Saturday Snippets – Coming Soon – Culpepper’s Rebellion

Culpepper4I’m finishing up the final revisions of the fourth book in the Culpepper Saga, Culpepper’s Rebellion.

In the first book of the series, John Culpepper struggles to realize his dreams, never seeing eye-to-eye with his father. His dad sends him to law school, and John hates every moment of it, wishing instead to own a ship and become a merchant between London and the colony of Virginia.

In the second book, the English civil war breaks out, and John’s ship is the only lifeline that saves the family from certain execution.

In the third book, John becomes the patriarch of the family, struggling to hold his family together on two continents.

In this final book, John finds himself in the middle of  Bacon’s Rebellion in Jamestown, Virginia. He is so wrapped up in the Jamestown drama, he doesn’t realize his youngest son is beginning his own rebellion in Carolina. When all is finally calming down in Virginia, John’s son is arrested in London on charges of treason. John’s law training, which he so desperately despised in his youth, becomes the only thing standing between his son’s life and death.

Here’s the first chapter of the new book. Culpepper’s Rebellion will be released October 31, 2015.

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CHAPTER 1

1680, The Tower, London

John followed the guard down the winding hallway. It was narrow and dark with only the light of an occasional torch resting in its iron holder, flickering shadows on the stone walls. Where John could see, the walls looked dark and damp, covered with a slimy layer of green mold, but the musty smell didn’t mask the overwhelming stench of urine and feces. He shook his head and wrinkled his nose at the insult.

As he passed intermittent arched doorways, prisoners yelled at him through small, bar-covered windows and pounded their fists on the wooden doors. Some begged for mercy, others pleaded for food and drink. The desperate voices echoing off the walls should have made John uneasy, but he only felt sheer hopelessness for those imprisoned. He didn’t look up when they called to him. He walked behind the guard with his head down, his heart heavy. How could any man endure this dreadful place? He remembered his older brother serving a short sentence within these walls during the civil war more than thirty years earlier, but in all of John’s seventy-four years, he had never seen the inside of the Tower. The unfortunate occasion that had brought him all the way from Virginia to be here on this day was more terrifying than the actual place.

The guard slowed when he rounded the corner, reaching inside his tunic pocket and noisily producing a ring of iron keys. John waited while the man found the appropriate key and placed it in the keyhole. When he turned it, there was a loud metallic snap. The guard pushed open the door, which moaned softly on its rusted hinges, and John entered.

The small room was lit by only a sliver of a window placed so high on the wall that none could see in or out. As the guard closed and locked the door behind him, John’s heart melted at the sight of the figure lying in a ball on a wooden platform, facing the moldy wall. John assumed the platform was a bed, but there was no blanket, no warmth, no comfort. A mouse scampered across John’s boot and disappeared into the tiniest of holes in the wall. At least the prisoners didn’t have to sleep on the floor with the mice.

“Johnny?” John said quietly.

Johnny sat up and spun around. “Father! What are you doing here?”

“I came to see to your welfare.”

“They’ve charged me with treason.” He ran his fingers through his disheveled curls.

“I know. That’s why I’m here.” His son looked so thin and worn. “You need a lawyer and I know of none better than myself.”

“You hate practicing law.”

“I’d hate it more to see your head on the scaffold.”

“I don’t think you can prevent it. They believe I embezzled the king’s funds.”

“Did you?”

“Of course not.”

“Then we’ll find a way out of this. Your mother will be very displeased with me if I allow you to lose your head.”

Johnny rose and wrapped his arms around John. “Thank you for coming, Father. I hate to admit it…” He paused and swallowed hard. “But for the first time in my life, I’m truly frightened.”

“I am too, son.”

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The first three in the series are available at Amazon. After you read them, please stop by the Culpepper Saga Facebook page to see pictures, paintings, and documents from the real history of John Culpepper.

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Saturday Snippets – John Culpepper the Merchant

5-star-largeJohn Culpepper the Merchant just received a 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite!! You can read it HERE.

I can’t tell you how much reviews mean to us indie authors…especially good reviews. We often learn something from the bad reviews, but mostly not. Good reviews sell books. Period. So for every book you like by ANY author, please leave a review. We all appreciate it.

 

The Merchant ebookAnyway…back to the matter at hand.

