Thursday, August 30, 2012

Medieval Names and Titles


Still shot from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
When I started writing Shadows of Valor, I didn't know much about medieval names and what people were generally called. Heck, I didn't even know if first and last names were used. Well, in England at least, first and last names were used, and they weren't any different than what we use today. But where our general contemporary titles are usually "mister" and "misses," they were a bit different in centuries past (not taking into account that some royal and knight titles are still used today in some instances). 

Basic titles of the working class were "master" and "mistress," among a few others. A person could be called by his first name or by his profession. Example: John Smith, the butcher, could be called simply JOHN, MASTER SMITH or MASTER BUTCHER. Jane Smith, the baker, could be called JANE, MISTRESS SMITH or MISTRESS BAKER.

There were general titles for someone without using their name as well (much like today's ma'am or sir). For a man they were SIR (if he was a knight), MASTER, GOODMAN, GAFFER (for an older man, it was short for "grandfather"), FATHER, LAD (for a young boy) and YOUNG MASTER (for a young boy). 

A woman could be called LADY, GOODWIFE, GAMMER (for an older woman, it was short for "grandmother"), MOTHER, LASS, MISTRESS, MAIDEN, MAID and YOUNG LASS.

Titles held by noblemen and noblewomen were generally "lord" and "lady," among others. Titles specific to nobles were LORD, MILORD ("my lord"), LADY, MILADY ("my lady"), NOBLE SIR, NOBLE LADY, MADAM, and GOOD GENTLES (if speaking to more than one noble person).

I'm sure there are other titles I have not discussed, but these are the ones I used in my story. You can try some of them out on your friends or at the next medieval fair. Have fun with them.

An extra note about medieval times: People swore by just about anything they owned, held dear or respected. Example: "He swore by his sword that he spoke the truth, but verily she felt his aura emitted a lie," or "She pulled back from his bruising grip, eyes piercing the brute, and swore by her honor he'd rue the day he ever laid a hand on her."

Shadows of Valor will be released July 27th, 2013!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reading Tolkien's "The Hobbit" to my kids

Reading THE HOBBIT to my young children.

In preparation for "The Hobbit" movies coming out, my husband and I decided to reread J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" (an excellent classic!). That's not the most wonderful part, however. We read the book aloud with our oldest children present , ages 7 and 4, to see if they'd pay attention. I was shocked that they actually sat and listened (while coloring quietly in coloring books) to a story without pictures and with writing meant more for teens and older. And to prove they weren't just being polite to their mommy, when I stopped reading each night, they protested and shouted for "more hobbit" "more Bilbo" and even talked about the what they liked about the story. *sniff sniff* Brought a tear to my eye (well figuratively). We are now over half-way through the novel and aching for more.

Update December 2014: Reading it yet AGAIN before the second of the three-part movie comes out. This time, my now 8-year-old is reading the book herself for about 20 minutes before I take over and continue the story for her and her 5-year-old sister to listen to. They love it and so do I. Can't wait to see the second movie. The first was AWESOME!

Prank Call Retaliation

I received a prank call today. I answered the unknown number and a young lady yelled something about "loving Lady Gaga" before hanging up. I thought, "Stupid teens!" Yes, I could have ignored it, but I chose to act while I was EXTREMELY annoyed! I called her number back and she answered. I asked why she called a person she didn't know only to yell what she did. She hung up on me. I called back again and she told me to stop calling her before hanging up again, but I wasn't swayed. I sought answers, and besides, SHE called ME first. Finally, the third time I asked for her parents. She told me she was 23-years old. I told her to GROW up and that I'd stop calling her if she wouldn't prank call again. I also said I had her number on file and that I'd hand it over to the police for harassment if she called me again. She said, "Okay" and we hung up. I looked her number up on the internet and she was someone from McCammon, Idaho, U.S.A. That's as far as I went because there was no real harm done (and I'm not a stalker), but I've hopefully scared an immature 23-year old (if she really was that age) into not abusing her phone again. Lesson learned . . . hopefully.

