Saturday, August 30, 2014

Writing Or Not

 I'm having challenges.

As if ragweed season isn't enough to battle with major allergies and being a 'lifer' on the shots, I got sick on top of this infamous time of year. Came down with sinus, bronchitis, and bronchial spasms, so I'm back on the inhaler and an antibiotic. Herbal remedies failed me. Sigh. Unless I would have been that much worse without them. Like dead.

It's hard to write when you're blowing and coughing your head off. Inspiration fades and there's no snap, crackle, and pop (except in my chest). This is when I long for the writing elves to come and work on my novel while I doze in between bouts of hacking. An insightful dream would be most welcome, but mine are weird, cold med induced hallucinations. Nothing useful. I'll just have to make something up, I tell myself. Which probably sounds odd because that's what most people assume authors do. Actually, I don't. I have this deep sense of the story and of being led in its creation. Just making stuff up doesn't happen with me. The characters speak, if I can hear them over the honking.


Meanwhile, I have good news to share. My latest historical romance novel, Traitor's Legacy, is out this month. Published by the Wild Rose Press. A big book signing event is in the works for Historic Halifax, NC in October. The bulk of the story is set in that area. The event coordinator tells me the interview I had with the editor of North Carolina's Eastern Living Magazine is out, and he did a fabulous job with it. I'm waiting for my copies to come in the mail. The story I'm struggling with is the sequel to Traitor's Legacy, entitled Traitor's Curse

I was sailing along. Then my grandbabies found two abandoned kittens for me to care for, which I undertook with exhausting devotion. Resulting in a lack of sleep, which may have led to my hack, sniffle, honk derailment. But the kittens are doing well. I've named the buddy brothers 'Peaches and Cream'. Perhaps they will inspire me. Possibly show up in the novel. I don't know when readers will pick up on this, but I have an orange tabby cat in nearly everyone of my stories, unless the characters are on the run in the frontier and can't take care of a cat. The orange tabby makes an appearance in Traitor's Legacy, in the wonderful old home featured in the story called Thornton Hall.

“A kitten is the delight of a household. All day long a comedy is played out by an incomparable actor.”
― ChampfleuryThe Cat Past and Present

Two kittens, double the delight. And the work.

“A kitten is, in the animal world, what a rosebud is in the garden.”
― Robert Sowthey

Yep, you're getting kitten quotes. Because this is a random post.

“The only thing a cat worries about is what’s happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time.”― Lloyd AlexanderTime Cat

And that might be good advice for me, as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Release! Historical Romance Novel Traitor’s Legacy!


TraitorsLegacy_w8945_med.jpg (official cover) (2) Traitor’s Legacy, the sequel to award-winning historical romance novel, Enemy of the King, is finally out in eBook and print!

Journey back to the drama, intrigue, and romance of the American Revolution, where spies can be anyone and trust may prove deadly.


Traitor’s Legacy Blurb:
1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

 Traitor’s Legacy is available at Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Story Behind Time Travel Romance Somewhere My Lass

somewhere_my_lass_final resized
Somewhere My Lass, was an intriguing tale to weave and quite an adventure. It's also one I had no intention of undertaking until the vivid dream that led to the startling intro: the hero, Neil MacKenzie, returns home from work to find his elderly housekeeper lying murdered at the bottom of the winding staircase and a young woman in full Scottish dress slumped at the top. She, however, isn’t dead.

That’s all I had to go on at the start of this venture, but was so intrigued I had to learn their story and pondered all the clues given. An old Victorian house, check, I’m very familiar with those; man wearing modern suit, so the story opens in present day, got it, but the young woman came from the past. Scotland’s past. This will take some doing, I concluded. Being a member of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, a fabulous online group, was/is a great resource. I’d taken a Scottish history class and reread that trove of material while doing my usual obsessive research. I love gleaning more about the past and used an actual feud in 1602 between the MacKenzies and MacDonalds as a jumping off place.

