No Kiss Blogfest: Novel Excerpt

no kissToday I’m thrilled to share with you a sexy scene from my newest historical fiction book, just completed on December 30. (Obviously, it’s unedited, so please don’t judge it too harshly.) This is part of the No Kiss Blogfest (check em all out here), where we writers share scenes where our characters almost kiss…almost.

Victoria turned away, not wanting him to see her blush. Her stomach twisted, gut telling her what her mind refused to admit – there was more behind his words than professional admiration. “You regard me too highly.”

Suddenly her hand was in his and he was kneeling before her. “No,” he said firmly. “It is others who do not regard you highly enough. My dear Victoria, you are queen of my heart.”

She inhaled sharply as his lips brushed the top of her hand. She knew she should pull away, to discourage him, but his touch was so gentle, she found so could not. What was worse, she realized the reason she had been so aloof – from their very first meeting until now – was that she was attracted to him. Try as she might to deny it, it was true.

Theodore raised his head, the slight upturn of his lips telling her he read the emotion in her eyes. His thumb caressed her palm in lazy circles, asking questions his lips dared not form. She didn’t move, but gave herself over to the sensation of his touch, eyes riveted on his as though by some preternatural force. His hand slipped from hers and gently traced the veins up her arm, over the soft curve of her shoulder. She shivered as he ran the flat of his fingernails along her collarbone and up her neck. With an artist’s grace, he slipped a finger under her chin, tilting it up toward him.

Looking deep into his eyes, Victoria felt a connection unlike any other she’d ever experienced, even with James. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear an oath Theodore was a mesmerist who now held her under his spell. Anticipating his kiss, she felt like a maid again, pure in the innocence she never really had the chance to experience due to her foolish youthful betrothal. Slowly, he leaned in toward her and she did the same, closing her eyes only when she trusted he would not pull away.

That’s all you get for now. And trust me, this is no romance novel, but it does have three major love scenes it in. This is the beginning of the third one. I had to pick this one because the others all had spoilers for major plot points in them. Hope you liked it and it piqued your interest (at least a little) to read the rest of the novel.

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Meet My Main Character: Guinevere

I’ve been fortunate to be tagged twice in this blog hop, by Malcolm Noble and J.F. Ridgley (go learn about their main characters, I’ll wait.) Since I happen to have two books in flight right now, you’ll see this for two different main characters. Today, meet Guinevere, the main character of my Arthurian legend trilogy, which begins with Guinevere of Northgallis.

(On April 28, hop on over to Spellbound Scribes to meet Annabeth, the main character of my new romantic comedy.)

Jessica Brown Findlay is who I'd pick to play Guinevere.

Jessica Brown Findlay is who I’d pick to play Guinevere.

What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or a historic person?

Guinevere, daughter of Leodgrance, king of the kingdom of Gwynedd. She is a mythical character. Historians can’t prove whether or not King Arthur existed, so they definitely don’t know about her. If Arthur existed, chances are good he had a wife, but that her name was actually Guinevere is doubtful.

When and where is the story set?

The story is set in post-Roman Britain, approximately 490 – 530 AD for the whole trilogy. The first book takes you from spring 491 through autumn 496. Most of the action of the first book is in the kingdoms of Gwynedd and Dyfed, both in modern-day Wales, and also on Avalon, which I locate at Glastonbury Tor in Glastonbury.

What should we know about Guinevere?

Guinevere is not the subservient woman we see in many versions of Arthurian legend. She is a Celt and they had very progressive laws regarding women, who were powerful in their own right. Guinevere’s mother is of the Votadini tribe, which is in modern-day southern Scotland. In her lifetime, it was a buffer area between Britain and the Pictish tribes. The Votadini were a warrior people, so Guinevere was raised to be able wield a sword and govern a kingdom. She also has second sight, which runs in her family.

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

Guinevere’s first conflict is the appearance of her second sight. She doesn’t know how to control it, so she has the choice to join the priestesses of Avalon to be trained with them. She expected to live the normal life of a noblewoman, but this sets her life on a whole new path. Later, when she leaves Avalon, she finds that the world is rapidly abandoning her pagan faith for Christianity, so she must learn to balance the conflict of faiths in a time of great political upheaval.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Having been raised to know her own worth, she wants to be a strong leader like her mother and marry for love, rather than political gain.

