Thursday, December 29, 2016

Three days of LOVE

I've been wanting to try something: Pure love, consciously flowing feelings of love to all I see and think about--for three days. A mental cleanse.

How will it change me? Will it change me?

After a particularly vile presidential election, fear seems to have overtaken me. How better to right my boat than to fill it with love?

Fear is of the imagination. Love is in the here and now, and that is where I want to be, here and now, in the light.

Years of study and reading of Lynn Grabhorn, Maryanne Williamson, Napoleon Hill, Michael Beckwith, The Law of Attraction, and The Course in Miracles, have brought me here. I feel I am at a crossroads. My truth, my road, has to be with love.

How will I do this? By not speaking or thinking negatively. If I do I will try to immediately counter with a visualization of that person or situation being in goodness and fortune. It is easy to say and consider.

But? Can I do it?




Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kindle Kid's Book Creator

Kindle Kid’s Book Creator—

For authors who are not aware of this new program, Amazon has a new system to help you publish children’s books. It is called Kindle Kid’s Book Creator,https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1002979921

It is designed to make your ebook legible and nicely displayed on all readers. To do this they have added pop-up windows for text. Your image is displayed, and when the reader is given the option to display the pop-up where you have included your text for that page.

This, to my knowledge, greatly improves the reading experience for those viewing it on a mobile device.

I had a children’s book in the unpublished section of Kindle, due to formatting problems. When I learned of KKBC, I pulled it up and decided to publish it with the new program.

I watched several tutorials on YouTube, and read a bunch about it on blogs, with tips, etc.


Then I downloaded the program, after resizing all my images, according to their guidelines. Great!

The program is very simple. So, I was frustrated when I could not make it work.

I consider myself reasonably computer literate. I can format a novel and work with Photoshop. But try as I did, for two frustrating weeks, I could not get the program to accept my text.

I was able to upload all my images as pages for the ebook. And, I loaded each pop-up with text. But, when I clicked SAVE, and checked the pop-ups, several were blank.
Panic.

I watched more vids about the program, read more articles. I went to Amazon and read their recommendations.

I must have tried to create the book seven times. I typed the text into each pop-up. I copy/pasted it in—several times. Days passed. Two weeks passed. I was consumed.

Finally, I tipped my king. I gave up. I was beaten.

I will say there are certainly many authors out there who have used KKBC with great success. I would love to hear from you.

Note: By writing the above post, I got curious again and could not let the sleeping dog of my failed attempt at KKBC alone. 

I went at it from another angle. I placed my text on a blank page, in a pop-up, for each illustration. That way the viewer can look at the drawing, then go to the corresponding text. 

It worked like a charm, but I wrote the text in size 14 font, and that was a mistake. I will have to upload a new adjusted copy once it goes live. At least #18 so the reader does not have to enlarge the text on their device. Oh well. krh

P.S. One thing I should mention: When I typed in my text I used font size #14, thinking that should be about right when reading on a Kindle. But using that size showed up tiny in the preview. I know that Kindles allow the user to adjust the font size, but, I reasoned most readers will preview the book on the Amazon site as they consider whether to purchase it. If they can't read it, I lost a sale.

So, I bumped up the size to #20. That was too small. I tried #28, and then #36. Both were too small!  At last I settled on #48, just to make the preview legible for would be buyers! That is wrong.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

A New Christmas--At Home Depot

A New Christmas
Kevin R. Hill

   It was the day before Christmas and I was stuck with an eight hour shift at Home Depot, or Home Cheapo, as the laborers in the parking lot called it. I hate it. Why I was still working there.

   My Little Hitler boss, a bean pole of a lesbian, with tatts across her neck, met me and right away assigned an aisle for me to straighten. I mean I wasn’t even on the floor yet, and she found me. She must have been waiting for me.

   Man, I wanted to tell her what I thought of her. But I just nodded as she dished out my chore.

   That’s what a job is, right? They pay us to pretend we care about the work.

   I was on my knees in the tool corral, surrounded by power tools, wondering if the tweeker up the aisle was going to run out with Milwaukee combo kit, and add some excitement to my day.

