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Dec 28, 2013

Recipes from the Schattenreich: Samantha's Kitchen

This savory tart is from Primary Fault, made by Samantha Eschweiler for Caitie. It received thumbs up from the Official Schattenreich Recipe taste-testing team (including the four-footed members).NEW! My friend and fellow foodie, Yvonne Oots has just recently tested the recipe and posted her results on her blog, Olive's Place where she talks about food and history. Here is the link to the recipe - with nutritional information! Yay!

Leek and Sausage Pie

1 recipe Tart Dough (use your favorite or see below)
2-4 spiced sausages (ca. 200 g) (good quality fresh bratwurst* works very well - ask your butcher - or thin Italian Salsiccia) 


But NOT this:

4-5 cups (ca. 200 g) leeks (5-7 leeks, depending on size), cut into thin rings**
2 tablespoons butter (30 g) or good quality oil
1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine or water
1/2 tsp salt (or less, depending on the sausage)
Pepper to taste
2 eggs
1 cup  (240 g) cream or (225 g) crème fraiche
2-3 tblsp. good quality smooth or coarse mustard (such as Dijon or L'Ancienne)
3 ounces (90 g) grated cheese (Provolone works well)
2 tblsp. chives, sliced into narrow rings

Prepare the tart dough and prebake it. Remove from oven and let cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Wash the leeks thoroughly in a colander. I find it best to do this after slicing them to get that stubborn gritty sand out between the layers. **I also use the light green parts and the neon green (you'll have to discard some outer layers to get to these) in addition to the white parts.

Melt the butter or oil in a non-stick pan. Remove the sausage casings and crumble the insides, the sausage meat, into the pan and fry it until brown. Remove the sausage.

cooking wine of champions
Add the leeks to the pan and sauté them in the same oil for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until they soften. Add the wine (I use Noilly Prat - it's expensive but oh, soooo good). Let the leeks simmer with the wine/water for a good 10-15 minutes, adding water as necessary so they don't dry out. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and set aside with the sausage to cool.

 Preheat the oven to 375oF/190oC). Beat the eggs and stir in the cream or créme fraiche, mustard, leeks and grated cheese, leaving a small handful of cheese to scatter over the top of the pie with the chives before baking.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven until golden brown on top (20-30 minutes). Let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.


If you've never made a pie crust this way, I recommend it. Working the dough with the hands is a great sensory experience - Samantha would surely make her pie crusts by hand.

Tart Dough
1 cup (ca. 110 g) unbleached white flour
2 generous pinches of salt
4 tblsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1-1/2 tblsp. vegetable shortening (can use all butter instead)
2-3 tblsp. ice water (put an ice cube with a small amount of water in a small bowl)

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add butter and shortening. Work the mixture with your hands, rubbing the fat and flour together until everything is well distributed. Cold butter is easier to work with than softened butter. The mixture should feel crumbly. Add the water, sprinkling a few drops at a time, working it into the flour with your fingers. The dough should begin to come together when you've added enough water. Form the dough into a ball. Gather any stray dry ingredients with a few more drops of water and incorporate them into the dough ball. Do not overwork - this is not a pizza crust! Flatten into a disk and cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and let rest in the refrigerator for about half an hour. If it rests longer, it may need to warm for a few minutes before being rolled out.

Flour the work surface. Put the disk onto a floured work surface and sprinkle a little flour on top. Roll out to desired size - it should be less than 1/2 inch thick - just a wee bit thicker on the sides than the bottom. Roll the tart dough onto the rolling pin and place in the tart form. I use a removable tart pan that makes it easier to slice when ready. Prebake the tart dough after freezing in a preheated oven (425oF/215oC) for 8 to 10 minutes until it just begins to color. Can be prebaked without freezing by lining with foil and using dried beans as weights to keep the bottom from blistering unevenly.

photo credit: Kai Hendry via photopin

photo credit: artizone via photopin cc
photo credit: ReeseCLloyd via photopin cc

Dec 22, 2013

Review of The Iron Wolves, by Andy Remic

Book 1 of the Rage of Kings

The Iron Wolves
Andy Remic
IBSN 978-0857663566
Angry Robot
Release Date: December 31, 2013

From the book’s description:

Thirty years ago, the Iron Wolves held back mud-orc hordes at the Pass of Splintered Bones, and led a brutal charge that saw the sorcerer Morkagoth slain.

Now, a new terror stalks the realm. Orlana the Changer has escaped from the Chaos Halls and is building an army, twisting horses, lions and bears into terrible, bloody hunters, summoning mud-orcs from the slime and heading north to battle the mighty region of Vagandrak where, it said, the King has gone insane.

General Dalgoran searches to reunite the heroes of old for what he believes will be their final battle. But Dalgoran discovers the Iron Wolves are no longer the heroes of legend, and they might just be more dangerous than the invading hordes.

My insanely short synopsis: The Iron Wolves, a band of seven unlikely and (somewhat) unsavory heroes punch, kick, bite and slash their way across the kingdom to reach Vagrandak, the land of legend and the Iron Wolves’ past glory. Their goal: to do battle against the great Sorceress Orlana to stop her from enslaving and slaughtering the entire population of the realm.