When can we expect Guinevere of Northgallis to be published?

I don’t know. That’s out of my hands at the moment. Hopefully soon!

Who’s next in this blog hop?

This hop started with historical fiction writers, but I’m breaking the mold. Next up is the lovely Cassandra Page, who writes urban fantasy.

Do you have any questions about Guinevere or her story? Ask away in the comments below.

Blog Hop – My Work in Progress

This is a hint of the book title, without giving it away.

This is a hint of the book title, without giving it away.

Lucky you! You’re getting two blog posts today since I’m part of a blog hop.

This one has been called by a few different names, including My Writing Process and the Faberge Blog Hop. I prefer to think about it as an opportunity to tell you about my latest Work in Progress (WIP). This is the contemporary story I’ve been hinting around about for a while now. Since it’s nearly ready to go to beta readers and then my agent, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you a little tease about it.

1) What are you working on?

I am finishing edits on my first contemporary story. I don’t know exactly what to call it in terms of book genre, so I refer to it as a romantic comedy. The closest comparison I can draw is Bridget Jones’ Diary. This is my first attempt at summarizing the story, so it’s not nearly as polished as a query or back-cover copy would be:

Annabeth Coe is a hopeless romantic who is still waiting for her soul mate to appear. When, on her 34th birthday, she meets a handsome professor named Alex, she thinks she may have finally met “the one.” But when he fails to ask her out, she determines she will do whatever it takes in the next year to find the guy she knows is out there somewhere. Hilarity ensues as Annabeth navigates the world of online dating, Meetup groups and being set up by well-meaning friends and family in her quest to find love.

When she’s finally happily dating an artist named Victor, fate throws her a curve ball by thrusting her and Alex together in a working relationship, where they get to know one another without being able to pursue one another. Then, just when Alex is in reach, a blast from Annabeth’s past shows up to stir up trouble, in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Nick, who broke her heart and ruined her ability to trust years before. While she’s dealing with the unresolved emotions his reappearance has brought to the surface,  Alex is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to teach at Oxford, where he becomes embroiled in a scandal that threatens their relationship. Can Annabeth move beyond past hurts to trust Alex in his time of need? Is their love strong enough to survive what is either Alex’s greatest mistake or a pack of well-planned lies? Or will Nick’s meddling be enough for  Annabeth to give up on love completely?

This summary doesn’t do the story justice – it’s even missing my favorite character, Mia – but it’s all I’ve got for now.

2) How does this story differ from others of its genre?

This is a tough question to answer because I don’t know exactly how this book will be classified. It’s not a traditional romance for a few reasons:

  1. While it’s clear the characters are having sex, there are no explicit love scenes.  I did this on purpose because I didn’t want the sex to be the focus of the book. Rather, I wanted the characters’ story to be what keeps you reading.
  2. It’s written in first person. This is Annabeth’s story, so I wanted you in her head, experiencing things as she does. Traditional romance is written in third person, telling both sides of the story.
  3. While Annabeth’s quest for love and her relationship with Alex is certainly the focal point of the story, it also makes a strong statement about the value of education, specifically how important reading and writing are for young people. I never intended my book to have a “theme,” but it naturally occurred as a result of Alex’s passion for his students and a project he and Annabeth work on.
  4. Annabeth is older than the traditional romantic heroine. I made her my own age because I wanted to write a book for women like me who are older than the norm for those never married. I wanted a book that those of us who are still waiting for someone worth our time can relate to. I may end up having to make her younger to appease the market, but I’m hoping not.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I never thought I’d write something like this. I’m not normally a romance fan. But as I said above, this isn’t what most people think of as romance. I wrote this story because I had to. The plot came to me and would not be denied. I wrote the whole book in two months, which is only a fraction of the time it normally takes me to write my historical fiction books.

This book had it’s genesis when my best friend, Courtney, introduced me to the song “To Whom it May Concern” by The Civil Wars. I fell in love with it immediately because it’s basically a love letter to a soul mate you know is out there but have never met. I loved The Civil Wars’ music, so I listened to another album and found the song “Dust to Dust,” which was to me, a bookend to “To Whom it May Concern.” “Dust to Dust” is about two people realizing they’ve finally found one another after a long period of being lonely and trying to convince each other to let their guards down and finally love. I told Courtney that someday I was going to write a book that started with the words “To Whom it May Concern” and ends with the words “Dust to Dust.”

