Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My British Heritage and Into the Lion's Heart

The connection I feel to the past and those who’ve gone before me is the ongoing inspiration behind my historical romances, including the time travels in my ‘Somewhere’ series.  I’ve done a great deal of research into family genealogy and come from well-documented English/Scots-Irish folk with a smidgen of French in the meld, a Norman knight who sailed with William the Conqueror.  
One family line goes directly back to Geoffrey Chaucer.  And there’s a puritan line with involvement in the Salem Witch Trials—my apologies to Susannah Martin’s descendants–but that’s another story.  With Into the Lion’s Heart, I more deeply explored my British ancestry.
Set in 1789 England, the story opens with the hero, Captain Dalton Evans (fought in the American Revolution) journeying to Dover to meet the ship carrying a distant cousin, Mademoiselle Sophia Devereux, who’s fleeing theFrench Revolution.  '
*Pause here to note all the research the revolution took, not to mention Georgian England in general, Cornwall in particular, rum smuggling, stage-coach travel and sailing in the late 18th century….you get the idea. But I digress. Back to Dalton who’s irked with his mission, not only because he finds it tedious, but he resents the French, partly as a result of their aid to the Americans during the war and some of the Frenchmen he fought during that lost cause.  Plus he thinks French aristocrats are arrogant.  However, the young woman he rescues from the sinking ship is nothing like he expects and rocks his world.
During all the copious research, I discovered this is a fascinating time period on both sides of the channel.  I’m already hooked on The Scarlet Pimpernel, having read all the books in that series several times and watched every film version (ask about my favorites) and am drawn to other novels and productions set in this era, such as the rich epic series, Poldark–read the books and own the Masterpiece Theater production.
As to the language ‘thing,’ my youngest daughter, Elise, who recently graduated summa cum laude with a double major in art and French, was a huge help with the sprinkling of French words and phrases.  And she can debate with anyone who begs to differ with her translation, why she chose a particular verb or whatever.  My French is weak, so I’m going with her and will just say it’s a beautiful language.  I hope you enjoy the story.
Blurb: As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.
Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.~
Into the Lion’s Heart is available at The Wild Rose PressAmazon Kindle,Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Sample from my New Historical Romance

Into The Lion’s Heart kicks off the new historical romance line by The Wild Rose Press called Love Letters and is available in various digital formats to suit any eReader.  This story has a sweet rating.  The idea behind Love Letters is that a letter is responsible for bringing the hero and heroine together.
And now, to get us started, here’s the Prologue from Into the Lion’s Heart~
October, 1789, The English Countryside in Kent
What a bloody bore.  Lurching over the rutted road, the autumn countryside obscured by sheets of rain, Captain Dalton Evans shifted wearily in the cumbersome coach. With little else to occupy him, he pulled the letter from his breast coat pocket. Aunt Agnes conveyed the contents earlier but Dalton hadn’t troubled to read the urgent summons penned by the illustriousVicomte Henri Devereux—illustrious according to his aunt, anyway.
My Dear Madame,
I pray this finds you in good health and beg you excuse the abruptness of my missive. With the utmost faith in your generous nature, highly spoken of by my beloved late wife, I implore your assistance. France is in turmoil, its future precariousFor myself I make no complaint and will bear my lot, but beg you to assure the safety of my dearest Sophia. 
Please care for my darling girl as you would your own child. As soon as arrangements may be made, Mademoiselle Devereux will cross the Channel on The White Rose and should arrive at Dover harbor on the 20th
A fierce jolt jerked his focus to the muddy track serving as a road. That madman driving this coach would have them over in a ditch next thing.
Reassured his position was safe for the moment, Dalton glanced back at the letter. The brief plea lacked the formal, flowery language he would’ve expected from a French nobleman. Clearly the vicomte was backed against a wall, his plight pitiable. But Dalton’s role as newly appointed champion of Sophia Devereux vexed him to the extreme.~
As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.
Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.~