Both Neil and the heroine, Mora Campbell, were so clear in my mind and a lot of fun to work with—definitely rank among my cast of favorites. The romance between them is one of the best I’ve written. The chemistry just took off. 


Regarding the setting for Somewhere My Lass, until this book all my stories took place in America, past and present. This departure to Scotland was a challenge, but I drew deeply on my English Scots-Irish roots, which I’ve been doing all along. Apart from the prominent Native American characters in some of my work, the others are of English/Scots-Irish backgrounds, with a smidgen of French. My ancestors, too, have a smidgen of French in the meld, a Norman knight who fought with William the Conqueror, and some French Huguenots.

One unique aspect of the story, is that rather than beginning with the hero or heroine going back in time, I brought her forward (as was the case in the dream) before sending them back together. I also included kewl sci-fi features, new for me. I’ve learned a great deal from my journey into Bonnie Old Scotland. I fell in love with the characters, new ones nudge at my mind. The colorful secondary character, Neil’s quirky friend Angus Fergus, has a lot of fans, and his own story now, Somewhere in the Highlands.


In writing Somewhere My Lass,  I was influenced by my beloved Author C S Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia that I grew up reading. I’m still looking for Narnia. Isn’t everyone? My love of old castles and the Scottish Highlands also lent inspiration.Many of the early Scots-Irish settlers in the Shenandoah Valley, my ancestors among them, chose to live here because of the resemblance the valley and mountains bore to Scotland and Ireland. As near to home as they were likely to find in the New World.

The concept behind my Somewhere in Time series, of which Somewhere My Lass is Book Two (though written to stand alone) is that the story opens in present day, so far my home state of Virginia, and then transports the reader Somewhere else. Either back to an earlier time in the same house, as in Somewhere My Love and Somewhere The Bells Ring, or another place altogether, as in Somewhere My Lass. The wonderful old homes I grew up in and visited over the years are an integral part of the inspiration behind this series. In Somewhere My Lass, I used a compilation of Victorian homes for the mysterious house in historic Staunton, Virginia where the story begins. 


How do they go back and forth in time, you may ask. Why through ‘the door to nowhere,’ of course, a portal to the past. I was acquainted with just such a door as a child. However that was typically Victorian, not the ancient door pictured, a royalty free image, I hasten to add. No, this Medieval door is where one enters on the other side of the portal.

***Somewhere My Lass is on sale in kindle for the lofty price of .99. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

When I first took up writing romance novels with an all-out passion, I knew absolutely nothing about the genre, or the business of writing. No notion of the massive journey that lay ahead. I was as unwitting as a newly hatched duckling, and thought I could embark on this quest and sail along. 

I remember the first contest I entered, assuming I would win, of course. I was mentally planning my award acceptance speech when I received my scores. Not good, would you believe. I was stunned. One judge tossed me a bone. 'You have talent,' she assured me, 'as evidenced in your flair for description. 

Another bemused judge observed, 'You broke every rule.'

'Rules?' I mused. 'There's rules?'
I mean, who knew?

After a three day pout, I resumed the journey.

Somewhere along this rugged uphill climb, a kind soul directed me to RWA. I can't imagine how I would have grasped the rudiments without them and other writing groups. Always before me lay a new turn in the path, another hurdle to master, and onward ho I went like a sled dog through blinding snow, uncertain where shelter lay. Quitting might have been threatened, but was never a real option. No one ever achieves success by abandoning the quest. I knew that. Still do. So, wherever you are in the process, whether reveling in your stardom, or just undertaking this life changing journey, keep going. It's a well worn path and there are kindly guides along the way.

My basic thinking about writing is that stuff's gotta happen or you lose the reader's attention. 


Some wise quotes for inspiration:

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy


Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say. ~Sharon O'Brien

 
I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. ~James Michener



Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth



The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. ~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895


Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~Author Unknown


A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ~W. Somerset Maugham 



Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. ~Sholem Asch



I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork. ~Peter De Vries



Publication — is the auction of the Mind of Man. ~Emily Dickinson




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Now in Print! Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles

Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles CoverAfter exhaustive efforts on my and daughter Elise's part, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles is available in print at Amazon (also at other outlets).