   Then the man spoke behind me. “Excuse me sir, can I barrow a hammer and some nails?”

   I laughed and climbed to my feet. “I’m sorry, buddy, but we don’t—

   It was his smile that silenced me. He stood about six foot four, with wide shoulders and jailhouse tatts on his hands.

   “The guys in the Christmas tree lot gave us these pieces of wood to make a stand for our tree.” He held up two pieces of wood.

   I’ll tell you. I help a lot of people during a shift. But this guy stopped me in my tracks. His eyes had the look of a soldier after a horrible battle. This guy had nothing left, but was asking, so softly, for help.

   Beside him stood a Somoan woman and three boys. One of them carried a three foot tall tree that was dropping needles on the floor. The branches on one side were bare, but that boy held it like it was life raft.

   Something touched me. I don’t care what you say. As I looked at that family I knew that tree was what made them gather. It was something they shared. It wasn’t something to be controlled with Home Depot’s stupid rules.

   I took the wood strips from the man. “That’s a nice tree. Let’s lay it down right here and I’ll see about making a stand for it.”

   The boy looked at his father. “In the aisle?”

   The father smiled and nodded.
  
   Several customers stood about waiting for help, but I rushed away and grabbed a framing hammer off the shelf, along with a box of nails. Home Depot could afford it.

   Most of the kids I see with family are busy laughing and playing and running around the aisles. But these three boys stood silently and watched as I crossed the planks into an X, and hammered.

   When I finished, the smallest boy, about five years old, picked up the tree and let it stand. A little smile came to his lips as he touched it.

   “We want to thank you, Sir,” said the man.

   I raised my hand to shake his.  But the man caught my forearm in a firm grip. “Thank you,” he whispered.

   The boys walked away with the tree. Behind them walked the man and woman. But they stopped before leaving the tool corral, and the woman hugged him and buried her head in his chest.


   That was why I was here, working at the Depot. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Precious Village



I want to have my new book, Yucatan Timeout, published in time for Christmas. That means writing at a tremendous pace. I've never done that, but am curious as to whether by writing so fast I will be taking the intellect out of the equation, and allowing myself to write from the heart.

That would be wonderful, because it was a magical village I found, so full of love, where the telephone wires crackled in the rain, and families, holding toddlers, strolled the sandy square in the evening.


There are so many precious stories I witnessed: The new Pizzeria, where the pizza always tasted of mold, and the friends who, rushing into Cancun to sell time-share, paused for the morning ritual of cracking an egg into their car radiator to plug leaks. I remember how their wise old parrot would call to anyone who knocked on their door, and greet them in the woman's voice. "Come on in," it would say, with a Texas drawl. 

I should add a note to parrot owners: A parrot is a recording device. Knowing that, it is best to not have sex where the bird can hear, or you may be surprised by what it repeats at dinner parties!

Beyond the simple everyday life, I am trying to tell a story about how I put my life back together after a divorce. If I can show the way, with love and truth, of how I used meditation and forgiveness to rebuild, show how walking those simple streets, with the Caribbean on one side, the jungle on the other, allowed me to journey inward, without city distractions, then I will truly be a writer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Great Adventure!





For a decade I hitch hiked across Europe. In Switzerland I picked apples at the foot of the breathtaking Alps. In Germany I lived in a tent beside the Rhine, and taught English at the Berlitz School.

Cause for deportation?
But that wasn't enough. My back pack took me to a kibbutz in Israel, where I ran a bar, and was ultimately told to leave the country after I cut down a tree for Christmas. How could I have known it was a diplomatic gift from Australia, and one of only three in the country?

After Israel, that back pack carried me to Africa, where I hitch hiked, and paid to ride atop supply trucks. Through Egypt, Sudan, and into Kenya I went, searching.

In Kenya I was offered a position writing for a newspaper. This article convinced me that African journalism wasn't for me.
Granted, it was a slow news day in Kenya. I understand there was a deadline for copy, but this article should not have made a high school newspaper, let alone a national magazine.

