Monday, November 30, 2015

V is for Viscomte Edouard Valois

In Ana's time travel, Edouard is the past-life heroine's father. This is the reader's introduction to him:

It was the dead of night when Viscomte Edouard Angevin Valois entered his mistress’s chamber. He bolted the door and looked with dismay at the pool of wax that was about to engulf the flame of the last lit candle in the girandole. He needed a light to navigate past her maze of lace and embroidery stands.
“Be you awake, my dove?” He pitched his call to rouse her.
            “I am, my lord. I thought you would never come. Does your wife rest?” Lillibet’s melodious voice floated through the summer curtains that surrounded all but a leg length’s section of the tall poster bed at the far end of the narrow, high-ceilinged room.
            “Soon. Make me a light so I can come to you.”
He made his way safely across the chamber, parted the sheer, summer curtains that surrounded her bed, and unbuckled the ornate silverwork girdle that was the mark of his station. Before placing it on its cushion, he withdrew his anlace from its filigree scabbard and slid the long, tapered dagger under Lillibet’s puffy swan’s-down pillow. Sighing heavily, he sat pulled off his beaded slippers and hose. “I've been on my knees since last I saw you.”
            “But that was six hours ago.”
            “Finally Jeanne collapsed from exhaustion. Betia took her from the chapel and is putting her  to bed.”
“My heart would rent if I lost Ferand or Arras. Angelique was everything to your wife.”
            “You are not going to lose either of our sons. Ferand is five and Arras is three. It is the mother who is responsible for the life or death of a child, and you, my dove, are a perfect mother.” Lifting the lid of the heavy oak bedchest, he dropped eight jeweled rings into the top tray. 
            Then he stripped off his brocade tunic, a silk undervest, and matching purple breeches and stretched out on the embroidered coverlet. Issuing a final sigh, he gathered Lillibet in his arms.
            Jeanne had always blamed him for her unripe deliveries during the first three years of their marriage. When she turned fourteen, he honored her wishes for abstinence during her next confinement. After Angelique was born, she stubbornly refused to let him plow her field again for a live male heir. Once, in a fit of pique, she suggested that he concubine the then six-year-old Lillibet, who had been orphaned to their keep when she was learning to walk.
            He did just that, wooing and tutoring the sweet, fair-haired child with mounting enthrallment. He deflowered her for her twelfth birthday and gave her daily doses of abortifactant until she was sixteen. She was not the delicate, olive-skinned jewel that Jeanne once was. Lillibet was from country stock, big-boned and handsome in the best sense of the word. He loved her more than anything else in his life.
“So tell me,” he murmured as he teased a finger towards her puss. “Are you ready?”
            “Time will tell, my lord.” She spread her legs to welcome his fondling. “Should I make a boy or a girl? Or would you like one of each?”
He laughed at her sauciness and forgot how tired he was.  He knelt between her legs and leaned a hand on either side of her warm body. “Put your ankles up on my shoulders, Lilli. If you’re not with child right now, you will be by dawn.”
His back burned with the marks from her fingernails before she was satisfied to let him rest.
“Douly?” she said softly, using his childhood byname.
He hummed his acknowledgement into her shoulder.
“Douly, say you will not leave Samat in the dungeon. Twas not her fault Angelique untied the cord between their wrists as she slept. She did sound a worthy alarm as soon as she realized Angelique was kidnapped.”
“Sweet Jesu, I can still hear her shrieking.”
“Samat is a good nurse, Douly. Remember how she eased Arras’ colic, and fixed Ferand’s thumb when he dislocated it? I want her to care for the babe we are making. Please? She loved Angelique as much as you or I. A wee one will give us all something to live for.” She twisted his thinning brown locks around her finger. “That way I can have more strength to keep up with you.”

She was right, as usual.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Snippet

An excerpt from Jennifer's WIP...