For those of you who've been patiently waiting, it's here, with over 100 lovely images. Remember, a number of these plants accompanied the colonists to the New World. Many are the herbs we use today, though some of their applications fell into disfavor. Not everyone still seeks a way to avert the Evil Eye, or risks potentially poisonous treatments for a cure.

Book Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

dill with white aster and heirloom poppiesA Few Amazon Reader Reviews:
A perfect resource for gardeners and history buffs alike.
Dorothy Johnson (South Carolina)
Plants for a medieval herb garden is a fun, easy resource. I have been making my way through its pages and enjoying every minute of it. I've even found some new plants that I'd like to try out in my own garden.

Excellent Source for Herbal Lore,

Beth Trissel delivers detailed and useful information about herbs in the middle ages. Of course, no self-respecting medievalist would be without a thorough knowledge of healing herbs and their uses, and Beth lays it all out for us in alphabetical order.

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowWell-researched Medieval Herbal
I was in the online workshop where Beth first began putting this book together. The information she gave the participants in each session was amazingly detailed and very well-documented. She gave us an early version of this book and I've referred to it more than once as a resource for my own novel writing. When I saw the finished product was out and available, I grabbed my copy immediately. If you're ever lucky enough to attend one of her herbal workshops -- DO IT!! Until then, this is an excellent substitute and one heck of a resource. If you're writing in this time period and location and want to make sure your characters are using historically accurate herbs in the way they were used at the time, you'll definitely want this book. If you're simply interested in learning how herbs were used in Medieval times in the British Isles, if you love knowing the history of the herbs you might use every day, or if you're just learning about using herbs, this is the book for you!


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Writing Journey Behind Historical Romance Novel, Traitor’s Legacy (and why authors are kind of crazy)



TraitorsLegacy_w8945_med.jpg (official cover) (2)

Writing historicals is a way of time traveling and connecting with the past. Rather magical, really. Being drawn to the paranormal, I can’t resist adding a ghostly touch to some of my stories, but the history is carefully researched. I also write actual time travels. To date, I have 1 short story, 3 novellas, 9 novels, and two works of nonfiction published either by The Wild Rose Press, or myself. I greatly value my editor and publisher, but sometimes I enjoy the freedom of writing whatever and however I want.

Daughter, Elise, formatted my nonfiction titles for print, also historical/paranormal novel, Somewhere My Love, (won the 2008 Preditor’s & Editor’s Readers Poll for best Romance Novel) the first book I had published with the Wild Rose Press. I later took back the rights and expanded the story. Elise does my Indie covers. Mom assists with editing, as do friends.


NEW SOMEWHERE MY LOVE COVER2

I have several critique partners. But when it comes to creating a story, I mostly talk amongst myselves. Authors are a little crazy. I have a theory about writers, those who are on medication and those who should be. Characters are all important and I’ve learned to listen well to them, because if I don’t, they won’t speak to me. How authors who plot out every step of their stories in advance manage, I don’t know. I try to plot. I do. Then I start writing and the story doesn’t go as I’d foreseen. EVER. I do my research, so I have a reasonable idea of what is and isn’t possible in a particular era. When the characters depart from the norm, at least I know what the norm is. And heroes and heroines by definition invariably march to their own drum.


Friesian horse

I suffered the worst writer’s block of my life midway through Traitor’s Legacy when I failed to heed the characters. There was nothing for it, other than to wait until the muse returned. I even wrote a different story in the interim, time travel romance, Somewhere in the Highlands, the latest in my Somewhere in Time Series (awaiting its sequel). My editor must’ve despaired of me ever getting back to her with the manuscript for Traitor’s Legacy, and was delighted when I did.


