler #2. Go to our SAMPLERS PAGE on the Kathleen Kirkwood website for links.

PLEASE NOTE: Although SAMPLER #2 is available on Kindle, it has not yet been price matched to FREE, as on the other platforms. Until such time, it is offered at the lowest possible price of 99 cents.


Also, don’t miss out on the Goodreads Giveaway of THE DEFIANT HEART which remains open until 7/20/13 . . .

Happy reading. I hope you enjoy the HEART trilogy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kathleen Kirkwood HEART Trilogy Sampler Now Available!



Happy news! Kathleen Kirkwood Sampler #2 is now available for free download from multiple sites. Go to Samplers Web Page for the links best suited to your eReading devices.

Please Note, this is a Sampler, offering just that — a substantial sample of each of the three HEART books, but not the books in their entirety. Sampler #2 contains:

THE VALIANT HEART  (Prologue and the first three chapters)

THE DEFIANT HEART (Prologue and the first five chapters)

THE CAPTIVE HEART.(Prologue and the first three chapters)

THE VALIANT HEART and THE DEFIANT HEART are currently available, and THE CAPTIVE HEART will be added next week on July 15th completing the trilogy. Dedicated pages to each book and purchase information and links to the major vendors (digital and print) can be found at www.kathleenkirkwoodhistoricals.com.


Sampler #1 is also available for free download. Please follow the links on Samplers Web Page.

Enjoy!

 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Icelandic Pancakes (Pönnukökur með þeyttum rjóma)


For a special treat, enjoy this traditional recipe for Pönnukökur með þeyttum rjóma. It is basically a dessert crêpe filled with jam and whipped cream. My Icelandic friend, Margrét, kindly shared this recipe long ago in Keflavík. It was one of the delightful “treasures” I brought home with me.
Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour
2 Tablespoons butter (melted)

½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla
Milk  (enough to make mixture very soupy)

Preserves, jelly, or jam (strawberry especially good but any are fine)
Whipped cream

Powdered Sugar (Optional)
Also Needed:

Flat crêpe pan

Directions:
  1. Beat together flour, melted butter, baking powder, baking soda, eggs and vanilla and add enough milk to make mixture very soupy.
  2. Bake crêpes until golden brown on a hot crêpe pan
    • Pour small amount of batter onto hot pan; tilt pan as needed so batter will cover pan’s surface. Hint: If you’ve ladled too much onto the pan, not to worry. Simply pour off extra batter back into batter bowl. These should be paper thin.
    • Turn over when golden brown (a long spatula is very useful for this). Cook briefly then transfer to plate. Yields about 8 crepes.
  3. Spread crêpe with one tablespoon preserves, jam, or jelly and 1-2 tablespoons whipped cream.
  4. Fold into triangles.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. (Optional)
Serve with afternoon coffee/tea or as a dessert.


VIDEO:  Enjoy this video demonstration for making pönnukökur. No, this is not the same Margrét, but she is utterly delightful. Her basic recipe is slightly different, using 2 cups of flour and a bit more baking powder and soda, and makes 10 pancakes with that amount. She also demonstrates a variation, sprinkling the pancake with sugar and rolling them up. Delicious however you serve them.



 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Adventures in Iceland: Volcanoes, Geysers, Hot Springs, Boiling Mud and More


Courtesy Bill Large
Just as we were about to wing our way to Iceland to start a two-year tour of duty in 1972, my mother-in-law sent a clipping from her local newspaper — an island had just disappeared off the coast of Iceland. Oh dear. An entire island. I mentally crossed myself, hoping that Iceland itself would still be there when our plane touched down.

It was, of course. The island was born out of the sea eons ago due to a violent submarine explosion. It sits atop the mid-Atlantic rift and is the most volcanically active place on earth. Flows of lava regularly add to the land due to new eruptions both above and beneath the sea.  Wholly new islands, such as Surtsey in 1963, have been thrown up out of the ocean. On the other hand, numerous active volcanoes, such as Hekla and Katla, cover the island. Their recurrent eruptions have been recorded since the Norsemen arrived in the ninth century. Vatnajökull and Eyjafjallajökull of recent memory (2010) are examples of glacier-covered volcanoes, giving Iceland the name of the “Land of Ice and Fire.” Eruptions of these ice-capped volcanoes understandably lead to massive flooding.