Yeah, don't prank call an ex-cop because I don't put up with that crap! I'll retaliate! *smile*

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


SIMPLE BAKED APPLE: A MEDIEVAL DESSERT (makes 1 – duplicate as needed)

Photo Credit:
Patrick and Gina have a super tasty version of the baked apple here. 
One of my favorite medieval desserts that's still eaten today, and that I LOVE, is the baked apple. Medieval food was cooked over open flame on spits, metal platters, grates, pots, or in brick ovens. The closest a modern person has to these items are usually pots and pans on the stove, a gas or electric oven and a grill. So I will simply explain the recipe with the use of modern appliances, satisfied with the knowledge that the dish has ancient origins.

One medium apple (tart or sweet)
2 Tablespoons sugar (or brown sugar if desired)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving the skin on the apple, dig out the core and seeds, leaving a half-inch of it at the bottom to keep the sugar mixture from falling through. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and pour into the middle of the apple. Place in a small baking dish and pour a ¼ inch of water into bottom of the dish so apple is sitting in the water*. Bake about 45 minutes or until apple is to desired softness. Drizzle the apple-syrup accumulated in bottom of pan over the apples. Enjoy with some modern ice cream :-).

*You can also STEAM the apple in a COVERED pot on the stove, or even in the microwave, rather than bake it – using about the same amount of water in the bottom and steaming for a little less time.

MODERN VARIATION: BAKED APPLE DUMPLING - My personal favorite is to PEEL and completely CORE the apple, place it on a rolled out 8 by 8-inch square of pie crust pastry dough rolled to 1/8-inch thick (homemade or store bought) then pour sugar/cinnamon mixture into the center of the apple. Wrap the entire apple in the pie pastry, covering it completely. Bake in ungreased dish (NO water in the bottom) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30-40 minutes (45-60 for large apples) until surrounding crust begins to golden (NOT BROWN). Remove and eat with vanilla ice cream. Tastes just like apple pie!

Pre-baked Apple Dumplings - Photo by Elsie Park
Baked Apple Dumplings -Photo by Elsie Park

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Geometry Joke (sort of)

Medieval Geometry Joke:

Pearson's Renaissance Shoppe:

There were three Medieval kingdoms on the shores of a lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake, which the kingdoms had been fighting over for years. Finally, the three kings decided that they would send their knights out to do battle, and the winner would take the island.


The night before the battle, the knights and their squires pitched camp and readied themselves for the fight. The first kingdom had 12 knights, and each knight had 5 squires, all of whom were busily polishing armor, brushing horses, and cooking food. The second kingdom had 20 knights, and each knight had 10 squires. Everyone at that camp was also busy preparing for battle. At the camp of the third kingdom, there was only one knight, with his squire. This squire took a large pot and hung it from a looped rope in a
tall tree. He busied himself preparing the meal, while the knight polished his own armor.

When the hour of the battle came, the three kingdoms sent their squires out to fight (this was too trivial a matter for the knights to join in). The battle raged, and when the dust cleared, the only person left was the lone squire from the third kingdom, having defeated the squires from the other two kingdoms.

I guess this just proves that the “squire” of the “high-pot-and-noose” is equal to the sum of the “squires” of the other two sides.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Writing and Juggling a Family

Fellow writer, Christopher Loke, author of The Housekeeper's Son, wrote a wonderful article about making time to write while juggling other responsibilities in life. It's full of great tips for both novice and bestselling writers. I've taken quite a few things to heart from his words, especially as they apply to being a parent. Here's what he has to say:

Let’s face it, we writers wear many hats. Apart from being the writer, we are also the parent, the caregiver, the breadwinner, the college student, the educator, and the whatever-daytime-job-that-keeps-the-bread-on-the-table. Yup, it’s true. Before we get famous and earn loads of money from our books, we must first learn to juggle between our responsibilities and our passion effectively. And even after we achieve that wondrous dream of being published, the juggling continues. It’s a never-ending saga that is called life—life of an author, to be exact.