On his seventieth birthday, General Dalgoran witnesses a scene so gruesome, it forces him to end his retirement and reassemble the Iron Wolves, his band of seven warriors, now past the prime of their hero years. But General Dalgoran believes they are the only ones capable of combatting the horror he has witnessed. But first he must find them all and convince them of his cause.

The Iron Wolves seethes with action; indeed, it stomps across every page.

Remic has a very precise way with descriptions of battles and fights and with weapons of every type (including head butts). The scenes leap and snort off the page, making the heart race with anticipation about their outcomes. The journey of the Iron Wolves entails many such battles including those against insanely powerful creatures called the splice – amalgams of human and beasts that are very tough to kill – and mud orcs as well as more human enemies. Including the Iron Wolves themselves.

If you enjoy sword and sorcery, The Iron Wolves will not disappoint. The heroes themselves, although not necessary likeable, present a convincing case for their role as the only ones capable of confronting the powerful and merciless Orlana. I felt there was adequate backstory from each of the seven warriors to comprehend something of their motivations; these stories do not necessarily make the characters more likeable. But it did help me to understand them.

Orlana, not born of this world, has an agenda. I didn’t understand what that agenda was in any great detail, this is Book 1 after all, but I learned enough to know that her plans entail much more than crafting nasty and menacing creatures. Her very evilness contrasts starkly with the dubious nature of the Iron Wolves’ heroism. I never had any doubts about who I was rooting for.

On the other hand, although the story has its straightforward components, there are plenty of subplots and interesting complications to occupy the mind while reading. Even though the it is the nature of epic fantasy with good versus evil made me want to think that good will triumph, I never felt sure about the outcome at any point in the story.

And that is what kept me reading. Sometimes, the fights went on too long for my liking so that I had to put the book down for a while, but I think for those who read graphic and gritty sword and sorcery with gusto, and who enjoyed The Clockwork Vampire Chronicle series by Remic, this will be a positive feature. For me, it’s guilty candy. Something I don’t read often because, while I enjoy it in small doses, most of the time slash and gore are not done well. But here it is done well and is dictated by the nature of the story.

On a less positive note, there’s a reader cheat in here. It marred the story for me somewhat, and I can’t talk about because it would be a spoiler. In all fairness, we do get hints about it, but not enough that I felt I could have figured it out on my own. That said though, I could live with that and hope the rest of the series will live up to the promise of the first book, an uncompromising but ultimately entertaining romp through a fantasy landscape pockmarked with treachery around every corner.

Dec 17, 2013

Double Couple: the ebook is out!

The ebook version of Double Couple is available in ebook form at Amazon worldwide* and can already be pre-ordered at Kobo (nd also from Indigo!). Other etailers will soon have it available (B&N, Sony, ebookPie, scribd, for example).

Book 3 of the Schattenreich

Wizard Tower Press will soon have the first three books in the Schattenreich. Please check back with them and also browse some of their other very fine books!

*The link goes to If your Kindle account is in a different Amazon-Land (e.g., U.K., Germany, Australia, to name just a few), click through to the appropriate store to find the listing for Double Couple.

Also new! The ebook for Shaky Ground, Book 2 of the Schattenreich, is now available at Kobo and will soon be available at other etailers including Nook and Sony.

Dec 3, 2013

The Schattenreich: Cast of Characters for Book 1 and Book 2

Below is a list of major characters for the first (Primary Fault) and second  (Shaky Ground) books of the Schattenreich series. Note: these are (for the most part) NON-SPOILER descriptions. They are roughly listed in order of appearance but not of importance - now THAT would be a spoiler.

I will be adding separate character lists for the later volumes that do contain spoilers!

  • Caitlin Schwarzbach: our hero, geophysicist, data expert
  • Augustus (Gus) Schwarzbach: seismologist extraordinaire, executive director of the B.E.A.R. institute
  • Ankou, Death: Breton Celtic psychopomp. Caitlin's biggest fear
  • Dagmar Abel: beautiful, blonde, evil
  • Kilhian ar C'hoed: French businessman, interested in acquiring things
  • Antonio Delling: technician at the B.E.A.R. institute
  • Jacqueline Camp: Gus's Ph.D. student
  • Cathubodua: aka The Morrigan among other names, triple Celtic war and fertility deity
  • Cernunnos: Lord of the Hunt aka The Horned One, Celtic deity, has some nasty hell hounds, rules over a sizable portion of Ande-dubnos
  • Samantha Eschweiler: Gus's next-door neighbor, Caitlin's friend, has four kids
  • Anna Sturm: television reporter, likes Gus
  • Eduard Hall, the Burg Lahn chauffeur
  • Hagen von der Lahn: archeologist, baron of Burg Lahn, lethally handsome
  • Heinrich von der Lahn: likes leather, plays guitar, singer-songwriter
  • Erich von der Lahn: paternal uncle to Hagen and Heinrich 
  •  Richard Eschweiler: Samantha's estranged husband
  • Professor Joachim Lohmann: nemesis, professor at the Uni Cologne
  • Dr. Jürgen Vogel: nemesis, Cologne city manager
  • Susanna Wilting-Boxberg: Burg Lahn neighbor
  • Leslie James: historian, colleague of Hagen von der Lahn
  • Hauptkommissar Miriam Richter: detective, Cologne Police, murder and serious crimes
  • Hauptkommissar Horst Schmitz: detective, Cologne Police, Frau Richter's sidekick
  • Sebastian von der Lahn: gourmet cook, runs Burg Lahn
  • Bertha von der Lahn: Sebastian's half sister, actress, playwright

Nov 29, 2013

Nanowrimo - be gentle with me, it's my first time

National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short has one basic requirement.