John Culpepper the Merchant is the second book in the Culpepper Saga. The first book is about John’s childhood. In this one, he’s all grown up. His family remains in England while he fulfills his childhood dream of sailing back and forth between London and Virginia. Seems peachy, yes? I’m sure it would have been if the king wouldn’t have been angering the masses. A deadly civil war breaks out in England, and John always seems to be on the wrong side of the ocean at the wrong time. By the end of the war when the royalists (yes, John’s family) have been defeated, John’s ship becomes the only lifeline to save the Culpeppers from certain beheading.

Somehow, between the war and the merchant business, John and his wife managed to raise a family. Here’s a snippet of John taking his four boys upstairs to meet their newborn brother.

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1644

Following a hearty breakfast, John climbed the stairs, followed by his rambunctious sons, all wanting to see the new baby. He cracked the door open and found Mary sitting up in bed holding the newborn, her brown hair cascading over her shoulders. Her color was much better after a good night’s sleep.

“Your sons want to see the baby,” John whispered almost apologetically.

“Of course they do. Bring them in.”

John opened the door and the group ran toward the bed. Mary grinned at them and patted the bed for Robbie to climb up. John thought his wife was a saint, or at least had the patience of one.

All the boys looked like their father, but none more so than the new baby. The boys cooed over the infant, and John reminded them repeatedly to keep their voices down. It was a wasted request.

“He looks like you!” Denny exclaimed, looking at Henry.

“What are you saying? That I look like a baby?” Henry challenged.

The baby scrunched up his face at the sound of the voices.

James laughed. “I’ve seen you make that face. He does look just like you.”

Henry punched him in the arm and James punched back.

“Stop it,” John scolded.

Mary looked down the row of children lining her bedside. “Well, I think all my boys look like their handsome father.”

“You’re handsome,” teased Denny, punching James in the arm.

“No, you’re handsome,” James punched back.

“All right, let’s go and let your mother rest.” John picked up Robbie and coaxed the rest of the herd toward the door. Denny and James began poking each other. John handed three-year-old Robbie to Henry and grabbed both misbehavers by their hair.

“Ouch,” they squealed in unison.

“I told you to be quiet and stop acting like…”

“Acting like what?” Denny said in defiance.

“Well…boys. Stop acting like boys.” John laughed at his own lack of parenting skills. Four years of law school, a momentary career as a lawyer, and a decade of commanding a boisterous crew on a merchant ship were no preparation for raising high-spirited boys. He thought about it for a moment and realized that besides his younger sister Frances, who was now a thirty-six-year-old married woman, he had always been the youngest of his generation. He’d never had any younger brothers or cousins to mind. One thing was for certain—Mary had her hands full during John’s lengthy absences, and he suddenly understood why she often pleaded with him to remain home for longer stretches of time. He was exhausted and it was only nine o’clock in the morning.

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The first three books in the Culpepper Saga are available at Amazon. The fourth book will be released October 2015.

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#2 Behind William Freakin’ Shakespeare!

My book I, JOHN CULPEPPER is sitting at #2 behind William Shakespeare…YES, THE William Shakespeare. If for some crazy reason I pass him, I will consider it my best. day. ever. 🙂  Pick it up HERE for $0.99 and make it happen!

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Release Day for John Culpepper, Esquire!!

JC Esquire (1)Today is the release day for my new book, John Culpepper, Esquire!  It is the third in the Culpepper Saga, but is also a stand-alone story. The saga is the life story of the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers and my 10th great-grandfather.

The first book, I, John Culpepper, (on sale for $0.99 through 7/28) tells the story of John’s childhood in England, growing up with a wretched father whom he didn’t see eye to eye with. John always wanted to sail a ship but his father demanded he go to law school or face being disowned.

The second book, John Culpepper the Merchant, continues the tale as John tries to run his merchant business and raise his family while his homeland descends into a bloody and deadly civil war. By the end of the war, John’s ship is the only rescue for his family, now considered traitors.

In this third book, John finally gets his family to safety in Virginia, but their new start isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s the synopsis:

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John Culpepper was a prominent figure in colonial Virginia, a merchant in Jamestown for two decades and a resident since the disastrous civil war that shook England to its core. The Culpepper family, decimated by the war, had known great defeat, but none as heartbreaking as the tragic event that abruptly left John in the position of family patriarch.

He struggled with this newly acquired role, marrying off his nieces to eligible colonialists, sending some of the boys back to England, purchasing a ship for his sons against their mother’s wishes.

