Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Here are some of the 5 star reviews for The Crimson Orb:

5.0 out of 5 stars

By Leila Lodencraft

The Crimson Orb is the story of a Quest. Two siblings, a brother and a sister set out to find their mentor, tutor and friend who not only knows about the world but also knows a bit of magic. Nissa, our heroine, is longing to do more of what the boys do, fight with weapons and go on adventures. Little does she know that she's about to do just that. When her friend and mentor, Madoc fails to return from a journey, she and her brother go in search of him. Together they traverse land and sea, meeting and overcoming obstacles as well as meeting and becoming fast friends with Madoc's siblings who join there search.

As they search for Madoc, others are searching for the Crimson Orb, a magic item that does ...something. No one is certain but the legend of what the orb can do grows as does the lust of those who want it to gain power.

As their search takes them far to the north, the grow in both experience and in character, find out about themselves and others in their world around them. Some of what they learn is happy, other lessons are sad.

This is a great start to what promises to be a fun series for the younger set. It's filled with excitement but also things that you can learn at the same time you enjoy NIssa's adventure.This is also a book that you can give an older child without worrying about inappropriate content..I recommend it highly for anyone who likes to "go walkabout."

5.0 out of 5 stars Eminently Readable Otherworldly Adventure, Well Told... June 18, 2014

By Cynthia Reed
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought the Kindle edition of this book to pre-read on a long weekend away before gifting my book-hungry grandchildren with a hard copy. I wasn't quite certain which of them would enjoy it AND I wanted to make sure it was suitable (fairly stuffy parents lol). I've concluded that it's bound for two out of the three of them, one a teenage boy (the swordplay! the wizard!} and one a pre-teen girl (the heroine! the cat! the magic!). I suspect that the third one, who's just nine and still utterly soccer-crazy, will be along to read it in due course.

The fun begins on page one, when our heroine, Nissa, sitting and petting her cat whilst (jealously) watching her brothers practice swordplay, is joined by Holm Manor's wizard, Madoc. Need I say more? A girl who yearns to master the sword, and wizardry? And probably some rapid beating of the young heart along the way? And pesky sisters, too? Yes, you've got it.
By the end of Chapter One, I'd learned the difference between magic and wizardry and that, even in Nissa's world, girls haven't been allowed to do the same things as boys. Bah! But is she going to put up with that? I think not, would you? The story of Nissa and Master Madoc, the wizard (and more), was definitely my favourite part, and central to the story. When Madoc goes missing, the quest begins.

Ever wonder if a wizard is a such a good wizard, why he can't free himself when the baddies get him? Yeah, me, too. Now I know; I think that was somewhere along about Chapter Twenty-Four.

By the end of Chapter Forty-Three, I'd learn how to turn a skirt into wide-legged riding britches, who didn't make it across the Frozen Tundra, where the Crimson Orb was (but how to get it???) and what the swamp inhabitants were doing with it.

5.0 out of 5 stars Joyce Hertzoff Has Real Talent June 23, 2014

By Gorblimey2

What does the Crimson Orb do? We aren't sure and no one else is either, but everyone knows it does something. We follow our heroine, Nissa, on a grand journey to find her mentor and, along the way, the Crimson Orb. She finally gets her wish, to be the equal of the males in her group. Nissa has a lot to learn and faces many battles and challenges along the way. You fall in love with her pluck and intelligence. This is a good story for everyone, but a great story for girls and women. Very empowering.

Joyce Hertzoff did a wonderful job developing the characters and giving us plenty of people to cheer and several to boo. I liked this story a lot and can't wait for the sequel...which I hope will be soon.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Crimson Orb June 17, 2014

By Leona Pence

I thoroughly enjoyed the Crimson Orb by Joyce Hertzoff. The quest of Narissa and her brother, Blane, to find their friend Madoc the wizard, was fraught with peril. They braved the inclement weather of The Frozen Tundra, kidnappers, people obsessed with the Crimson Orb, and yet knew the pangs of budding romance.