I had been given a sign.

At certain times situations arose that allowed me to see how I had changed. I remember arriving in Kenya after weeks of travel atop trucks in Sudan, eating around campfires, squatting in the dirt with the driver and truck boys, eating with my hands from a pot. In Kenya, at the first restaurant I saw, I ordered breakfast. The waitress set my food on the table and hurried away to bring cutlery. In a moment she returned with a knife and fork, but I was eating with my hands. I froze because of the woman's shocked expression.

I remember refusing to enter a hospital because a man was sweeping blood out the front door.

How powerful and strange it felt to be in desolate Sudan one day, filling a water bottle in the White Nile, looking out for crocodiles, and then to be in Scandinavia the following day. The contrast, the difference in culture, language, terrain, climate, people, mentality, was almost too much to bear. Culture shock struck me hard.

I had lived wild and free for months, always moving, traveling, surviving on rock hard dates and water that smelled of purification tablets, for weeks, clinging to ropes as I slept, the truck bouncing and shaking. In the span of one day, I was standing on hill in Denmark, snow falling, the entire world silent, as flakes melted on my face.

Africa changed me. Part of me is still there, captured in sweaty little police station where I was forced to watch a fat policeman beat an eight-year-old boy.

It captured another part of me on a dusty road in Sudan. The truck I was riding on slowed. Through the dust I could see something ahead. Another truck, carrying passengers atop, had driven off the road and tipped over. Injured people lay strewn about. Some were trapped, half crushed. Victims moaned and cried for help as we passed.

Part of me remained there, screaming for my driver to stop until my voice broke.

I tried to stay in Scandinavia. But I was different. When I spoke to friends and described Africa, or Israel, my tales met a look of disbelief. The pain that look brought, always accompanied my silence.

For months I could hear the faint calling of my pack, like the voice of a sexy, tempting ex lover, sitting at the end of the bar, her presence arousing sweet fantasies.


This time my pack, my longing, my searching, carried me to Yucatan, the land of the Maya. There, in a forgotten fishing village, I found an abandoned house, shoveled out the sand of hurricanes past, strung up a hammock, and moved in.

I found the shell of a spear gun buried in the sand. Using metal found in the street--a car antenna--and parts bought in Cancun, I rebuilt the gun. Soon I was swimming to the reef, shooting lobster and the best snapper in the world.

Travel articles appeared. On a portable, manual typewriter, I pounded out a novel.

Writing opened a new chapter of my life. It became my therapy, my drug. When taken daily I no longer needed to roam. I was creating adventures on paper.










Friday, October 14, 2016

The treasure in Mom's home repair.




Mom's sprinklers stopped working. The California sun quickly turned the green lawn into parched dirt.

Now my eighty-three-year-old mother has to fight with the hose and risk a fall, just to water her dirt.

I soon got a call about fixing the sprinklers.

The thought of repairing the sprinklers, and specifically, of returning to the house where I grew up, depressed me. That house was full of ghosts, memories of a wild, smothering childhood. Sometimes I got ill when I visited.

But, to the sun-baked, stucco tract house, I went.

The first day I spent tearing out the old control box for the sprinklers. It was wired into the same 1956
electrical receptacle as the refrigerator, the coffee maker, the radio, the toaster and the blender.

While I stood in the flower bed and twisted wires together, memories of my sisters and I ran about, shouting and waiting for the ice cream man, rushing to swim in a neighbor's pool. And a memory of me sat across the way, parked on the dark street with my first date. 'Working on the night moves....'

Night moves? Well, that's what I like to believe. But actually, I was too nervous to move.

When I finished the control box, I reached into the hole where the sprinkler shut off valve is located. When I turned the valve I felt it break. It would not turn off.

An easy replacement of an anti siphon valve, just turned into 'Mega job.'

I would not be able to quickly escape the memories and mistakes that house represented. I thought about a neighbor boy and I hiding in the garage, terrorizing the house across the street by shooting bb's at their screen door. We were great snipers!

