Note: The following books can be ordered through the publisher, Twilight Times Books, www.amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com, and through your local bookstore. They are also available on Kindle and Nook.
*Winner: NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, 2016
Twilight Times Books, 2015
Etienne Dolet (1509-1546), the son of a cloth-seller in Orléans, France, showed great promise as a child. His father paid to have him educated by the eminent humanist, Nicolas Bérault, a specialist in Marcus Tullius Cicero’s thought and writing. Etienne mastered Latin, became a fine scholar of Cicero, and went on to study with Simon Villanovanus at the University of Padua in Italy. After his master’s death, he worked for a time as secretary to Bishop Jean de Langeac in Venice and Limoges, after which he went to the University of Toulouse to study law. The Lutheran reform movement had gained traction in France, and the Gallican branch of the Church of Rome reacted violently. In Toulouse, the Inquisition was particularly active. One of the university’s finest professors was accused of heresy and burned at the stake. Etienne witnessed the execution, and his revulsion launched him on the path of rebellion that would ultimately doom him. He gave two public lectures in which he attacked the university administrators, the clergy, the city council, and Gascony in general for barbarity far from true Christian behavior. He was imprisoned—accused of fomenting a public disturbance and also of heresy. Released thanks to the intervention of moderates, he fled to Lyon, a city more tolerant of modern ideas and the French center of fine printing (a new art, less than 100 years old). He apprenticed himself to master printer Sebastien Gryphius and afterwards set himself up as an independent printer to King Francis I. He married a printer’s daughter, Louise Giraud and had a son, Claude. His support for those who believed that the Roman Church needed reform from within, and his publication of the Bible in French translation (the Church wanted to keep it in Latin as the sole domain of the clergy) brought him again to the Inquisition’s attention. Fellow printers were jealous of his success and furious that he took the part of the print-shop workers in their quest for higher wages. They framed him by sending two boxes of heretical books to Paris, boldly labeled with his name. The Inquisition seized him, tried him, condemned him and burned him at the stake on his 37th birthday.
* * *
Anselm, a Metamorphosis
Twilight Times Books, 2013
*Winner: NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, 2014; Finalist: New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, 2014
I grinned at Sally, the dean’s attractive secretary-receptionist, eyeing her cleavage spilling out of a crisp, white blouse. She stood, leaving her desk to cross the small but neat outer office to the filing cabinet in the corner. She turned to give me a better view of her seductive nylon-sheathed legs and her shapely hips in a tight yellow skirt. She glanced over her shoulder, rolling her eyes with a playful head-toss. I knew she liked what she saw, and I reciprocated. She pulled a file, swiveled those hips and returned to the desk.
“What does the dean need me for, Sally? It’s Saturday.”
“Don’t know, Eric . . . uh, Professor Behrens. You’ve been naughty, it seems. He was grumpy when he called me to come to work and told me to contact you.”
“I hope this won’t last long. I’m on my way to play a round of golf with Jim Stevenson.”
“Oh, yes, Professor Stevenson. He . . .” She was interrupted by the buzzer. She picked up the phone. “Yes . . .? Yes, he’s here. I’ll send him in.” She looked at me, holding her hand over the receiver. “He’ll see you now. Watch out; he sounds angry.”
* * *
Historical Novels – Romance:
Apache Lance, Franciscan Cross
Twilight Times Books, 2005
* WILLA Literary Award Finalist, 2006
* 2007 New Mexico Book Award Finalist in two categories:
(a) Best Historical Fiction and (b) Best Book on the Southwest.
Her first raid as an Apache woman warrior!
Ahuila smiled in spite of her intense concentration. None of the ten in her father’s raiding party knew she was there, least of all Naiche, her father. He’d ordered her to stay behind with the rest of the tribe. Raids were too dangerous, he insisted, though he’d been her trainer. Of course he’d say that—she was the last member of his family and he loved her—but a father could love too much, for too long. She’d seen sixteen summers and was ready to take her slain brother’s place. Besides, this raid was far less dangerous than most.
For three days she’d followed the horses on foot, loping undetected in their wake. By day her wiry body responded to the enormous demands she placed on it. Each night her skills were tested to the utmost as she crept with practiced stealth toward the raiding party’s camp. She had become her brother, in a way, but she’d always bested him at riding, shooting the bow or hurling a lance, and why not? Her guides and guardians had all been men since her mother’s death ten years earlier. She dressed like them; moved like them. They treated her with more respect than she’d earn as a chieftain’s daughter.