Upon the collapse of the English Commonwealth, members of John’s family escorted the exiled prince back to London to be crowned as King Charles II. Would the Culpepper family finally reclaim the power and prestige it had once possessed? And how would John hold his family together on two continents?

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The fourth book in the series, Culpepper’s Rebellion, will take John down a horrible and desperate road, where the law training he despised so much in his youth becomes the only thing standing between his youngest son’s life and death. It will be released in late October 2015.

There will also be a subsequent Culpepper book that is not part of the saga, but will refer back to the characters. The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal will be released in early 2016.

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Saturday Snippet – John Culpepper the Merchant

The Merchant ebookMy new book, John Culpepper the Merchant, takes place in the 17th century, both in the colony of Virginia and in the country of England. England was in the middle of a civil war, and John’s uncle, Sir Alexander Culpepper, was a knight in the king’s army. At the battle of Bridgewater, we witnessed how brave Alexander really was.

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John Culpepper the Merchant

July 1645, Battle at Bridgewater

“Advance the second cavalry!” Goring commanded.

The second group galloped down the hill.

That’s when Alexander saw them on the other side of the stream. Fairfax’s cavalry appeared out of nowhere, crossing the ford with nothing to stop their advance. There was no clanging of armor as with a regular group of horse heading into battle. Alexander knew these soldiers weren’t in armor. The weight would slow down the horses. He had to admit, Fairfax was a brilliant commander. There was no thunder of hooves as the horses were not galloping. The approaching men were dressed in leather jerkins and moved to a strange and ominous sound of marching hooves and creaking leather. A menacing sound sure to make even the most courageous opponent question his bravery.

They advanced four abreast, knee to knee, with four more behind, and four more behind that. There had to be hundreds of them. They looked like demons rising from the very depths of hell, bent on killing each and every royalist. What happened to the day of fighting with honor and valor? When did the parliamentarians stop taking prisoners? When did they start killing every man who crossed their path? The Welsh soldiers were gone. The light guns were gone. The only thing standing between success and defeat were the three groups of horse, two of which were not faring so well against Fairfax’s army.

“Ready your swords, gentlemen!” Alexander yelled to his men who were waiting nervously at the top of the ridge. Nearly half his men were not professional soldiers but farmers. They weren’t used to facing anything this terrifying. He wasn’t sure he had ever faced anything this terrifying. “Steady…” He watched the horses below him advance across the ford, and far in the distance, he recognized a figure dressed all in black astride a white horse. Fairfax. Black Tom, the royalists called him. The man sat tall in his saddle at the back of his army, looking like Satan himself. Alexander felt his adrenaline rise. Today would be the day General Thomas Fairfax paid for his decision to abandon the king’s men. Today would be the day Black Tom took a sword through his black heart.

Alexander’s men waited and watched, their horses prancing nervously. Fairfax’s group of horses easily destroyed Goring’s first line, scattering the men about the marsh like scarecrows. Even horses lay dead. Alexander grimaced as he watched more men fall and some of the horses run off. The second group fought more diligently than the first and Alexander thought for a moment they could win the battle. That’s when he saw the next group of Fairfax’s men on horseback, larger than the first, crossing the stream, again four abreast. There had to be more than two hundred of them.

“Ready, men!” He yelled to his group of sixty men.

Their swords glistened in the sunlight. This would be the day of their greatest victory or their worst defeat.

Alexander took a deep breath, braced himself, and from the pit of his stomach he bellowed, “Charge!”

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John Culpepper the Merchant is available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

For pictures, paintings, and documents of the people and places in the series, visit the Culpepper Saga Facebook page.

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Saturday Snippet – I, John Culpepper

Culpepper_1My new book, I, John Culpepper, has just hit the shelves! I’m so excited.

If you haven’t heard anything about it yet, John Culpepper is my 10th great-grandfather, born in England in 1606 and the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers. The book is the first of four in the Culpepper Saga, the story of John’s life, beginning on the day of his birth, through the settlement of the American colonies, the turbulence of the English Civil War, and the rebellions in Virginia and Carolina which one-hundred years later would lead to the Revolution. It is a series of historical fiction, filled with drama and danger. Yet, there are moments of lightness and humor in John’s life.