How we laughed, hiding and covering our mouths, each time the bb struck and the woman rushed to the door to see who was bothering her.

I went inside and found my mom sitting at the kitchen table, leaning over a book, a clothes pin holding the pages open. A stack of books stood on the table beside her.

The options were few, and I explained each. She decided to replace thee broken valve with a quality brass valve.

Yep, "we'd replace the valve." That meant me digging up the dirt with a pick axe, and her reading, all cozy with warm tea and toast spread with jam.

I did moan and gripe a bit. But as I have aged I've managed to put things into perspective. I thought about my mom, and how she devoted her life to her family, and worked in a male-dominated field every day, then came home and studied, earning eventually, a masters degree and far better pay for her family. She took my sisters and I from the projects to a safe, clean home, with a yard.

That was why I was repairing her sprinklers.

For years I fought against the house and the memories. I imagined them being terrible. And for years I traveled the world. In new places there is only possibility. I was not shoved into the box of what people remember about me.

As I sat in the dirt, my hands muddy, spreading pvc glue on white pipe, I realized that at some point over the years I shifted the way I thought about the house.

I even laughed as I wiped my hands on a rag, because I wondered if that was what it meant to truly grow up. My beliefs about this house were formed when I was a child. My adult, however, reevaluated and allowed me laugh about the whole thing. Mostly.

After about ten trips to the hardware store, I finished the sprinklers and shoveled dirt back into the holes, removed the top from each pop up sprinkler head and cleaned it.

Mom stood in the sun, her bare feet on the walkway, and shaded her eyes as I demonstrated the watering system, spraying water over her dead lawn, which would soon be growing back to its former glory.

She clapped and laughed.

Inside the house she presented me with a bag of books to return to the library. Together we drove there, and I held her hand as we walked up the walkway. I was free.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Time for LOVE




I was depressed. My books weren't selling. After years of work, I felt as though I was shouting into the dark, empty void of Kindle cyberspace.

On top of that, I injured my Achilles and was off work.

I couldn't write, couldn't walk, and hated the world like Donald Trump.

And then my lovely fiance taught me the meaning of Love. She whisked me away--hurt foot and all, to Bend, Oregon.

OMGosh, what a joy to stand on a hill and look out over green countryside, the breeze pushing gold and yellow leaves across my feet. I had forgotten how blue the sky could be!

The city sludge, the fear, dropped away.

There was so much clear beauty around me that I was reminded why I write: to share truth and joy and love. It was okay to have slow sales. After all, readers were writing and saying they loved my work.

How lucky I am!




A woman I love had cared so deeply that she gave this gift vacation, this spa of  a town. As I held her and thanked her, I thought how strange love is, the strongest of all forces, yet so gentle. It is both the living strength a mother has for the infant in her arms, as well as the power to lift a car off that child, should it be in danger.

It is not the Action Hero kind of power. It is the soft gurgle of a baby that makes us mighty. I became a better man that day in Bend.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Allowing Love

Mom is now eighty-three years old. I used to visit to do maintenance on her house. But as time passed I came to understand that the maintenance was an excuse to be with her.

Now when I pop over I hold her hand. It is how I feel close. I want to believe there will not be an era of my life without her.

By holding her hand we share the moment, and I don't think about watering the trees, fixing the toilet, or mopping the floor. Instead, I simply share the moment with her, share a moment of love when the world does not intrude.

During the years of misunderstandings and arguments, of laughter and shouts, I realized that she was going through a time that Native Americans honor, a time of releasing the world.

Now I try to honor that. I can't ask her to stay, or to think about me and my needs. No, I can only allow her to live her personal journey. That is why I hold her hand. That is when there is only love. I will always hold her hand.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Playboy Saint!

That quote you read at the top of my blog, about truth, impressed me greatly. So much so I had to look up St. Augustine, or Augustine of Hippo, as he was also known.

My my, it seems old Augustine was quite the playboy, and known for saying: "Save me, Lord, but not just yet."

When I read that I had to laugh as I imagined the dashing young man in compromising situations with women.