A few days later I was watching the British TV show Inspector Lewis and I saw actress Nadine Lewington. As soon as I saw her, I knew she’d be a character in one of my books someday. The next morning, Annabeth was in my head, and it was Nadine. Two weeks later I had a full plot. Two months later, the book was done, complete with the opening and closing lines I wanted. That’s not normally how it works for me.

4) How does my writing process work?

I pretty much chronicled the process for this book in my last answer, but I will say this: normally the whole thing takes a lot longer. But no matter if it’s contemporary or historical, every book starts with the characters. I usually know who they are and what they want before I even have a plot. When I write historical fiction, I go on from there with research into the time period/myth I’m writing. That usually helps me fill in the plot details. Then I outline and start writing, knowing full well that the characters will mess up my outline at least once during the first draft.

When I draft, I mostly write on weekends since my day job is also writing and there’s only so much my brain will do in a day. I don’t have any rituals or anything specific that I do every time. I just plop down on the couch and write. Sometimes when I need motivation, I will look at Twitter to see what the successful authors I follow have to say. Sometimes they spur me into action. Or I also watch things with the actors who play the characters in my head to get a feel for how they might move or sound. Since I’ve been to Hedgebrook, I also light incense that smells like the wood burning stoves in cabins to take me back to a time of peace and creativity. In the end, it’s the characters who write the book; I’m just their scribe.

Once I have a first draft, I set it aside for a month to get some distance and clarity. Then I go back and do a first pass, catching typos and noting major problems. I fix those and then read it again, making more changes. Then it’s time for the beat sheet, which is my last round of edits before anyone else sees it. Then my two alpha readers (one writer and one average reader) read it and I make their edits. Then a group of beta readers see it (again, a good mix of readers and writers, plus one amazing proofreader). After a few more edits, it’s off to my agent and we do some additional editing. Then it’s ready for submission.

I was tagged for this blog hop by Elise Forier Edie. Make sure to go and check out her answers about her latest book. She’s a playwright and author based in Los Angeles.  This month she is looking forward to the release of her paranormal romance novella “The Devil in Midwinter” by World Weaver Press and the opening of her one woman show “The Pink Unicorn” at Stage Left Studio in  New York City.  You can learn more about Elise’s work and writing at these links:

BLOG: http://www.eliseforieredie.com/blog.htm
TWITTER: @EliseForierEdie
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/EliseForierEdie?ref=hl
BIO: http://www.eliseforieredie.com/bio.htm
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7495615.Elise_Forier_Edie
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Elise-Forier-Edie/e/B00HFEFOGE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

And next week, look for these authors to answer the same questions about their WIP on their blogs:
Shauna Granger (she writes paranormal, post-apocalyptic and erotica), Jamie Krakover (she writes YA) and Courtney Marquez (she writes historical fiction – she’s a maybe for the hop).

What do you think about this book? Does it sound like something you’d want to read? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

What Lurks Beneath Glastonbury Abbey?

2013-Light-Darkness (1)Happy Winter Solstice! 

I’m participating in a special blog hop, Casting Light Upon the Darkness, organized by author Helen Hollick. The theme is throwing light upon something – a mystery or something little known. Thirty authors are participating, so check out the whole lineup

Without further ado, here’s my mystery for you:

Many people are familiar with the mystery of King Arthur’s grave at Glastonbury Abbey. (Was it really him or was it all a hoax?) But when I was there in June, I learned that’s not the only one. In fact, there’s one lurking right under your feet as you traverse the grounds.

The abbey has a series of tunnels leading from various points inside to places in the village or surrounding area. No one knows for sure what they were used for. The respectable answer is that they were a way for the monks to travel from place to place in inclement weather or a passageway for noble guests who didn’t want to deal with the crowds at the abbey gates. But knowing human nature, there’s a good possibility they had nefarious purposes as well.

