Monday, December 22, 2014

The Magic of Christmas Once More!

If you're new to my blog, here's a re-post of a Christmas story from 2013. If you've already read it, give it another's nice.

The Magic of Christmas


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Mysterious Cape Cod Cranberry Trail

The Cape's wind decreased this morning and the sun was out, Tim and I decided to take our daily walk on the beach instead of in the woods through Nickerson state Park.  We chose Linnell Landing Beach. With gloves and hats on, we ventured out of the car. As soon as we turned to head west, I discovered a single cranberry along the wrack line on the beach.

I didn't mention it as we kept a nice pace across the sand. After covering about 10 feet more, I saw another berry. This time I spoke up. "Look at the cranberry."

We both stopped. Tim said with a laugh, "That's interesting. Maybe they fell off a boat."
Then we walked ahead another 10 feet.

These beautiful crimson berries kept appearing on the sand as if they were placed there on purpose.

Now we were curious. We kept going, even though we had to get back to the gallery and open for the day.

We got as far as Ocean Edge before we turned around, all the while following the red berries.
When we finally reached our car, I wanted to go further east, so we did...only to find more berries strategically placed in a line along the wrack line. We walked another 100 feet, then returned to our car. All the way home, we thought of several reasons why the berries were on the beach.
Maybe... someone made a scavenger hunt and at the end would be a jar of cranberry sauce.

Or...someone placed the berries so they would remember how to get back to where they started.
       (We both laughed at that one.)

Or...someone laid the berries for a challenge to the unsuspecting traveler along the beach to guess why the berries were there in the first place.

Does anyone out there know why the cranberries were there? And who did it?

Of course, it is Thanksgiving and the cranberry is one of the stars of the feast. I know I love cranberry sauce. We decided to go back tomorrow and if the tide didn't take them away, we'll follow the trail to Crosby Lane and beyond.

Some great news!!!   My second historical novel, The Old Cape Teapot is now available. see sidebar for options to purchase.

The Old Cape Teapot
AND...The Old Cape House has been awarded First Place in Historical Fiction by the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for excellence in literature!

The Old Cape House

On a final note. Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though I posted this blog last Thanksgiving I thought it was still interesting. So here is its link.

History of Thanksgiving

My motto: "Never stop searching and enjoy the adventure!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


A few weekends ago my daughter, Annie, and the love of her life, Eric, were joined in marriage on a beautiful, sunny Autumn day. I was also privileged to be the officiant at this lovely ceremony. It made my heart sing knowing they are so much in love.

And on the same day, my second historical fiction, The Old Cape Teapot, arrived on our doorstep from my publisher. It was a perfect day with two great events and two exciting celebrations all coming together at the Struna household.

Besides my novel making headlines as a great mystery read, my daughter gave me a new son-in–law.

Within the hustle and bustle of planning a wedding at our house and finalizing all the details of my new novel there was a lot of work, and yet, an abundance of happiness. Both were a labor of love start to finish, of course, Annie's was most important.  It all came together, from Annie's handmade bouquets, special centerpieces, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting to the photo booth, corn toss games, and overall design of the wedding! And...all my children had traveled home again, to share in the celebration with the whole family.

The other evening before the wedding day, I was able to steal a few quiet moments to myself on the back porch. All the lights that were wrapped around the trees behind the barn and inside the tent reflected a warm yellow glow in the night. It was so romantic.

And the next day it was even prettier in daylight.

                                                     It was a perfect setting for love.

So on that joyous note, may I remind you that you can purchase my new historical fiction, The Old Cape Teapot through Struna Galleries, Amazon, Barnes - Noble, iTunes and all the fine bookstores and shops across Cape Cod. (see side panel for options and listing of coming events and bookstores)

If you enjoyed my first novel, The Old Cape House, you'll like this one. Nancy Caldwell returns to take us to the tropical island of Antigua and back to the Cape following an old map and the trails of two 18th century pirates, the only survivors of the 1717 pirate ship Whydah. Nancy's on the hunt for more treasure! The book is told, once again, using alternating chapters from the 18th – 21st centuries.
The Old Cape Teapot 

 I'm always on the lookout for interesting and unique facts about beautiful Cape Cod. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Can you still find treasure?


Treasure can be found anywhere. You could discover it in an old pirate chest, at the bottom of an abandoned well, behind a wall, at a garage sale, or...

...find it upstairs in your attic.                            

