A Dog on Death Row

Milo, a dog in need of good luck for a change

Milo, a dog in need of good luck for a change

To some, that may sound melodramatic, but it is an accurate description of Milo’s plight. Milo is a young white German shepherd, just three years old, currently being held at a high-kill shelter in Orlando, Florida. High-kill shelters are overcrowded and under-staffed, and they can offer dogs only a narrow window of opportunity to find new homes and new lives. Milo’s time is running out, for he will be eligible for euthanasia on August 2nd. This doesn’t mean that Milo will automatically be put down on Tuesday, but it does mean that if more dogs come into the shelter and they need room for them, he is likely to be one picked for euthanasia, despite being young, healthy, and friendly. I am in awe of those who work in rescue; I don’t know how they find the strength to persevere, for they get their hearts broken on a daily basis. They cannot save them all, and just as the police do, they get to see the worst of human nature. It is bound to be emotionally and physically exhausting, and yet they keep doing it, one cat or dog at a time. Those who work in horse rescue have an even more daunting challenge, of course. It takes courage and dedication and all of us who love animals should be grateful that they are willing to work on the front lines.

Shadow's Before photo


Milo needs a foster home ASAP. Joan, who was Tristan’s Echo angel, can’t take him herself, as she has just started to foster a young female with kennel cough, which she has to keep separate from her own four dogs. Echo does not have any foster homes open at present for Milo. If someone can commit to fostering him, Echo can remove him from the shelter and put him temporarily in a boarding kennel, but only up to a week. And they cannot do that unless they know he’ll have a place waiting for him. I admit that this case hits close to home for me. Milo is three, just like Shadow, and he looks eerily like Shadow; moreover, this is the same high-kill shelter where Tristan was held. Tristan beat the odds, thanks in great measure to Joan, who pulled him on his last day, and to Becky, who offered to foster him, and then to the thirteen wonderful people who volunteered to help get Tristan to his new home, driving him up the East Coast to me, a pilgrimage that my friend Glenne likened to the passing of the Olympic Torch. I very much hope that Milo will be able to beat the odds like Tristan.

Tristan's Before Photo


Shadow's After Photo

As precarious as Milo’s predicament is, he is not even the most endangered dog at the shelter; Joan says there is a seven month old black and tan female there whose time runs out on Saturday. She is just a puppy, and her sad-eyed look is haunting. Here is her photo.


Tristan beat the odds in another way—he was so lucky to be picked up in Orlando County, even though shelter dogs there have a limited opportunity to find new homes. Had he been found in Polk County, where Joan lives, he’d have been doomed from the outset, for Polk County does not adopt out German shepherds, Rotweillers, Dobermans, and pit bulls. They are not offered to the public, are held for five days in case a rescue group is willing to take one, and then are put down, no matter how adoptable they may be. I know that cities like Detroit and Miami do not adopt out pit bulls, which are usually seized in raids on dog fighting rings, for it was believed that these dogs could not be rehabilitated.The Mike Vick pit bulls proved us wrong on that; they were given a rare chance by court order and of the more than fifty dogs taken from his property, only two had to be euthanized. Several have even become therapy dogs.So we ought never to assume that second chances will be wasted—on people or dogs. Sadly, Florida’s many high-kill shelters are not unique; this is a problem in other areas of the country, too, particularly in the South, which is why there are regular caravan runs from these shelters to shelters where the dogs will not automatically be euthanized once their time runs out.

Some of my friends have become volunteers for Echo’s transports in the wake of my adoption of Tristan, and they all say it is remarkably rewarding to know they are helping to give a dog a new home. And by helping these dogs in need, we are helping other people, too, giving joy to those who will adopt them. As I said, this is very personal for me because of my experiences with my three shepherds, all wonderful, smart, loving dogs that could so easily have been euthanized with a little less luck. I am putting up a photo of Milo; I wasn’t able to do so with the young female shepherd whose time is running out, so I just included the link for her. I am also going to post Before and After photos of Shadow and Tristan to show how an abused, neglected animal can thrive in a good home. I am asking all of my fellow dog lovers to post this blog or the information about Milo on your Facebook pages. The more people who know about his peril, the more likely it is that someone may be able to foster him and literally save his life—or the life of the little girl who may doomed to die at seven months of age.

I’ll end this by commenting again upon the enormous admiration I have for those who try to save our society’s throwaway dogs and cats, animals that were once automatically put down. Att least now many of them are given second chances, thanks in great measure to the people who work in rescue, and to those willing to consider adoption. Their efforts remind me of a story I once read, which may or may not be true. A young boy came upon hundreds and hundreds of starfish that had been washed ashore by a high tide and were dying on the sand. He began to pick them up and throw them back into the water. A man passing by stopped to watch and then said, “Why are you bothering to do this? You can’t save them all, so what difference are you making?”The boy returned a starfish to the sea and then said, “It makes a difference to that one.”