Being an author, a parent, and the executive editor for a young and innovative house, I find my responsibilities piling up while my day does not get any longer. So, I’ve since worked up a routine that works well for me; it lets me be a parent, a writer, and an executive editor all in one, quite satisfyingly. While I can’t and don’t represent every author out there, here are some of the things I recommend for my fellow authors:

Recognizing and Executing the Common Denominator
The common denominator is the one thing that helps connect all of your responsibilities together through a single mutual interest. If you are an artist, your common denominator would be art. If you are a carpenter, your common denominator would most likely be woodwork. And if you are a computer programmer, your common denominator would be computer games. For accountants, your common denominator would be mathematics or numbers. You get the gist.

Once you find your common denominator, you can now then use it in everything you do. This common denominator not only fuels your passion, it will also make your other activities something you’d enjoy doing. For example, say, you’re a computer programmer, and your passion is computer games. You’re passionate about it, but you can’t be spending too much time playing games (either for leisure or professionally), because you still have a family to take care of. Well, my suggestion will be to play your favorite games with your family. And teach them about your passion. Know that not everyone will love what you do, but they will still have fun learning about your passion. If you are an accountant, you’ll help your kids understand the fun in numbers. Play a number game, or play a treasure hunt where the clues come from solving simple math problems. Fun, fun, fun, and yet, you’re still doing what you love to do most.

The idea is to keep the inspiration coming.

My common denominator is literature since that is the core of what I do. As such, I try to apply literature in my daily life. First, as a parent, I read with my son. That’s my quality time with my child. We’d read a few chapters a week from his favorite books and some from my manuscripts. That way, I’m also “working” while being a parent. We’d exchange ideas on any particular manuscript we’re reading, and encourage each other to talk about what works and what doesn’t for us. You’d be surprised what you learn from reading with your child. And as you continue to read, you also gain more knowledge and inspiration as a writer.

Setting Aside Writing Time
As authors, writing should be an occupation, not a hobby. So, treat it as one. When I am working on a novel, I set aside three hours each day to write, usually at nights. It’s the quiet time I have all to myself. But all work and no play makes me a dull man. So, I keep it real. For every six days I work on my novel, I’d schedule a day off. In my case, it’ll be Sundays. Since I’m usually at home on Saturdays I set my writing hours a little longer that day. All in all, I recommend setting a set amount of time each week on writing. That way, you’ll be able to write your novel and still spend time doing other fun things.

Setting a good and workable schedule is good. But a schedule is no good if it is not followed. In life, we are often faced with distractions. They’re those impromptu activities that may deflect us from our daily writing routine. Whenever that happens, never back down and give yourself the excuse to not write. Imagine yourself being offered a smoke, and you’re not a smoker. No means no. End of story. If you can say no to that, you can sure say no to anything that takes you away from your writing.

Family Support
Whatever you do in life, nothing gives you more encouragement than good’ol family support. In my case, I owe it all to my wife. She supports me by taking care of everything in the house so I might write a few hours a day. Because she believes in me and my book. And when I feel like taking a lazy day, she’d be there to remind me of my goals, and I’d be on my feet again. If writing is important to you, let your family and friends know. Talk about it. You’d be surprised by the amount of respect and awe you’ll receive.

Okay, enough said. I’m off to do some writing, after which it’s The Game of Thrones marathon with family and good friends! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My review of The Housekeeper's Son

My review of The Housekeeper's Son by author and editor Christopher Loke.
I will have Christopher as a guest this Fiday, August 17th. Fellow author Christopher Loke who wrote The Housekeeper's Son.

The Housekeeper’s Son, a murder mystery by Christopher Loke, grips the reader’s interest from the first page before the story is methodically unfolded, keeping the audience wondering about the full truth until the bitter end. Loke’s brilliant flip-flopping between 1st and 3rd person, a practice many authors dare not attempt, is done with an aptitude only few can perform. Executing this method with precision, the story’s mystery is enhanced to its fullest.