My point is that it IS possible to find hidden treasure in the 21st Century.
With the ongoing success of selling The Old Cape House, I have opened myself up to a wide range of readers across the world. The reviews are coming in fast and furious, with many 5 star reviews and a high percentage of readers liking the story...but a few, not so much. One reviewer said she liked the plot and the characters but thought, (spoiler alert), finding treasure was silly and doesn't happen anymore. Her comment inspired me to write this blog. Now that's a treasure in itself. Here are some examples of finding treasure.

In February 2014, a California couple found old tin cans on their property filled with rare coins having a value of 10 million. The couple, who remain anonymous, had walked the old hiking path on their land for many years. One day the edge of a can appeared and they simply dug deeper!

In November 1992 a farmer, living in the village of Hoxne near Suffolk, England, lost a hammer in his fields. A friend used his metal detector to help him find it. They found under the dirt a wooden box and inside was a cache of gold, silver, gemstones, and artifacts from the Roman Empire. In the image above is a representation of how the box's contents were positioned. The British government declared it a treasure trove and legally claimed the riches for the country. But the farmer and his friend still met with financial success. The British government paid them about 2.8 million. Currently the treasure is on permanent display at the British Museum.

We've all heard of the man who bought a $4 painting at a garage sale and inside was a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He sold it for 2.4 million. Then another man bought some items at a thrift store in Nashville. His purchase included a salt and pepper shaker set, a candle holder, and a yellowed copy of the Declaration of Independence for $2.48. He received over $476,000 for an original copy of this famous document...his initial cost was $2.48  Considering there are 200 official copies of the Declaration and only 36 have been found since 1820, there's a good chance you could find one.

If you're still doubtful about finding treasure, spend an evening watching WGBH's Antiques Roadshow and see what ordinary people are discovering. 

So in response to my critical reviewer, "Yes, there is treasure to be found!" 
And...I hope that my readers will never give up hope that something exciting is always just around the corner or just over the next hill. I know I will never give up. 

Here's a sneak peak of the cover for my next novel ...coming to you in late October 2014.

The Old Cape Teapot  

Nancy Caldwell found pirate treasure behind her Cape Cod barn in the historical fiction, The Old Cape House. Was she lucky or was it because she's a good detective? In The Old Cape Teapot, the second in a series of adventures, our heroine returns to uncover the trails of two survivors from the wreck of the 1717 pirate ship Whydah.  Nancy, armed with the knowledge that in pirate culture the looted riches were equally shared, takes us to the tropical island of Antigua and back to Cape Cod searching for clues to more treasure. But danger and conspiracy follow Nancy's every turn. This time, she'll need more than luck and a few good guesses.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Yankee Thrift

Massachusetts is ranked the 13th most generous state so why are we known for our Yankee Thrift? The word Yankee may have come from a common Dutch name Janke or Jans Kees dating to the 1680s when the Dutch settled along the Hudson River in the New World. It was officially used in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New England. During the American Revolution, it was a form of national pride to be called a Yank. During the Civil War, southerners called the people of the eastern section of the country Yankee.
Thrift basically comes from the hardscrabble way of life that people lived in the beginnings of our country. After all, the eastern part of the country was settled first and was home to the largest population. There were a lot of people that scratched out a living and Yankee Thrift stuck.
New England has a saying..."use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without"! 

Speaking of Yankee Thrift, my historical fiction, The Old Cape House is available online as an ebook for one day starting right now at a reduced price of only $0.99!

You can buy it online at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and iTunes from today June 20 to midnight on June 21. Now's your chance to buy it for only $0.99!!

Another great example of Yankee Thrift can be found in Provincetown on Cape Cod. Here is a ceramic plaque identifying the houses that were originally on Long Point Peninsula in 1818 and were floated over to the mainland in the late 1850s. Today you can see most of the 'floater' houses in the West End of Provincetown.

Here's a map of Long Point, Massachusetts in 1836. Click on the link for a larger view.
Long Point 1836 

Long Point had 38 houses, a school, a bakery, and a post office along with two light houses: Long Point Light and Wood End Light.

The attraction for living there was good fishing. The fishermen could catch from shore: shad, mackerel, and bass. They used sweep seines; usually hand knit by their wives. There are stories of the men catching almost seventy–five, 200lb. barrels of fish in one haul. 

But even with the ease of fishing, Long Point's isolation was a big factor in the town's demise. It was surrounded by sea water and had no fresh water of its own, everything had to be hauled over on barges or pontoons. Another factor was the stormy coastline. The physical shape of the peninsula had always protected the harbor from the wind and ravages of many nor'easters. These storms also attacked the houses. I assume the people of Long Point had had enough.