That's what I like: real people, with real stories about them. They lived fully.




Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Yucatan Timeout

Is it possible to be in love with a place?

Years ago I took a timeout from life in the US, from the nine-to-five grind, and threw it all to the wind.

Yes, I did something that forever established me as the wild one in my family.

I pulled my nose off the grindstone ('Oh my God! How could he?'), and took a timeout to heal from a divorce, to rebuild my life with inner, spiritual work, and do what I needed, what I knew to be the truth for me.

I found a simple Mayan village on the Caribbean, found an abandoned house to live in, carried water in a jug, slept in a hammock, the surf whispering in my dreams.

Imagine letting go of the city stress and instead walking quiet village streets, calling to friends who roll past on creaking bicycles, sandals flopping the hot, sandy asphalt.

The inner work I did there in my shell of a house, geckos darting about the walls, fleeing a cat who often came to visit, a frog residing in the toilet tank, set the tone for years to come. I remembered who I was. I scrapped off the crust, so to speak, of who I thought other people wanted me to be, and found that happy person inside--that jumping, laughing child I lost along the way.

As I work to master the craft required to be a novelist, my village keeps popping up. It became the setting for my latest book, The Mayan Case. And it brought me great pleasure to share with my readers the joy of my village.

I prefer not to think of myself as 'the wild one' in my family, but instead as the authentic one. Is that not what we all should be, what is in our heart to become, what we love, instead of what Mom or Dad wants us to be?

So, I call on all of you to be your own Wild One, and shake off the wants or perceived wants of others, and look in your heart and decide what would really make you happy and keep you in joy? And that is what you need to be doing. That is Truth.
Somewhere, your village is calling ....

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ebook Cover Evolution ...

I wanted to inject a light-hearted tone to this post, hence the photo of the fiance and I clowning on the Danish island of Bornholm.

I feel the designer and I have nearly reached the end of the rocky road of creating a good cover. At this point there are two images that I can't release. So, I'm having the designer work on both. She loves me. I have worked with her on several projects, and highly recommend her. You can find her on fiverr.com, and she goes by the name 'landofawes.'

 Here is the first finalist (left). The changes I want are to have the Mayan glyph fill the block. I'm also having the blood splatter removed, and the font of the title widened, and it should have the appearance of hammered metal. But again, I have the problem: in thumbnail size, does it convey a feeling, a message?  Is the knife image needed?

The favorite (right) is this image. The knife speaks with a loud voice. I've asked to have the glyphs take on a 3d look, and to have the font, widened, with hammered metal appearance, on this image too.  We have come a long way!  What do readers think? Let me know. Please give opinions, tips, feedback.

A day has passed and my designer has sent the covers with the asked for renditions. And, the winner is the cover with the single glyph. However, I did request a couple of more changes. I thought the font of the title should be larger, wider, and that would entail making 'The' smaller. I also asked for a trickle of blood running over the top of the stone and down the glyph on the left side, with a small light reflection in it. And ... that's all, folks!






*7-31-16   The final draft came in at about midnight, Pacific time. The font of the title has been enlarged a bit, and a blood trickle added. All in all, this image ended up costing me $210.00 for the fiverr designer, including a $38.00 tip, $52.00 to purchase the images from Dreamstime.com and Depositphotos.com. So, $262 all total. I find that to be a hefty price for a struggling Indy author. Was it worth it? I'll find out in the months to come. The new title did get me away from the New Age type title of Touching Spirits, that kept some readers from committing. This has been another lesson on the rough writing road.

The book is free today and 8-1-16.
                                    

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Making an Ebook Cover



I recently got tired of readers telling me they nearly didn't purchase my book, Touching Spirits, the Mayan Case, because it sounded like a new age book.

I didn't want anything hindering sales with my action/suspense novel, so I decided to not only change the title, but the cover as well. This led to two weeks of putting my graphic designer through hell, changing my mind, changing fonts, colors, and then chucking the entire idea and beginning anew.