 
The volcanic activity beneath Iceland’s surface naturally heats the water in the depths of the earth giving rise to spouting geysers, boiling mud, hot springs (of varying temperatures) and mystical looking steam rising from the land. In Iceland, this hot water is harnessed to heat homes and businesses, cultivate plants in hot houses, generate electricity, and even warm outdoor swimming pools to name a few.

Geysir at Hveragerði

According to an old brochure distributed by Icelandair in the early ‘70’s, Iceland a World of Difference, “There are more than 700 natural hot springs in Iceland, either boiling or warm, down by the seaside, up in the valleys, or high in the ice fields themselves . . . The most famous and remarkable of all the hotsprings is the Great Geysir (Gusher), which spouts a column of boiling water and steam to a height of more than 150 feet.” Unfortunately, we never had a chance to see its spectacle, but did delight in the displays of other smaller ones.
Courtesy Bill Large

Eden, Hveragerði’s Greenhouse and Gift Shop for Tourists 1973
(Mr. KK holding our toddler, center)
 
One area of hot spring activity not far from the capital of Reykavík is Hveragerði. Here the steam is used to heat numerous tropical greenhouses where flowers, fruits and vegetables are grown – even bananas and grapes. We used to enjoy visiting the wonderful gift shop, Eden, there and indulging in goodies at the snack bar, as well as coming away with plants and “glitware” — pottery to which “glit,” or solidified volcanic ash particles, had been decoratively applied to the exterior. These lovely items were handled with care as the “glit” (small jagged bits of rock, minerals and volcanic glass) was a bit sharp to the touch. 

The kids having fun at Eden Gift Shop, Hveragerði 1974
 Sadly, Eden burned down, July 22, 2011.
 
Camping at Lake Mývatyn with Bill & Anna
One of our camping adventures took us and our good friends, Bill and Anna Large, to the north of Iceland and to Lake Mývatn, another area of hot spring activity.  We were all utterly captivated by the breathtaking panorama of the lake and its geological features. It was formed several thousand years ago during a volcanic eruption when molten lava was spewed into the lake creating bizarre columns and strange shapes of basalt.


Lake Mývatyn
We camped toward evening looking out on the lake, grilled dinner, enjoyed the camaraderie of our friends, and thought how perfect a spot this was and that we must come again. But, when we poked our heads out of our tents the next morning, we were beset by a black cloud of a kazillion little midges. They were in our eyes, our mouths, absolutely everywhere. We stuffed our panicked kids into the car, tore down the tents as fast as we could and headed into the town of Akureyri. We later learned that Mývatn translates to “fly (midge) lake”!


Lake Mývatyn
For a timeline of volcanic eruptions in Iceland dating back to approximately 900 A. D. visit:


To view current information on Iceland’s individual volcanoes — the scale of their activity or dormancy, including live webcam’s of each — visit:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Congratulations Winners!


Congratulations to the 10 winners of THE VALIANT HEART Goodreads giveaway! We shipped out each of your trade paperback copies today via USPS Priority Mail (including the one to Canada). You should have your copies in a couple of days. THANKS for your interest and support!

 
Don’t miss the Goodreads giveaway for 10 copies of THE DEFIANT HEART (the second book of the HEART trilogy), which is now underway! It ends on July 20th.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Dragonships have sailed . . .

 


The second book of the HEART Trilogy is now available.
Enjoy.

The North Sea, 915 A.D.

The mighty fleet of drakken swept north, carving the fogbound sea. Swift and silent they coursed, triumphant high-prowed dragonships, their hulls heavy with plunder — serpents in the mists.

Onward they plowed through trackless ocean and sunless haze, bearing their precious cargo — ivory, gold, and womanly flesh — far from the Isle of Eire, far to where gelid shores and hoarfrost lairs brinked the earth.

Sample chapters are available on my website:


 
 

Celebrating the new release, THE VALIANT HEART, Book #1 of the Trilogy
 is being offered at a reduced promotional price.