Write 50,000 words in 30 days
Start: November 1 End: November 30

I've followed this event from the sidelines for years. But this year I took the plunge and signed up because I wanted to lose the dilly-dally demon inside me for a short time and let him know who was in charge.

50K words requires - do the math - 1667 words per day. For those of you who think of books and writing in terms of pages, well, it's not that easy to convert. But I'll try. My chapters in the Schattenreich series tend to be between 2000-2800 words, depending on the scenes, amount of dialogue, etc. That works out to between 7-10 double-spaced pages of a Word document per chapter. So 1667 words - that's a little less. Let's say between 5-6 pages. Doesn't sound like much. Not really. But there's nothing gentle about it.

Because you have to do this every day. Even if you don't feel like it, aren't inspired, haven't got a clue what you're going to write next or how that scene you started yesterday is supposed to end up.

Here's my stats for the month on a cumulative scale.

It's a bar chart!
The straight line slanting upwards across the chart shows where the bars need to reach for me to be keeping up with the daily word counts. You'll notice a dip in my productivity around the beginning of week 2. Ahem. Yeah. I had some things to do during that second weekend. Let's call it life with something social attached. Then I found it hard to get myself hauled back up to the line. It would have been easy to give up at that point. But I rallied by the end of week 2 and had nary a setback (despite a 3-day head cold) until the end, where I made a nice couple of spurts that put me over today, Thanksgiving, November 28th, even with a hectic schedule of teaching and cleaning and whatnot. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Since I'm an expat, I have the advantage of not having to cook a monstrous (but delicious) Thanksgiving dinner or have alcohol or movies or even football to distract me. Unfortunately.

One of the things that happens once I start writing like this is that I not only quell the urge to procrastinate, I become obsessed. I eat, sleep and dream the novel. I drive with the radio off so I can think! and walk as in a daze through the grocery store on daily shopping trips. I give up having coherent conversation with the family.

I also am forced to stifle my inner editor. Daily word counts of this nature preclude mulling over word choice, fiddling with dialogue or - anything. It's just write write write. And then on to the next day. One thing that helps immensely is to have a plan. I did have one. The writing took a huge detour (right around where that slump showed up at the end of week 1), but it came back around to where it was supposed to be at the 50K mark, so it all worked out. And I've got the badge to show for it. 

I did violate one of the nanowrimo principles, which is the 50K should be your book from start to finish. Well, if you've ever read any of my books, you'll know that 50,000 doesn't even come close. So shoot me. I already had 50K going in. Now I have over 100K. And I need probably another 30K to 40K to be finished. But I'm a huge chunk closer than I was to finishing Triple Junction, the fifth and final book of the Schattenreich series. And totally psyched. So that dilly-dally monster, well, bless his heart. He's just going to have to go bother someone else for a while.

And now we can have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner (see below) on Saturday and I can look again at the faces I've been ignoring for the past 28 days and that I hope will no longer be frowning at me (including the cat), begin to sort the full laundry baskets (there were at least 10 of them last time I counted), get caught up on the other things...there are other things. I'm sure of it.

Raclette: our expat version of Thanksgiving

photo credit: jonlarge via photopin cc

Nov 20, 2013

Release notice: Double Couple, Book 3 of the Schattenreich

 Available in trade paperback at - or the Amazon store nearest you. In a few weeks, you can order Double Couple at your favorite local bookstore. Ebook coming soon!

Double Couple begins in Burg Lahn, the ancestral home of the von der Lahn family deep in the heart of the Rhineland, Germany.

Finally reunited, Caitlin Schwarzbach and Hagen von der Lahn, newly returned from his journey deep into the Celtic Otherworld known as Ande-dubnos, seek to pick up the threads of their relationship.

But treachery again thwarts their attempts to return to a semblance of normalcy when someone sets fire to the Burg Lahn woods.

Science takes on the Otherworld when geophysicist Caitlin Schwarzbach strives to unravel the mysteries of the Schattenreich.

But the Schattenreich refuses to cooperate.

Double Couple: a fast-paced supernatural suspense that narrates the story of one woman's journey to overcome her fear, mend a broken heart, and solve the riddle of a 2,000-year old family curse.