She was safe.
As Meg pulled up to the ramshackle gate in the stonewall blocking the dirt path, she looked once again at the address the realtor had given her. Two-seventeen Beach Road. She stopped the car and got out, the wind from the Maine surf whipping her auburn hair across her face, the ocean spray misting her skin.
Ahead of her, the road dipped down and far in the distance she could see the roofline of a large building. To her right and below her was the ocean. Waves pounded the surf and a rocky cove provided a small private beach. To her left were rolling hills.
Not a person in sight, and not likely to be either. It was just what she needed, and her first step toward bravery.
Because only a brave person could start over from scratch. Only someone with courage could start over by herself, out of the way of anyone to help her. Only someone with mettle would try again.
Pulling open the gate, she made sure it wouldn’t close on her car, drove through, and closed it behind her. Following the road down the dip, she came upon a small house on her left with a For Rent sign in front. The carriage house. Hers for the three months, with an option to continue to rent it afterwards. Light blue weathered shingles covered the outside of the house, with white shutters and door. Stopping the car again, she walked up the stone pathway. She smiled—plenty of room in front for a garden if she wanted. And she did want. Gardening was soothing. Plants made her happy. And the activity would keep her busy.
Tucked inside the front door was an envelope. Inside the envelope was a key and a poorly scrawled note. She squinted to read it and after several attempts, managed to make out the words:
Heat, electricity and water are turned on. If you need anything, call the number and leave a message.
Not particularly friendly, but that was fine with her. The realtor had said the owner kept to himself. And from the state of the handwriting, he was probably an old man. She wasn’t planning to make friends with anyone but herself.
Returning to her car, she pulled out her suitcase and unlocked the front door. Inside, the cottage was dark and musty smelling. She opened the windows to let in the ocean breeze and smiled. The place wasn’t fancy, but it was clean. The front door opened into a sitting room with a brown leather sofa and two chairs anchored around a glass table and stone fireplace. Beyond the sitting room was a small kitchen with a breakfast nook. A bedroom with a canopy queen-sized bed and a full bathroom completed the tiny but cozy home. It was perfect.
A loud noise made her jump and her heart raced as she looked around for a way to escape. There were no footsteps and no voices, so she peeked out the bedroom door and her shoulders sagged in relief. The wind had blown a vase over from the coffee table. Closing the window a little and righting the vase, she took a deep breath.

She was brave. She was starting over. And she was safe.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Guest Author Kathryn Robson

Please welcome our guest author, Kathryn Robson, a fellow author from Rebel Ink Press.

Writing is not something I ever consciously thought about doing. When I was at school, my friends and I would get together and compose short stories, generally  gruesome horror/thrillers in which most and all of our teachers came to horrible, sudden deaths. Or I would write out fantasies I spun in my head just before going to sleep. In all these books the characters were always 100% based on people I knew, with me in the main roll. An easy and fun way to write, as you know first hand how everyone will react to certain situations and the storyline almost tells itself. I never shared these with anyone, but I still have them tucked away in the attic somewhere.
I read a lot of different books, I like crime and detective books, I like historic novels and any Scify, Fantasy or Fiction book is fine as well, it always depends what mood I am in. Do I want something easy, more evolved or so fast paced I can not put it down until I have finished it?
I do not like and will never read books based in tragedy and death, they are just not my thing, life is hard enough as it is, I do not need to read about other peoples horrors of loosing a child ect.

I really started getting into Ya books when my son started reading seriously around age 9 ( he is now 14) . I found I had the need to know what he was reading, so would pre read the books and then hand them on to him where appropriate. And as he is an avid reader, there are few fiction Ya books we have not read together. The idea for a different spin on the whole Vampire Legend played around in the back of my mind for months, and like before at a child, I would write a chapter a night - purely in my mind - just before I fell asleep, until I had the whole book mapped out in my head.
It is the first book I have written start to finish and the first one to have published and I am so very excited about it and can not wait to hear what everyone thinks about it.
I could have easily written it as an adult fiction, put more gore and adult content into it, but I choose to keep it suitable for my teenage children to read, as I wrote it for myself and for them. 

Kathryn Robson is the author of Golden, a supernatural fiction novel. Born in Scotland, raised in America and Germany she now lives with her Family in Wales, Uk. She is the owner of 2 clothes stores and when she is not trying on her own merchandise, she is busy wrangling her three boys and trying to find time to write her second book.


When everything you know about the world to be true is a lie. 

When the monster under the bed is suddenly staring back at you in the mirror. 

Who do you save and who do you kill? 