Twilight befriended her as she inched forward, downwind of the horses. It was second nature to study the path ahead: no rustling leaves or rolling rocks, never a snapping twig. There, in a clearing ahead, her father’s raiders were cinching multi-colored saddles on the horses once again. Their preparations for battle were unmistakable. She watched them mount, then saw her father point south.
Her pulse raced. This was it; they were going for the attack.
* * *
Seven Cities of Mud
Twilight Times Books, 2008
*2008 New Mexico Book Award Finalist in Historical Fiction.
Poli’s shadow was the only thing that moved in the vast surrounding desert. Sun god Taiowa beat down almost overhead, shrinking the shadow-self from a slender trailing silhouette to a squat pool of darkness, the distorted image of a pueblo woman bearing a basket on her head. A second shadow swooped across the desert, then another, swift and fleeting. She lowered the basket of herbs to watch. Buzzards circled above, blots on the sapphire vault of sky, riding updrafts and gliding on the breeze. Something dead must be close by, but who or where was of no concern. Not newly dead. Older dead had surely found their places in the Spirit World. She replaced the basket and trudged on, climbing the mountain slope.
The trail wound upward along the steep cliff-side and narrowed to a ledge with a sheer drop from the outer rim. She faced the abyss, sidling around a blind corner, still balancing the basket. The ledge widened one step beyond the corner. Not three paces away lay the dead thing–a deer carcass–its carrion stench permeating the air. But a flash from amber eyes and bared white fangs warned that another had found it already. The circling buzzards would have to wait their turn. The fangs belonged to Iisaw, Brother or maybe Sister Coyote. One side of Coyote’s shiny black lip quivered in time with a throaty rumble. Its forepaw claimed ownership, pressed into the hump of dun-colored fur. The deer must be four days dead, buzzing with flies, its head at a crazy angle, the belly gaping and seething with maggots. Perhaps it had been hunted and driven over the granite cliff that loomed above.
Iisaw was a mother coyote with low-hanging dugs who’d followed the scent, needing food for herself and the pups. Now, fearing the prize was about to be stolen, she was poised to spring, fur bristling down her spine and hindquarters trembling in readiness.
Without moving her head, Poli glanced to the rim of the ledge. It would be death to jump twice the height of a tall pine tree to the rocky wash below. A backward step might tell Iisaw the threat was retreating, needing only a leap and a slashing bite to hasten the withdrawal. A step forward would be worse.
In that frozen moment, her quick breathing rasped in rhythm with rapid shocks deep within, fist blows from that being that lived in there, the one the Ancestors once tore from a captured enemy’s chest. Back then, it was sacrificed to Taiowa to keep the world in balance. But a sudden idea broke the paralysis and gave her courage. The song! The tribe’s chant about the race between Coyote and Swallow was a part of childhood lore, something Mother Coyote would surely understand.
She sang in a voice that quavered at first, but soon steadied.
Coyote-Boy and Swallow-Boy
Wish to mate with Beauty-Girl,
Willow-grace, butterfly wing.
To one she turns: Coyote-Boy;
Swallow-Boy goes weeping.
For her they race, death to loser.
Swallow Clan in exile now,
Calls its home Puaray.
* * *
Twilight Times Books, 2008
*2009 Eric Hoffer Award Finalist for Excellence in Independent Publishing
First book in the Pfefferkorn quartet
“It’s a Black Robe. Probably the new priest!”
Were they speaking Upper Pima? Hazy figures and hovering silhouettes crowded around, peering down. I was not on the mule but on my back, with something fuzzy underneath, a blanket maybe. The dark mound looming above me wavered and became a mud and stick hut that threw its shadow over me, but the glare from the sun just beyond it still hurt. My eyes squeezed shut in protest.
“Is he drunk?” asked another voice.
“No, idiot, he’s sick! He needs the medicine man! Send someone for Jevho, the maakai.”
“The healer’s at Sonoitac. We’d better get the priest to the mission at Guevavi. Jevho can go there. It’s closer,” said the original voice.
Many hands lifted me onto my mule.
“Will he fall off?”
They waited. I waited too. I clung to Conejo’s bristly mane, weaving but not falling.
“Shoiga! Walk beside him and catch him when he falls.”
But I did not fall. A few times, Conejo gave a little hitch to balance me, like a father making sure the baby sits squarely on his shoulder. The sun was on its way toward the horizon when we came in sight of the mission church, a bell hanging in an arch over the door, an unfinished tower at its left corner. A square compound enclosed by a six-foot adobe wall extended from the right side, the gate sagging open. The procession halted, waiting for me to get down. I pulled a leg up and over Conejo’s back, but my foot hung up in the stirrup.
