It’s in the Cards!


Photo Credit–Laura Perkins

Work continues on the second book of the Heiromancer Trilogy–I’ve completed my in-depth edit of the second book, A House of Cards, and it’s shaping up nicely. It should be ready to ship out for external editing shortly, I had the privilege of reading excerpts at the Southern California Writers’ Conference last weekend, which was a ton of fun and is a great way to keep up to day on the publishing business and connect with other writers and publishing professionals. Next up–designing the new cover!

For those who are as yet unfamiliar with the Dreamweaver Chronicles, The Demon of Histlewick Downs, which serves as a stand-alone prelude to the Heiromancer Trilogy, is free on Amazon for a few more days. If you snag one and like it, please consider leaving a review. Enjoy!

My Very Own Rhineland Connection

Reading House of Johann got me thinking about my own German roots on my mom’s side. My mom’s father, Levi Ruffing, was born in 1896, married late, and passed away when I was 9 or 10 (and my mom was 32-ish) so I didn’t know him well. I had certainly never had an opportunity to meet his parents, though I’d been told their names–Joseph Ruffing and Theresa (Tessie) O’Donnell (daughter of Hugh and Mary O’Donnell). I do recall asking my grandmother what nationality “Ruffing” was (at my brother’s wedding reception) and she’d said it was Prussian. Armed with that data, I internet searched for relatives of Joseph Ruffing and immediately brought up the following picture:

Peter Joseph Ruffing

Since the search brought up a number of other Joseph Ruffings, my initial instinct was to start checking through them to make sure this was the right one – until I took a closer look at the image (and perhaps my relatives will back me up here) and realized the resemblance to my grandfather is uncanny, right down to the uneven widow’s peak, which I alone of my siblings also inherited, as seen below. (That photo was probably the last time my hair was short enough for it to be obvious–Stylist Credit–Ev Bornemann).

A closer look at the site (which also has an image of Peter’s grave marker) confirmed his image is indeed a photo of my grandfather’s grandfather. Further searching revealed he was born in Schwabisch Hall, a fascinating town about 180 miles southeast across the Rhine from House of Johann’s Oberzerf., by the way, has the family line hopelessly confused, which would have made a search directly back from my grandfather difficult (they have Joseph’s son, born the year of my grandfather Levi, named Franz (his middle name was Francis), and great-aunt Irene isn’t listed). They also have Joseph married to Theresia O’Donell instead of Theresa O’Donnell – but at least they got great-uncle Ray correct.

I haven’t found any more information directly back through Peter’s line, but there were apparently a large number of Ruffings in Oberbexbach in Saarland in the early 1800s, which is a mere 45 miles from Oberzerf. That line also contains a number of Peters and Josephs and traces eventually back to French ancestry. Would probably take some digging to firm up that connection, though. May be time to consult with Kathi Gosz for her sources.

A Truly Captivating Read

In House of Johann, Kathi Gosz shares her love of 19th-century Rhineland from the perspective of her ancestors, the Rauls, a farming family in the village of Oberzerf. Gosz’s gentle approach is immersive – while events and details were thoroughly researched and information-packed, I experienced them not as though I learned them, but as though I’d lived them as a member of the Rauls family. The writing is straightforward and endearing, setting the perfect tone for relating the joys and heartaches of these unpretentious hard-working folk. Through Gosz’s remarkable tale, we glimpse a slice of the Rhineland during a simpler time – at least as far as the technology goes. For when it comes to the strong-willed Rauls, we are reminded that few things in life are as complex as family.

Note: Mom knew Kathi Gosz in passing when they were both students at St. Mary’s High School in Menasha. I’m sorry Mom didn’t get a chance to read this–historical fiction was her favorite genre, and I’m sure it would have made her smile.


Dorothy Irene Bornemann, age 76, passed away on Thursday, January 26, 2017. Dorothy was born in Stockbridge, Wisconsin on August 16, 1940 to the late Levi and Irene (Price) Ruffing. On August 1, 1957 she married Everett H. Bornemann in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Stockbridge. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Gloria (Joe) Torres, Lucy (Keith) Stuckey, and Sylvia Ruffing, as well as her brother Bernard (Dolores) Ruffing. She is survived by her husband Everett, her three sons, Scott (Nancy Van Dera), Douglas (Genelle Belmas) and Bradley, her grandchildren Derek Bornemann and Brittany (Geoffrey Cook) Bornemann, and great-granddaughter Indie Cook. Dorothy’s signature blend of wit and mischief enlivened every gathering, and to her twinkling eye, no cow was sacred. For her family, she was fearless and indefatigable—in the face of her quiet strength and deep wisdom, no challenge was too great, no issue too trivial. Through her love of gardening and the steadfast support of husband Ev, she transformed her yard into a verdant summer sanctuary. Lively curiosity drove her lifelong quest for new experiences, technologies, and knowledge, though quite reasonably, she drew the line at sushi. When her light winked out, the whole world dimmed. We love her beyond words, beyond reason, beyond time. A celebration of Dorothy’s life will be held at 3 pm on Saturday, February 4th at Countryside Golf Course, W726 Weiler Road, Kaukauna, WI, 54130, though visitors are welcome to pay respects any time between 1 and 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, please come prepared with a cherished memory of Dorothy to share.