If you think you can help, you can contact Joan at jga@catniptrails.com or me at sharonkaypenman@gmail.com.

81 Responses to “A Dog on Death Row”

  1. Paula Says:

    Sharon, I wish I could travel to Florida to save Milo. If it was possible, my house in Australia would be full of rescue animals. Some might say it already is when I have two rescue cats and two rescue rabbits, plus one of my guinea pigs was rescued. I have become a lot more informed about what goes on here in Australia at shelters. One of our main animal rescue organizations, the RSPCA does some amazing work at protecting animals and working hard to close puppy farms but they also euthanase a lot of healthy animals that cannot be re-homed. I used to be a regular financial supporter of the RSPCA but I am somewhat conflicted now. However, I still wear my RSPCA ‘Close puppy factories’ t-shirt. Being able to buy puppies from shop window displays is where a lot of the problems begin. For every puppy sold another is bred to replace it. Puppies are too easily available and are often bought without thought to what it truly means to commit to providing for a pet. Too any end up in shelters and the vicious cycle repeats itself

  2. Paula Says:

    Oops, accidentally posted too soon. The last sentence should read-
    Too many end up in shelters and the vicious cycle repeats itself. Over the last year or so I have been thinking about what animals I will adopt in the future. I have decided that from now on I will only adopt elderly cats as they can be so difficult to re- home. Still working on my bunny position. Two very cute bunny sisters need to be adopted from a nearby shelter. They are quite young but need to be re-homed in a home with no children. Tempting!

  3. skpenman Says:

    I had great trouble posting this earlier today, and thankfully my web master was able to get the problems resolved. But the After photo of Tristan was omitted somehow. Those who haven’t seen him on my Facebook pages will have to take my word for it that he is a totally different dog from that skinny boy shown above. For one thing, he now tops the scales at over 90 lbs!
    Paula, I know exactly what you mean about elderly cats and I have also decided that I will be looking for older dogs to adopt in the future, too. If Milo can get into foster care, I’m sure he’ll be able to find a wonderful home; same for that 7 month old puppy. That is what is so sad. But Tristan was more of a challenge to adopt, given his age, although he turned out to be closer to 6 than to 9 because of severe malnutrition.

  4. Brenna Says:


    I know it wasn’t your intention, but you’ve had me in tears for the past 10 minutes thinking of these precious dogs that may not ever have the chance to know what it feels like to be loved, cared for, and taken care of. I posted a Facebook message about these two and hopefully my friends will pass along. I would take them both in a heartbeat if the circumstances were right. I feel so very helpless.

  5. Janet Says:

    I loves me some German Shepherd.

  6. skpenman Says:

    Brenna, posting on Facebook is huge, for we never know when a message finds the right person. Also, by posting, you remind your Facebook friends of the dangers that dogs like Milo and the puppy face and the need for adoption.

  7. Thomas Greene Says:

    Sharon I would take him in a heart beat if I didn’t live in an Apartment. I’m talking about Milo. I so hope he is adopted soon and not destroyed. That would be just such a tragedy. I really like the white German Shepherds. Had one many moons ago named salt. He had a taste for UPS drivers, lol.

  8. skpenman Says:

    They are wonderful dogs, aren’t they, Thomas? Salt is a good name for one. I’ve had five shepherds in the course of my life, the last two white ones and they seem to be a little more mellow than their black and tan cousins. They certainly attract more attention; people reacted to Shadow and now Tristan as if I had a unicorn on the end of my leash. I’ll let everyone know, of course, as soon as I hear anything about Milo or the little girl.

  9. Joan Says:

    Sharon - thank you so much for your post & plight in helping these dogs. With enough exposure, the right person will see them and be able to provide a foster home. Far too many fall through the cracks of society. Although rescue can seem daunting, it is stories like Tristan’s that make me smile every day and renew my hope for the next wagging tail in line.
    Thank you - to all Sharon’s friends & fans - you ARE helping tremendously by sharing & posting these dogs and this blog!
    Joan A.
    Catnip Trails Rescue

  10. Joan Szechtman Says:

    I have so much admiration for those folks who are able to rehabilitate these beautiful animals. I am in complete awe and wish I had the ability myself.

  11. Koby Says:

    Today, Henri II of Champagne, the son of Marie of France (Eleanor’s daughter) and Henri I of Champagne, Richard’s nephew and ally and King of Jerusalem was born.

  12. skpenman Says:

    Thanks for reminding me, Koby. Henri is a major character in Lionheart, with lots of time on centre stage.

  13. Brenna Says:

    So Henri I and Henri II shared the same birthday? That’s cool. Do we know if Marie and Henri had a happy marriage?