“Shoiga, grab him! He’s falling now!”
The young man who’d walked beside Conejo caught me and set my feet on the ground. He smelled of sweat and his cheek against mine was slippery with it. Another arm thrust under my armpit and snaked across my back. They half carried me through the compound gate and into a cell in the unfinished convento.
The tiny room was full of sand, debris, straw, sticks, and cobwebs in the corners that looked like lairs of black widow spiders. A fireplace-oven filled one corner and a warped table stood, flanked by a single chair, with only three legs touching the earthen floor. In the opposite corner stood the bed, the frame bound together with dried rawhide strips. It was made of mesquite branches, unpeeled, but without thorns as far as I could see. Rawhide thongs also spanned the width of the cot to support whatever mattress could be devised.
“Wu’ai! Get his saddle pad and his sleeping blanket. Take the saddle, too. Lay them on the bed.”
I croaked a few words in their language, but there was no word for ‘violin,’ so I ended in Spanish. “The package behind the saddle! Bring my… my violín!”
Wu’ai nodded and returned a moment later to make the bed that only a mystic from India could find comfortable. Someone, Shoiga maybe, wedged my saddle at the head, then with grunts and groans he and Wu’ai picked me up and stretched me out, pulling my robe down to cover my shins. I groped beside the cot to see if they’d brought the violin as I’d asked. Wu’ai lifted the case so I could see and touch it. I sighed and gave a little murmur of satisfaction.
A hand lifted my head. Had I slept? A wizened little woman bent over me and poured drops of water on my parched tongue. She then sponged my burning forehead and cheeks with a wet rag and cleaned away crusts at the corners of my mouth. I smiled with gratitude and her pleated lips stretched wide in response.
I next opened my eyes to semi-darkness, the tiny cell lit only by a fire in the oven. Flickering light played upon the wrinkled woman, and, near my bed, on a man and a young woman. Was I awake? I blinked to make sure. She was striking rather than beautiful, tall and slender, part Indian, with high cheekbones, a prominent nose, and dark skin. But, incongruously, the firelight gleamed on chestnut red hair pulled back and tied in a knot behind her head, and a soft forest of wisps framed her face. A leaping flame made her dark eyes seem blue.
The man was a bit shorter but powerfully built, with broad shoulders and massive arms. His chest was bare except for a necklace of bear claws interspersed with macaw or parrot feathers. He wore wristlets, the feathered one on his left arm might be yellow and green—hard to tell by firelight—bear or wolf claws on the right, and a mask on his upper face. One hand held a rattle; the other a pipe giving off a peculiar-smelling smoke, unlike tobacco. I blinked again. Surely, this pair was a figment of my fevered mind. The man began to dance in rhythmic motion, uttering guttural sounds and keeping time with the rattle. At intervals he filled his mouth with smoke and blew it into my nostrils and mouth. I could not avoid inhaling it. Before long, my body drifted, light and remote, free of pain. He gave an order in clear Upper Pima.
“Give him the potion.”
* * *
Twilight Times Books, 2009
*2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist in Historical Fiction
*2010 New Mexico Book Award Winner in Historical Fiction and Finalist in Mystery/Suspense
Second book in the Pfefferkorn quartet
“Father! Father Ygnacio! There’s a crazy man in the church! He’s going through your vestments! Come quick!”
Carlito, the most talented pupil among my Eudebe and Opata converts and the best Spanish speaker, garbled his speech with native words. The situation must be serious. I lifted the skirts of my black Jesuit robe and dashed up the hill toward the mission church, leaping half-picked rows of frijol beans, detouring around the straggling squash vines, leaving the field where I’d been helping my converts with the harvest. I tore through the church door and skidded to a stop, panting. Holding my breath between gasps, I listened. Sure enough, noises of rummaging came from the sacristy and a voice speaking. I rushed to the back of the church and flung open the door. Two paces away, amid fallen chasubles and stoles, stood a wild-eyed young man, bareheaded, his dark hair standing up in peaks. Medium height, thin to emaciation and hatchet-faced, he wore a ragged Jesuit robe, gray with dirt and dust, and was holding my best alb against his body as if trying it for size. He’d been at our last annual meeting, hadn’t he?
“What do you think you’re doing? I don’t recall your name and don’t appreciate your pawing through my vestments.”
