books

What Makes a Good Medieval Romance?

My dear friend and critique partner Sarah Hegger released her first book The Bride Gift this past Wednesday on Amazon. It’s an eBook through SoulMate Publishing. Here’s the url:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Bride-Gift-Sarah-Hegger-ebook/dp/B00KBAYOTM

 

The Bride Gift, Soul Mate Publishing

The Bride Gift, Soul Mate Publishing

I loved it through its various stages. Helena, her heroine is goodly fierce and Guy her hero is as steadfast a knight as ever there was. It’s not fair for me to review it, being as close to both Sarah and her product, but I was thrilled to see other reviewers give it the 5 stars on Amazon it deserves. One of the reviewers mentioned The Bride Gift was the first medieval (she) had read.

Which brought me to my lead question. (see above) Elements of a good Medieval Romance:

Well, you’ve got to have a castle.

And a girl, either in the castle wanting to get out (like Rapunzel) or on the outside, wanting to get in (like Cinderella). Although in Sarah’s story, Helena is in the castle, in charge and desperate to keep it that way.

 

And a guy (Sir Guy, in the Bride Gift) who probably prevents her from doing so in the beginning, but ends up on her side by the end. It’s always nice if he’s a knight or some sort of chivalrous fellow. Because so many of the men during those times were downright dangerous. Which brings us to the next item on the list:

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There’s got to be a villain. Preferably one who is depraved in some way (wicked, murdering Ranulf in The Bride Gift) and completely irredeemable.

 

7fcb010c66b73858ea72f2699ccab063Since it’s a historical, the facts and time period woven in should be sturdy. The backdrop for The Bride Gift is “1153, in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’,” when “King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.” The dressing (gowns, armor and mail) and setting (solars, castle keeps, forests and fighting fields) are all part of the enchanting backdrop.

 

Lastly, it’s the relationship between the hero and heroine, isn’t it? The hero’s got to do knightly things, like scale a tower to access his lady love (First scene, first chapter, The Bride Gift), fight off the bad guys (check) and rescue someone (not necessarily the heroine) or something (it could be a basket of kittens). The heroine must display strength and spirit (so many good possibilities in The Bride Gift, and so many spoiler alerts). And the author twines them together (willing or no—not willing in this case) showing how they are better off.

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Yes. I am biased when it comes to my author gal-pal, Sarah Hegger’s new release, The Bride Gift. I think it’s awesome. And I’m not the only one. It’s a downloadable romp worthy of your time. Check it out. And let me know if you do! 😉

#LoveWriteChat

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images-11Welcome to my corner of the Romance Weekly writers round robin, ravens and other birds. Thanks to the very talented S.C. Mitchell, author of Son of Thunder, for the hand-off. This week’s questions come from Amy Jarecki, who releases Book 3 of the Highlander Force series, Beauty and the Barbarian this month!

 

When did you start writing, and why?

 

Anne of Green Gables, Sullivan Entertainment

Anne of Green Gables, Sullivan Entertainment

I’ve had so many first starts at writing. My first book, at tender 11 inspired by long winter nights in the countryside and the high jinks of Anne of Green Gables, but set in the 70’s. My first play, at 19 while running a children’s summer theatre. My first stab at a romance novel, at 23 challenged by a friend, and further attempts pre and post children. More recently I redoubled my efforts at writing – as an actress I have a lot of spare time and dangerously too much creative energy. Writing is another outlet for my study of the expression of human behavior and relationship.

What do you like best about writing?

cut-cushion-copyWhen it flows it’s on par with great sex, runner’s endorphins, a full fat crème brule or a woody cabernet sauvignon without complication, calories or a hangover. I’m learning to like all of the stages of producing a smokin’ finished piece. I used to hate rewrites. Now I realize rewrites are to writing what rehearsal is to acting. One of the secrets to my success as a career actress is to send love and energy into the parts of the process that trouble me. Fairy-godmother them into strengths. I soon expect to be dubbed Revision Queen. You’re invited to the coronation.

If you could go on a writing retreat, where would you go and for how long?

I’m hoping to do that this summer at my country house in the Laurentian mountains. I expect my teens and voice work will punch time holes in my concentration so it won’t be a real retreat.

Eleuthera Vacations

Eleuthera Vacations

Location of a real ‘dream retreat’ would depend on the time of year. I live in the Great White North. If it were January, it’d be the Bahamas for the winter, probably the island of Eleuthera. March or April? An English garden or a flat in Paris, 2-3 weeks. Late fall? Probably Arizona or the desert in SoCal. A month. Wherever, whenever it would include dear friend Sarah Hegger to bounce plot and characters back and forth, get me to move my butt (actually exercise) once every few days, and to supply the appropriate ‘there, there’s’ and ‘woot, woot’s’ as needed.

