history, writing

Lighting Up the Dark Ages

Good morning! Please bear with me as I try something a little different this morning. Wednesdays are the days that I participate in a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel that has me providing a snippet of my work in progress (a WIPpet). This snippet is supposed to be related in some way to the date, whether it be some sort of convoluted math equation (26th line of the 3rd chapter or 18 words arrived at by adding 3+2+6+2+0+1+4) or something which happened on this day in history (my personal favorite).

Last week I was visiting my chiropractor getting my back cracked back into alignment while he regaled me with writing ideas and suggestions. These usually involve something I am not in the least interested in, i.e. “You should write a 23 volume encyclopedia on the history of library cats in Idaho.” However, this day he began quizzing me about the setting of my new novel series, which occurs in the Dark Ages. It soon became apparent that he knew close to nothing about the age. He prides himself on a passing familiarity with history, so he suggested that I come up with an explanatory note at the beginning of my book orienting the reader in time and place. Have you seen other historical novelists include notes on the time period? What do you think of this idea? My main concern is that it would throw people out of the story. I worked up the following summary, which I can always use in my communications with agents and editors if nothing else. Your comments and impressions are greatly appreciated!

700 ad. It falls squarely in the middle the Dark Ages, an early medieval period whose lack of source material – letters, histories, accounts, and more – have conspired to veil the time in an obscurity lacking in other eras. Little is known about the inner workings of the surviving peoples of Western Europe.

The prevailing power in the Mediterranean, the Roman Empire, had crumbled away into dust, trampled beneath the feet of crude and desperate barbarian peoples from northern wastelands. The Christian church stepped into the void left by Rome, taking on the role of arbiter and agent for society, leading the flock by providing a bastion of law, charity, and education against the rough-hewn forces of chaos.

And while times were grim in Western Europe, the other frogs about the pond of the Mediterranean thrived. Islam united diverse desert tribesmen with Muhammad’s revolutionary teachings. Together, they exploded out of the Middle East in a conquering fury. The Roman Empire, while fallen and dissolute in the West, thrived in the East, around the bulwark of civilization that we know as the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines, despite the fact that they spoke Greek, called themselves Romans, for they were the rightful heirs of the Roman Empire. For a thousand years beyond the accepted date of Rome’s fall – 476 ad — Constantinople glittered on, a jewel of wealth, culture, debauchery and intrigue. So also did other, lesser known forces carry on with daily life – pirate fleets, tribesmen from the steppe, gangs of bandits, and more. The collision of cultures is evident everywhere the young knight Justus and his companions travel, for just because the age was dark does not mean it lacked spirit and vitality. Instead, it served as rich peat for the blossoming of power, passion, and adventure that begins in City of Ages.

Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:

cats, general wackiness, humor, writing

Cats on the Move — Another Edition of Fantastic Gifs!

I’m hard at work recording an audiobook of my humorous title The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior and it occurs to me that I haven’t posted any crazy cat gifs in a while. I maintain a Cat’s Guide page on Facebook where I post funny cat pictures and links on a regular basis, but Facebook is not a fan of gifs. Therefore …

1. Tuesday is HOW far from Friday?








2. “Oh, hi there, dog.”











































Like these? Check out my other gif posts: here, here, here, here, and here!


Cover reveal

Cover Reveal: Emergence ~ Book Two of the Darkness & Light Series

Congratulations to K.L. Schwengel on her cover reveal for Emergence ~ Book Two of the Darkness & Light Series! Isn’t it lovely?


The battle for Ciara’s power has drawn the full attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Mages, forcing Bolin to put duty above safety and take her to Nisair. It won’t be an easy trip, even with an Imperial escort and a Galysian elder accompanying them. Especially since Donovan has found himself some new allies, one of who wields a dark magic that has literally gotten under Bolin’s skin.
For Ciara, coming to terms with the increasingly tangible manifestation of her power could destroy her. Even if they make it to Nisair–something that grows more unlikely by the day–there is no surety of safety for Ciara, or any of them. Not with Donovan willing to gamble everything to achieve his goals, or Bolin’s uncharacteristically reckless behavior, the result of which is the attention of something that has everyone worried.
Loyalties will be tested, lives will be lost, and no one will emerge unchanged as they find things are not always so clear on the line dividing Darkness and Light.