He drew himself up and turned with regal deliberation, as though I’d intruded on an audience with the pope. He sniffed, looking me up and down. “You don’t look like a sybarite: tall, thin, hardened by manual labor, hawk-nosed, blond. German or Swiss, I’ll bet. But you are a sybarite, Father. Just look at all this worldly finery! And don’t try to tell me all this lace, these gold-trimmed satin stoles and chasubles are for the glory of God. This is worldly ostentation! You need to use your resources for your flock, not to glorify yourself!”
His rebuke tumbled out with utmost scorn and in excellent High German as if he could tell at a glance I would understand. In itself, that struck me as peculiar. We German Jesuits had learned, as soon as we arrived in Spain, that it was considered next to heretical to speak our native tongue. Whenever a Spanish brother caught us speaking it together, he would reprimand us. “¡Habla cristiano! Speak Christian,” which meant, of course, Spanish. I answered my madman in German, nonetheless.
“My name is Ignaz. Ignaz Pfefferkorn. My official name in the Company is Ygnacio. And yours?”
“Wolfgang Wegner. The Company calls me something else, but I’ve forgotten it. Rejected it. Wolfgang was what I was christened, and Wolfgang I am.”
“And your mission, Pater Wegner?” I used his German title.
“I was sent to assist Bartolomé Saenz at Cuquiárachi Mission, among the Upper Pimas. He and I don’t see eye to eye. He tells me he’s a Basque from Salvatierra in Áraba Province. Studied in Pamplona–that’s Navarre.” He nodded, as if that opaque statement clarified his situation. “I walked out. I’ve been wandering a bit. Suppose I’ll go back one of these days, if he’ll have me. He may have denounced me already to the Provincial.”
His eyes found mine again. “And you? Where are you from? How long have you been here?”
Wolfgang must have taken too much sun and was off his head. I needed to get him out of my sacristy.
“Why don’t you sit with me over a cup of tea? I’ll answer all your questions and we can discuss worldly goods, missions and such. Does that tempt you?”
He dropped the alb and stepped toward me. “The offer of something wet, something to drink, tempts me mightily, but tea? What necessary item for your flock have you sacrificed to buy such a luxury?”
“Not bought, gathered. I tried drying and steeping mesquite leaves. They’re not a bad tea substitute. Once I found that out, I gathered them young and tender and now have quite a store laid by. My flock didn’t suffer on account of my ‘tea’.”
He cocked his head on one side, fixing me with his intense stare. “How did you know it wasn’t poison?”
* * *
The Storks of La Caridad
Twilight Times Books, 2004
*2011Global e-Book Award Nominee
Third book in the Pfefferkorn quartet
I am a priest. I am a Jesuit.
These words help me remember; help me believe. I’ve repeated them throughout my eight years of prison and pain, more so these past four sweltering days in this dusty coach. My wrists aren’t infected yet, but surely my ankles are. With each jolt of these iron-shod wheels on the rough road, the manacles and leg irons cut deeper into my flesh, tormenting me.
We’re four days north of Cádiz and its prison at the Port of Santa María. My next prison, the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, Our Lady of Charity, is not far away.
I am a priest. I am a Jesuit.
A storm was almost upon us. In the gathering gloom, I stared out the dirty coach window and watched black clouds ink out the sunset, trying to forget my pain. Flashes of sheet lightning lit the countryside every so often, reflecting on the man opposite me, riding backwards-my jailer. My plight was not his concern. He’d given me a little water and some dry bread, and allowed me to relieve myself on this journey, but I was baggage to him, nothing more. The horses were better treated.
|Father Ygnacio Pfefferkorn, S.J|
In the space of a few heartbeats, gloom became darkness. A sudden, blinding flash and ear-splitting thunderclap lifted me from my seat. The horses bolted, tipping the coach almost on its side, and I slammed against the coach door. There was no way to lessen the impact, such was my surprise, and an involuntary cry escaped me as new pain mixed with old. Until that moment, I’d managed to endure my plight in silence.
I heard the coachman’s angry shouts and the crack of his whip. He regained control, the coach righted itself with a jarring thump and I struggled back into my seat. The throbbing of my wrists and ankles now provided a dull background of pain to sharp new stabs from my shoulder, but I was still alive. I offered up a silent prayer, thanking God we were still upright, and reflected on my helplessness, mine and my brother Jesuits.’
We’d been helpless from the moment we were expelled from Spain and its colonies, and from all of Western Europe as well. Recently I’d heard our Society was suppressed completely by order of the Pope. Our Holy Mother Church had reduced us to nothing.