Enemyoftheking resized

To appreciate Traitor’s Legacy, I must first touch on its predecessor, award-winning historical romance novel, Enemy of the King (ranked third in the top ten BHB Reader’s Choice Best Books of 2009 at Publisher’s Weekly, voted book of the week at Long and Short Reviews, and on the 2010 Best Romance Novel List at Buzzle).

Set in late summer and fall of 1780, Enemy of the King opens in an elegant plantation home outside Charleston, then swiftly moves to Carolina Backcountry. This adventure romance focuses on the Southern front of the Revolution and culminates in the Battle of King’s Mountain. Years before the idea for the novel emerged, I was researching my early Scots-Irish ancestors in the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains during the French and Indian War. My fascination with Native Americans led to my Native American Warrior Series. As my research progressed past the early settlement days, I kept coming across references to Kings Mountain, noting how proud the Virginia men were who’d gone over to take part in the battle. I made a mental note to return later and do further research, which launched me into the American Revolution. I’ve walked the battle grounds at Kings Mountain twice. Very moving.

Terrific Reader Review for Enemy of the King


One account I came across regarding my ancestor’s involvement in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, NC, was recorded in a journal by my Great-Great-Great-Great–Grandfather Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam and father of another Sam. To differentiate between the two cousins, his son was called Sad Sam, because his wife died young of consumption. The other Sam (not yet famous) was called Bad Sam because he was rather wild. Also interesting, the wife of Sad Sam, Mary Russel Rowland, was a copious letter writer. We learned the ‘Dear Uncle James’ she refers to in her writing is James Madison.

JEREMIAH from Enemy of the KingThe Patriot hero in Enemy of the King, Jeremiah Jordan, is named for my colonial ancestor, a captain during the Revolution. The antagonist in Enemy of the King, British Captain Jacob Vaughan, serves with the 17th Light Dragoons in Tarleton’s Legion. Vaughan was such a multifaceted and intriguing character, I decided to write a sequel featuring him. It was always my intent to give both points of view regarding the American Revolution, although I ultimately come out on the side of the Patriot’s. And still do. 

I’d begun work on the sequel and even had the title, Traitor’s Legacy, and basic plot in mind, but wasn’t happy with my Virginia setting. It didn’t work for the story and I wasn’t certain what would, so I set the manuscript aside and focused on other books.


Photo of Person's Ordinary #2JPG

Then in late spring 2012, I received an email from North Carolinian, Ann See, raving about how much she’d enjoyed Enemy of the King and insisting she had the perfect location for a sequel. Historic Halifax, NC. She also very much wanted me to feature Person’s Ordinary. So persuasive was Ann, that my husband Dennis and I undertook a visit and were given a tour of this charming glimpse into the past. I decided she was right; Halifax was exactly what I needed for the story, as was the old Ordinary. I’d been seeking just such a place. The British Legion, soon joined by Lord Cornwallis with the rest of the army, occupied Halifax in May 1781. This episode in history drew me and I read all the accounts I could find. The bulk of Traitor’s Legacy takes place in the Halifax area during the British occupation, and culminates in colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown.


The Drama and Romance of the American Revolution

While also being adventurous, Traitor’s Legacy is more of a mystery than Enemy of the King, with spies, turncoats, a coded letter, intrigue, and above all, romance.  I am at work on the sequel to Traitor’s Legacy, entitled Traitor’s Curse. With Traitor’s Curse, I’m back into ghostly historical romance with a lot of mystery. In capturing a reader’s attention, I lead them back to a time and place they may know little or nothing about. It’s my hope, they will go on and do more research on their own, even visit the sites featured in my stories.
 
These three novels will comprise what my editor terms The Traitor’s Legacy Series. Because Enemy of the King was written before the series was conceived, it doesn’t bear that imprint. But leads the way.

Journey back to the drama and romance of the American Revolution, where spies can be anyone and trust may prove deadly–Traitor’s Legacy.


Ghostly night Sky

***Traitor’s Legacy is coming out on August 13th, from The Wild Rose Press.

***My titles are available from various booksellers, but Amazon has them all.

Person’s Ordinary pictured above.