Today is the day. 

It's Amy's 18th birthday. 

Her bags are packed and she’s ready to leave. A quick dash to collect her grandfather’s trust fund and she’s out of here. More importantly, she’s out of reach of her abusive stepfather's filthy hands. 

But Andras has other plans and soon Amy finds herself in a whole new world of trouble. As she races to find out the truth about herself, she’s confronted with one certainty… 

She’s the only person standing between the Demons she fled from and the boy she loves. 

Until she finds out she may be harbouring the scariest monster of them all

Excerpt from Golden:
"Bye, and thanks for breakfast." I called after him, while already searching for my keys in my bag.
I could hear his footsteps as he walked away, then they stopped and came back. I glanced up from fiddling in my bag to see him studying me, a look on his face as if he had just decided something he wasn’t too sure about.
"The people don't move away from you because they are polite." 
His eyes again, where pulling mine in, like sinking, more intense than before making my heart beat faster. Involuntarily I took a step closer, almost touching him. Something so out of character for me I was shocked at my own reaction to him. I forced my eyes away and looked down.
"Amy," his voice sounded a bit unsteady.
"They move away because they were born with the common sense to be scared of you,"
and in a lighter tone he added, "and of course because your eyes glow in the dark!"
My heart stopped, words already formed got stuck in my throat and I looked up.
But he was gone.
I fumbled my keys in the lock and rushed up the stairs to my room. I dropped my bag on the floor, conscious not to turn the lights on. I went straight to the mirror above my chest of drawers and looked into a pair of brightly glowing eyes.
A strangers eyes.
My eyes. 

Link to amazon:

And Blog

Friday, November 27, 2015

U is for undisciplined

Margaret talks about being disciplined as a writer

 It’s difficult being disciplined when you’re working from home but for a writer, or anyone who works from home for that matter, it is vitally important. It’s no good saying you’ll make your start in an hour or so, or even tomorrow because tomorrow never comes.
I make a rule of beginning work each day as soon as breakfast is over and the household chores done. I treat my writing as a job and virtually work office hours. It probably comes from the fact that when I first started writing I was also working – I worked for a small company and my boss was out a lot, therefore there was time when I had nothing to do. I used to read – but then an idea popped into my head for a story - and so it began.

I kept the discipline up when I left my job to become a full-time writer and although I’m now of the age when most people have retired I can’t see myself ever doing that. I do sometimes work less hours, or even take a day off to spend time with my long-suffering husband, but writing is still my passion, my pleasure and my life.

The dictionary definition of undisciplined is – not controlled, not trained to obey. So in effect I’ve trained myself to do the very opposite – and I can only do it if I enjoy it. Which I do. I love meeting my characters, giving them lives of their own, giving them problems, solving them. Creating the HEA.

Is your life disciplined or undisciplined?




Thursday, November 26, 2015

U is for An UNEXPECTED Blessing

Debra's Thanksgiving heroine shares one important trait with her.

I have one rule in my house this time of year. There can be nothing having to do with Christmas before Thanksgiving. Don't get me wrong. It's not like I don't like Christmas, because I truly do. I just want it to wait it's turn. When trees come out in the stores before Halloween and shopping ads start not too soon after that, it's a bit much. Plus, it skips over one of my favorite holidays.

Poor Thanksgiving. It gets sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas and is often forgotten in the rush of things. Which is a shame, because it's such a wonderful holiday. A time to simply be together with family and friends. No one is begging for candy. There are no last minute gifts to buy. Not to mention the oodles of the best comfort food in the world to consume.

In An Unexpected Blessing, Katy shares my thoughts on this.

When the rest of the stores on Main Street are displaying Christmas wares, she convinces her boss to do an autumn cookbook display at the bookstore where she works.

The next day at the bookstore, Katy stepped back to admire her handy work. Colorful autumn garlands made of silk leaves and acorns draped the inside of the display window. Anna’s cornucopia sat in the center of the case. Plastic fruit spilled from the curved wicker horn. A variety of cookbooks, nestled in piles of faux fall leaves, surrounded it.

She glanced over to where Anna was stapling a large sheet of paper to the bulletin board next to the door. Usually the cork displayed flyers and announcements, but those had been removed and lay in a scattered pile at her feet.