Nov 10, 2013

Double Couple, Book 3 of the Schattenreich: an excerpt

Hagen stretched out his long legs, crossing them at the ankle, and propped himself on one arm before taking a sip of coffee. "Sebastian is organizing a meet."
      I raised both eyebrows while taking a drink of the wonderful hot coffee. Sebastian's coffee, always perfect. "What is that?"
Double Couple: Book 3 of the Schattenreich
      Hagen's mouth turned up at one corner. "He imagines it is a Druid concept. Probably should take place deep in the woods with all of us in white robes throwing sprigs of mistletoe at each other, but I suspect we will sit in the formal dining room. I will wear my most comfortable blue jeans."
      I choked on my croissant. Hagen's smile turned into a grin.
      "Druids? So it is true. That's what you all are."
      He slid a foot closer to his thigh. "The 'we' certainly includes you. That is what Sebastian is training you for. Hadn't you guessed that yet?"
      All the signs had been there to see. The Celtic holidays, the exercises, the esoteric books. "But I don't have any type of religious belief compatible with being a Druid." I wiped crumbs from the robe.
      Hagen sat up quickly, crossing his legs in front of him. He took a croissant from the plate and broke it in half, taking a bite full of the chocolate in the middle. "Nor do I. There are no Druids. Haven't been for two thousand years. We're just practitioners of a craft, esoteric and strong in Ande-dubnos. Not so much in the waking world."
      "Isn't that what the Druids did? Practiced their crafts?"
      "Who knows for sure? We only have a few secondary reports about them from the Romans, in particular Julius Caesar. And who could trust the Romans? Certainly not our ancestors."
      I poured us more coffee. "What about Heiner?"
      He shrugged. "More or less the same as me. He delves into the spiritual nature of what we do – he uses his music to explore Ande-dubnos. I'm more interested in the mechanics." He paused and seemed to reflect. "Our skills complement one another perfectly."
      "Why is Sebastian training me? You two have been trained since you were children."
      "That is a good question, Kati, and the answer does worry me. He's training you to journey. I'm against it. I dare not go against his wishes. Not yet."
      "Gus would blow a spoke if I told him all this." I shoved a crumb around the tray with my finger, looking at Hagen, grateful that he finally saw fit to give me some inkling of what was going on, of who and what he was.
      "That worries me even more," he said.
      "What? Gus?"
      He nodded, frowning. He took another bite of croissant and drank his coffee, aiming his dark blues at me. "You and Augustus have been targets up until now. There is a connection between our family and what has been happening to you."
      "The inscription. And earthquakes."
      "And Dagmar," he said. "Although I can't fathom how she would have found out about it."
      "I'm not sure she has. Or at least she's not the one pursuing it. She's more interested in obtaining…revenge."
      "So you told me yesterday. But you didn't mention who is pursuing the inscription."
      "No, I didn't. But you've met him."
      "The red stallion."
      "What does Heiner think? Did you talk to him?"
      "We discussed a few things briefly last night in your dreamscape."
      I wiped my hands, no longer hungry. Everything had a connection. Everything pointed to Kilhian ar C'hoed. "My rowan appeared there as a sapling just after you left. It has grown since then."
      Hagen removed the tray from the bed and vigorously wiped crumbs away. He lifted an eyebrow and sat on the bed. "You are already practicing your craft then, Caitie."
      I laughed. "Right. Magic. Me." Then I thought about Heinrich and his conjuring clothes for us when we had visited the Schattenreich. "What kind of magic?"
      "I prefer the term Schattenwerk. Shadowcraft. It's a more accurate description. But magic is a word people understand. I am not aware that there are kinds of magic. Just effects. Mostly on one's self."
      "And what did I do?"
      "You constructed the dreamscape." He took my hand, pulling me back on the bed with him. "I know I'm going to be sorry about this." He turned me around, with my back leaning up against him. "Relax your body, Kati."
      "I'm too wound up to relax."
      "We can't cross if you don't."
      I practiced my relaxation techniques, comfortable but nervous to be doing this with Hagen. "Okay."
      "Picture the place where you traveled with Heinrich."
      The woods and the river, the open meadow and the grass leapt into my mind immediately as if I had just visited it. "Got it."
      Hagen put his arms around me, and placed his hand on top of mine, which rested on his lynx pendant. "Now concentrate."
      I relaxed into the vision, imagining the sound of the trees, the bubbling of water over rocks. Then, I heard those sounds for real. This time was different, warm and hazy, the leaves loud as they shook in a steady breeze. My eyes sprang open to the Schattenreich, at least the corner of it I had seen before with Heinrich. It felt like returning to a familiar favored place, like my secret spot in the woods.
Hagen took my hand. We walked to the globe that floated a few inches above the grass. Heinrich followed, bringing his guitar. He eased down effortlessly next to it, holding his guitar as if in preparation to play. Hagen stood, studying the surface that had evolved into a complex landscape, ever changing, it seemed, and interspersed with intricately carved ladders and sinewy wooden snakes. An overlarge playing card twirled of its own volition above the globe. I reached out to grab it, but Heinrich stayed my hand.
      "That is a closed postern, chérie," he said.
      I eyeballed him a question.
      "Anyone trying cross the borders that Sebastian has 'wired' will be trapped within the 'game'. A miniature version of him or her will appear here," Heinrich said, and pointed to the globe. He took the card delicately between two fingers to stop it spinning, but did not remove it. The illustrated card showed a collection of intertwining serpents in twos and threes. Heinrich twirled it and flashed it at Hagen, before letting it loose to rotate once again.
      Movement caught my eye. I looked closely at the board. "Look!"
      There on the globe, climbing his way upwards, out of a snake, was a miniature person. We bent closer.
      "Who is it?" Heinrich asked.
      "Erich," Hagen said.
      "It is him," I said. "Can he see—"
      Erich put his hands on his hips. He looked around. Then he looked up. Erich waved to us. Then he disappeared.
      "Well," Hagen said. "So much for traps."
      "Maybe he will return to the Burg now," Heinrich said.
      "That was the agreement," Hagen said and began pacing.
      "I don't understand any of this," I said.
      Heinrich patted the grass next to him and I sank down. He began to play a lively Irish tune. The only thing missing was a fiddle. "Let's start with the game," Heinrich spoke as he played. "Sebastian dabbles in trying to reveal the big picture."
      "Oracles, right?" I plucked purple daisies out of the grass.
      "The board has divinatory properties, but the more participants, the better the results."
      "How many more?" I asked.
      "More than Sebastian and me," he said, looking up. "And you."
      Hagen snorted.
      I took a deep breath and let it out. "Okay. It's a game of Snakes and Ladders for more than three players that Sebastian uses like a crystal ball. It both influences and is influenced by the players. Small symbols guide the pieces. They move across the board on their own. Based on what the players decide and wish and do, the landscape evolves. It shows things. The players have to try to figure it out. Ladders are good. Snakes are not-so-good. Like in the children's game."
      I pointed to a small wooden ball filled with symbols that hung above the larger earthlike globe. "To my mind, the tiny ball is the data processing engine, and the globe is the exploratory analysis part. The symbols initiate a graphical display on the larger globe where one or more representative pieces move in response to the implied meaning of the symbols. Sebastian wants to understand the big picture."
      Heinrich nodded. "Smart girl, Hagen."
      "Expert," Hagen said while continuing his pacing, "at many things." He slid a smile my way.
      "The floating card is a special kind of tarot card and carries the symbols for responsibility," Heinrich said, teasing a sweet, sexy note from his guitar in response to Hagen's innuendo.
      "Sebastian is sending us a message?"
      Heinrich glanced at Hagen. "He is reminding us about our duties to the family."
      "As if we had ever shirked them." Hagen waved his hand over the globe and it faded slowly. "You and Bastian know my feelings about Oracles."
      "And what are those feelings, Hagen?" I asked.
      "Divination is a double-edged sword," he answered. "As I told you once before."
      "And that means?" I asked.
      "Something is given, and something is taken away."
      Heinrich continued to play, the music shading into a softer melody with a pronounced sinister tone. "I think in this case whatever is going on has been operating despite Sebastian's workings."
      "Whatever's name is Erich," Hagen said. "That's why I'm even more concerned with the price for our attempts to divine events."
      "What do you suggest then?" Heinrich asked.
      "We solve it more directly," Hagen said, coming to stand behind me.
      I leaned into him. "Whatever directly is, it sounds good."
      Heinrich looked up. "Count me in, brother. I'm committed to anything that will lessen the danger to Caitlin."
      "And don't forget Gus," I said.
      Hagen patted my shoulders. "Let's go hear what Bastian wants to tell us."
      I raised my arms, and Hagen pulled me to my feet. "How do we get back?" I snuck a look at Heinrich in time to catch that sly smile of his. "Oh. Is that the only way then?"
      Hagen scowled from me to Heinrich. "How have you gotten in without us before, Caitie?"
      I sighed. "With a lot of nausea and internal earthquakes."
      "That fits," Hagen said.
      "Is there an easier way?"
      Hagen took me in his arms, raising an eyebrow at Heinrich who slung his guitar over his shoulder and headed off towards the forest.
"For the moment this one works well, don't you think?" He swept me into his embrace and kissed me all the way back to reality.