This book held my interest as an older person just as much as it will for the younger generation. Kudos go to Joyce for an amazing first novel. I’m looking forward to book two of the series.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Don't miss my interview on Leona Pence's blog, Leona's Chatter, tomorrow:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Crimson Orb is now available here:

Amazon print (createspace):
Smashwords (temp for Apple, Kobo,  etc.)

Within a week it will be available through Barnes and Noble and other distributers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Release of The Crimson Orb is scheduled for June 17

The Crimson Orb, the first novel in my Crystal Odyssey fantasy series, will be released on June 17. A book event will be held at Smallcakes, a cupcake bakery. I'll read from the book, sign copies and distribute fortune cupcakes like the ones in the story. 

Expect lots of pictures!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Herbs in food in medieval times

The herbs used in preparing food have changed somewhat over the years, but some are essential to flavorful cooking. Here are a few that have been used for ages and in various cuisines.

BASIL is one of the most relished of herbs and one that has an important place in herbal lore and legend, spanning many ages and cultures.

CINNAMON is derived from the dried inner bark of the cassia tree, a small evergreen. One of the earliest spices recorded, cinnamon is also one of the most familiar and commonly used.

CORIANDER is a fringy annual. The seeds were used in medieval times for cooking and to deter fevers.

GARLIC is well known and almost universally loved by good cooks across many cultures.

MARJORAM is a tender perennial used  in medieval times in cooking, in spiced wine (hypocras), in brewing beer, and in medicines to 'comfort' the stomach.

ROSEMARY is the slender leaves of a small evergreen shrub and has a well-known legacy in folklore as the herb of remembrance. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Herbs and other plants in medicine

Before modern medicines, all anyone had were those made from natural plants and from animal parts. Angiosperms (flowering plants) were the original source of most plant medicines. Modern medicine, does, however, make use of many plant-derived compounds as the basis for evidence-tested pharmaceutical drugs, and phytotherapy works to apply modern standards of effectiveness testing to herbs and medicines that are derived from natural sources. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.

I live in an area of the country where the traditions include the use of herbal medicines. Native American medicine combines herbs, spirituality, and magic.

It is known that many plants have natural chemicals which are capable of healing. There are 180 different species of wild plants in the Rio Grande region which have medicinal properties used by one of the Pueblo Indian tribes; Zuni Pueblo Indians used fourteen different plant species in the treatment of stomach ache alone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cover Reveal for The Crimson Orb

I received the cover art for my fantasy novel. Take a look:

The book will be available mid-June.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nissa's mother is an herbalist, preparing medicines and salves from the plants growing at the Manor.

Here's part of a visit Nissa makes to her mother's workshop:

My sister and Carys let me approach my mother myself, most likely because they didn't want to be present for what might be a confrontation.

I found her alone in her workshop, brewing some of her medicines and salves from the herbs and other plants she collected once a week: lavender and chamomile, parsley, tansy and mullein, and so many others. The initial bitter scent was replaced by a sweeter one.

Hello, Nissa.” She smiled. “What brings you to my workshop this early in the day?” 

Natural herbal remedies are being used more and more today. How many do you know or use?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Music in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Music played an integral part in the lives of people during medieval times. It was especially popular during celebrations and festivities, and was played during meals because it was thought to aid digestion.

 By the time of the Renaissance, there was an incredible transformation and advancement in music notation and composition. The development of printing made distribution of music possible on a wide scale. Demand for music as entertainment and as an activity for educated amateurs increased with the emergence of a bourgeois class.

Paintings during both eras showed musicians. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Musical instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Some of the characters in my story, The Crimson Orb, play musical instruments. I modeled them after some that were common during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. They include:

Theorbo: A large, six course bass lute with an additional set of seven or eight contrabass strings.  In total there are 13 or 14 sets of strings.  Developed in the late 16th century to provide accompaniment for a new style of singing (musica recitativa), it was quickly adopted throughout Europe and used as a continuo instrument in larger ensembles.

