Sunday, July 27, 2014

Christianity War against Muslim/Ottoman Empire in the Middle Ages Carmen Stefanescu

The  21st century may be considered as the century of speed and electronics and, at the same time, of  great social unrest and wars. With advancements in technology, war is increasingly wreaking chaos and destruction upon the lives of combatants and non-combatants in many areas on the globe. I reside in Romania, an European country bordering in the east Ukraine. You know what I mean, don’t you? 

I’m not a historian or an analyst of any kind. I am just a reader and, lately, author who lived to see the transition from a social system to another. In 1989 Ceausescu’s dictatorship was removed as well as the Iron Curtain separating us from Western countries and culture.
I’ve often asked myself what is the foundation of war – greed, necessity? What are the basic causes of armed conflicts in the history of humankind?  Is war a state of things characterizing only modern homo sapiens? Is there something in the human  genes that triggers a belligerent attitude in people, an innate genetic characteristic of human beings or is it a social construct? In my humble opinion, the primary causes leading to wars seem to be human nature, economic factors, politics and culture, as well as socio –psychological needs.
It seems that the first war that was recorded by history occurred way back in 2700 BCE, in Mesopotamia, though warfare began even earlier, around 3500 BCE.
  Some historians claim that quite often wars are triggered by adversity between different religious believers: Protestants versus Catholics, Christians versus Muslims, Arabs versus Jews. Violent conflicts along religious lines are frequently conflated with ethnic elements. Is then religion the cause of many wars? Is religious faith enough motivation to start war against other peoples?  I don’t think so.
The wars of the ancient world were rarely, if ever, based on religion. They were for territorial conquest, to control borders, or respond to an internal challenge to political authority.  Religion may be a powerful motivator, and thus often invoked in wartime, but the real reasons most wars have been fought along history have nothing to do with it. Instead, they have to do with political control–allowing certain political leaders to gain or remain in power. While my paranormal romance Shadows of the Past is focused more on romance and paranormal side of things, Dracula’s Mistress, my paranormal historical  novel that is still in the edits stage with the assigned editor, has a higher highlight on history. It deals with events in Middle Ages Walachia that was led at that time by prince Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler. It is an era when Christians fought against Muslims,  that is against the Ottoman Empire. But was the war religious? Not at all. The Ottoman Empire was a major threat to the hegemony of Christian Europe from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. While there were some regrettable incidents that occurred during these wars, this conflict was in essence a response to hundreds of years of Muslim aggression. In Walachia, Christian boys were simply collected from the streets, taken for military service as Janissaries, later fighting against their own kin. Girls from Walachia were kidnapped to become "wives " in the Sultan’s harem. 
Nevertheless, under Ottoman rule, non-Muslim subjects were allowed to practice their religion - especially Orthodox and Jews -  subject to certain conditions, and to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy. Walachians were guaranteed the security of property in return for paying tribute to the Ottomans. Orthodox Christians, that is Walachians – present-day Romanians - were the largest non-Muslim group. All  the sultan was interested in were Walachia’s resources; its gold and people that were used as soldiers or slaves. As long as they acknowledged Muslim supremacy they could keep their faith and churches.
So, in  my opinion, the root of most wars have to do with gaining political control of resources (land, money, food supplies, transportation and trade routes) or they have to do with a particular leader’s ambitions (being remembered as a great man, like  sultan Mehmed II El-Fatih the Conqueror who was Vlad’s opponent). But most often, leaders, trying to gain their people’s support, dress wars up with national pride or religion intolerance.
About Carmen Stefanescu and where to find her

Carmen Stefanescu's Site

Carmen Stefanescu was born and currently resides in Romania, an eastern European country. This is the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula; where there was 50 years of communist dictatorship. A country whereas, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison! English and German teacher in my native country, and mother of two daughters, she survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books. Reading them at that time. Later writing them.
She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world, the Internet especially, meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing.
Since 2001, Midnight Edition Publication has published her poems in the collection Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2. The readers’ interest for her ballad, about the love between a young priest and a nun, published in 2004 by Midnight Edition, inspired her to write her first novel “Shadows of the Past.” 
Author Page on AMAZON



Wednesday, July 23, 2014





D. Lawrence-Young


Will Shakespeare is a young lad, happy to work at school, but happier really when he is writing long love poems and short plays. Unfortunately, his father, having fallen on hard times has to send Will out to earn his own living. 

Eventually managing to convince his family that his pen and education will provide a better living than by making gloves in his father's shop, Will sets off for London and the new and exciting world of the theatre. 