Although Loke chooses a stereotyped Mormon town for his backdrop, the issues brought up are universal. Any reader can relate, in some way, to the controversies involved, for they have occurred in all other times, communities, countries, religions and races. A little more research could have been done, however, on LDS (Mormon) Church policies and doctrines, as some of them were misrepresented, like passing out flyers in church, which is simply not allowed.

While the mystery is wrapped up with satisfaction, the reader is left with an eerie thought about his own surroundings. Does he really know his neighbor? Can he trust those he calls friend? Have forbidden secrets penetrated his own home and family? Is murder ever justified? It makes one ponder. How will The housekeeper’s Son with Loke’s cunning script affect your seemingly secure world?

My Writing Tips

Here are a few things I wish I’d applied when I first started writing my story. I could have spared myself COUNTLESS rewrites.

- Don’t overuse the word “that.” Read the sentence without the “that” and if it still makes sense, cut it out. Example: “My friend said that she’d be there soon.” Taking out “that”: “My friend said she’d be there soon.” Better. Less wordy. Still makes sense.

- Don’t give all of your information right away, but let it unfold little by little, creating questions and mystery for your reader. Just be sure to answer the questions sooner or later. Don’t leave the reader hanging after the book is finished, wondering about a mystery introduced at the beginning.

- Don’t dump all the scene setting information into one paragraph, but weave the details into the dialogue and action, letting it unfold little by little. Once in a while, you can set a few scenes in a paragraph or two, but use this tactic sparingly.

- Use very few –ly verbs. Example: “She QUICKLY ran to the store.” Better = “She ran to the store.” The second example is less wordy, simple and straight forward. By saying “ran” one already assumes it’s quickly. Stating quickly is redundant. You can use SOME –ly verbs, but use them sparingly and always ask yourself if you can write the sentence another way to possibly leave it out.

- Show, don’t tell: Don’t say, “She was frustrated.” Instead say, “She placed her hands on hips and huffed a short breath. With pursed lips and eyebrows turned inward, she walked away shaking her head.” Nowhere in the second example was the word “frustrated” mentioned, but the reader knows she was because I described/showed her expressions and actions. This type of description uses more words, but with proper execution, it’s not “wordy.”

- If you picture a scene in your head as being boring, your reader will think it’s boring too. Change it, take out unnecessary drivel, or completely rewrite the scene.

- Have a catchy first line/paragraph. It’s what will set the mood for the reader and immediately draw them into your story.

- The reader should be introduced to your main characters by the first few pages or at least the first chapter, no later. When you introduce them, state their problem right away so the reader knows what the characters are up against. Also, make your characters have flaws so they appear human and will relate to the reader. No one is perfect so your characters shouldn’t be either, but they should be better (or worse in some cases) by the end of your story. No character should remain static from beginning to end.

- Beware of clich├ęs. Example: “It was raining cats and dogs.” Instead, make your own description: “Rain drops plunged to earth from dark clouds, pummeling the tin roof with a resonance that rivaled the accompanying thunder.”

- Don’t OVERUSE similes (descriptions using “like” or “as”). Some similes are all right, and needed at times, but you shouldn’t feel you MUST COMPARE everything to something else. “The aged woman’s tanned face bore numerous wrinkles and deep creases, much like a prune.” You really don’t need the “much like a prune,” for the first part was description enough. It is, however, at the writer’s discretion, but too many similes can get redundant.

There are so many other things I’ve learned along the way from books and writer’s conferences, but those mentioned above stood out in my mind as I wrote this post. I am not perfect, and I still struggle with these points in my own writing, but I try to clear them up before handing in my work to a publisher. Hope the tips help.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Press Release for Shadows of Valor

PROVO, UT—Jolly Fish Press (JFP) is excited to announce the acquisition of Elsie Park's debut novel, Shadows of Valor, a beautifully written historical novel set in medieval England.