Lute: A plucked string instrument with an oblong, rounded body, a short, fretted neck, and a flat soundboard featuring a rosette.  Its predecessors are the Pandora and the ud.  During the Renaissance, it was the dominant musical instrument for song accompaniment, dance music, consort music, and continuo parts.  John Dowland, the leading lute virtuoso, composed many solo pieces; all lute music was written in tablature.

Crumhorn; Krumhorn: A wind-cap, double reed woodwind instrument of the 16th and 17th centuries.  It has a narrow cylindrical bore and is shaped like the letter J.  Among the most common of its several sizes were the alto, tenor, and extended bass.  Developed in 15th century Italy, it was played by court musicians and in larger town bands.

Have you ever heard any music from that time played on any of these instruments?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Still perfecting my cookie recipe

I made another attempt at making Meecham cookies, this time using Angie Kitts recipe. I substituted butter for the margarine, and a quarter cup ground hazlenuts for a like amount of flour, though. The result was a batter that was impossible to roll out and cut with cookie cutters.

They tasted good, but I'll have to use more flour in my next attempt. Meanwhile, I'm trying to decide whether I should try Ruda stew or vegetable stew next. The first was the stew Nissa made in a ship's galley after she and her brother killed a Ruda, a huge, spiny sea mammal. The meat is supposed to be like venison. The second is a stew she ate growing up at the manor. Any opinions?

Today, Penny Ehrenkranz posted her interview of me on her blog. Take a look:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Search For the Perfect Meecham Cookies - part 2

First attempt

Last week I baked my first batch of cookies.

I used the recipe that came with the cookie cutters. They were a big hit at the SouthWest Writers meeting on Saturday, but next time I'll try Angie Kitts recipe.

In retrospect, I probably should have started with the fortune cupcakes like the ones that gave Nissa and her friends directions in their search for Madoc in The Crimson Orb. After all, it's Chinese New Year. Lexi Steeber even told me about a cupcake pan I could use that would allow me to insert a surprise. Before I do those, though, I'll have to think about what the fortunes should say.

Are you a cookie person or a cupcake person? How do you feel about brownies?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Search for the Perfect Meecham Cookie

My Search for the Perfect Meecham Cookie

In my forthcoming book, The Crimson Orb, my heroine, teenage Nissa Day, and her companions arrive in the town of Meecham. They're seeking the mysteriously missing magic teacher Madoc, but everyone else in town is looking for the legendary Orb.

At the Emporium in Meecham they purchase cookies, which become favorites of everyone.

The cookie is described as a sandwich of one round cookie and another with a hole in the center, with jam between. It's coated with a sugary glaze.

Thanks to Angie Kits in the RECIPES Facebook group, I now have a good recipe for Linzer cookies that can serve as the basis for my own attempts to recreate what I've described in my book.

Angie Kirts
Linzer Tarts

1 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
seedless raspberry preserves
powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Beat margarine at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended. Add flour, beating at low speed until blended.
3. Roll dough into small balls and place on greased cookie sheets, two inches apart. Flatten dough balls with a flat-bottomed cup wrapped in a damp paper towel.
4. Dip a thimble or small round cutter in flour and cut out a small circle in the center of exactly half of the cookies.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (The cookies will be pale. The cut out halves will bake faster so watch closely.) Transfer carefully to wire racks to cool.
6. Spread raspberry preserves on top of solid cookies. Top with remaining cookies, bottom sides down, to make sandwiches. Sift powdered sugar over tops of cookies.

I'll let you all know when I've successfully made my cookies. Until then, what's your favorite cookie?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I'm going to be interviewed on Penny Ehrenkranz blog next month and she sent me a long list of questions to answer before hand. I suppose this is something I should become used to as a published writer. I've been thinking about one question: What inspired you to write your first book?

Inspiration is a personal thing. We all draw our inspiration from different sources. Whatever you do, what's your inspiration?