  14. Britta B. Says:

    My greyhounds hope Milo and the puppy get to be as lucky as they are but know many dogs don’t make it to forever homes. As you said, one dog at a time will make a difference, no matter how depressing the overall state of the situation is.

  15. skpenman Says:

    We can never be sure, of course, Brenna, but all the indications were that they did have a good marriage. Unlike his brother Thibault, who had a dark side to his nature, Henri I seems to have been a good guy. Are you saying that “my” Henri’s father was born on July 29th, too? I didn’t know that.

  16. Brenna Says:

    Ha! No, I read Koby’s post as Henri I and Henri II were born on the same day! That’s what I get for reading too fast!!

  17. Koby Says:

    Brenna - or maybe that’s what I get for not writing clearly.
    Today, Philip III ‘the Good’, Duke of Burgundy, who was father to Charles the Bold and responsible for the capture of Joan of Arc.

  18. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is the link to an interesting article about the George Martin Ice and Fire series. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/26/george-r-r-martin-fantasy-reality

  19. Koby Says:

    Well, that’s weird. It seems the internet ate my last part of yesterday’s dates - that Philip was born that day, and that the Jews were exiled from Spain.
    In any case, today, Louis VI ‘le Gros’ of France, ‘our’ Louis (Louis VII, who married Eleanor) father died, Edmund of Langley, the Founder of the House of York, Duke Richard’s father also died, and lastly, Happy Lammas to all who celebrate!

  20. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook note.

    On August 1, 1192, Richard Lionheart fought the first battle of Jaffa; normally I’d give more details about this remarkable episode, but I am practicing something that does not come easily to me–restraint–since Lionheart is now barely two months from its pub. date. I am going to have book giveaways in August and September for Devil’s Brood; more on that in a few days. Meanwhile, I hope all those still suffering through this Summer from Hell are coping as best they can. We are enduring our sixth heat wave here, but at least we have not been cursed with the dreadful record-breaking drought that has caused such damage throughout much of the American South and Midwest.

    On the subject of Milo and the young female shepherd on death row in Florida, Tristan’s Echo Angel Joan is working very hard to help them and hopes to have some news by tomorrow.

    On the book front, I am finally going to be able to start Elizabeth Chadwick’s Lady of the English this week, her novel about the Empress Maude and Queen Adelzia. Since I believe she calls the empress Matilda, this is probably a good time to remind people that both names are correct. Maude is the French form of the name, what the empress would have called herself, and Matilda is the Latin version, the one that naturally appears in the chronicles. Since Stephen’s queen shared the same name, I was very grateful to have a choice when I wrote When Christ and his Saints Slept. I am always thankful when I can find variant forms of the same name, given the medieval penchant for recycling the same family names. Even more unforgivably, they sometimes gave the same name to both legitimate and illegitimate sons, as when John named two of his sons Richard. And I won’t even try to speculate why this complicated man would have named two sons after the brother he so loathed; it is too early in the morning for that. William and Geoffrey are good names in that they have numerous variations. Philip is the worst, since there are just the English and French versions.

    Lastly, here is a link to a story sure to bring smiles to all faces. Some of you may have seen it before. It is a series of amazing photos of dogs being rescued in the aftermath of that terrible tornado in Joplin and what happens when a cat is added to the mix. http://www.mixbook.com/photo-books/nature/after-the-tornado-990352

  21. Dawn Says:

    I just checked the shelter site, around 10:30 pm est, and it said the file was being updated. I pray that that means Milo has been rescued.

    Here is a copy of my post I left on your GoodReads page of your blog post.

    My husband and I have recently become volunteers with a central Florida dog rescue group, helping with transport. We just adopted another rescue just a couple of months ago, making a total of 8 animals, all of which are spayed and neutered. To see this dog is here in Orlando, I can’t help but wonder if this is the owner surrender shelter. Every time I’m near that place I get so disgusted to know that all of those animals are there because they didn’t fit into someones life. I realize that some are due to unforeseen, unavoidable situations but way too many are there for reasons that could have been avoided.

    I applaud Penman for bringing light to this situation and pray Milo has or will find his forever home.

  22. skpenman Says:

    Dawn, Milo and the young shepherd’s chances have brightened, thanks to Joan’s tireless work on their behalf. I hope to have definite word about them in the next day or so. But neither is in immediate danger of being put down, thankfully. I will let everyone know what happens as soon as I can. I don’t know how either of them ended up at the Orlando shelter. But Milo was lucky he was found in Orlando County; if he’d been picked up in neighboring Polk County, they wouldn’t have even offered him up for adoption, as they put down all German shepherds, rotweillers, dobermans, and pit bulls, no matter how young, friendly, or healthy the dogs may be.