In Shadows of Valor, Park throws the reader into a quiet medieval town. On the surface, the town is content and booming, but within its roots, something dark is stirring. This darkness threatens to overpower the once-peaceful town, until a mysterious figure appears: The Shadow.

Blurring the psychological haze of justice and revenge, Park's debut novel brings new meaning to the Dark Knight. As the legendary shadow of Graywall is summoned to protect the spawning deceit of the kingdom, the reader is taken on a chivalric adventure through the muddy and mired streets of medieval England, where evil is as inescapable as the shadow that lurks behind its walls.

From a wildland firefighter to a security guard, police officer, and receiving a degree in botany and zoology, Park has done it all. It was only a matter of time before she wrote her first novel. While on a hiatus to Italy, Park was inspired by the thick presence of ancient and medieval history. She felt it in its walls, and slowly, yet surely, a story was born.

Shadows of Valor release date is September 7, 2013.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

More Medieval Terms


MERRY/BY MY FAITH/‘SWOUNDS/BY HEAVEN = OH MY GOSH (Example: Merry! Look at the time! By heaven, I’ve gotta go, so fare ye well.)

NE’ER = NEVER (Example: I ne’er thought I’d get hooked on social media, but its addictive power is akin to the taste of chocolate which is oft sweet, but sometimes bitter.)

AS YOU WILL = WHATEVER YOU SAY (Example: You prefer to text all day long? As you will, ‘tis no business of mine.)

GOOD DAY/MORROW/EVE = HELLO (Example: Good day, my fine followers. And how be your families?)

TOSSPOT = DRUNKARD (Example: Yon tosspot just tossed his cookies into a pot.) or (Texting while driving is as dangerous as a tosspot behind the wheel.)

VERILY = TRULY (Example: Verily this social media thing be a test of “wills” – Will I blog or will I tweet?)

WHEREFORE = WHY/FOR WHAT REASON (Example: Wherefore hast thou posted such embarrassing comments? Hast thou no thought for thy dignity?)

YONDER, YON = THERE (Example: Look yonder, beyond thy electronic devise, there’s a whole other world out there.)

BETIMES = IN A SHORT TIME/SOON, IN GOOD TIME/EARLY (Example:  I awoke betimes to the whimpering of my wee babe. I hope I can rock her back to sleep.)

These may be it on the terms for a while. I've pretty much covered the ones I used in my story.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

THE HOBBIT: Awesome trilogy from Peter Jackson!

The 2012-2014 movie versions of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien are directed by the awesome Peter Jackson. In these movies, Jackson brings in portions of Tolkien's appendices, as well as an original character made especially for the screen play (Tauriel a female wood elf). The wonderful cast includes:

Cate Blanchett - Galadriel
Orlando Bloom - Legolas
Evangeline Lily - Tauriel
Luke Evans - Bard
Benedict Cumberbatch - voice of Smaug & the Necromancer
Manu Bennett - Azog
and many more great actors for the dwarves, elves, orcs and goblins!

The first part, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, came out December 14, 2012. The second part, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, December 13, 2013, and the third, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (the title having previously been "The Hobbit: There and Back Again") December 17, 2014. SO GREAT!

I love the music in THE HOBBIT, especially "Song of the Lonely Mountain" performed by Neil Finn. Here is the song performed by two talented groups:
-A female vocalist (,
-The group "str8voices" (


If you enjoy music and medieval stories, here are links to the book trailers and music for my medieval romantic fiction 

Official book trailer for SHADOWS OF VALOR:
The short video directed by Yelena Baykova features the original score that I composed for it, the two cover models (Paulina Baykova and Brady Knighton) featured on the cover of SHADOWS OF VALOR as Elsbeth and The Shadow, and the narration by Ashley N. Grant. The still shots depict scenes from the novel, and the scenery in the video gives the appearance of a painted background, perfect for a medieval story. I love it so much! So fun!
One Brave Knight ballad I wrote for Shadows of Valor:

My personal book trailers #1 and #2:

Sheet music to all three ballads in my book: