Category Archives: Writing

Medieval Monday- Aelric’s Fate

It’s the final Medieval Monday in the Villains theme and I’m finishing where I started with an excerpt from The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge.  The final excerpt picks up Constance’s story after Robert has taken his revenge on Aelric.

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At the mercy of her enemy!

Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face to face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He’s now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his…

Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?

****

‘You shamed me in public! For that alone I should beat you until you scream!’

Robert’s rage was incandescent. Constance looked to her sister but Jeanne sat, head bowed over her embroidery, and said nothing. She would get no support there.

‘The boy did not deserve death.’

‘Never mind that. What were you doing befriending Saxon filth?’ Robert turned to his wife. ‘Madam, is your sister a wanton?’

‘No, my lord,’ Jeanne answered meekly. ‘Her behaviour is as shocking to me as it is to you.’

Constance’s scalp prickled. If Robert knew the truth about what had passed between her and Aelric his wrath would be too great to withstand. Robert seized hold of Constance by the arm and dragged her roughly to her bed, flinging her on to the straw mattress.

‘You are almost seventeen. It’s time you were married. In the morning I’m sending you to a convent until I can find a husband who can tame you.’

He stormed out, leaving Constance holding her face and trembling with anger.

What will the future hold for Aelric and Constance? Discover their story in The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge.

getBook.at/SaxonOutlaw

Look out for another Medieval Mondays theme coming soon.

 

Romance on the Road

‘I’m glad I caught you, Elisabeth.  I’ve got a proposal for you…’

Words to stir anyone’s heart.  In this case not from Tom Hiddleston (I keep hoping) but the librarian at Macclesfield Library where I do my Tuesday morning writing session.  She asked me if I would be interested in taking part in the Romance on the Road campaign organised jointly by Mills & Boon, The Reading Agency and the Mobile Library Service.

Mills & Boon have had a long involvement with mobile libraries but I didn’t know until I started looking into the campaign that Charles Boon, one of the founders, worked in a mobile library before going into partnership and starting the publishing house.

With all that in mind, and the chance to spread the Mills & Boon love for Valentine’s Day, how could I resist!

As a result, earlier this week found me out bright and early in Cheshire , heading down country lanes that got smaller and more twisty to meet up with Jon and the mobile library. While over 70 mobile libraries are taking part in the event around the country, Cheshire East has been chosen to be one of the ‘Fabulous Five’ with stickers, balloons,sashes for the driver, and gifts to give out to library users.

 

library-van
There was a sticker on the front too!

 

Our first rendezvous was in the car park of the Badger Inn Church Minshull .  I waited, hoping I was in the right place and before long the car park had filled up with a group of eager readers, waiting with piles of books.  I can imagine that if I lived there the tri-weekly visit would be a real highlight for me.  I was excited even waiting once!  The library van arrived decorated with stickers and a poster with my books in the window, the doors slid open and in we went to be greeted with bunting and shiny pink padded envelopes.

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Church Minshull residents joining in a photo opportunity – thank you all.

I had taken along some of my books to discuss and the villagers were particularly impressed with the cover of The Blacksmith’s Wife, especially when I mentioned I had asked for Aidan Turner as the cover model.  They told me that inspired by the recent BBC adaption of Poldark, the village had got together and created a calendar featuring village men in Poldark-y poses.  So far they’ve raised over £2000 which is incredible!

It was wonderful to meet such an enthusiastic crowd and I’m half tempted to move there, if only so I can join the ballroom dancing class!

secretbooks

 

If you’re wondering what I’m holding in the photos, they’re Valentine’s gifts that Mills & Boon had sent along.  I had a box  of packages waiting for me inside the library.  It was very hard not to peek to find out which books were inside!

 

 

The residents of Church Minshull went off for their regular post-library coffee in the pub while I looked on enviously.  While we waited for time to leave, we made a display of some of the copies of Mills & Boon titles that were in the library van.

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Some of the Mills & Boon titles that were in the library.  Have you read any of them?

Our next stops were at the two ends of Home Farm Park in Lea where we met residents who live on the park permanently (I was super impressed with Jon’s ability to  reverse park in such small spots).  It was a warm, sunny day so it was nice to stand around with light streaming in through the library door and be able to chat to borrowers (of library books, not small people living under the floorboards).  One of the visitors told me her daughter lives just outside Macclesfield and is a keen reader of historical so I was pleased to be able to give her a copy of The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge which is set in the area.  We spent some time discussing our favourite historical authors and browsing the shelves (the library is impressively stocked with something to suit everyone- a real TARDIS).

park-farm
Jon with his special pink sash in the background.

I recommended my favourite author and managed to pick up a copy of a book I’ve been searching for in the process (well I couldn’t spend a morning in a library and not leave with something).

The van had to move on to the next stop and I needed to get back to carry on writing my new story.  Before I said goodbye I did get to wear the sash that I had been coveting since I arrived.

sash
The closest I’ll get to being Miss World!

The van goes out on three-weekly timetables around villages in Cheshire. The promotion is running until the 14th February and there are still plenty of gift bags to collect before Valentine’s Day itself so keep an eye out for the van with pink stickers heading your way!

Thank you Cheshire East Libraries for inviting me along.  I had a lovely morning and it was great to see how well the library was used.  I’m lucky to have always lived in towns where there is a library and made great use of it, from nipping in on the way home from school as a teenager to fill in time before the bus (and often missing the next as a result of getting absorbed in a book) to taking my own young children as welcome moment of sanity amid sleepless nights and PND.  Not everyone is so lucky to have a library on their doorstep and the Mobile Library Service provides a wonderful way of accessing books for those living too far to get to one regularly.  With funding cuts and libraries being threatened increasingly with closure, keeping services like this going will be so important to people living in more isolated areas.

Libraries, exploring and Mills & Boon- three of my favourite things in one day!

 

The Reading Agency is a charity whose aim is to inspire more people to read.  They do a superb job of encouraging people of all ages to pick up a book and targeting groups who might not have access otherwise.  You can find out more of what they do here.

Medieval Monday: New theme, new style!

We have a new theme for Medieval Mondays and a new way of sharing our excerpts.

The theme is Villains so join us to find some of the nastiest, most ruthless bad guys who ever plagued our heroes and heroines.

Rather than share a whole excerpt in one go each of us is hosting a shorter snippet on our blogs with a link to where the next instalment can be found.  You’ll be able to track the story on its tour from blog to blog and there will be a new excerpt from a different author to read on our own blog each week.

We’re all starting off with our own stories.  My excerpt comes from chapter one of my newest release The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge.

 

SOR front

Cheshire, 1068

After a failed uprising, Constance Arnaud is forced to watch the execution of Saxon rebels at the hands of her brother-in-law, Norman nobleman Robert de Coudray.

‘Open your eyes and watch how those who would threaten your King die, girl,’ Robert commanded in an undertone. ‘Don’t shame me before these Saxon savages or I’ll whip the skin from your back.’

Constance raised her head obediently and forced herself to watch as man after man was lifted high alive and cut down a corpse. Some resisted as the knots were pulled tight, one or two looked on the verge of weeping; others walked with dignity to their deaths. Without exception all spat towards the dais where Robert’s household sat, fixing any Norman who met their eye with a loathing that made Constance shiver with fear.

Their deaths were not quick or easy, but if the uprising had not been prevented and they had joined with those in other counties, how slow and degrading would her death at their hands have been? She’d heard the tales of what had happened elsewhere, of children speared in their beds and women shared between the rebels until they begged for death. Even a twist-footed cripple like Constance would not be spared the degradation. Jeanne was right, it was relief she should feel, not pity.

Blurb

At the mercy of her enemy!

Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face to face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He’s now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his…

Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?

To be continued next Monday on Jenna Jaxon’s blog

https://jennajaxon.wordpress.com

 

Buy in the US

Buy in the UK

Come back next week to find out whose villain I’ll be sharing.

In the meantime you can check out the other authors here to find how their excerpts start.

Lane McFarland ~ Rue Allyn ~ Sherry Ewing ~ Jenna Jaxon ~  bambilynnblogAshley York ~ Mary Morgan ~ Barbara Bettis ~ Laurel O’Donnell ~ Cathy MacRae ~ Ruth A. Casie

We’ll be tweeting locations using #medievalhop so you can find out who is where and when.

 

What’s in a name?

I was a chapter and a half into a WIP when I realised something wasn’t working. After redrafting and editing and still getting nowhere with what I knew could be a great story it dawned on me the problem wasn’t with the story but with the heroine. I just wasn’t feeling her (unlike the hero who was more than happy to have a go much earlier than I was expecting him to, though that’s another story…) and I realised it came down to one reason: her name.

I had inadvertently chosen the name of a real person I had once known and instead of picturing my heroine I had a subconscious mental image of someone who most definitely didn’t deserve to get her hands on my hero.  As soon as I went back to the drawing board and renamed the character the scenes began to come together.

Names are funny things. However much I plan, I can’t get down to the business of writing the story unless I’ve found the right name. I estimate I’ve spent as much time choosing names for my characters as I did for my children*, though for them I had the whole of history to go at rather that medieval England. I try to use authentic names for my characters.  I can happily spend hours poring over documents from the time for inspiration so you’ll never find a Lady Chardonnay or Sir Kevin but I’ve also developed a few rules too.

Rule 1. Heroines can have two syllable names but heroes should be called something short, or a name that can be shortened (nicknames and dropping titles is a way I like to show the growing intimacy between the characters).

My first hero, Hugh in Falling for Her Captor was named after Hugh Jackman – which probably indicates where my mind was while I was writing. I like single syllables that to me at least sound a bit tough and masculine to say out loud: Hugh, Will, Hal. Rhett… Han… Jon… Thor (?!?)…

Four books in I’ve already broken this rule with the hero of The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge with a hero called Aelric who goes by the alias Caddoc but finding a one-syllable Anglo-Saxon name proved almost impossible (and be thankful he isn’t called Aethilberct).

SOR front

I’ve slightly backed myself into a corner with my next book to be released because when I wrote The Blacksmith’s Wife I didn’t intend Roger to be anything more than the villain (perhaps having a name that became slang for penis is part of the reason he was so bitter).  Now he’s got his own book as readers were intrigued by him and is saddled with a less than heroic sounding name even though the Germanic origin means ‘renown + spear’ which fits his ambition to be a great jouster well. Isn’t that a lucky coincidence!

Rule 2. After hours spent with my spellcheck trying to change my second hero Will Rudhale’s tenses, I added a new which is never use a name that is also a verb (‘Do you mean ‘will try’ not ‘Will tried’? No I ****ing don’t, nor did I the last 27 times!)

Rule 3. Avoid the Dickensian ‘Mr Nastyb*stard, official puppy kicker of London Town’ method of indicating character through names.  Having said that I’m having to seriously resist following the suggestion of Baron Longden Hardthrust of Broadshaft Hall.

Rule 4. The biggie. Avoid the names of friends and family. Especially men. Mainly because I have a low embarrassment threshold and don’t ever want to have the ‘so that’s me in the book is it?’ conversation (which amazingly I’ve had even when the names don’t match). Chances are if I know you then you are in there somewhere because all writers are magpies and collect mannerisms, features and conversations but whether you’re the love interest, villain or comic relief I absolutely refuse to say!

*One named for a series of inventors, the other after a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer if you’re interested.

Do you have a favourite character name, or one that turns you straight off the book? Do share in the comments.

Medieval Monday- Sherry Ewing

I’m delighted to be taking part in Medieval Monday where each week (guess which day) I’ll be sharing a cover and excerpt from a different medieval novel.  The overall theme is ‘celebrations’ and I’m starting off with ‘Hearts Across Time’ by Sherry Ewing.

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The golden sun began to peek over the ocean horizon, splashing the morning sky with a thousand shades of pink and orange. The further it rose, the more color splattered across the cloudless sky until all traces of the earlier shades vanished. ’Twas obvious, the perfect day was a gift from the heavens and a priceless tribute to the woman Riorden would call his wife for the rest of his life.

Riorden was in no rush to head down to the Great Hall. There was no need. Katherine and her ladies had insisted ’twas bad luck to see the bride afore the wedding. He had never heard of such a custom, but who was he to tempt fate? Nay, he dare not look upon her, if such an occurrence would displease God, and in His wrath, He would wrench Katherine back from whence she had come.

Patrick brought Riorden a small repast, along with water to wash and fresh garments Lynet had lovingly sewn for his wedding. He was not surprised when he saw the tunic. Gilded fabric had been embroidered and used as trim on the deep blue cloth Katherine herself had chosen, saying the color would match his eyes. He smiled, wondering how she would look in the golden material he had chosen for her. He supposed, he would find out soon enough.

A knock roused Riorden from his musings of his lovely lady. Opening the door, he saw Aiden standing there, also dressed in his finest.