Double Couple release date: very very soon! Watch this space.

Nov 5, 2013

Reading Event, Museum Night in Cologne

Museum Night Cologne

When: Saturday, November 9
Time: 7:00pm – 3:00am
Where: Museums all over Cologne
Cost: €17 without transportation - can be purchased at all participating museums, €19.50 (according to Köln: Ticket - the museumsnacht website lists the price as €18.50) with transportation and purchased from Köln:Ticket
Website: (in German). Children under 15 can go for free.

This lovely description courtesy of Christine Funke, VP for the American International Women's Club of Cologne:

The "Long Night of Cologne's Museums" is now called "Museum Night Cologne". And, moreover, it is bathed in a fresh, new look. On November 9th from 7pm – 3am the entire city is on the move, experiencing museums and art venues in a very special atmosphere. 43 locations and over 200 exciting events provide a unique atmosphere - a unique combination of special exhibitions, music and live acts make it possible.

Cultural metropolis Cologne: No other German city has so many municipal museums as Cologne. And only on the Museum Night do they open their doors at such a late hour. The large established houses are just as important as smaller, lesser-known art venues. From gaudy pop art and medieval treasures to the remains of past cultures: High-profile exhibitions, great masters and the artistic heritage of the cathedral city lure the nocturnal journey through Cologne. Small houses give direct insight into the creative work of the independent scene and artists. Known collections appear in a completely new light. This is what makes the incomparable charm of the Museum Night Cologne.

I will be at the GeoMuseum of the University of Cologne  from 9:00 – 10:00pm to present a short lecture entitled 'Look, There's Some Science in My Fiction - Main Ingredient or Just a Spice?' which will include short excerpts read from my soon-to-be-released novel Double Couple. There will be a free drawing for ebooks and paperback copies of Book One of the Schattenreich series, Primary Fault.

