Saturday Photo Prompt | The Open Door

jmspp_logoLook at the picture below and write a 100 word story. It really is that simple.

If you care to share, either post a link to your story in the comments, or post the whole story.

I can’t wait to see what you write!

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Knockoffs are older than you think

1280px-Ufberht_gerade

About 1000 years before there was Fauxlex (Fake Rolex), there was the Ulfberht+.

The what?

Back in the age of viking world domination, wars were fought by hand, and a good sword was often the difference between life and death. But swords from 1000 years ago where pretty poor quality things. Blacksmiths would do their best, but almost no one could get their fires hot enough to blast out the impurities in steel. And impure steel made for impure swords.

But there was one sword that broke all the rules. The Ulfberht.

A Frankish name that might translate to something like “Wolf-Light”, no one really knows where the Ulfberht swords came from, nor why the secret to their creation was lost for almost 800 years. Somehow, someone stumbled across the secret for crucible steel. Basically, instead of putting your iron into an oven and letting it heat up, you build an oven around the iron and superheat the poop out of it. The result was an incredible pure steel that was both strong and flexible.

The swords made from this steel would have been legendary. And from legends, come knockoffs.

There have been 44 swords discovered to have the word “Ulfberht” inscribed along the blade. But of those 44, only 11 are made from crucible steel. The rest are made from the inferior steel that was common to that time.

Aside from the metallurgical differences between the two, there was a difference in spelling as well. Though the name and the origin of the inscription are a mystery, the 11 good swords spell Ulfberht as “VLFBERH+T”. The rest spell it as “VLFBERHT+”.

Can you imagine how angry you would be if you spent good money on an Ulfberht sword that turned out to be a knockoff? At least your anger would be short-lived, since you would also likely be short-lived.

If you are interested in seeing how the Ulfberht sword is made, check out the awesome video below.

8 Questions | Meet Patrick W. Carr

patrickwcarrI would like to introduce you to Patrick W. Carr.

I just finished reading the second in Patrick W. Carr‘s The Staff & The Sword series, The Hero’s Lot, and I thought I’d drop a note to the author to tell him how much I enjoyed it. To my pleasant surprise, he wrote back. And so I asked Patrick if he’d be willing to answer a few questions for me to share with you, my blog readers.

9780764210440If you haven’t read the series yet, make sure you pick it up soon (here’s my review for The Hero’s Lot).

Here’s the interview:

1. How long have you been working on the Staff & the Sword series?

I started the series back in ’06 or ’07. I was a few chapters in when I decided I didn’t really like the direction it was headed, os I stopped. About four years ago I had an “aha” moment about how to approach the story and really began to work on it. I had most of the first book written by the fall of 2010 and started working on the sequels the following year.

2. Where did you learn about the fighting techniques that you use in the series?

I fenced a bit in college. The rest of it I studied. As far as describing the pain of different injuries goes, I just relied on all the different sports injuries I suffered. I’m pretty well acquainted with that type of pain, so the prose came pretty easily.

3. If you could have lunch with one of your characters, who would you choose?

It would probably be Martin. He’s well-educated but without being proud, well, not overly proud anyway. I’d like to just talk to him and have him teach me the important things he’s learned about God.

4. Some readers of traditional Christian books may have trouble with some of the choices that your characters make or the amount of violence in the books. What would you tell these potential readers?

I would tell them that history is a long stretch of violence interrupted by brief moments of peace. If one reads the Bible as an historical document (in addition to it being God’s inspired word) what will come across is that we inhabit a violent world populated by people who make bad choices. I think we need to be careful about presenting a sterilized version of our faith. If the requirement for the Church is that we no longer make bad choices, I’m pretty sure I’ll be one of the first people that gets kicked out.

5. Given how seamlessly your first two books fit together, did you complete the whole series before getting the first book published, or are you writing them one at a time?

I wrote books two and three after the first book came out but the story I wrote was all one. In essence, what I really had to do was find resolution points for each book, not come up with additional story lines. The most difficult ending to write was actually for “A Cast of Stones,” the first book in the series.

6. Would you describe your writing space?

I’m either parked at the dining room table or hanging out at Starbuck’s. Either way, I like to have a cup of coffee beside me and maybe some chocolate munchies to go with it. If I’m at Starbuck’s, I’m listening to the music, but if I’m at home I’ve got my earbuds in and I’m letting some easy jazz wash over me. That and my laptop is really all I need.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Join a writer’s group. Join a critique group. Study the craft (Stein on Writing is great). And be patient. The publishing industry moves at a glacial pace. It takes years to get published.

8. What do you want people to know about you aside from your writing?

The writing is enough. There’s not much about me that’s remarkable, but if folks are curious, they can visit my website: www.patrickwcarr.com