  23. Koby Says:

    Today, The Decisive Battle of Chaeronea which most likely lead to the rise of Macedon and later Alexander took place. The famous Battle of Cannae, where Hannibal defeated the Romans yet again took place as well. And in matters of relevance to Sharon’s books, William II ‘Rufus’ of England died, leading to the reign of Henry I, and so did Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, who married Joanna Plantagenet.

  24. Brenna Says:


    The fact that the shepherds are safe, at least for now, is big news. I was sick all day Saturday thinking it was that young shepherds last day! Crossing my fingers!

  25. skpenman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note, titled “…sad stories of the deaths of kings.”

    I am not sure why, but that quote from Shakespeare’s Richard II popped into my head as I contemplated doing a Note today about two controversial medieval deaths. The full quote goes, “Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the deaths of kings.” On this date in 1100, William Rufus died while hunting in the New Forest, shot in the heart by an arrow aimed by one of his companions, Walter Tirel, Lord of Poix. The latter apparently panicked, for he at once fled. William’s younger brother Henry left the body there in the woods and raced for Winchester, where the royal treasure was kept, and claimed the crown. The king’s corpse was finally loaded onto a cart by either peasants or minor royal servants–the accounts differ–and taken to Winchester for burial the next day. It was certainly a convenient death for Henry, as William Rufus was only forty and in good health. But according to Frank Barlow, William Rufus’s most recent biographer, it was acccepted that the king’s death was an accident, although many clerics felt that God had directed Tirel’s arrow. Later historians would view the events in the New Forest with considerably more suspicion, of course. Barlow discusses the subject in some depth and seems to conclude that it was likely an accident, not all that uncommon. One of the Empress Maude’s most trusted advisers, Miles of Gloucester, was killed while hunting on Christmas Eve 1143. Henry certainly did not show much brotherly concern, but then he was a cold, hard man, ruthless when need be, one reason why he would prevail over his older brother Robert, Duke of Normandy. So I suppose William Rufus’s death must remain as one more medieval mystery.
    On this same date in 1222, died a very different man, Raymond de St Gilles, the 6th Count of Toulouse, second husband of Richard I’s sister Joanna. Richard III was unlucky enough to be immortalized by Shakespeare as the ultimate villain, but probably without Shakespeare, there wouldn’t have been a Richard III Society, for the Bard’s play kept Richard alive in the public imagination. Otherwise he might have been forgotten by all but medieval historians, his memory tarnished in history books, yet one more example of history being rewritten by the victors, in this case the Tudors. Raymond’s reputation has been maligned no less thoroughly than Richard’s, and by no less a foe than the Catholic Church, but he has no Raymond VI Society to speak up for him, to argue that he was wronged. He was one of the many victims of the tragedy known as the Albigensian Crusade, in which French troops invaded the lands of southern France at the Pope’s behest, ostensibibly to deal with Cathar heresy.
    Raymond was not a Cathar, remaining a Catholic, but he had a great weakness for a medieval prince–he was tolerant of the religious practices of his subjects, be they Cathars or Jews or Muslims. And he would pay a great price for that tolerance–the destruction of his homeland, his people, and his own reputation, accused of being a heretic, of being dissolute and immoral, accused of murder, crimes meant to justify the illegal invasion of Toulouse. He would die excommunicate, betrayed by the Church he called his own, and when his coffin was opened years later, it was found his body had been eaten by rats.
    The suppression of the Cathar heretics is a dark chapter in the history of the Church. The fervor of this “crusade” can best be demnstrated by the command said to have been given by the Abbot of Citeaux and papal legate, Arnaud Amaury, when the city of Beziers was taken by storm. Asked how their soliders could distinguish Catholics from Cathars, he responded, “Kill them all. God will know his own.” Some historians have since questioned the authenticity of this quote, as it was not reported until some years later, but it undeniably captures the savagery of how this war was conducted; thousands of men, women, and children were slaughtered in Beziers, thousands of men, women, and children were slaughtered in Beziers, although the figure of 20,000 given by Arnaud Amaury is certainly much too high. Simon de Montfort, the father of “my” Simon in Falls the Shadow, would win eternal notoriety for the part he played in the subjugation of these southern lands; to this day, you will find plaques on castle ruins calling him to account for his brutal campaign. But history’s memory is short, and few remember the dead of Beziers, or the young Count of Carcassonne, Raymond-Roger Trencavel, who surrendered the castle and town to save his people and was murdered in a dungeon in his own citadel. Or Raymond St Gilles, a decent man caught up in forces beyond his control, yet another victim of that crossbow bolt shot from the walls of Chalus on an April eve in 1199.
    For had Richard Lionheart not died at the siege of Chalus, there would have been no Albegensian Crusade–at least not while Richard still ruled the Angevin empire. Much of history is open to speculation, but we may be sure of this–that Lionheart would never have permitted French troops to invade lands he considered to be within the Angevin sphere of influence. John could do little for his brother-in-law Raymond and his young nephew, Joanna’s son, other than to offer them temporary refuge in England. Had Richard still ruled in 1209, and he’d only have been 50 at that time, Raymond’s story would have had a very different ending. It is likely that the Church would have moved against the Cathars eventually; it showed no mercy to heretics. But it would not have happened on Richard’s watch.