Sample chapters are also available on my website:


 

Next blog: Iceland, Vikings and a special treat—Pönnukökur með þeyttum rjóma.
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Iceland, Vikings and the Birth of the “Heart” Trilogy



Gullfoss, “Golden Falls”
“Where do you get your ideas from?” is a question often posed to authors. Being a sharing type, I secretly enjoy the query and confess to a small delight when my answer brings looks of surprise and raised eyebrows.

Truth to tell, the seedlings of my “Heart” trilogy took root long ago, in a chilly land far away, one that sits just beneath the Arctic Circle —  the “Land of Ice and Fire” and of sagas — Iceland.

It was there, while living on this rugged island, that my interest in the Norsemen was fired and later led to my penning three Viking-age novels: The Valiant Heart, The Defiant Heart, and The Captive Heart.

Sod-roofed farm house, Árbær Museum, Reykjavík

Incredibly, forty-one years have passed since I stepped off the plane in Keflavík, Iceland, with a two-year old daughter and five-month old baby boy in my arms. That was in June of 1972. We were joining my husband for his tour of duty at the NATO base there. Thankfully, he met us at the plane, for I found myself standing against a wall of wind, feet moving on the tarmac and going nowhere fast. And I was freezing in my summer clothing! Once inside the terminal, I flung open my suitcase and disappeared into my winter coat for the next two years.
 


A warm woolen Icelandic sweater lurks beneath the trench coat!
Ah, but what an adventure those years held for us. The day of our arrival, Mark drove us to the shore at Sandgerði. As we stood looking out over the ocean, the sun blazed high overhead. It was midnight! Dusk arrived in the wee hours to briefly “kiss” the horizon before lifting again for another sunny day.

Winters, of course, were quite the reverse, for Iceland’s year is divided between six months of darkness and six months of daylight. During those months we were treated to the dazzling spectacle of the Aurora Borealis as well as to “winter whiteouts.” Blizzard conditions were broadcast as “Alpha,” “Bravo,” or “Charlie” to indicate whether to take shelter quickly or to not move from a location at all.



Typical gravel road
Spring and summer were the best times to tour the island. In the early 70’s there were only two paved highways in all of Iceland — one between Keflavík and the capital city of Reykjavík and the other in the major city in north, Akureyri. We invested in a “poppy red” Land Rover, joined the Base’s “Rover’s Club” and set out in convoy to see the sights.
 
Rovers’ Club

Our first trip took us through the interior “moonscape” of Iceland where astronauts trained for their missions. The first night I ever camped in my life was between two glaciers — Vatnajökull and Hofsjökull. Did I mention that Vatnajökull is the world’s largest glacier with ice a mile thick? Or that our heater went out during the night? I woke up so cold that I thought I had already died! Thankfully our lamp provided enough heat to see us through the night.  

A curious thing we discovered in Iceland’s desert interior was vertical stacks of stones along the roadside, every so many kilometers. These turned out to be “guideposts,” so to speak. They lead to small refuge huts and remain visible in deep snow.



Delightful companions, greeting us one morning
A great “plus” for camping in Iceland is that there are no wild animals or slithery things to worry about.  Only gentle sheep roam about and we awoke to their company more than once.

Next blog: Continuing adventures in Iceland

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just Released - The Valiant Heart


 
I'm delighted to announce the release of The Valiant Heart, the first book of my “Heart” trilogy and winner of RWA's Golden Heart Award. Get ready for Rurik and Brienne’s story:
 
A golden warrior of the North,

A beautiful heiress and pawn of the king,

Love unexpected, bringing peril to all,

As Norse and Frank meld into a new people — the Normans.

Their love will burn brightly through all the ages to come . . .

SAMPLE: The prologue and the first three chapters of the newly revised edition of The Valiant Heart are available for free download at www.kathleenkirkwoodhistoricals.com

SPECIAL NOTE: Bowing to the wisdom of placing all works under a single name, please note that my "Anita Gordon" novels will now appear under the name "Kathleen Kirkwood." Hopefully, this will give the trilogy better discoverability and less confusion for everyone.
 

SWORD-NAMING CONTEST

  
Congratulations to Kimberly Reeland for her winning entry “Hávarðr,” Old Norse for “High Guardian.” It is a perfect name for my hero’s sword for, as you will read, Rurik served as a member of the Byzantine Emperor’s elite personal guard and foiled a palace plot that would have cost the emperor his life.

Many thanks to everyone who submitted an entry.