Nov 1, 2013

The Schattenreich: Heinrich's songs

For Kala Goañv. the Breton Celtic celebration that coincides with Halloween, this year's pumpkin and a song composed by Heinrich von der Lahn for Caitlin Schwarzbach.

The 2013 pumpkin expertly carved by Klaus-G. Hinzen

The Wolf and the Wildcat
Heinrich von der Lahn

The wolf met the wildcat there
Where twin moons rose and trees swayed bare
They found the fire that ate men's souls
Fueled by voices dark as coals
Wolf cried to Wildcat, what have you seen?

She howled and barked, what does it mean?
Wildcat tried to calm her fears
 He said, come let me dry your tears

Little Wolf, I love you
 Like the sun loves the dew
Like the moon loves the sea…
Do you still love me?
I promise you another forever
Just so you know

Bound by blood and bound by desire
Wildcat kept Wolf safe from the fire
Apart and together, they ran and they ran
Wolf became Woman and Wildcat Man
She danced for him fast and danced for him slow
And went down a road where he could not go

She became Swan to float down Life's stream
He became Fish in the Ocean of Dreams

Little Wolf, I love you
Like the sun loves the dew
Like the moon loves the sea…
Do you still love me?
I promise you another forever
Just so you know

Fish washed up dying on the shore
Where Swan found him once more
She said, shed your scales and come with me
We'll ride the winds for eternity

Midnight black and purest white
Two swans flew together through the night
Safe at last from the ravaging fire
They sang as they circled higher and higher

Black Swan, yes I love you
Like the sun loves the dew
Like the moon loves the sea
Will you still have me?
I give you another forever
Just so you know

Oct 30, 2013

Retrieve your free Kindle ebooks! has just rolled out the Kindle Matchbook program. To see which of your print book purchases qualify, go to the Kindle Matchbook page .

Scroll down just a little bit and you should see the orange banner that says:

Find your Kindle Matchbook titles

If you click on that, you should see some titles, if they have already been enrolled in the program.

Both Primary Fault and Shaky Ground have been enrolled in the Matchbook program. If you have already purchased Primary Fault or Shaky Ground in paperback form, you should be able to download the Kindle ebook for Freeeeee! That's right. Free.

I haven't found the feature on or - so perhaps we can expect (as with Autorip) that they are going to roll out this feature at a later date in those stores.

Amazon notified me that my books are enrolled, so if you can't download the free ebooks, please drop me a line.

Oct 6, 2013

Editorial Review of Shaky Ground

Star Review five out of five stars
San Francisco Book Review, October 2013 issue
Shaky Ground: a novel of the Schattenreich
(Volume 2)

After narrowly surviving a series of brutal attacks, Caitlin is ready to move on with her life. But fate still has plenty of supernatural surprises in store for her. Caitlin is still experiencing “Otherworld visions” - shared metaphysical dreams with magical, mystical people who possess the ability to walk between our world and the Schattenreich.

When her brother Gus’s, car blows up and a car tries to run them down, it is obvious that the same people who previously set Gus up are still intent on causing Caitlin, Hagen (her lover), and Gus harm. To discover more about what is threatening his friends, Hagen leaves on family business for an undetermined amount of time, and Caitlin is left to get to know two mysterious members of his family.

As the story progresses, Caitlin learns more about the Schattenreich and her own heritage. Shaky Ground picks up shortly after the conclusion of Primary Fault, the first novel in Reamer’s Schattenreich fantasy series. This suspenseful novel combines current-day, real world science with romance, intrigue and conspiracy theories.

Reamer flawlessly blends contemporary issues with historical themes and elements. She switches between telling the story from Caitlin’s point of view and revealing more of the mystery from inside the Schattenreich.

Reamer’s dialogue is engaging; the author is a master at writing personal exchanges between her dynamic characters. And at the same time, she has an amazing talent for writing descriptive scenes. Explanations of what new characters and locations look like are never boring - they are insightful and reveal even more about the fantastic story and fictional world Reamer has created.

Shaky Ground is action packed and exciting. Reamer also knows when to slow things down and let readers appreciate the essence of each character’s personal story and the evolution of the tale.

To fully enjoy the story, it is necessary to read the first book in the series, Primary Fault. You won’t regret it. Readers will be anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series.

Sep 23, 2013

Shaky Ground Promotion

Free digital today and tomorrow.

Want print instead? If you buy the print book, get the digital automatically for free thanks to Amazon's Matchbook!
Primary Fault is also in the Matchbook program.

Aug 26, 2013

More Pictures from Israel - the German-Israel Foundation Project

Since I'm smack dab in the middle of publishing Double Couple, book 3 of the Schattenreich series (more in the next couple of weeks - and especially the cover!), I don't have much to chat about right now, but wanted to at least add something of interest.

In addition to our work in Greece, the Bensberg Earthquake Observatory of the University of Cologne has also received a generous grant from the German-Israel Foundation for the research we are conducting in cooperation with Shmulik Marco, Professor of Geology at Tel Aviv University, to support our archaeoseismology work in Israel.