Elizabethan London is like no other place in the world, with its sights, smells, opportunities and constant danger. While Will is forging his career and making new friends in the theatre, including the alluring Dark Lady of the Sonnets, he must also be very careful of those he mixes with. The Tudor capital is a treacherous place at the best of times, and there are ever-listening ears everywhere. William Shakespeare has to be on guard at all times, especially when he is forced to become a government spy. 

Based on a wide range of sources, D. Lawrence-Young has written a fascinating novel that helps us answer the question: What was Shakespeare doing during his so-called “Lost Years?’
D. Lawrence-Young has been teaching and lecturing on drama, history and English for many years. He is happiest when researching Shakespeare, English and military history. He has written Communication in English, a best-selling English language textbook as well as a dozen other historical novels. These include three based on the life of Shakespeare. 
He contributes regularly to Forum, a magazine for English language teachers and has also written several articles for Skirmish, a military history journal. He is a member of the local history club and is the Chairman of the Jerusalem Shakespeare Society. He is also a published (USA) and exhibited (UK and Jerusalem) photographer. He plays the clarinet (badly) and is married and has three children.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The Lost Catacomb

image description
An intoxicating blend of Vatican thriller and heart-rending love story, THE LOST CATACOMB is a stunning debut novel set against the backdrop of the Holocaust in Italy. At its heart is Nicola Page, a beautiful young art historian who flies to Rome to assess a newly discovered catacomb of enigmatic provenance. Its magnificent frescoes hold the clues to a centuries-old murder and the existence of a fabled treasure from the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.

Assisted by a handsome Italian archaeologist, Nicola is quickly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and peril, masterminded by a powerful priest who is determined to destroy those who would reveal the dark secrets of the past. And as Nicola uncovers layer after layer of this deadly past, she is brought face to face with shocking facts about her own family history—facts that will forever change the course of her life.


What people are saying...

"A marvelous book--thrilling and literary. A compelling depiction of the Vatican, with its profound mysteries and troubling ties to the Holocaust, riveting action, and a tender love story that will appeal to a wide audience."
- Aryeh Lev Stollman, author of The Far Euphrates and The Illuminated Soul


  • Title: The Lost Catacomb
  • Author: Shifra Hochberg
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Length: 358 pages
  • Release Date: March 2014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615975696
  • Imprint: Enigma Press

Available Here

Monday, July 7, 2014



It worked for Hemingway, so why not?