“What…no sword?” Riorden inquired in jest. He also was to leave his sword within his chamber, although he stowed a small, serviceable blade in his belt.

Aiden appeared completely ill at ease. “Nay! Amiria refused to allow such in the chapel. God’s wounds, Riorden…I feel as if I am only but half dressed.”

A chuckle rumbled inside Riorden. “Do not be so troubled, my friend. The mass and ceremony should be no longer than an hour or two. Surely, your sister will allow you your blade afterwards.”

“Ha! Easy for you to say. She made it clear she does not trust me.”

“Let me guess,” Riorden mulled over. “She hid it from you, did she?”

“My twin knows me only too well, I am afraid,” Aiden muttered miserably. “Dristan has hidden hers, as well. At least he managed to get her into a dress, instead of boots and hose.”

“Knowing Amiria, I am sure she will in no uncertain terms let me know of the sacrifice she has made, on the behalf of my lady, to appear in such.”

Aiden at last smiled knowingly. “You can count on it.”

“Why are you here? It cannot be time, as yet, is it?”

“Damn, I almost forgot my purpose,” Aiden cursed. “Dristan asked that you come to his solar. He will then accompany you to the chapel at the appointed hour.”

“Then let us be on our way, since I am all but done here,” Riorden said, and they made their way up to the third floor.

He had just taken the last step on the tower stairs, when he halted his progress to peer down the passageway toward Lynet’s chamber. Intent on listening to the bubbly laughter of his soon to be wife and her friends, he began to hear a strange haunting melody, most likely coming from the machine Kat called a cellphone. She was so close, and he found he had missed her company this past eve, more than he would have thought possible.

He took a step in the direction towards where, in his heart, he wanted to be until he felt Aiden tugging at his arm.

“Come on, Riorden. You shall see her afore you know it.”

 

Blurb:

Bestselling author Sherry Ewing presents this special edition box set getting 5 star reviews that is combining Katherine and Riorden’s complete story from For All of Ever and Only For You in Hearts Across Time: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (Books One & Two).

Sometimes all you need is to just believe…

For All of Ever: Katherine Wakefield has dreamed and written of her knight in shining armor all her life. Yet, how could she have known that when she and her three closest friends take a dream vacation to England that they’d find themselves thrown back more than eight hundred years into the past? Riorden de Deveraux travels to Bamburgh answering the summons of King Henry II. But nothing prepares him for the beautiful vision of a strangely clad ghost who first appears in his chamber. Centuries are keeping them apart until Time gives them a chance at finding love. Will the past of one consume what their future may hold, or will Time take the decision from them and hurdle Katherine forward to where she truly belongs?

Only For You: Katherine de Deveraux has it all but settling into her duties at Warkworth Castle is not easy and downright dangerous to her well-being. Consumed with memories of his father, Riorden must deal with his sire’s widow. Yet how could he know how far Marguerite will go to have the life she feels they were meant to live? Torn apart, Time becomes their true enemy while Marguerite continues her ploy to keep Riorden at her side. With all hope lost, will Katherine & Riorden find a way to save their marriage?

 

Buy Links – available in eBook and paperback

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Medieval Mondays

I’m excited to announce that I’ve teamed up with a number of other Medieval romance writers to take part in Medieval Mondays.  Each week I’ll be sharing an excerpt and cover from a different medieval romance author.  The theme for the next few weeks is ‘celebration’.  Watch this space…

Sneak peek

With less than a week to go until the release of The Blacksmith’s Wife I thought I’d share a snippet.  This is the first meeting between Hal and Joanna.  Joanna has talked her way into the tournament grounds, hoping to find Sir Roger, the knight she is in love with.

Joanna made her way to the courtyard where makeshift stables and workshops had been assembled. She had given up hope of finding Sir Roger when, through a sudden parting in the crowd, she saw familiar black curls and glimpsed the line of his jaw just as he turned away.

A thrill of anticipation rippled through Joanna as she eased her way towards him. It had been six months since Sir Roger had last been in York. Despite the urge to run to his arms Joanna stood back and watched in admiration.

Sir Roger was facing away from her, sharpening a sword with slow, sure strokes. He had removed his armour and padded woollen tunic, but instead of the customary fitted doublet of fine wool he favoured, he was dressed in britches and a shapeless tunic drawn in at the waist with a thick belt. As Joanna watched he laid the sword on a trestle table, rolled his head from side to side and stretched his arms high.