The scanner crew (Klaus-G. Hinzen and Gregor Schweppe together with Shmulik Marco and a couple of his students) spent two weeks in July scanning ruins in the north of the country. I hope to have a report from Gregor detailing their experiences (watch this space for it) and what it was like to stay at a kibbutz and, especially, where to get the best hummus in and around Tel Aviv.

As the crew was scanning Nimrod Fortress (or Nimrod Castle as it is sometimes referred to), a medieval stronghold guarding the important road to Damascus against the Crusaders (the ruins are located on the Golan Heights), they disturbed some of its current residents.

He looks interested but may just be annoyed. He certainly is adorable.

The inhabitants of this part of the castle were not amused at the intrusion and complained extensively.

These (and other) bat pictures inspired an important scene in my upcoming book (more on that later)!

Aug 2, 2013

It's too hot

This guy looks just like I feel in the searing heat.

This chameleon lives near Nimrod Castle in Israel. I don't know for sure whether he also got laser-scanned or not.

Jul 7, 2013

Project HERACLES : Fieldwork Part 2: 3D Laser Scanning , Finishing Gravity, and the Lady Beekeeper

Our lean mean FARO scanner
3D Laser Scanning: what is it and what can you do with that? A 3D scanner basically takes 100,000 or more samples per second of an (at best stationary) object using laser range-finding, providing a point cloud that can render a highly accurate reconstruction (especially with the addition of a camera). Our new scanner from FARO is smaller-faster-better (and lighter - it can be taken as a carry-on, for example, on an airplane). These types of (active) scans are most useful for reconstructions and as an aid to modeling - the uses are varied, ranging from architectural planning to crime scene investigations (heavily alluded to in Primary Fault) to archeological site investigations (featured in Shaky Ground). Here, for example, one of our published scans from Roman ruins in the middle of Cologne.

I reported last time about our cleaning efforts prior to scanning - absolutely essential for getting a good scan. Luckily the east wall in Tiryns and the north wall in Midea (no direct links to either of the sites - but these links are very useful for background information) were cleaned for us by the crews at both sites for which we are tremendously grateful (thanks to Frau Dr. Demakopoulou, former archeological director at Midea and Frau Dr. Papadimitriou, Eforia of the Argolis, also participants in the HERACLES project, for their organizational help).
The brawny man on the right made the Tiryns east wall pretty for scanning.

 The scanning crew Klaus-G. Hinzen and Gregor Schweppe (also the passive seismic crew - geoscientists must be flexible, versatile and photogenic - WORD!) have made a plan of attack that includes the use of opaque white balls on broomsticks (geophysicists are also resourceful!) placed between the fallen rocks on the wall(s). The balls allow near-perfect alignment of the side-by-side scans. 

Balls on broomsticks amid a Bronze Age Cyclopean wall
 The new scanner needs all of 10 minutes to do a complete 360 degree color scan and even less for black and white. There is barely enough time between scans for the crew to enjoy the spectacular view from Midea. 
A momentary respite from the heat and wind to cool the scanner

Heat and wind - significant wind - conspire to slow down and even stop the measurements, especially when the scanner begins to overheat (at around 60 degrees Celsius). But the car air-conditioner serves as a quick cooler-downer (creativity!), the only casualty being Gregor's temporarily frozen hands.

Meanwile, the gravity crew, Evi Seferou and I, finished with traipsing around the Midea acropolis, concentrate on taking gravity measurements at the bottom of the hill - gaining profiles from different directions. After finishing the northernmost reach of our N-S profile, we start out on an E-W dirt road that looks promising because it seems less frequented by vehicles. 

Before we'd gone a scant kilometer, we encountered the end of the road and the beekeepers, a Greek giagiá (and the last in the series) and her husband clad in thick white linen/cotton suits and wide-brimmed hats with face-protecting nets. Evi and I - standing just a few meters from the first of the bee boxes - are wearing black T-shirts. The bee man points at us (and the bees who are making passes at us) and tells us bees hate black. While we hurriedly take our last measurement, the man asks us if we are the ones who have come to count the bees. Instantly distracted (not that difficult, to be honest), I ask (through my translator Evi, of course), so how do you count bees? Turns out that you don't count the bees, you count the boxes - and there are approximately 10,000 bees in a box.

The Greek bee lady and a few of her bees
We adjourn just after and follow the beekeepers to their house in the village of Midea to purchase some of the honey. Because it is a Greek grandmother we are commanded to drink Fanta (you are much too thin! Drink! Drink!) and taste the honey (fabulous). 

The bee lady proceeds to show us pictures of her children (and grandchildren) and asks me questions in Greek, first in a very slow cadence and then louder and more insistent - the international solution to speaking to someone in a language they don't comprehend. Evi is trying not to pee her pants in laughter, especially as she's yelling back answers to the questions - repeatedly - while I try to smile nicely and look like I know what the hell is going on (all of the rapid conversation is not being translated to me - for which I'm grateful, I think). "Is she married!? Does she have any children!?" "Yes!" "She has a son!" And the Greek grandfather meanwhile is mumbling epithets ranging from the mismanagement by the government of everything to the end of civilization as we know it. After we pay for the honey and leave, I realize this is one of those moments that will live with me forever. And if I can't find a way to fit that into a story some way somehow, then I'm not much of a writer, am I?