A few of the tunnels have been verified as real and some people even still get to see them today. (Sadly, I did not.) Others are merely rumor kept alive by tradition. Here’s a list of where they are and what I and others believe they may have been used for:

  1. From the south side of the Lady Chapel to the Great Hall within the Abbey (verified) – Makes sense that this was probably a passage for the monks.
  2. Leading from the Abbey to the River Brue (some say verified, some say rumored) – Could have been used to ferry supplies, but also could have been part of a black market. This one is also thought to have been a place where monks could have met their lovers or others they wished kept out of the public eye.
  3. Leading from the Abbey to the George and Pilgrim Inn (verified) – This tunnel can still be seen the cellar of the inn. The two buildings are just across the road from one another, so it’s possible that it was used by the monks who worked in the inn to for easy access back and forth to facilitate work and prayer schedules or for easy access by pilgrims. It’s also possible that there were some clandestine dealings involved.
  4. Leading from the Abbot’s chambers to a room in the George and Pilgrim Inn (rumored) – This passage way, according to one source, led to a room that was always on reserve for the abbot, who used it for “the purging of his loins.” I’ll let you decide what that means.
  5. Leading from the Abbey to Glastonbury Tor (rumored) – This one is hotly debated. As there was a cathedral on top of the Tor during the abbey’s heyday, it’s not out of the realm of reason that the abbot could need an easy way to pass between the two. However, there is a good amount of distance separating the locations, so the reality of being able to travel that far underground is questionable at best.

Even if we never know their true purpose, they add to the mystery of an already enchanting location. There are even ghost stories associated with some of them, but that’s a topic for another day.

Sources:
Personal conversations with Jamie George and Geoffrey Ashe at Glastonbury Abbey, June 2013
King Arthur’s Avalon by Geoffrey Ash
Glastonbury: Maker of Myths by Frances Howard-Gordon
British History Online: A History of the County Seat of Somerset, Vol 9: Glastonbury and Street
The Tunnels of Glastonbury

Have you heard of these mysterious tunnels? Have you seen them yourself? What do you think of them: fact or fiction? What do you think they may have been used for?

Please visit the pages of my fellow blog hop participants. You never know what surprises (or free prizes!) you might find. And, if you want to share on Twitter, please use #21DecBlogHop.

  1. Helen Hollick : A little light relief concerning those dark reviews! Plus a Giveaway Prize
  2. Prue Batten : Casting Light….
  3. Alison Morton  Shedding light on the Roman dusk! Plus a Giveaway Prize
  4. Anna Belfrage  Let there be light!
  5. Beth Elliott : Steering by the Stars. Stratford Canning in Constantinople, 1810/12
  6. Melanie Spiller : Lux Aeterna, the chant of eternal light
  7. Janet Reedman   The Winter Solstice Monuments
  8. Petrea Burchard  : Darkness – how did people of the past cope with the dark? Plus a Giveaway Prize
  9. Richard Denning The Darkest Years of the Dark Ages: what do we really know? Plus a Giveaway Prize! 
  10. Pauline Barclay  : Shedding Light on a Traditional Pie
  11. David Ebsworth : Propaganda in the Spanish Civil War
  12. David Pilling  :  Greek Fire! Plus a Giveaway Prize
  13. Debbie Young : Fear of the Dark
  14. Derek Birks  : Lies, Damned Lies and … Chronicles
  15. Mark Patton : Casting Light on Saturnalia
  16. Tim Hodkinson : Soltice@Newgrange
  17. Wendy Percival  : Ancestors in the Spotlight
  18. Judy Ridgley : Santa and his elves  Plus a Giveaway Prize
  19. Suzanne McLeod  :  The Dark of the Moon
  20. Katherine Bone   : Admiral Nelson, A Light in Dark Times
  21. Christina Courtenay : The Darkest Night of the Year
  22. Edward James  : The secret life of Christopher Columbus; Which Way to Paradise?
  23. Janis Pegrum Smith  : Into The Light – A Short Story
  24. Julian Stockwin  : Ghost Ships – Plus a Giveaway Present
  25. Manda Scott : Dark into Light – Mithras, and the older gods
  26. Pat Bracewell Anglo-Saxon Art: Splendor in the Dark
  27. Lucienne Boyce : We will have a fire – 18th Century protests against enclosure
  28. Nicole Evelina What Lurks Beneath Glastonbury Abbey? 
  29. Sky Purington  :  How the Celts Cast Light on Current American Christmas Traditions
  30. Stuart MacAllister (Sir Read A Lot) : The Darkness of Depression