Interested? Why not start with Book One – First of Her Kind:

Everyone, it seems, wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life:  Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt. All Ciara really wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.
And that’s not going to be easy.
Not only are they in complete opposition to each other, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there’s Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There’s no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants? Or her power?
None of which will matter if Ciara can’t overcome her fear, and learn how to use her gifts. No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control.
Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever trapped between Darkness and Light?

Amazon~Kindle * Amazon~Paperback * Smashwords * Barnes&Noble NookBooks * Kobo

authpicAbout the author:

K. L. Schwengel lives in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with her husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona the Cat, and assorted livestock. Growing up as the youngest of nine children, and the daughter of a librarian, Kathi spent many hours between stacks of books, and secluded away in dusty archives, drawn to tales of medieval heroes and conquering knights. With so many characters and ideas spinning in her head, she had to get them onto paper or risk what little sanity she possessed. She has been penning wild tales of magic and mayhem as long as she can remember, but opted to follow her artistic muse first. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and spending many years working as a freelance artist, grocery clerk, art teacher, graphic designer, stable hand, advertising account coordinator, dog trainer, and process technician (among other things) she answered the call of her writing muse. When not writing, Kathi trains and trials working Australian Shepherds, still paints, dabbles in photography, graphic design, and anything else creative her assorted muses send her way.

Kathi’s work is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other on-line retailers in both paperback and e-book versions. Signed copies are available via her blog.

How to connect:

Blog * Facebook * Pinterest * Twitter * Goodreads

inspiration, travel

Travel Worries

bags-166764_640When I get in a car to go on a road trip, or haul my suitcase into the airport to board a plane to some exotic port, I am usually too excited by the prospect of getting away from it all to spend a lot of time worrying. But, I must confess, that I do have some anxiety when my plane takes off, and also when it lands. The thrust of the engines, the shuddering of that metal shell suddenly seems far too fragile.

And as far as riding in a car, well, I can never quite forget that two close family members have been killed in separate crashes. Death is never too far from life, really. But giving in to fear is not something I do if at all possible. What remedies do I use? Just one, usually. Affirmative prayer. It is a type of prayer that is positive, and powerful, and gets right to the heart of what ails me. Perhaps you might find comfort in one of the below prayers, or  suggest them to family members or close companions anxious about your journeys.

Girl prayingBlessing for Autos
This is God’s automobile. God’s law of order is evident in every aspect of its operation. God’s wisdom inspires the driver to be alert, to use good judgment, and to make right decisions. Everyone who travels in this car is safe and at peace.

Blessing for Airplanes
This is God’s airplane. As God’s law of order keeps the stars in their courses and the sun and moon in their paths, so it guides and directs the pilot and crew of this plane. The presence of God fills each person on board with a spirit of peace. I rest secure in God’s protecting presence, and all is well.


Cover Redesign, Sale, and WIPpet Wednesday

Good morning everyone! Well, “morning” might be an exaggeration. I’m not quite awake despite the fact that it’s closing on 10. Still, hurrah! Lots of news today:

Necropolis has a shiny, brand new cover AND a limited time $.99 price tag. What could be better?

Cover art for Necropolis by Xina Marie Uhl

When prison guard Conyr rescues a young priest from execution, he sets off a dangerous adventure that brings allies in a scheming politician, a mischievous urchin, and a beautiful tavern server. Together, the group must navigate a maze of power-hungry rivals, skilled assassins, and deadly sorcery. For the young priest’s lost memory holds the key to more than his past, but the fate of two cities.

Regular price – $3.99 / on sale for $.99 through 3/16

While I absolutely LOVED my last cover, I received very good feedback that it didn’t communicate “epic fantasy” to readers. I’m hoping that this one does, and that sales will improve forthwith. *keeping fingers crossed*

WIPpet … whip it good

Today is the day of the week where I share a little snippet of my work in progress, thus, a WIPpet. It is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them.