Intending to surprise him Joanna crept behind him. She reached on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, her lips close enough to brush against his hair.

‘Greetings, my lord, I’ve been searching for you.’

He stiffened and turned to face her. Joanna found herself gazing up into Sir Roger’s eyes.

In the face of a stranger.

Her mouth fell open and she stumbled backwards away from the man, dropping her bag. Explanations and apologies tumbled unintelligibly from her lips.

‘I didn’t know… I thought you were… I mean… I’m sorry!’

The man folded his arms across his broad chest. His lips curled into an amused smile. Joanna took another step back, her mind whirling with confusion and embarrassment. Her voice tailed off. Her heart was pounding so loudly she would swear it must be audible. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to conceal the blush that was turning her pale complexion scarlet and peered through her fingers.

It was little wonder she had mistaken the man for Sir Roger. From behind they shared the same build and unruly curls. Facing her there was still a resemblance. She noticed for the first time that what she had taken for a belt was a long leather apron tied about his waist. Whoever he was, the stranger was no knight.

‘I beg your forgiveness!’ Joanna said, wincing with embarrassment.

The man ran a hand through the tangle of black curls that fell to just below his ears. He eyed Joanna with an open interest that made her heart thump.

‘No forgiveness needed. I thought Lady Fortune was finally smiling on me but alas it seems not,’ he said with an exaggerated note of regret. ‘It’s been so long since I have had such a greeting that I believe I should be thanking you for the experience! Perhaps I will do as a companion?’ he suggested.

If that has whetted your appetite then the book is available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and other online retailers. Preorder now

I also have an Amazon giveaway running until May 2nd which is open to readers in the US Enter here

 

 

Reviews advance readers

Belated New Year greetings

Happy New Year.  I feel there should be a statute of limitations (or perhaps a statue of limitations) on saying that.  It’s been a hectic time, as I’m sure it has been for everyone.  My plan to write at least two chapters of m WIP over my Christmas break didn’t go according to plan, though I did manage to scribble notes in between the mince pies and cake.  Just as well as it’s due to my editor by the end of March!  The story is set in Norman Cheshire so I have lots of excuses to go for walks into the hills to soak up the atmosphere for research.

2016 will be another exciting year for me because my next book The Blacksmith’s Wife is out in May.  I haven’t got a cover yet but here is the blurb.

‘A passion forged from fire 

Rejected by her favored knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she’s now forced to marry is none other than her beloved’s half brother!

For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his lifelong dream of entering the Smiths’ Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he’ll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real…’

I was pleased to see the gorgeous Aidan Turner, the inspiration for Hal,  getting so much positive attention for his many charms in And Then There Were None.  Here’s a quick pic in case you missed it.  Definitely someone I’d want to sweep me off my feet.

The rather lovely Aidan Turner

 

I hope I get a cover model just as striking!

I’ll be sure to share its soon as I can.

 

In the meantime, a reminder that I’m on Twitter and Facebook (despite Facebook’s attempts to bury pages under a patio where no one will find them) so do pop in to say hello.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Blacksmiths-Wife-Harlequin-Historical-ebook/dp/B017RCL96M

 

A month down the line

A Wager for the Widow has been out for a month.  Yesterday I had a wonderful review on Cataromance which described the book as ‘a fantastic historical romance that sweeps readers back to the past and enchants them with its intoxicating blend of intrigue, adventure, passion and pathos.’

I’ve had an amazing response for the book and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review or share news about the book or comment on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.  If you haven’t already, come over and say hello. As always its talking to readers and finding out what you think about my writing that keeps me going.  Every comment means a lot to me.

I know there have been issues with availability in America thanks to Amazon gremlins but these are sorted now so if you haven’t been able to get hold of your copy now you can Buy it here on Amazon.com

I’m going to be taking a break from the internet as I’m embarking on a road trip around France and Spain, taking in the Picos de Europa which I’ve always wanted to visit.  I’ll still be hard at work editing my work in progress and starting to plan my fourth book.  Maybe I’ll even find a handsome Spaniard to inspire me!

Blog features roundup

I’ve been visiting various blogs to talk about A Wager for the Widow (and other things).

Here are a couple of the interviews I’ve done.

The Pink Heart Society Writer’s Workspace feature

Harlequin Junkie Author Spotlight (with some exclusive extracts)

An interview with Ms Moem, created of bespoke poems

There will be more to come over the next week or so.