When John was fifteen, he attended law school in England, and he was under the understandable impression that his headmaster resembled a goat. The joke between him and his friends carries on for quite a few chapters, as young boys typically can’t let a good laugh go without beating it to death with a stick. At one point, they played a prank on the man just as John’s father stormed into the school, angry about John’s behavior.

Below is one of my favorite scenes featuring John, his brother Thomas, his father Johannes, and Headmaster Barnaby.

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Johannes Culpepper stomped in through the archway of the library door. His heavy boots echoed off the stone floor and paneled walls and disturbed the quiet room, causing every student to look up from their studies. Johannes’s sheer size was daunting, and in his broad-shouldered jerkin with his large hat, he looked even more intimidating. His face was red and his eyes were narrowed. His jaw twitched in anger. He marched straight to the table in the center of the room where John, Thomas, and their friends sat.

Thomas looked up in surprise. “Father! What brings you here?”

“I’ve gotten word in London that someone is misbehaving.” He glared across the table at John.

“No, Father, that’s not true,” countered John.

“We will discuss this outside. Both of you, come with me.” He marched out the back door and into Temple Garden with John and Thomas trailing close behind. By the time they reached the middle of the yard, faces of schoolboys had pressed against the diamond-shaped panes of glass, watching and listening for the heated argument that was surely to begin.

Johannes stood with his hands on his hips, chastising the boys about something, but the students inside the library couldn’t make out what he was saying. Johannes’s face was red and veins bulged from his temples, but John didn’t look angry. As a matter of fact, he looked quite amused.

John and Thomas faced their father, and directly behind him, picketed in the middle of the garden, was a white goat, dressed in a black robe with gold cords around its neck. Next to the goat stood Barnaby, his hands on his hips, his face purple with anger as he glared at the goat. The goat looked up at Barnaby and let out a loud “baaaa!” John couldn’t stifle his laughter. He turned away from his father and pretended to have a coughing fit.

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I, John Culpepper is available at Amazon.

Please stop by the Culpepper Saga Facebook page to see photos and to find more information about the settings and characters.

It’s Release Day! It’s Release Day!

Culpepper_1I’m so excited!

Today is release day for my new book, I, John Culpepper!! Ahoy, Sailor!

I began writing this book in August of last year, but the more I researched, the more interesting stuff I found, so…the book…became FOUR BOOKS. It morphed into the Culpepper Saga, beginning with John’s childhood, segueing into the English Civil War, moving across the ocean to the colony of Virginia, and finally finding inner peace and acceptance. It seems like I’ve been writing the story forever, and when I put it like that, I guess I have been…well, at least 60 years worth of writing. The tale begins in 1606 in England and is the life-story of my 10th great-grandfather, John Culpepper.

The Culpepper family has been traced by many genealogists back to the 12th century in England. They were a political family who served the monarchy for generations. Though my favorite Culpepper patriarch has always been John Culpepper of Wigsell, who lived in the 16th century, I ended up writing the book series about his grandson, also named John Culpepper. Maybe someday I’ll go back and tell his grandpa’s story.

John was born in Kent, England in 1606 and was surrounded by a cast of interesting family members including his above mentioned grandfather, his brother Thomas who served as a colonel in the king’s army, his uncle Sir Alexander Culpepper who was a knight under King James and King Charles I, and his cousin Lord Culpepper first baron of Thoresway who served under three kings. But none made a bigger impression on John than his overbearing father, Johannes, who was a prominent lawyer in London. His father insisted John attend law school, but John wanted instead to command a mighty ship. This dream strained their relationship, and his father threatened to disown him when it came time to purchase a ship. Instead of receiving daddy’s help, John got funding from his older brother, Thomas, and records show the name of the ship being the Thomas and John. Records also show John in the colony of Virginia upon the occasion of his father’s death.

The first book in the Culpepper Saga, I, John Culpepper, is the story of John’s childhood, his strained relationship with his father, meeting the lovely woman who would eventually become his wife, and starting his career as a ship merchant. In the three sequels, we will find John’s ship becoming a lifeboat that keeps the family from certain execution during the English Civil War, and John’s unwanted law-school education becoming the only thing standing between life and death for his youngest son. In retrospect, maybe John’s father wasn’t the bad guy John always thought him to be.

Everything happens for a reason, especially for John Culpepper.

I, John Culpepper is available at Amazon.

For photos and paintings of the people and places in the series, visit the Culpepper Saga Facebook page.