  26. skpenman Says:

    Here is another Facebook Note, titled Nothing but Good News. Gabrielle Giffords actually appeared on the floor of Congress yesterday. You all may have a chance to accompany Elizabeth Chadwick on a William Marshal Tour. And things are looking good for Milo and the young female at that Florida shelter. So here are the details.

    I was amazed to see Gabrielle Giffords walk onto the floor of the US Congress yesterday to cast her vote. This woman was shot point-blank in the head in February! Her miraculous recovery is truly breathtaking. We desperately need stories like hers when the news always seems so bleak and filled with foreboding.

    I am delighted to help spread the word that Academic Travel and Elizabeth Chadwick are talking about doing a William Marshal Tour with EC as the guide. They are asking for reader feedback as they did prior to putting together my Eleanor of Aquitaine Tour. Here is the link to let them know of your preferences. http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22CSWGWBC5E/

    Lastly, the news is good, too, about Milo and the young female shepherd that were on death row at that Florida shelter. Joan truly is an angel for dogs in need, for she’d arranged to pull them both from the shelter, willing to take them in as she sought to find foster homes for them both. And given that she has four large dogs of her own, three of them shepherd rescues, and two other dogs temporarily staying with her before they can go to their new homes, her willingness to take in two more qualifies her in my book for instant sainthood! But the shelter had an adoption event this past weekend, and a family applied to adopt the young girl, which she’d named Pebbles. She is waiting to hear if their application has been approved. If not, she will still take Pebbles from the shelter, for she has found a foster family for her. Milo’s situation was complicated when it was discovered that he is heartworm positive. This is not that unusual for dogs that have been poorly treated, and it used to be an automatic death sentence. Thankfully, that is no longer true. These dogs can be successfully treated, although it is expensive. Joan was able to find a foster family for Milo and Echo would assume the cost of the medical treatment. But then his story took an unexpected turn, for yesterday the shelter had two offers to adopt him! Who knows, some of you may have helped to bring this about, for I know a lot of you posted about Milo on your own Facebook pages and the news of his plight may well have spread to Florida residents looking for a dog to adopt. It is very encouraging that two families would be willing to adopt a dog in need of heartworm treatment, makes me think that Milo would do very well with either family. Joan is waiting now to hear if Milo is to be adopted. If so, we can all draw a deep breath and wish him well in his new life. If not, she will go back to Plan B. Either way, Milo’s chances are looking much brighter than they were just a few days ago. Thank you all for caring for dogs you’ll never even met. It is true that a society can be judged by how it treats the helpless and those without voices to speak up for themselves.

  27. Beth Says:

    What gorgeous canines… I couldn’t find the words after reading that blog. I so wish I could help, but I don’t even live in the USA. I always go to the rescue centres here in the UK to choose new animal additions to the family - and urge those I know to do the same. I know that I couldn’t bear it if it were my two cats in that position, and I hope over the years we’ve brought love and contentment into their lives.

  28. skpenman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note; sorry I can’t post the photos of Tristan here. One day I’ll have to do another blog about him, for then I can put up photos.

    I’ve been asked to do a Tristan update, so I am going to post a few new photos, enabling Tris to speak for himself. My boy is thriving as a NJ dog–except during thunderstorms, when he gets nervous. The other night he did something astonishing to me. He’d followed me into a spare bedroom and when thunder crashed overhead, he jumped into the bathtub! And this is a dog–my first ever–who never even attempts to get on the furniture. Thankfully, for us both, he was able to climb out on his own. Otherwise, I’d have needed to borrow a crane, for he is now a dead ringer for Jon Snow’s formidable Ghost, except for the glowing blood-red eyes, of course. I don’t like to think of Tristan’s life in Florida, which has storms so violent they seem to herald the end of the world. I’ve been thinking obout trying a Thundershirt. Has anyone had success with this for their dogs? The photos show Tristan doing some aerial acrobatics to get his beloved stuffed duck; my friend Jim gave it to him and he often takes it to bed with him at night–so I’ve gotten used to hearing duck quacking in my dreams. A small price to pay for sharing my home and life with Ghost’s doppelganger.

    PS For non-fans of George Martin, Ghost is the huge white dyrewolf in his mesmerzing Ice and Fire series, fantasy novels loosely based on the Wars of the Roses set in a gritty, medieval reality, now a brilliant HBO series, Game of Thrones.