Sunday, August 7, 2011

For The Love Of A Pond

Henry Thoreau said of Walden Pond,”A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”
Thoreau lived in a small cabin at Walden Pond for two years where he did some of his best writing and learned the essentials of life.
“Henry wanted to write, and needed a quieter place than the Thoreau household to do this. And he did write both A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and an early draft of Walden in his two years at the pond. But in Walden’s ”Where I Lived, & What I Lived for,” he describes an additional motive. '
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
In conclusion, Thoreau said, “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
*Image of Walden Pond and a replica of Thoreau’s cabin
Thoreau isn’t the only one who loved a pond.  I’m deeply fond of ours. Although Walden Pond is rather larger than our farm pond, more of a lake really, and heavily wooded.  Grassy meadows and corn fields surround our pond, but wooded hills rise above the fields, and beyond these, on a clear day, you can see the Alleghenies.
I could not write all that I have without this marvelous  ever-changing scene around me.   And the pond plays host to many birds and waterfowl.  Overhead, swifts, swallows, and purple martins skim and dive in pursuit of the insects we are very glad for them to devour.  The swifts gathered in mass and departed early in the fall two years ago when we had a bad winter.  Which I predicted from this event.
But back to the water, most interesting to me is that you never know what waterfowl might be swimming on it.  Migrating ducks of all sorts have stopped by, and I do love ducks.  The most common, of course, are the mallards.  Wood ducks nest in the tangle of trees growing along the edge of the meadow in a dry creek bed that runs with water when the heavy rains come.  Each spring finds the wood duck mammas on the pond with their babies darting over the water like little bumblebees.
Our barn yard geese make daily treks down to the water.  And flocks of Canadian geese are not uncommon.  The great blue heron can be seen in the early morning mist fishing along the banks.  Sandy brown killdeer dart around the edges of the pond on their long legs, sounding that wild funny cry peculiar to them.   On one snowy day a flock of swans took respite from their journey.   Snow geese wintered with us one year.  Our most unusual visitor was a pink flamingo, though his rosy color had faded from lack of the shell fish that generally make up a flamingo’s diet and gives them that brilliant hue.  I suppose if you fed them lots of carrots they’d turn orange.
An excerpt from my nonfiction book, Shenandoah Watercolors:
Dozens of swallows skim over the pond as the sun sinks below the Alleghenies. If I were standing on a distant ridge, would it sink behind me, or the ridge beyond that one?
The water is calm now but was awash with waves during the storm that hit a short time ago. The grassy hill and maple tree are reflected on the surface, silvery and streaked with rose from the western sky. All is peaceful as a soft twilight settles over the valley. Utterly idyllic, until I pause to consider what all of those swallows are after. There must be clouds of mosquitoes.
Here’s another thought, where do all the birds spend the night? Are the woods up on the hill lined with birds perched wing to wing jostling for space on the branches? I’ll bet they make room for the big red-tailed hawk. He gets the whole tree––as many as he wants. It’s good to be king.~
*Images of our pond by my mom and daughter Elise

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sweet Excerpt from Gothic/Light Paranormal Romance

~Will blew the layer of dust from an ornate wooden box inlaid with ivory and lifted the lid. Inside were brass workings like the mechanism of a clock.  He wound a small gold key in the back until it would wind no more, and released it. The wheels and cogs turned and wonderful music flowed forth, the beautiful strains of a Viennese waltz, The Blue Danube.
Julia clapped her hands. “A music box.”
He bowed. “May I have this dance, sweet Julia?”
She gazed up into his velvet brown eyes, and he gazed back. She managed a nod and he drew her into his arms.
Around the attic he waltzed with her secure in his lead.  Everything fell away except this moment while the haunting melody played on, taking her back to that faintly remembered place. She didn’t even stumble, not once.  It was as if some inner memory guided her in the steps, even though ballroom dancing hadn’t been a part of her lessons.
The music picked up and he swung her around and around. Her dress swirled as he circled. With each turn, he was Will—then Cole, Will—then Cole, both men in rapid succession, separate and yet the same. Her heart pounded from far more than the whirling dance.

The music faded and Will slowly stopped revolving. They stood, his arms circled at her back and waist, eyes locked on each other. His brow furrowed. “Julia, you look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
She ran the tip of her tongue over her lips. “You may be the ghost.”
He tightened his mouth in an impatient line. “Don’t try to make me into Cole again.”
“Will, listen to me. I know it sounds crazy, but I think somehow you already are.”
He dropped his hands, turning away. “Only because you insist I am.”
She grabbed his arm. “No. It’s what I saw while we danced. You must believe me.”
“Believing doesn’t make it any easier,” he said flatly.
“That’s because you think I’m misled.”
He swiveled his head at her. Exasperation flared in his eyes. “There’s a simple reason for my laboring under that assumption. You are.”
“Don’t be angry. I hate that I’ve spoiled such a lovely moment.”
“You’ve a talent for that.” He turned and strode across the floor. His footsteps echoed on the boards with a hollow sound, just as her heart would beat if he left.
She ran behind him and reached out, catching his plush shoulder. “Consider me balmy, if you must, but don’t walk away. Please Will.”
He stayed as he was. “What do you want me to do, Julia?”
“I don’t know.” She wasn’t strong enough to turn him and dashed in front instead, grasping his upper arms and twisting the fabric in her fingers. “Something—anything.”
He smiled faintly. “Never say those words to a man.”
Cupping her face between his hands, he bent his head and closed his lips over hers in an all consuming kiss…so swiftly she hardly knew what had happened. Even if he hadn’t cupped her cheeks, she wouldn’t have moved. The compelling press of his mouth bound her in place. If possible, Julia’s heart thudded even faster than it had before. The surging pulse drummed through her entire being, reverberating in places she didn’t even know she had. From what she could remember of her dream with Cole, her feelings had been poignant but tender. The sensations coursing through her now weren’t entirely that. An exhilarating passion was sweeping her up in a shocking tide.
“Who am I now?” Will whispered against her mouth.
She loosened her grip on his jacket in speechless surprise, too breathless to tell him she didn’t care.~



“As I read Somewhere My Love, I recalled the feelings I experienced the first time I read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca.” ~Joysann, Publishers Weekly
*Available in print and digital download at: The Wild Rose PressAmazon,Barnes & Noble and many other online booksellers.