This house was called a "floater". It was first moved from Long Point in 1850 and then in 1890 it was moved again.

Tim and I decided to find some of the "floaters".

As we walked towards Wood End Light on Commercial street, we found two floaters.

While we were there, we decided to go and visit the Wood End Light.

We read the sign that says sometimes the Breakwater Walk is under water at high tide. We paid close attention to that and then checked to make sure it was low tide before we started our hike.

I had walked around half way and still had a distance to go.

I've never seen so much poison ivy!

But we made it.
I can't imagine living so far out. I guess you really had to be thrifty,

So in honor of living thrifty, my book, The Old Cape House, is on sale now through midnight June 21 for only $0.99!!

Just click the links to the right of my blog and they will take you to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Greening of Cape Cod

Last week underneath a beautiful sun, Tim and I walked to find spring. As we passed our gallery, the daffodils said hello with their yellow heads...

...and as we drove away to discover our walk for the day, they waved at us along the edge of our woods.

We choose the Indian Lands in Dennis to see if the wild lady slippers were in bloom.

We entered the woods and followed a path covered with dry oak leaves and pine needles. In the woods, a mellow green curtain surrounded us; it was the first hint from Mother Nature that spoke of spring. This soft, fuzzy aura, up close, was only the curving and twisting stalks of wild roses but definitely green and welcomed.

A little further in, the verdant green of new moss made an appearance.

 The old grasses cascaded in small waterfalls over the fresh and beautiful moss.

It was a short two mile hike but well worth it. The slippers were not out yet but the views of the Bass River and marsh were stunning. We'll try again in a few weeks.

The heavy winds that came through last night, brought a dusting of snow and lower temperatures, so today I'm spending my time indoors writing and preparing for my next author event.
I will be speaking at the West Dennis Library on the anniversary of the 1717 wreck of the pirate ship Whydah on April 26 from 1 to 2pm.  I'll be discussing how the ship's demise along with pirates, treasure, and love influenced my historical novel, The Old Cape House.

When the wreck of the Whydah was discovered off the coast of Cape Cod in 1986 by Barry Clifford, people were skeptical about its origin. When he found the ship's bell, everything fit into place and another piece of the puzzle was added to the legend. During my talk, I will explore all the different versions about what may have happened to Sam Bellamy and Maria Hallett based on my research.

Here's a link to my wonderful interview with Madeline Holt on the cable TV show, Books of the World.
Books of the World - The Old Cape House

Another link to an online interview with Eleanor Parker is interesting, plus she asks me very different questions.
author online interview

If you haven't purchased and read The Old Cape House, here are some reviews...

The Old Cape House

from Judith on Amazon:
"This book was interesting and entertaining from cover to cover. Although I was familiar with the history and story characters, having read several books on the topic, this was my favorite of all. Very well written and a fun read."

from Christina Laurie on Amazon:
 "This compelling story kept me reading long into the night. The story switches between Sam Ballamy and Maria Hallett of the early 1700's and Nancy and Paul Caldwell, who move to the Cape in "present day." The old root cellar that ties Maria and Nancy together is a fascinating story of clever interweaving of two centuries. In her engaging tale, Author Barbara Struna imagines what COULD have happened in this saga of Sam and Maria. And I like Barbara's take. It's not as tragic as our Cape legends, but has grief. tension, suspense and, yes, love, in both centuries. It's a great read and an entertaining novel."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Month of March –Cape Cod

Does March come in like a lion and go out like a lamb? It's too early to tell but let's hope it's not too big of a lion.
The sun is shining around Cape Cod today, with temperatures in the 20s and 30s and nights into the teens. We've had several wintery storms since January 1 and the snow is just about gone. Yesterday I saw daffodils beginning to stretch their arms above the ground, 3- 4 inches high.

Speaking of stretching... sales of my historical novel The Old Cape House are spreading across the Cape and the country according to, Barnes&Noble, and many wonderful bookstores.

I found some beautiful images of paintings by Dutch realist Jozef Israels that remind me of my 1715 heroine Maria Hallett and how she waited for her lover Sam Bellamy to return to her.

This coming Tuesday, March 4 at 7pm, I will be speaking and giving a presentation about my novel at The Brewster Ladies Library. Hope you can join me.

The weather has been strange this year. The day after I took the picture (shown above) of the daffodils coming out...the snow came once again. It looked like someone shook powder sugar across Cape Cod. It was beautiful!

As I also prepare to speak at the Jacob Sears Library in Dennis on Monday – March 10 at 7pm, I hope there will be more sunshine and maybe I'll get to enjoy this image of my gardens.