Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trip of A Lifetime Anthology

Sleeping Cat Books is bringing out their anthology Trip of a Lifetime next Saturday, 1 December. My short story, The Field of Reeds, is part of the collection. I haven't read the book yet but it seems the stories are quite varied and the work looks like a lot of fun. It was certainly a great experience working with the editor, Ms. Sarah Holroyd. The following is the promo for the book and the contest they're running for it. Hope you enjoy.

Take the Trip of a Lifetime!

And you can win a free travel mug! Announcing the release of Trip of a Lifetime: An Anthology.

What is your idea of the trip of a lifetime? Is it relaxing on a sandy Caribbean beach? Traveling through parts of Europe? Or do you prefer to stay closer to home and travel through your imagination? Sometimes the trip of a lifetime can be the one you never expected to take. And sometimes a trip becomes quite memorable for the wrong reasons.

In this collection of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction, you will find our contributors' ideas of the "trip of a lifetime." Perhaps you'll find your own ideas in these pages, or perhaps we'll spark the desire for you to go out and make your own memories!

To celebrate the release of this anthology in both paperback and ebook formats, Sleeping Cat Books will send a Trip of a Lifetime travel mug to one reader chosen at random (see website for image). The rules for entering this drawing are below.

Trip of a Lifetime: An Anthology is now available in paperback ( and for Kindle (, NOOK (, and Kobo (

Rules for Entry

• One entry per paperback copy ordered.

• Only orders placed through Sleeping Cat Books ( are eligible for entry.

• Orders placed and paid in full prior to 12:01 am Saturday, 1 December 2012 are eligible.

• Contributors to this anthology and their family members are eligible provided they place orders through the website at full retail cost.

• The winner will be chosen at random on 3 December 2012 from all of the eligible entries. The winner's first name will be announced on the Sleeping Cat Books blog ( that day.

• In the event that we are unable to contact the winner by 10 December, a second name will be chosen at random and announced on that day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cats in the Ancient World

Although it has been commonly accepted that cats were first domesticated in Egypt 4000 years ago, their History among human beings goes back much further. Wild cats are now known to have lived among the people of Mesopotamia over 100,000 years ago and to have been domesticated there approximately 12,000 BCE at about the same time as dogs, sheep, and goats. Archaeological excavations in the past ten years have provided evidence that the Near Eastern Wildcat is the closest relative of the modern-day domestic cat and was bred by Mesopotamian farmers, most probably as a means of controlling pests, such as mice, which were attracted by grain supplies. The writer David Derbyshire cites a 2007 CE research project in which, “the study used DNA samples from 979 wild and domestic cats to piece together the feline family tree. They looked for markers in mitochondrial DNA - a type of genetic material passed down from mothers to kittens which can reveal when wild and domestic cat lineages were most closely related.” This project was headed by Dr. Andrew Kitchener, a Zoologist at the National Museums of Scotland, who writes, "This shows that the origin of domestic cats was not Ancient Egypt - which is the prevailing view - but Mesopotamia and that it occurred much earlier than was thought. The last common ancestor of wildcats and domesticated cats lived more than 100,000 years ago” (Derbyshire). Dr. Kitchener’s findings built upon the evidence of cat’s Domestication provided by the discovery in 1983 CE of a cat skeleton in a Grave dating to 9,500 BCE on the island of Cyprus. This find, made by the archaeologist Alain le Brun, was important because Cyprus had no indigenous cat population and it is unlikely that settlers would have brought a wild cat, by boat, to the island....

So begins my article, `Cats in the Ancient World', published yesterday through Ancient History Encyclopedia. This is probably the longest article I've ever written for the site and I find it strange that an article on cats should be longer than pieces I've written on the history of Mesopotamia or the Maya. Credit for this flood of inspiration has to go to my wife, Betsy, a long-time cat lover, who has filled the house with cat statuary, cat literature, and, yes, four actual cats. These cats, Draco, Eggnog, Little Kitty, and Luna, also deserve a share in the credit as they actually left me alone during the writing of the piece instead of, as usual, annoying and distracting me.

The full article may be found here:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Andrew de Moray: A Hero Eclipsed

Long before Mel Gibson's 1995 film `Braveheart', the name of William Wallace was synonymous with freedom and the fight for Scottish independence. There is, however, another hero of the First War of Independence in Scotland who is less known and too often overlooked. His name was Andrew de Moray and his contributions to Scottish autonomy have for too long been eclipsed by the greater fame of Wallace. Jane Porter's novel, The Scottish Chiefs, published in 1810, drew heavily on the earlier work of the poet known as Blind Harry, The Acts and Deeds of the Illustrious and Valiant Champion Sir William Wallace, published in 1477 at the court of James IV of Scotland. Harry's work seems to have attributed to Wallace many of de Moray's achievements and, in time, this poetic work of fancy came to be viewed as history.

The theme of Celtic Guide Magazine this month is Celtic Heroes and my piece on Andrew de Moray is among the contributions. I am in no way trying to diminish the accomplishments of William Wallace but, rather, hoping to contribute to the efforts to recognize the heroic sacrifices made by Andrew de Moray, right down to his losing his life after the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge. This battle, a resounding victory for the Scots, has long been considered the work of Wallace's genius when, actually, it seems far more probable it was de Moray's work.  There are many other very interesting pieces in the magazine such as James Blake Weiner's article on Flora MacDonald and Simon Andrew Stirling's piece on King Arthur. The link to the Celtic Guide site is here:

My article begins:

Among the great heroes of Scotland, the name of William Wallace looms large but there is another man, equally deserving of honor, few have heard of - Andrew de Moray. The Battle of Stirling Bridge on 11 September 1297 has come down to us through history as a resounding Scottish victory over the numerically superior English army and credit for this feat has been traditionally attributed to the genius of Wallace. It should be noted, however, that all of Wallace’s triumphs up until Stirling Bridge were guerilla actions, not full-scale field engagements, and that, after Stirling Bridge, he never won another battle. At Falkirk, in 1298, his forces were massacred on the field by the army of Edward I making expert use of the Welsh longbow and, at the Battle of Roslyn in 1303, Wallace refused to command and offered only tactical suggestions which, interestingly, were in keeping with a guerilla fighter, not a field commander. Every successful major siege and field engagement throughout 1297, including Stirling Bridge, was planned and executed by Andrew de Moray...