“What’s that?”

“A list of a thousand things to be thankful for.”

When houses are already decked out for Christmas she's annoyed.

[She]stared out the window as houses flashed by. They passed one whose bushes were lit up with multi-colored lights. A gleaming plastic Santa and his eight reindeer adorned the roof.

“Ugh. Christmas lights.”

“You don’t like Christmas?” Joe’s surprise was evident.

She turned toward him. “I like Christmas just as much as the next person. But it needs to wait its turn. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.”

“Oh.” He sounded like he was trying not to laugh.

She studied his profile, but couldn’t make out his features in the dim, green glow of the dashboard lights. “Are you making fun of me?”


Did the corner of his mouth twitch?

She folded her arms across her chest. “Good, because I’m serious. Thanksgiving gets sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas and is virtually forgotten. Tell me, when’s the last time you saw a display of Thanksgiving decorations? Or candy? Or anything?”

“I saw frozen turkeys at the supermarket the other day.”

“That’s not what I mean. Oh, never mind. Everyone thinks I’m crazy.”

He pried one arm away from her body, and then folded his hand around hers. “I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re sweet.”

And when there's a layer of early snow on the ground, she's severely disgruntled. (Kind of how I felt last weekend with the pre-Thanksgiving dump of snow we got here in the Midwest.)

She peeked over his shoulder and moaned. A light dusting of snow covered the lawn. It sparkled in the sunshine. But she couldn’t appreciate its beauty. “No,” she whined. “It’s only November. It cannot snow.”

Joe raised an eyebrow.

She paused in her tirade to appreciate the effect it had on his face. But only for a brief second. “Snow is for Christmas. Not Thanksgiving. Ugh.”

He chuckled. “Wow. You are really hung up on that, aren’t you?”
Katy took Kyle's hand to guide him down the slippery stairs. Ignoring the sled at first, he flopped down and rolled in the snow. His high-pitched giggles filled the air. Patches of grass appeared as he cavorted, reinforcing the hope it would melt before too long.

Joe put his hand on Katy’s shoulder. “See? How can you hate the snow? He’s happier than a pig in mud.”

Katy refused to be swayed. “I’ll take the mud. It’s the proper ground cover for November.”

May you and yours have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Reading,


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Upating a 1960s novel

Paula looks at the problems of updating a novel.

Now that I’m over half way through editing my latest WIP, I’m thinking about my next novel. I have a few vague (very vague!) ideas, and one possibility I considered is rewriting and updating my first novel, which was published in the 1960s.

I soon realised this would be almost impossible. For one thing, the hero is divorced. Why is that a problem? Because one of the major issues in the story was the attitude of the heroine’s parents to their daughter dating a divorced man, and so she broke up with him.

Far-fetched, you think? In the 60s, I recall my parents (both in their 50s at that time) being shocked when the daughter of one of their friends got engaged to a divorced man.

Would the divorce issue work in a novel today? I doubt it, especially as the man was the innocent party. Attitudes to divorce have changed dramatically since the 1960s. The main reason Mills and Boon could not sell this novel to their (then) linked publisher, Harlequin, in the USA/Canada (and I still remember the words Alan Boon wrote in his letter) was because: A large proportion of our readership in North America does not agree with divorce or accept it as a way out of a marriage. I wonder when Harlequin changed their minds about that?

If I tried to update this novel, I would have to think of a different kind of conflict, unless I made the parents ultra-religious, maybe?

Apart from having to deal with changes in attitudes, I would need to deal with other factors. Neither the hero or heroine had a car, until half way through the story when the hero buys one. It may have been different in America, but in early 1960s Britain, young people did not usually have cars.

And, of course, the technology revolution since the 60s has changed communication dramatically. No longer do people have one land-line telephone in their homes (and some not even that, my best friend didn’t have a home phone). Now, of course, almost everyone has a mobile/cell phone. Creating a situation where characters are unable to contact each other, either by phone or email, requires some ingenuity in a novel based in today’s world.

And all this is before I’ve even looked at the changes in schools, because my original hero and heroine were both teachers.