Practical Phrendonics Available in Paperback

The wait for the first volume of the Heiromancer Trilogy is over! To order through CreateSpace:

Paperback availability through Amazon may take a few more days. Remember, regardless of where you buy, Amazon or Goodreads reviews are always appropriate and welcome.

Welcome to Trifienne!

At last! Practical Phrendonics, Book Two of the Dreamweaver Chronicles, will be live for download starting tomorrow December 8, 2016. Unlike The Demon of Histlewick Downs, which was a stand-alone novel, Practical Phrendonics kicks off the Heiromancer Trilogy (Practical Phrendonics, A House of Cards, and The Hanged Man’s Gambit) which together will form the next discrete unit in the Chronicles. Ten years ago, when I first set fingers to keyboard, I would never have anticipated where this path would lead. May it be every bit as magical for you (and if it is, I hope you’ll leave a review to let me know).


I’d like to give a shout out to C.M. Allen for his fantastic rendition of the City State of Trifienne. (Note, only the inset portion appears in the ebook–the full map you see here, will appear in the soon-to-be-released paperback version).

We did it, Nero–I miss ya, bud.

Book Review: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

In The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson enables the reader to journey the world of Lovecraft through the eyes of a sensible and accomplished woman of a certain age. Beautiful stylized prose escorts Vellitt to increasingly fantastic destinations at a determined but contemplative pace fittingly evocative of precisely what one might imagine a dream-quest should be. For me, the allure of fantasy as a genre lies in its potential for breaking molds—my preferences run to well-crafted stories that take me places I haven’t been before. With Dream-Quest, Kij delivers. Very nicely done.


Practical Phrendonics, Book Two of the Dreamweaver Chronicles, is back from the editor. It will be the first book of a trilogy (with DoHD serving as a Prelude). I’m in the process of addressing the various editorial issues and hope to have a finished product in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned!



My grandmother passed in 1984, while I was still in college. Typical of most good Catholic families of the time, ours boasted a man of the cloth who, on such occasions, could be depended upon to do the honors. I recall sitting next to my mother at the church-basement dinner following the services. Although I had never met him, Father Martin and my mother were first cousins and had been childhood friends. Gentle and soft-spoken, he headed the table, regaling his extended family, which included a number of formidable women, with quaint stories about his flock. One such tale involved the doings of the “old women of the Church.” Now, I confess to having inherited my mother’s somewhat unconventional sense of humor, from which no occasion, regardless of its solemnity, is entirely safe.

Assuming my most earnest expression, I raised my hand and interrupted the good Father mid-anecdote. “Father Martin,” I asked. “I’m curious. At what age does a woman become ‘old?'”

He paused, blinking. Silence fell. The table, populated primarily by female relatives, became palpably attentive.

With a gulp, he looked to my mother. Perhaps he was hoping to be rescued. If so, he’d appealed to the wrong savior.

My mother folded her arms. “Actually,” she said. “I’m sort of interested in hearing your answer.”

“Very well,” he said. He spoke slowly, as though choosing his words with infinite care. “In my experience, a woman becomes old at that point at which she becomes proud of her age.”

Greeted by a round of satisfied nods, Father Martin heaved a relieved sigh and quickly resumed his tale.

All these years later, I’m still convinced it’s the right answer.

Childish Naiveté

Licensed under creative commons attribution

Holocaust Memorial: David Williss–Licensed under creative commons attribution.

I remember as a child learning about the Holocaust, I was stupefied that such atrocities could have been committed in my parents’ lifetimes. I recall my childish relief at having been born in a “more enlightened” time–a time when such despicable acts would be unthinkable. People were better now, weren’t they?

Later, when my graduate training made it clear that the genetic composition of a population is unlikely to change significantly in a single generation, my childish perception developed cracks, but I was thankful that at least the culture had advanced–the brutal societal conditions that had produced such deep-seated angst were surely behind us, weren’t they?

Then, as I witnessed the rise of Fox News, and on its heels the soaring popularity of Donald Trump, I realized it’s not the actual conditions–it’s people’s perceptions that matter.

As a child, I used to sympathize with those who’d argued they were “only following orders.”  Oppose such a brutal regime? At what personal cost?

That was before I appreciated that to empower such a regime, many must be complicit. In The Demon of Histlewick Downs, Flinch would have understood this principle all too well, though he might argue that without benefit of hindsight, most couldn’t have foreseen the horrors their hatred would spawn.

We cannot say the same. History has taught us the risks of power acquired by exploiting hate. Ignorance is no excuse.


It’s Alive!

I’m delighted to report that after a grueling hiatus (that involved moving halfway across the country), I’m finally able to devote some love to the second book in the Dreamweaver Chronicles. The manuscript, which is envisioned as the first in a trilogy (to which the Demon of Histlewick Downs will serve as a prequel) will be heading off to the editor on Thursday (8/20). Wish me luck!

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