My regular job had taken me to a two-year assignment in The Bahamas. Ernest had written Old Man and the Sea while living on Bimini and I was in Nassau, but it was close enough for me. I had barely unpacked, the majority of my possessions on a ship somewhere between Houston and the Port of Nassau, but I decided it was time to stop “writing” and get down to business. I’d done a few short stories in different genres, mostly to gauge the reader’s reactions as I honed my craft. That turned out to be a distraction.
A book is a big thing, and I never realized just how big until the task lay ahead of me. I envisioned a length of about 60,000-80,000 words, and I had about half that in notes and partially finished stories. I really had no idea how to put it all together, but I knew where the story began, so I started there.
I set a word goal for myself – 1,000 words/week. I knew it would take a long time at that rate, but I’d been screwing around for six years already, so anything would be progress. It was tough to make my goal – I’d do it all on Saturday night, and sometimes I’d start the next week a few hundred words behind, but as I caught a rhythm I upped my goal to 2k. I never looked back, not even to spell check. By the time I’d been at it three months, I had a rough outline of twenty chapters. I knew where I wanted the book to go, and how I wanted to end it.
I mentioned in a previous post that writing the book hurt – a psychic pain of reliving some of the most horrible experiences of my life, of scars that were torn open again. The nightmares had returned with a vengeance, and I found myself preoccupied more often than not. I pushed through it, channeling that hurt into the story.
Somewhere along the line I figured out what the book was about. For the past six years I hadn’t had a clue.
My time in Iraq had changed me. I knew that without knowing how much, but it was coming out in the book. My notes reflected it once I put them in a logical order – I was reacting differently near the end of the tour than I did at the beginning. It was subtle at first, but the arrogant feeling of power morphed into resignation as I realized I didn’t have any, and never had.
I finished the manuscript just over six months to the day after I had begun it in earnest. I didn’t pick it up again for three weeks. During that time, the dreams went away. When I finally went back to do that first spell check, it felt like the whole thing might have been a work of fiction – someone else’s story.
My war was finally over.
Yancy Caruthers (1971- ) grew up in Alton, MO, and joined the Army Reserves at 17. He became a nurse, and worked in several areas until finding a passion in emergency medicine, which ultimately led to a job with an air ambulance company. He served in Iraq two different times, and retired from the Army as a Captain.
After this experience, he decided to leave the medical profession and pursue other endeavors. He has now lived on three continents, and is hoping to reside on at least three more. He currently lives with his family in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Author Links -
Book Genre: Memoir, Military/Medical71Y0ONAIsbL._SL1500_
Publisher: Independent (CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing)
Release Date: eBook April 2014, paperback May 2014
Buy Link(s):
Book Description: Northwest of Eden is the author's first person account of his experience during Operation Iraqi Freedom as second-in-command of an Army emergency department and leader of an air transport team. The varied cast of characters provides top-notch medical care to service members in harsh conditions, while wielding the darkest humor against each other just to stay sane. Most of the time they succeeded...
When it finally came time to roll the bad guy over and look at his back, we found the wound that should have killed him.  A bullet had entered over his right shoulder blade, then taken an unexpected right turn and followed the surface of the bone.  It had skipped out without entering his chest, but had taken a fist-sized chunk of meat along with it.  The hole had been packed with a bandage roll, but it wasn’t bleeding or bubbling, so I shoved a fresh wad of gauze into it and we rolled him flat again.
I turned my attention to the room’s other occupant, a soldier who wore a dusty pale green uniform and wore the 4th Infantry patch on his shoulder.
So what exactly happened to this guy?” I asked.
The soldier exhaled sharply, and acted a bit bothered that I had asked, but he relayed the story that two guys had been spotted trying to set a roadside bomb, but had fled once they realized they had been discovered.  Troops had pursued, and had ultimately cornered the two bad guys in a tiny house in a cluster of tiny houses.
When cornered the insurgents had fired back at the patrol with AK-47s, which is generally a bad idea, but these two hadn’t read the insurgent manual.  When friendlies returned fire (which isn’t very friendly if you think about it) the two gentlemen had taken off out the back door.
One of them now wore a blindfold, and lay paralyzed and sedated in our trauma room, having been shot three times by some fairly pissed-off infantry troops.  When he awoke, he would not be allowed to see his surroundings, or get a feel for the layout of the hospital.  Those caring for him would have nametags removed, as it was a favorite habit of insurgents to pass all sorts of information using a soldier’s name, or make various allegations.
It was different, not like treating a drunk driver or sex offender back home, but trying to give good care to a man who wanted me dead, and would be certain to try if the opportunity presented itself.  It was a game changer.  I started every IV with a pistol on my hip.
I looked back at the corporal.  He stood about five four, a good six inches shorter than me, and a full foot less than the guy on the recruiting poster.  His arms were thick, but he still wore medium sized armor.  I thought mine was bad enough, but this guy had additional Kevlar panels that covered each side of his torso.  The plates alone probably added twelve more pounds.  His short rifle was slung to his chest, but his right hand stayed draped over the pistol grip, index finger straight and off the trigger, but close enough.
The conspicuous thirty round magazine protruding from the bottom was something my soldiers only carried in their pocket, assuming they remembered it at all, and only unloaded it once a month to keep the spring from going bad.
I wondered how much of this kid’s adult life had been spent in a war zone.  If I had been a bartender, I would have asked him for an ID.  He might have been nineteen or twenty.  He had dark eyes and dark hair, with fair, flawless skin.  I speculated about his heritage, as he was some amalgam of two or three different origins.  His mouth turned up slightly at one corner, in a kind of a permanent smirk.  I had worked long enough in a profession dominated by females to know what women find attractive, and this guy was it.  Had he been six feet tall, he would have had a group of nurses following him around.
What I wouldn’t have called him, however, was vibrant.  He moved his head very slowly and deliberately, and his eyes never left his prisoner.  I wasn’t sure he had even blinked.  He reminded me of a coiled snake.
I decided to try some obnoxious humor.  “Somebody need to go back and teach some marksmanship.  This guy is shot three times with only one hit center mass.”
I expected a half-hearted grin or part of a laugh.  The soldier just kept staring at his charge.  His look softened a little, and his reply was deferential.
I don’t know what their problem was, sir,” he said, shrugging one shoulder.  “I killed the other guy.  They didn’t shoot him enough times, I guess.”
There it was.  He wasn’t responding to my joke, he was actually trying to explain why my patient was still alive.  Except for the words themselves, it was normal conversation, and flowed as smoothly as the answer I would have gotten if I had asked him whether or not he had eaten chow today.