Rocky Mountain highs amidst the Historical Novel Society Conference

What a way to begin my first HNS conference – a 3 hour broadsword workshop with writer/actor/swordsman David Blixt and his associate Brandon St. Clair Saunders.
david and brandon

These two gentlemen were superb swordsmen and were incredibly patient with some of us who were a bit uncoordinated, i.e., me!

Sword and shield

 Mary (from Iowa) and me!

Sparks flew. (Yeah, right.) We had a blast. And no humans were maimed in the process.

Even better, I met authors Sharon Kay Penman (Lionheart;and, A King’s Ransom; and many more) and Patricia Bracewell (Shadow on the Crown; and, The Price of Blood) in the workshop.

Sharon is such a lovely woman. I’d ‘met’ her through social media a couple of years back. She emailed me about 2 weeks before the conference and invited me to have lunch with her. Novelist Priscilla Royal joined us. This was the best conference moment ever! We talked of our love of the Angevins, of writing, deadlines, and marketing, of our favorite medieval fiction writers, and of the books we were working on and had already written.

me and Sharon Kay Penman

Me & Sharon Kay Penman

Priscilla Royal & me

Priscilla Royal & me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at the indieBRAG booth

with Geri & Stephanie at the indieBRAG book

 

And if that wasn’t enough, I met Geri & Bob Clouston and Stephanie Moore Hopkins of indieBRAG, who are extremely supportive of indie-published writers and made me feel so much at home. Stephanie also writes and hosts LayeredPages.

 

I’ll save the description of sessions I attended for another post – and there were many I enjoyed. It was surreal stepping into an elevator with two of my favorite authors: Diana Gabaldon and Patricia Bracewell. But the absolute highlight – beyond lunch with Sharon – was spending time with two individuals I’ve come to know through Twitter and Facebook: Anna Belfrage and Alison Morton. Both are indieBRAG Medallion honorees (multiple times!) and were such fun. Two of the warmest people I know.

Anna & me

Anna & me

with Alison Morton

me & Alison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-conference blues hit when you have to say goodbye to friends, but I headed north to Rocky Mountain Park to enjoy some time with family and great scenery.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted in historical fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Colorado, here we come

HNS2015-logo3In a few days, hundreds of historical novelists and readers of historical fiction will descend on Denver. I’ll be there learning the art of combat with a broadsword – a morning workshop with David Blixt, best-selling novelist, weapons expert, and finalist for the M.M. Bennett Historical Fiction Award. What a great opportunity to feel that weapon in my hands when I’ve only been able to imagine it for my medieval fiction.

I especially look forward to meeting many ‘virtual’ author friends and individuals from indieB.R.A.G. who will have a display of books awarded their BRAG Medallion – including MINE! It won’t be easy deciding which panels to attend: midwifery, Shakespeare’s world, marketing & selling, self-publishing, primary sources tips, and I hear David Blixt and Diana Gabaldon will co-host the late night sex scene readings. (It’s one thing to read them in the privacy of your home, but in a crowded room? This will be wonderful!) Other sessions include “cold reads.” Agents will choose from dozens of two-page submissions and read them aloud to tell the good, bad, and ugly. Professional actors will read dialogue from submissions. Wouldn’t it be great if they read mine? I’ll have some pictures and surprises to share when I return in July. While I’m off to Denver and a few days vacation in the beautiful Colorado Rockies, I’ll let you take a look back at June 1190-1194 highlights from King Richard’s journey to the Holy Land. Have a great week!

><><><><><><><><><><><><

Get swept away to the 12th centurySweeping battles, forbidden love, and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
MEN OF THE CROSS
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and Readers’ Favorite
Get it for Kindle & Nook and at Smashwords.
Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2015.

Posted in historical fiction, travel | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

For King and Country update

 “The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp.
The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin

Mark and I met last week while the other two members of our writing group had real life intrude on our usual Thursday night session. Mark had been able to read four of the last 12 chapters of For King and Country. He’s reading with his editorial hat on, and as usual found a few cliches scattered about, a few phrases I should eliminate, but overall he was excited and enthusiastic about what he’d read. Let’s see if he’s still singing that tune when we meet next week. Hopefully the rest of the gang will have finished their reading, too, and then can get down to the messy editorial work.

While we wait, enjoy this snippet from Chapter 4, and then go sign up for the giveaway for Book I, Men of the Cross. Today is the last day to comment and be entered to win!

*  *  *  *

Robin waited but a moment. He could not give up so easily. He bolted towards the door. Seeing her again, being so close. Christ, she was not the young girl he’d left—she’d been feisty then, but now…she was a strong woman who knew her mind and her heart. And me? Take a dagger to my soul—will I only bring more heartache? Was Marian right? Except for a life with her, he’d always had his way. It had come too easy. He’d fought for what he had, always won. But this life—with Marian, with Robert—would he lose? It might have been better if he’d stayed away. No! He couldn’t accept that. If ever there was a time he wanted to win, this was it. He needed Marian. Somehow, he would make her see that…though it would be the toughest battle of his life.

Marian had not gone far. She stood beneath the light of the full moon, her dark eyes fixed on some distant point.

Robin drew up beside her. “I only want what is best for Robert. Christ, Marian. Do you know how often I’ve thought of you? If I’d known about my son—”

“Don’t call him that,” she said, stepping out of his reach. “You have no right to call him that.”