 

The Bride Gift, Soul Mate Publishing

The Bride Gift, Soul Mate Publishing

Speaking of the Grand Dame, Sarah Hegger is next on the blog tour. It’s an exciting week for this word wench. Her first book release, The Bride Gift happens tomorrow! (Wishing her good fortune and multiple downloads.) Please hop to her blog here:

http://sarahhegger.wordpress.com

 

Love, love, love your comments. Please feel free to leave one. xo

Book Love

I love books like I love Ethiopian food.

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Ever had a plate? Uber delicious. A yummy variety of simple foods, spiced in deliciously surprising ways, that sits trencher style on a large flat round of teff, soaking its mouthwatering goodness into the spongy bread. Spread on a large round plate meant for ripping into and sharing with one or two others.

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I want to soak up the head bread of the books I read (and write) like airy crepes sop up the stewed spinach, lentils and beets. I want to rip into the characters with heart like fingers tear teff into spoons to gather every spice soaked morsel.

 

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Shared on the same plate with a loved one. The ultimate finger food. Secrets of the soul. Intimate sustenance. Prepared in a time honored way.

Let’s dig in.

Motivational Whips and Chains

Until very recently, I have been wiggly about my daily word count. I have dithered in finding facebook, research, cooking, the narrations I must do because that’s what pays the bills, all more pressing than piling up words in the manuscript.

Well, to quote Mr. Zimmerman, the times, they are a-changing.

imagesFriend and Kensington author Sarah Hegger pushed herself into the troposphere (catch her incredible debut The Bride Gift , see http://sarahhegger.com/ )

by committing to 2K words a day. Eyes on the prize, she completed three and a half manuscripts in a year. Within two years she had sold five books, including a three-book deal to the aforementioned Big 5 publisher.

As Sarah said, now it’s my turn.

 

So upping the word count. Easier said than done? Not necessarily.

18246276Award winning author Sophie Littlefield (latest release: House of Glass) gave an awesome RWA workshop called “How to Slay your Inner Slacker” where she describes a practice she calls writing 45/15. (Here’s her blog that actually mentions me!: http://sophielittlefield.blogspot.ca/2014/03/my-top-trick-for-finishing-that-book.html) As simple as it sounds, she advocates writing for 45 minutes, then getting up for 15 minutes and taking care of bodily functions, warming your coffee or tea, walking the dog around the block, chopping carrots for supper, whatever would normally barge into your writer brain and derail your little engine that could. After your quarter hour break, get that cute little derriere back into the chair and fly those fingers over the keyboard.

 

 

21522614A Romance Weekly writer buddy, beautiful Brit Carrie Elks (Fix You, see http://carrieelks.com/ ) sent me a link to a Rachel Aaron blog about how she went from writing 2000 words per day to 10K!

For a peek at Rachel’s light-speed nuggets, check this link: http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-day.html

Not certain if I’m up to a 10K/day challenge, but like my daily exercise routine, these are goals to work toward!

Romance Weekly #LoveChatWrite

Welcome to my corner of the weekly romance writers round robin. This week’s questions come from Nina Mason, who just released her smexy paranormal The Queen of Swords, available on Amazon. Here’s her site. http://ninamasonauthor.com/

How does your writing impact you inner life?

images-2I first noticed my reading impacting my inner life when I was 19, cutting grass for the City Parks Department under the broiling sun in the midst of the Dune trilogy. Water, its celebration and conservation became my obsession that summer.  I think whatever I’m writing kind of takes over like that. My WIP takes place in the Caribbean. Great setting for mind-retreats during the quasi-eternal Montreal winter. My characters and their problems take up a lot of my free time. The fam-jam has gotten used to knowing where I am when I get that far away look in my eye. The hard part is switching back and forth between reality and inner world.

 

How do you hope your books affect your readers?

 

NYC-subway_book_readers_07When a character, like the unstoppable Scarlett O’Hara, or a setting, like the desert planet Arrakis in the Dune series, stays with you and impacts your world view I think that’s the highest achievement a writer or any artist can have. Ultimately, that’s what I wish to impart in my stories. But my more realistic goals are to provide diversion and joy in some of the moments we steal to read…sitting in the mommy-line up at school waiting to pick up the kids, on the bus on the way to work or sitting in the hospital with a sick loved-one. All these times when we seek to be enlightened, entertained or inspired by the lives and problems of someone’s imagination.

 

Has anyone ever told you your book changed their life? If so, how?

images-5I’m unpublished, so far, so no, not yet. But the underlying theme of all my writing seems to be the ability to love others without sacrificing your own power. This was a lesson in give-and-take that personally brought me to my knees and cut up my heart when I was younger. I’m hyper aware of maintaining that balance now in my 20 year marriage and in observing the lives of others. If a story of mine ever helps someone struggling with that, wonderful. Otherwise, I write to bring an authentic emotional experience to my readers with diversion and joy. Because, as Susan Elizabeth Phillips says on her website wall, “Life’s too short to read depressing books.”

Thanks for stopping by. Meggan Connors, coiner of the phrase “There’s a bee in my bodice” is next on today’s blog tour. Check out how she responded to these questions by hopping over to http://megganconnors.wordpress.com