This is where we were when I decided that in thumbnail size the cover was mostly empty space. The gun and badge are merely specks that small. This is not a meaningless consideration. 99.99% of potential buyers on Amazon will first see the cover that size. If you don't have something to make them stop and click to see it larger, they are gone, and so is a sale. So, I went back to the designer.








This is what the designer came up with--making the gun and badge larger. She zoomed in on them. But still it bothered me. I was irritable and the fiance felt it. That night she took me to Barnes & Noble's (known in my family as Barney's Noddles because of a four-year-old's mistake), and we ravished the suspense section of the book store. The help quietly moved away as we took stacks of books from their homes and laid them on the floor, so we could stand back and gawk. It worked. I came up with an idea.

And here we are ....  It is not the final, but I feel much better about it than the other layout or design. We are going to enlarge the knife, add some dripping blood, so that it becomes the focal point, and most likely add a background color. In general, we'll just play with it for a while until it pops. When the knife and the blood are larger, they will be clearly visible in thumbnail size.
I thought I'd throw this one in for a laugh. My designer threw everything in the refrigerator together to make this tasty casserole of a cover. 'The Frog Ruin.'







Thursday, July 14, 2016

Young, Free, and in love with a Spy--A real life Romance!






In 1972, author Kolleen Kidd found herself involved with a Soviet defector, Sergei Nikolayevich Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and naval officer. I met Kolleen on Goodreads.com, and wanted to bring her on the blog for my readers to experience the intrigue she lived.   
A Rose for Sergei.  http://amzn.to/29xyirr

1. Kolleen, please take us to that world of excitement. You were young and flirting with a defector, a former enemy. Was it exciting?

Yes, it was very exciting. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love mystery and intrigue. I was sixteen when I found summer clerical employment with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington DC. I couldn’t tell anyone what I did or even the location of the building where I worked. It was one of many secrets I would have to keep.

The Soviet Union was our enemy. I still remember the practice air raid drills—hiding under my desk in elementary school in preparation for the unimaginable. When Sergei and I met, at my Federal Government office, we were both twenty-one. He shook my hand and would not release it. The heated attraction between us was immediate, in spite of the fact that our countries were adversaries. We were young, single, and on our own in a beautiful and powerful city. It was both exciting and frightening…we were watched and followed. Each thought the other was a spy.

2. Why did you write A Rose for Sergei?

I wrote this book to speak up for someone who is no longer here to defend himself. I had never planned to write a book about our story, which was personal and private. I kept our relationship secret for all these years. Not even my best friends knew about Sergei. All that changed after I discovered an independent documentary film that discredited Sergei’s life and his book, The Persecutor. I knew Sergei personally; I knew his background had been investigated by our Federal Government.

3. If you could convey in one sentence what you learned from the relationship, what would that be?

I learned to be open and honest about my feelings, to say the words that need to be said.

4. I found A Rose for Sergei warm and touching. I am happy to see it climbing the sales charts on Amazon. Are there plans for other books in the works?

I do have a Fiction book in the works that’s geared towards the romance genre.

On a side note, it’s great to have a male perspective, and hear that you found my book “warm and touching.” Thank you for your kind words, Kevin. As a writer, you know that book sales on Amazon fluctuate daily. My book has seen both sides of that climb, although I prefer when it’s going up.

5. What advice would you pass along to other Indie authors about their writing, and about the publishing process?

My most important advice would be to not confuse “Indie” with “Unedited.” Every writer needs an editor. My editor asked for more clarification on certain items because of the time period. I laughed when I saw, “What’s a princess telephone?  What are S&H green stamps?” scrawled in red on the margin of my manuscript. Publishing requirements vary, my manuscript needed to be cleared by the Department of Defense prior to professional editing and publishing.

Self-publishing also means self-promoting your book. As an Indie Author, promoting your story is a huge part of the writing journey. I’ve found Goodreads to be a great place to connect with readers and authors. Blogging also allows me to have a personal, direct connection with everyone.