My own ordeal was now beginning its ninth year. I was arrested in 1767, near my mission in the Sonora Desert. I survived the death march across Mexico and that suffocating voyage in coffin-size cells on the prison ship bound for Cádiz. Twenty-six Sonora missionaries survived along with me, but twenty-four did not. Perhaps those martyred dead on the road to Vera Cruz were luckier than I.
Eight years of beatings and interrogations followed.
* * *
Unrest In Eden
Twilight Times Books, 2011
*2012 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award
*2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist in Historical Fiction.
Fourth book in the Pfefferkorn quartet
Father Ignaz Pfefferkorn, ex-S.J., released in January 1778 and destitute after ten years of Spanish imprisonment, begs his way across France to his home in the Rhineland. He arrives in Unkel-on-the-Rhine to find factional strife and ultimately murder in his hoped-for paradise. He is recruited to solve the crime, aided by unlikely helpers: a wealthy Cologne Socialite and a head smuggler. He succeeds, only to find himself caught in the cross-fire of the French Revolutionary Army’s invasion of his homeland.
Read an excerpt
Order from Twilight Times Books
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“In the fourth volume of the Pfefferkorn Quartet, F. Weinberg portrays Father Ignaz Pfefferkorn’s return to his home town, Unkel-on-the-Rhine. Instead of the anticipated paradise, he finds factional conflict, which ensnares him. Once a mysterious murder is solved, peace returns again to “paradise.” Weinberg’s gripping novel portrays, with historical precision, the cultural, political and spiritual situation in the Rhineland of the 18th-century. For the general reader, especially those with historical interests, this book is highly recommended.”
~Rudolf Vollmer, City Historian, Unkel-am-Rhein
* * *
Longs désirs: Louise Labé, Lyonnaise,
Lyon, France: Editions Lyonnaises d’Art et d’Histoire, 2002
(Historical Novel, translated by Myriam McGinnis)
La cérémonie de mariage s’est déroulée comme si je n’y étais pas. Mon corps était présent, mais mon âme était ailleurs, je ne sais où. En enfer, je crois. J’exécutais mes gestes comme une personne qui rêve.
* * *
Au petit-déjeuner, le lendemain matin, M. du Guillet, mon nouveau mari qui a montré depuis lors qu’il était quelqu’un de gentil même s’il était un peu brusque, s’est mis à me parler comme si nous étions partenaires au sein d’une affaire qui s’appellerait ” le mariage”.
” Pernette, votre père et moi avons conclu un marché dont vous faites partie. Il me semble à présent que vos penchants se portent ailleurs. Il m’est cependant tout à fait clair que vous n’avez jamais dispensé, avec ces penchants, vos ultimes faveurs. Et pour cela je vous admire et vous remercie. ”
Je l’ai regardé bouche bée, ne devinant pas où il voulait en venir.
Il a pris une autre bouchée de pain et de fromage, puis, intrigué par mon silence, il a levé les yeux vers moi et vu mon incompréhension. ” Ce que je veux dire, a-t-il déclaré froidement en avalant sa bouchée, c’est que j’ai eu la preuve irréfutable que vous n’avez jamais couché avec Monsieur Scève.
– B-bien entendu, je ne l’ai pas fait ! ” ai-je répliqué en prenant une grande respiration et en me reculant.
– Dois-je penser que vos sentiments pour Monsieur Scève sont les mêmes qu’avant notre union ?
– Oui, absolument ! ” ai-je répondu avec franchise, même si je craignais une réaction de colère. J’étais figée sur ma chaise sans oser goûter au pain et à la confiture posés sur mon assiette.
” Eh bien, dans ce cas, je n’ai pas l’intention de m’interposer. J’attends de vous que vous restiez fidèle à notre lit de mariage, mais vous pouvez voir votre ami à votre guise. Quant à moi, je compte vous accorder huit ou dix jours pour vous remettre, et en attendant j’irai chercher mes plaisirs ailleurs. Car, voyez-vous, j’ai moi aussi quelques bonnes amitiés qui remontent à plusieurs années avant notre mariage. ” Là-dessus, il s’est versé une autre tasse de cette nouvelle boisson exotique venue de Chine et qu’on appelle ” thé “.
” Oh, merci ! ” Je n’étais pas certaine de bien le comprendre, mais j’étais reconnaissante du sursis qu’il m’avait promis. J’ai tendu ma tasse et il me l’a remplie de thé.
” Ensuite, a-t-il poursuivi, je me mettrai à essayer d’avoir un héritier à qui léguer ma fortune. ” Il a posé sa tasse avec un ultime claquement, m’a adressé un hochement de tête, et il s’est levé, appelant le domestique pour qu’on lui apporte sa cape et son chapeau.
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