  29. Dawn Says:


    Thanks for your update on Milo and Pebbles and don’t forget to pack yourself on the back for getting the word out to your readers.

    It is funny as I was reading your latest post, it started to rain here in Orlando. This is our third day in a row of “storms so violent they seem to herald the end of the world” (hope you don’t mind but I may need to use that description).

    I was going to mention the Thundershirt and I can tell you that the rescue group we work with has had great success with these, and remember we are in central Florida. I would be glad to provide the Facebook and/or blog info for the rescue group, which has links to the official Thundershirt site. Or if you prefer I can contact the woman who runs the rescue group and she can help give contacts to real animal user who have used them or answer any questions you may have.

    I’m glad you explained who Ghost is. I was totally clueless, especially when you mentioned the red eyes. I was thinking, what is wrong with this poor dog she is talking about, ha-ha, laughs on me.

  30. Dawn Says:

    Oops, that was supposed to be ‘pat’ instead of ‘pack’ yourself on the back. Maybe it was some Freudian slip since it was dogs that were being referenced.

  31. Koby Says:

    Today, three important battles took place, though only one is of relevance in Sharon’s books: The Battle of Evesham, the Battle of Stanhope Park (where the Scottish defeated Edward III, forcing the treaty of Edinburgh-Northapmton), and the Battle of Alcacer Quibir, also known as the Battle of the Three Kings, where the Moroccans decisively defeated the Portuguese killing King Sebastien I in the process, leading to a succession crisis which would result int Portugal being added to Spain.
    As for deaths, besides the deaths in the Battle of Evesham (Hugh le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer, Henry de Montfort, Peter de Montfort, Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester) and the Battle of Alcacer Quibir, Henry I of France, who was an ally (and later enemy) of William I of England and helped him become Duke of Normandy died.

  32. skpenman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    Two very significant medieval battles were fought on August 4th. In 1192, Richard Lionheart won the second battle of Jaffa. I figure this doesn’t come under the category of Spoilers! I won’t provide any details, though, as those already familiar with the battle don’t need them and the rest of my readers will probably prefer to learn about it in Lionheart. I will confine myself to saying that one military historian claims Jaffa was where Coeur de Lion “rode into immortality.” August 4th was also the date of the Battle of Evesham in 1265, in which Simon de Montfort went down to defeat and death before the army of the future Edward I. When he climbed into the abbey bell tower to survey the battlefield, Simon uttered one of history’s better exit lines, “We must commend our souls to God, for our bodies are theirs.” It is interesting to speculate how history might have changed had Simon won that battle. We can never know, of course, but I think we can safely say that a de Montfort victory would have had enormous consequences for Wales. “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been,’” with thanks to John Greenleaf Whittier.

  33. Dawn Says:

    “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been,’”

    So, so true. Sometimes I wonder if that is part of my love of reading HF, especially those where a person’s death has, or is due to, major altering events. There is a part of me that reads them for that new glimpse or glimmer of what might have been, I wonder if any other readers feel the same. I just read a sadly OOP, relatively unknown HF on Henry V and couldn’t help but wonder if he had lived longer, what would have happened in England and the WotR?

  34. Koby Says:

    Today Henry I was crowned King of England.

  35. skpenman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    Today in 1100 Henry I was crowned, 3 days after brother William Rufus’s unfortunate but convenient demise in the New Forest. Coincidentally, I am now reading Elizabeth Chadwick’s Lady of the English, about Henry’s daughter the Empress Maude and Adeliza, his young queen. I am not too far into it yet, but it is wonderful so far, as I fully expected it to be. Maude is adjusting to her new life as a widow in her father’s domains, having had to leave Germany, the land she’d come to love. She does not know yet what Daddy Dearest has in mind for her, a marriage that will be a medieval roadshow version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It is fascinating to see the events and characters from Saints as portrayed through another writer’s eyes. I was not as emotionally invested in Maude as in some of my other characters, so no sense of territorial imperative kicked in and I am quite happy to share the empress with Elizabeth!

  36. Beth Says:

    :) I posted my review of When Christ and His Saints Slept, after re-reading the book. I’m eager for people to come and see. :)


  37. Brenna Says:


    To respond to your post on the previoud blog, I totally empathize with what you are saying. I think today, people are constantly innundated with problems, worries, stresses, that when others need their support, they just don’t have any left to give. Hence, the cooke cutter answers that are supposed to make it sound like the person really cares, but doesn’t quite come across that way. We all have those days when we just need to vent or just want to know someone cares enough to listen. Personally, I use my dog more and more for that as he’s usually good for a few kisses and cuddles!