The guards at Midea

The guards at Tiryns
A few days later, and it's already time to leave. We bid farewell to the environs, to the heat, to the culture, and to the helpful guards at both Midea and Tiryns

A free Greek spirit out for a stroll on Midea

A Helen of Troy contest? We never found out.

Fredocino: the only antidote to the searing Greek heat

Jun 24, 2013

Project Heracles: The Field Work, Part I

Field work, Day 1, was mostly spent unpacking the car, setting up and organizing the field office, establishing the survey base, and disassembling the first batch of seismic stations that had been recording since last September. Then it was off to the supermarket for basic supplies such as 2 liter bottles of water, sandwich making material, tomatoes, cucumbers, retsina, and ouzo. The absolute basics.

Days 2 and 3 were mostly spent in that nasty form of field limbo that geophysicists are sent to when things don't work: waiting for permits, endless discussions about why things don't work, and making trips to get parts and odds and ends. But despite the threat of rain, we made our first passive seismic measurements in Midea. Hurrah!
Klaus, Gregor, Hector and Evi leveling seismometers in Midea
Evi measuring a GPS location on a rock in Tiryns (they're digging in the wrong place, Indie!)
 Another important accomplishment was checking the extent of our new differential GPS in preparation for measuring a gravity profile extending all the way from Tiryns to Midea. Measuring gravity requires precise locations, especially elevation, because gravitational anomalies – those are the interesting things – can only be well modeled if the single points that are measured with a gravimeter are well known. The tidal corrections, elevation corrections, geoid corrections, etc. and so on, all depend on the accuracy of the locations. We are using a Scintrex CG-5 gravimeter that our Belgian colleagues Michel von Camp and Thierry Camelbeeck at the Royal Observatory in Brussels haven generously lent us for the experiments.

While doing our base station tests, we stopped near the house where we had installed a seismometer last year. The nice Greek grandmother who owns the house saw us and made us come inside where she plied us with cucumbers (from her garden), melons (from the neighbor's garden) and fresh well water. I wouldn't have understood a word of her non-stop exuberant conversation if it hadn't been for our versatile and multi-talented geophysicist helper Evi Seferou. Evi kept up a simultaneous translation of Grandma's speech which alternated between exhortations (Eat! Eat! You are all too thin!) and stories about her children, her garden, and whether we wanted to stay the night and keep her company. We brought her cookies the next day, and she yelled even more loudly over the fence and gave us more cucumbers to take home.
A very nice Greek grandmother. Part of me wanted to take her home with us.
 Day 4 was also mostly spent in discussions – it seems that the Greeks are very keen on this. Then after all the tiniest details had been covered, we began to clear the East Gallery in Tiryns in preparation for the 3D laser scanning. It was rank under-gardener work with an industrial weed cutter and hand-pulling dried grasses and the occasional Spritzgurke. Science at its least glamorous. These are the pictures they don't show you in the BBC or Nova presentations about how science works.

Under-gardening on a Mycenaean ruin

Friends for life - Gregor and an industrial-strength weedeater.
 Saturday, we worked until late afternoon – first measuring the gravity along the windy road leading up the slope to the acropolis of Midea. We were only seriously interrupted once by a goat-herding Greek grandmother (the second grandmother in a series of four). She wanted us to move the car because the goats wouldn't go past it. Superstitious goats? Not fond of French cars (Citroen)? She screamed at us (and not the goats) but did not offer us either cucumbers or melons. Her daughter came with a stick and length of thick rubber hose to encourage the goats to follow her. The hose made a low frequency noise as she dragged it behind her that enticed the goats. 

Goat and grandmother
 Evi told me that all the small landholders here have goats or sheep, a few olive or orange trees and impressive gardens (for cucumbers and melons). The government pays a small amount per annum to promote the continuance of the local farming economy. It's not enough to live on. Most of the farmers produce enough for their own use but not much more. 

The road goes ever on and on - the windy drive leading to ancient Midea, for example
Just call me the human raisin because that's what I'll be after another week in the Greek countryside with average temperatures around midday of 34o C in the shade. The east European heat wave is holding strong (probably at least until September), and is now accompanied by a hot wind. This is the perfect weather for a sweaty day in the field. It's the beginning of our second week.
 We completed the planned gravity profile between Tiryns and Midea (40 points total) and three passive seismic arrays. It was not easy. Another screaming Greek grandmother – the Greek name for them is giagiá (pronounced yaya – with emphasis on the second syllable) – threatened the passive seismic crew (Klaus-G. Hinzen and Gregor Schweppe) until Evi calmed her down and convinced her we were not out to steal her land or the hidden gold. Greek men on mopeds were asking what we – Evi and I, the gravity crew – were doing on their land. Our story was convincing enough: that we are investigating the substructure, searching for local faults. One cute Greek guy asked if we were looking for gold. Apparently everyone believes there are hordes of gold secreted all over Greece. Nearly everyone has a map from someone's grandfather with an 'x marks the spot'. Myself, I would just be happy with a hidden grotto with cool spring water and some shade trees.
Hot but not bothered

Next up, Laser scanning, wildlife, and more! Greek grandmothers.