All in all, I’ve decided it’s probably easier to create a new novel than try to update this old one!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

U Is For Upper East Side (and Upper West Side)

Jennifer loves New York locales...

One of the things writers are told early in their careers is to “write what you know.” I’m honestly not sure about the validity of that advice, but I do think it’s important for one’s writing to be backed by research and knowledge, especially when it comes to settings.

I love to set stories in New York City. I’m familiar with the place, having worked their for several years and visiting it more times than I can count. New York City has so many different neighborhoods, that no two stories will be exactly the same, even if they are both set in the same place.

In my first book, A Heart of Little Faith, my heroine is raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire. They frequent the Upper West Side of the city, which is filled with cultural things to do, like museums and parks.

According to Wikipedia, “The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 110th Street. It is an affluent, primarily residential area with many of its residents working in more commercial areas in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. It has the reputation of being home to New York City's cultural, intellectual hub (with Columbia University located at the north end of the neighborhood), and artistic workers (with Lincoln Center located at the south end).”

There are plenty of things to do with kids in a city, and one of the spots Lily and Claire visit is a playground on the Upper West Side.

On Saturday, Lily and Claire met Kim, Emily and Adam at a playground on the Upper West Side. After an initial period during which the kids stared at each other, they played together all afternoon, which left the two women time to talk.
“I’m glad you called and suggested this,” Lily said to Kim as she munched on some grapes she’d brought for the kids to have as a snack.
“Me too. I figured since Mark is working today, it would be a good chance for us to get together.” Kim looked out over the playground. The girls were at the swing set, pushing Adam on the swing. “The kids are having fun together. It’s always so awkward when the parents like each other and the kids can’t stand to be in the same room together.”
Lily laughed. “Yeah, play dates can be tough. They’re almost as bad as dating. It’s embarrassing when you have to ask some strange mom if their kid wants to play with yours.” She watched as Claire paused in her running to wait for Adam to catch up. “Claire loves having a little boy to take care of. She’s in love with babies and little kids.”
“I noticed.” Kim looked at Lily. “So, you mentioned dating. Are you?”
Lily looked up at her. “No. It’s hard with a child. I want to give Claire as much attention as I can, and frankly I just don’t have the energy to spend on finding someone who not only wants to date me, but be with her as well.”
“So what about you and Gideon?”
Lily blushed.
“I’m sorry; I don’t mean to get too personal.”
“No, you’re not; I’m just not used to talking about this. I feel like I’m back in high school. Honestly, I don’t know what we’re doing. We see each other often, although most times it’s with Claire and Samantha in tow. We’ve kissed a couple of times, but that’s it. I enjoy being with him, but I’m just not sure where we are right now.”
“Well, I hope it works out for the two of you. From what I know of him, Gideon is a great guy, and it’s obvious to me he adores you.”

In Miriam’s Surrender, the story also takes place in New York City, but this time, it’s on the Upper East Side.

According to Wikipedia, “The Upper East Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, between Central Park/Fifth Avenue, 59th Street, the East River, and 96th Street. The area incorporates several smaller neighborhoods, including Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, and Yorkville. Once known as the Silk Stocking District, it is now one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City. It is traditionally perceived to be home to commercial and business types.”

This type of neighborhood fits Miriam perfectly. As a single, business professional, she’s comfortable economically and likes the order and upkeep associated with the area.

Forty minutes later, she was dressed and ready for work. She stepped outside her Upper East Side apartment, waved to the doorman, and inhaled. The rain from the previous day had cleared and the pale March sun shone between the buildings. Although cold, it would be a beautiful spring day. The daffodils the condo board planted in front were about ready to bloom. Around the yellow flowers, purple crocuses poked through the dirt between the iron bars of the miniature fence surrounding the bed. The rooftop gardens would be in full bloom in a couple of weeks, and the minute it was warm enough, Miriam would be out there too.
She walked down the street and headed to her favorite coffee bar. Inside, the dark aroma filled her nostrils. Multicolored mugs lined the walls—everything from touristy “I Love NY” to extra-large sized French mugs—there was always a new one to look at while she waited in line to place her order. People on their way to work took small tables and chairs by the windows. In the back, upholstered chairs and free WiFi provided a break for people later in the day.

What settings do you prefer?