Pain wracked Marian’s eyes. She didn’t deserve this life he’d left her to. His selfishness—what a mess he’d made. She was right to protect Robert. If only she would let him give his heart to the two of them.

“He is from us,” Robin said quietly.

><><><><><><><><><><><><

Get swept away to the 12th centurySweeping battles, forbidden love, and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
MEN OF THE CROSS
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and Readers’ Favorite
Get it for Kindle & Nook and at Smashwords.
Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2015.

Posted in Battle Scars, teasers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Men of the Cross – Book Review & Giveaway

Reviewer Sharon Bennett Connolly offers an insightful look at Men of the Cross at The Review. What a wonderful way to start my day.

“The long and winding journey of the Lionheart’s crusade…is skillfully re-told in such a way that you will feel the highs and lows – the joys and desperation – and the excitement of two young men learning the art of war, love and friendship through their experiences.”

Please check out the review. Comment on the post or on the group’s Facebook page for a chance to win a copy of the book (epub or Kindle versions).

><><><><><><><><><><><><

Get swept away to the 12th centurySweeping battles, forbidden love, and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
MEN OF THE CROSS
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and Readers’ Favorite
Get it for Kindle & Nook and at Smashwords.
Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2015.

Posted in announcements, book reviews | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Research Gems: The Murder-Fine

crime-scene-30112_1280I am continually surprised by the fascinating bits of information I uncover while doing research for my medieval fiction. For Book III of Battle Scars I have been reading (or re-reading) biographies of Richard I and John, and stumbled across this gem in England Without Richard, 1189-1199 by John T. Appleby: the “murder-fine.”

This form of justice originated with the Danish invaders per Wikipedia.  Appleby writes that after the Conquest, the Normans adopted the fine when other punishments for murdering a Norman had little effect. He quotes Richard, son of Nigel: “…it was finally decided that the hundred in which a Norman was found killed, without his slayer being known…should be mulcted…”

(Mulct = fine. A new word for my vocabulary!)

In “Presentment of Englishry and the Murder Fine,” Frederick Hamil writes “It was not murder, nor was the murdrum fine enacted, if the slayer was delivered up to justice or the dead man proved to be of English birth.” Apparently, the conquered English weren’t highly regarded in those early years.

However, by the end of the 12th century, the victim could be those with English (i.e., Anglo-Saxon) roots, not just noble Normans. The “murder-fine” extended beyond foul play to include deaths by drowning, starvation, exposure, and more. Itinerant justices heard cases which are reflected in the Pipe Rolls. One such fine levied against the hundred (i.e., community or wapentake) was 20 shillings – a hefty sum in the 12th century. As Hamil notes, the community itself “had certain communal duties and could be fined for neglecting them.”

These murder-fines became a source of much-needed revenue to support King Richard’s war against Philip of France.

Check out my other research gems.

======
Sources
Appley, J.T. England Without Richard, 1189-1199. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1965.

Englishry. (2015, March 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:57, June 6, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Englishry&oldid=649667902

Hamil, F.C. “Presentment of Englishry and the Murder Fine.” Speculum, a Journal of Mediaeval Studies, vol. 12:3 (1937).

><><><><><><><><><><><><

Get swept away to the 12th centurySweeping battles, forbidden love, and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
MEN OF THE CROSS
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and Readers’ Favorite
Get it for Kindle & Nook and at Smashwords.
Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2015.

Posted in Battle Scars, historical fiction, reading, research | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Vacation pictures & writing update

Writing update:
As I mentioned last week, For King and Country is in editors’ hands. I didn’t write one word – not one! However, I did have the opportunity to read Chapter 1 to three librarian friends at the conference (NASIG) I attended. I left them wanting more. MWAHAHAHA!!

It’s been a nice break from writing and revising, but I am itching to get feedback on the manuscript. I’ll bide my time. I have plenty to keep me busy: researching Book 3 of Battle Scars, working with the cover artist for Book 2, writing the book blurb, an author’s note, acknowledgements, etc., and continuing to market Men of the Cross.

Vacation time:
Three days vacation preceded the work-related part of my trip. I visited family in Virginia and returned to Monticello, drove along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, stopped to picnic and walk a (tiny) bit of the Appalachian Trail, and stopped at a lovely winery to taste test some wine. Enjoy these pictures and have a great week.

Along the Blue Ridge…

2015.05 virginia (3)
2015.05 virginia (5)2015.05 virginia (8)
The winery
2015.05 virginia (11a)
2015.05 virginia (17)
On the campus of the University of Virginia
2015.05 virginia (18) 2015.05 virginia (22) 2015.05 virginia (29)
2015.05 virginia (33)2015.05 virginia (37)
Monticello
2015.05 virginia (38)

2015.05 virginia (39) 2015.05 virginia (42) 2015.05 virginia (43) 2015.05 virginia (68)

Posted in life, travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking a break from the 12th century

For King and Country is in editors’ hands, and I am making a stop in late 18th/early 19th century Virginia to visit family before I head to Washington, D.C. for a conference. I’ll see Monticello for the umpteenth time – one of my favorite places on the planet. I must keep in mind that Mr. Jefferson’s home looked a bit different in 1770s/1780s. (Why, you wonder…?¹)

275620474_52e272dd39_z-2

275639930_e0757143c7_z 275620492_7a8bb9794c_z
Have a great week!

=============
¹I’ve been percolating a time-travel historical that takes place June – September 1776.

Posted in life, travel, works in process | Tagged | 1 Comment