  38. Beth Says:

    Man’s best friend, eh Brenna? I love my two cats. They always seem to innately sense whenerve I’m ill or upset, and they’ll come to me, fuss round me and purr. Purrs are very therapeutic you know.

  39. skpenman Says:

    Beth, I am truly speechless after reading your amazing review of Saints. It is surely the best one I’ve ever gotten and definitely the most eloquent. With your gift, you must continue writing, despite how discouraging it can be at times. Most people cannot make words soar the way you do. Thank you for such a wonderful testamonial to Saints. To say you made my day is the understatement of the century!

  40. Beth Says:

    It’s a long overdue review - I felt the same way reading it for the first time in 1998, but lacked the knowledge and writing skill to put it into words then.

    I think writing is something that I need to do. Even through the bad patches the compulsion never goes away.

    I’m a mixture of joyfully embarrassed and misty-eyed from your response, Sharon. Embarrassed because surely people will think my review was solicited, and because my father is already in raptures both about my review and your response here. Misty-eyed because… well… I think that is the most encouraging comment on my writing potential I have ever received.

    The funny thing is I’m now re-reading Time and Chance, and I’m already thinking to myself “I don’t know WHAT I’m going to put in my review for this, because everything I said in my Saints review encompasses how I feel about all of Sharon’s books, I’m going to have nothing new to say! Maybe ’see my Saints review’?!”

  41. skpenman Says:

    LOL, Beth. That is very funny. But you should never doubt your writing ability, even though I know it is all too easy for writers to do. It is so subjective, after all. I think all will fall into place for you if you can find a subject you are passionate about–a story you feel you HAVE to write. That is what happened to me with Richard III. I’d never thought about writing about the MA until I stumbled onto his story. After that, it was taken out of my hands. Is there anything that draws you in like that? I think it is important for writers to enjoy what they are doing, for writing takes a lot of self discipline and heaven knows writers get more than their share of disappointment. But if you can find joy in your writing, that goes a long way.

  42. skpenman Says:

    Here is my new Facebook Note


    How is that for an unlikely grouping? First, the apology. I carelessly changed history by moving the second battle of Jaffa in 1192 from August 5th to August 4th. I was thinking of it as a Tuesday battle, which would have placed it on August 4th, but it actually was fought on Wednesday, August 5th. Sorry about that.
    I have now reached the point in Elizabeth Chadwick’s Lady of the English where the Empress Maude has been told that she must wed the Count of Anjou’s young son, Geoffrey. She is understandably horrified for she is 11 and ½ years older than he; at the time of their marriage in June of 1128, she is 26 and he is still two months shy of his fifteenth birthday. A very proud woman, she also sees it as demeaning to marry the son of a mere count when she’d been wed to the Holy Roman Emperor. Geoffrey is not too thrilled about the idea, either. Elizabeth makes the reader want to keep turning the pages in a hurry, even when we know what a train wreck that marriage would turn out to be. One of my favorite historical characters in Saints was Brien Fitz Count, so I was very pleased to find that he gets so much time on centre stage in Lady of the English. And readers who loved EC’s excellent A Place Beyond Courage will be intrigued by the ghostly presence of John Marshal, so far not given any lines of dialogue. But knowing John, I doubt that he will be voiceless for long.
    I am also enclosing a link to a heartening story about a young elephant who lost a foot, probably to a snare trap. He was lucky enough to be found and was fitted with a prosthetic foot, which works wonderfully well, as you can see in the accompanying video. Some of you may remember a similar video I posted earlier in the year about Midnight, a miniature horse who was also fitted with a prosthetic leg. The most they’d hoped for was that he could get around on his own. Instead, they were treated to a sight that brought tears to everyone’s eyes, for as soon as he felt his new foot touch the ground, Midnight took off, running the way a horse was born to run, experiencing for the first time in his life the joy of racing the wind. Nothing quite so dramatic with the young elephant, but a happy story, too. http://www.care2.com/causes/elephant-gets-prosthesis-video.html

  43. Koby Says:

    And today, Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Löwe), who married Matilda, daughter of Henry II and Eleanor died, and so did Anne Hathaway, who married Shakespeare.

  44. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Koby. Those are two interesting ones!

  45. Beth Says:

    Thank you Sharon for that heartening link! I do remember your link to Midnight’s story. It’s wonderful that we have the knowhow these days to create animal prostheses and improve their quality of life so.

    Strange thing about your mix up over days. For years my father insisted that I had been born on a Wednesday, until a handful of years ago I finally consulted several calendars and discovered that I was actually born on a Tuesday! Strange to have such a mix up of days regarding one’s own birth - a most odd feeling to discover the truth!

  46. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note, Brave New World.