'Each thought the other was a spy.' Let me play with that quote a bit: Would that not be a great starting point for a suspense or spy novel? We know A Rose for Sergei is non-fiction, but I hope it serves as a platform from which you launch a fiction career. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I look forward to reading more from Kolleen Kidd. Readers will enjoy Kolleen's blog: https://aroseforsergei.blogspot.com/

Thank you.  



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

AMAZON BEST SELLER!!

Being a writer is like being a bar fighter. It is tough. You're going to get bruised and sore. Helping others is what gives me pleasure, so when I find something that worked for me, I share it with fellow writers.

Recently I decided to really work on my book blurb for a novel I put out about a year ago. Don't get me wrong, I've rewritten the blurb probably 40 times, but just couldn't get it right. It felt wrong.

And beyond that, few were buying it. So, I petitioned help on a Facebook group, Blurb Boot Camp. After they tore it to shreds and pointed me in the right direction, I put the book back out.

I had never had more than about 50 downloads on a free day. But the first day I put it back out on Amazon, on a free day, almost 500 customers grabbed it. And it is still going now, the following day!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZLY2D8M#navbar

Presently, Touching Spirits, The Mayan Case, sits in the number three position on Amazon Kindle, for suspense!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bornholm, Denmark, and Templar Treasure

Some of you know that during a recent trip to Sweden and the Danish island of Bornholm, I thought it would be fun to look at several round churches built by the Knights Templar, on the island. This book aroused my curiosity. How fun it would be to incorporate a light-hearted mystery into our trip, right?

I mean who hadn't seen the film National Treasure, with N.Cage? Well, what most viewers don't realize is that that treasure in the film is believed by many historians to exist--today!

And, to give the mystery a literary flavor, it was a book by Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood/Holy Grail, that was the inspiration, the plot, of Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code! Just do a youtube search of Henry Lincoln's documentaries for the BBC.

But what happened to our light-hearted mystery? It is getting bogged down in a thick history, all tied together with a Mary Magdalene, the Templars discovering something in Jerusalem that the Pope paid dearly to keep silent, and a chapel in the south of France. This was not something to just throw out to the net lightly. It required research, and that is where I am now, sorting through the ... internet pap, library books, and youtube film, trying to boil it down to a nice article.

We did visit the round Templar churches, but I could not get my son nor fiance to break in at night and hammer through the floor of a single chapel. The nerve. What are vacations for?

Instead, we visited a village called 'God's Home,' (I mean how could you not?), drank the beer, and laughed along ambling country roads, where centuries before the Templar had taken extreme care to build their churches with such exacting locations that the geometry is startling.

Then I found the proof of a Templar visit. In the St. Maria church in Ysted, Sweden, which had been Danish at the time the Templar were here, I found, hanging on the wall, two candle holders with Masonic and Templar symbols.

I had to have them! They would have looked bad ass hanging on the wall above my writing desk, all polished and shiny. But the fiance would not even stand in position to block the one security camera so I could slip away with them. All she had to do was just stand there! All my talents were wasted. Now, the best I can do is hang a stupid photo of the candle holders that got away above my desk.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Ysted, Sweden--

I wanted to display some of the doors of Ysted. It is not uncommon to see doors that are one hundred, two hundred years old, and more. 

On the amusing side, the Danes and Swedes have been fighting each other, and every country around them, for hundreds of years. So if you're being led around by a local, they usually lead you to a church and show you ax marks on the door, and say, depending whether you're in Denmark or Sweden, something like, "see these ax marks? That's from when the horrible Danes or Swedes attacked in ... sixteen hundred and whatever." 

One Fact that stuck in my mind, being from California, was that the reason for one attack, centuries past, was that the sea froze between the two countries. I thought that was illegal. But the Swedes took advantage of the opportunity and marched to Vordingborg, the capitol of Denmark at the time.

Here are some wonderful doors and houses along the old, winding walking the streets of Ysted. 







* I discovered that in the summer there is a man in the church who climbs the clock tower every hour from eight pm to midnight, every night, and rings the bell, signalling that all is well. This tradition dates back centuries, to when it was a signal that all was well.