HistoryOrb.com tells me that on this day in 538 AD Witiges, king of the Ostrogoths, gave over his siege of Rome, and retreated to Italy’s capital of the day, Ravenna. He left the city in the hands of Belisarius, that most wily and talented of Byzantine generals. Alas, Justinian’s generals did recapture a good part of the old Roman Empire for the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) but it was not to last long before the barbarian hordes reasserted themselves. While I do not feature any Ostrogoths (the name means “eastern Goths”) in City of Ages, I do feature some Visigoths (the name meaning “western Goths”). Our intrepid hero Justus has just met one, Gundemar, who complements him on his “obvious” riches. At first Justus thinks he is referring to his horse …

Gundemar made an appreciative clucking sound. “Yes, he is strong and sturdy, indeed. But that is not what I speak of.” A sly look came over his features. His eyes, large and hazel, combined with his defined cheekbones, gave him the air of a crafty, wild creature – a fox, perhaps, or maybe a cougar. The woman who sat next to him – thin and smudged with old, oily dirt – tittered.

 “Then what, my armor?”

“Yes, of course your armor! Well-oiled and obviously labored over by your young man.” He indicated Tristan, who lurked in the shadows behind Justus, finding the heat of the fire too intense, not to mention the light. The shadows suited him better. “Yet that is not all, for many have armor that is finer, or better fitting. Perhaps even some of your own men.”

At this, several of the mercenaries who were standing around the fire, listening or relaxing or poking at the fire with sticks, elbowed one another and laughed.

“What, then?” asked Justus.

“Have you no more guesses?”

“I suspect that whatever I come up with next will be similarly discarded. Come now, sir. I grow impatient.”

“Why, it is your hair and your bare chin, of course! Not only have you obviously bathed most recently –” at this he gave an exaggerated sniff and sighed with pleasure at the smell, much to the amusement of the two young boys who flitted back and forth, playing some sort of loud, shrieking game that everyone ignored. “—but it is clear that your hair has been shaped by someone who caters to the wealthy.” He gestured at the mercenaries. “In other words, you did not shear it off yourself with your cooking knife like these fellows.” He regarded Justus critically. “This same person shaved your beard, did he not? It is cut most nicely, and what little has grown back since this grooming seems entirely lacking in lice and fleas!”

Justus laughed. “This is your evidence? That I am not swarming with insects?”

Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:


A Moment on the Road

It’s Wednesday again, and thus the day of the week where I share a little snippet of my work in progress, thus, a WIPpet. It is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them.

Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:


I am, yet again, too lazy to look up what happened today in history, and will instead post a few lines from the fifth page of the third chapter (3/5). Usually I post on Wednesday evenings, but I’ve got a long day in store for me tomorrow so I’m posting early for once.

With no further adieu, a little from the newly christened City of Ages:


They traveled ten miles that first day, slow miles over gentle, rolling hills, following the rock paving on the old Roman road, passing by the vivid green trees and lush undergrowth of the forest. Tristan led a long-eared, long-faced mule that he called Henry.

“Henry?” Justus asked, dubious and amused. Tristan was less apt to take offense to him lately, but Justus tried not to goad him too much since that might change at any moment.

“Henry is a strong name,” Tristan declared, patting Henry’s thick brown neck.

“It is well that you have such affection for him, since you are responsible for his care,” Justus pointed out.

“So it is,” Tristan agreed. “Would that I had such affection for all my duties.” He slid a sly glance at Justus.

“Hmmph,” Justus replied, then aimed a light kick at the back of Tristan’s head, the doing of which caused a minor scuffle as they swatted at one another, laughing, until Justus remembered that his place as leader of this expedition probably did not allow for such foolishness, and he better comported himself.

photography, travel, Weekly Travel Theme, writing

Travel Theme: Ancient

The ancient world has long been an obsession of mine. It’s so far away from us, but remnants still exist, like the 360° circle which originated with the Babylonians, and the tumbled remains of blocks in the Roman Forum, which is where the below photo was taken. It really resonated with me because “Sena” is the way that the Italians pronounced my first name, Xina. And indeed, I do love Rome. If you, too, love the ancient world, consider checking out my fantasy adventure Necropolis, which has been my piece of fiction which was most inspired by those long ago cultures around the Mediterranean.

Tumbled columns in Roman Forum


Would you like to participate in this photography challenge? Visit Wheresmybackpack to learn more or view other photos.