    Sometimes there is a moment in which we realize just how much our world is changing. One such moment for me was this spring when I went to Petsmart to get a name tag for Tristan and discovered that the tags now provide a space for the owner’s e-mail address. Another occurred this weekend on Amazon.com. I confess that most—if not all—writers check their sales rankings when they have a new book out. I’m not as bad as some; one writer I know admitted he’d get up in the middle of the night to monitor his book. I usually don’t start the vigil until the actual pub date, but Lionheart is selling really well in pre-orders; needless to say, we don’t do this if our books are tanking. So I’ve gotten into the habit of checking it at least once a day to see how it’s doing. I’ve been told that these sales figures are really meaningless, but they still exercise a hypnotic appeal. It fluxuates, of course, but today it was the best yet—2,531. That is not the significant moment, though; it was when I noticed that the Kindle sales had begun to equal or exceed the hardback edition, what those who are e-book phobic would call my “real” book. That is eye-opening, to say the least. For better or worse, we are in uncharted territory and there is no going back. On the subject of e-mail books, I am working diligently to get my British books made available on Kindle; until now, only Devil’s Brood has made the cut. It is going to take more time, but I finally feel that we are making some progress. Stay tuned.
    I am going to do a book giveaway for Devil’s Brood this month and next, to pave the way for Lionheart. The rules are simple; I’ll put up a new blog and anyone who then posts a comment to that blog is eligible for the drawing. I will, of course, post it on Facebook, too, but you will have to make your comments on the blog itself so that I can keep track of the participants. The winner can choose either the American or the British edition, both in hardback. And I will probably do a book giveaway for Lionheart after my book tour in October. I know Goodreads has had at least one drawing for Lionheart; I assume it is an ARC (advance reading copy, which is the uncorrected ms in bound form, the one that gets sent out for reviewers, etc.)
    Now back to work. Richard’s ship has been forced to take shelter in a cove along the Sicilian coast and he is about to get some very bad news.

  47. Susan Says:


    I’ve been watching Kindle pre-orders too to see how Lionheart is doing. If you sort Kindle pre-orders by category, then choose fiction, then choose historical fiction, your book Is currently at #4. I was quite impressed to see it at such a high spot on this bestseller list, so congratulations!

  48. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Wow, Susan. Thanks for letting me know this.

  49. Koby Says:

    Today, Najm ad-Din Ayyub, Saladin’s father died.
    In other calendars, it is the Ninth of Av according to the Hebrew Calendar, when many disasters happened, among them: The destruction of the First and Second Temples, The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II, Jews were expelled from England and Spain, and World War I broke out.

  50. Beth Says:

    Ah, I came across what I suspect shall be the only ever time I come across a typographical blip in one of Sharon’s books, earlier today. I’m re-reading Time and Chance as you know - British version, Penguin paperback, the 471 pages version. Page 410, Alexander Llewelyn and William Fitz Stephen are talking about why Becket had to land in sandwich instead of Sandwich. I’m sure someone else has informed you of this long ago Sharon, but if by some miracle it has slipped through the net all this time, I thought I’d inform you!

  51. Susan Says:

    Sharon, do you have details for your book tour for Lionheart yet? My husband and I saw you in Ann Arbor during your tour for DB and thoroughly enjoyed (and would like to repeat) the experience.

  52. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Susan, it is not completely firmed up yet, but at this point I think it is looking good that I will be able to go back to Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, much to my delight. So if all works out, maybe I can see you there?

  53. Beth Says:

    Are you touring at all in the UK, Sharon?

  54. Brenna Says:

    Wait, are you coming to DE or West Chester again??? You knew once you started to let the cat out of the back, many more were going to follow! Crossing my fingers and toes!!

  55. Sharon K Penman Says:

    No such luck, Beth, at least not for Lionheart. It looks as if I’ll be going back to Chester County Books again, Brenna, (I hope!) but the schedule is not definite yet.

  56. Beth Says:

    I didn’t want to post on the most recent blog as it’s so clogged up with responses, but just to let people know, I have finally finished and posted my review of Time and Chance. Currently reading Devil’s Brood now in anticipation of Lionheart! :)

  57. skpenman Says:

    where can we find it, Beth?

  58. Beth Says:

    Ah, of course. Here it is:


  59. Helen Says:

    Just wanting to be in the running to win Devil’s Brood :) My first encounter with your novels was “Sunne In Splendour” and it just blew me away. Absolutely loved it! In the middle of reading the Welsh Trilogy at the moment.

  60. Beth Says:

    *anxious hand wringing*

  61. Dawn Says:

    Did anyone see the story on the dog speed dating adoption event held in Orlando. NBC Today show did a story on it http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44102858#44102858
    or try here

  62. Beth Says:

    I gather from the total silence of fellow Penmanites that my review of Time and Chance did not live up to my Saints review, and needs a re-write…? I’ve been thinking the same myself.

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