Thursday, June 15, 2017

Guest Post From the Author of Under the Approaching Dark, Anna Belfrage

 

 

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: April 28, 2017 Matador eBook & Paperback; 424 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction

    

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over. After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster. In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much. When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

"The writing is impeccable. The story has everything. Under the Approaching Dark is just perfect in every sense" - Sharon Bennett Connolly, History The Interesting Bits

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

 

GUEST POST  


No discipline, no output

By Anna Belfrage 


First of all, thank you Yelena for hosting me today. I must admit to being rather in awe of you what with your black belt in karate AND your writing. I imagine the discipline instilled by your martial arts training has also influenced your approach to writing, and today I thought I’d write a bit about discipline—as a balancing quality to the flight of fancy every writing endeavour contains.

Writing is a very creative process. In the initial stages, there’s not much discipline around as I’m so caught up in developing the story I often forget both to cook and shop, causing me to survive on copious amounts of tea and too much chocolate. This stage is exhausting – productivity is at an all-time high and I am burning energy as if there is no tomorrow, especially as I also have a pretty demanding day-job. 

Some writers love this part of the process. I don’t, uncomfortable with the way I am engulfed by the creative side in me. You see, in all other aspects of my life I am VERY disciplined. I write lists. I plan dinners a week at the time. I am a structural fascist. Having my brain taken over by my characters—and a loud and opinionated lot they are—is way out of my comfort zone, however exhilarating it is. 

Fortunately, once the first draft is in place, I can resort to structure. This is when I rewrite and revise. Historical fiction authors come in all sizes. For some, the human-interest angle overshadows everything else, and a couple of historical errors is neither here nor there. For others, the historical facts must be as correct as they can be. I belong to the latter category, and my penchant for lists and structure—discipline—come in handy when I doublecheck my facts. Or when I chase up little details such as on what day exactly was there a full moon in April of 1328. Or spend hours studying what medieval maps I can find of the various towns in which my story takes place. 

I think this is my favourite phase of the writing process, lovely hours spent organising my work, comparing my research notes with the story and the settings. This is also when I discover that perfect scene in which my heroine is staring out towards the west and the setting sun has to go as the castle she is in would not offer all that much of a view to the west. I sigh mightily at having to cut the scene—but pat myself on the back for having the fortitude to do so. After all, facts are facts. 

Mind you, a historical novel without human-interest would be pretty boring. Especially, if like me, you’re into searing love stories, intense love scenes and some sort of HEA. So while the discipline—fact-checking, plot-structure, realistic character arcs, revised grammar & spelling—build the foundations, it is the creative whimsy, the actual people, their lives and loves, which make up the icing. And who wants cake without an icing, hey? Not me, at any rate! 

My latest release is set in 14th century England: An inept king is forcibly deposed and replaced by his young son; the queen mother and her lover Roger Mortimer take over the actual ruling and the barons of England don’t like it one bit, to be lorded over by an adulterous wife and her bit on the side. This is all historical fact, hours of research laying the framework for the story. A story with plenty of human-interest as it stands, but to really spice things up I’ve added the fictional character Adam de Guirande, torn between his love for his young king, his former lord Mortimer—and his wife. 

The end result is (I hope) quite the heady brew of medieval intrigue, treachery and passion. But it is the disciplined approach to historical facts and trivia that help build the setting and atmosphere. It is through discipline that I build my medieval world, lacing it with sufficient details to transport the readers right into the draughty guest hall of the Priory of St Mary, one very cold December day in 1327. 

It had been decided that the former king was to be buried at St Peter’s Abbey in Gloucester. Some days into December, the court was slowly making its way across a sodden and gloomy England, the king preferring to ride apart with his young companions. 

They arrived in Worcester in a squall of rain and sleet. Kit had never entered Worcester from the east before, having always approached from the west and over the bridge spanning the Severn, but once through the gate, the town was very much as she remembered it—albeit surprisingly empty of people, which she took to be due to the freezing weather. They made their way towards the river and the huge whitewashed church of the priory of St Mary’s, stark against the grey skies beyond. By the time they were ushered inside the priory’s guest hall, they were muddy and cold to the bone. 

Kit settled herself in a corner, waiting for the bustle to settle. The queen insisted on private accommodation, and the little prior bowed and scraped, hands twisting nervously as he assured his lady queen he would do everything to fulfil her wishes.

Kit pulled her damp cloak closer and suppressed a shiver. 

“Cold?” King Edward sat down beside her.

“And wet.” 

So was he, his hair plastered to his head. A day of constant wind and rain had left him with windburn, he had a streak of mud under his right eye, and his boots squelched when he moved. And yet it wasn’t that which moved her to place a hand on his face—it was the shadows under his eyes, the uncertain set to his mouth. 

“It will be over soon, my lord.”  

“Will it?” He pulled off his gloves, rubbing his hands. “I am not so sure, Lady Kit.” He scraped at a scab on his hand, studying the little beads of blood intently.

“Once he is laid at rest, things will be easier.” She used her sleeve to wipe his hand clean of blood. 

Edward grunted, no more, sinking into a heavy silence. Kit cast about for a somewhat cheerier subject. 

 “Looking forward to your wedding, my lord?” 

The king blinked. “My wedding?” His mouth curved into a soft smile, and he nodded. “She will be on her way soon.” He gnawed his lip, throwing Kit a look from under long, fair lashes. “I hope she is as pleased as I am.”

“Oh, I am sure she is.” 

“Truly?” He smiled again, briefly. He made as if to say something, broke off. Kit waited. “I…” He turned troubled eyes on Kit. “I have never…er…deflowered a maid.”

“I am glad to hear that,” Kit said, laughing silently at his discomfited expression. 

“Will I hurt her? I don’t want to, but Montagu says it always hurts the first time for a woman.” He leaned back against the wall, long legs extended before him.
“It doesn’t have to.” Kit recalled her own wedding night. It had been uncomfortable as Adam had been convinced she was no virgin. But he had made amends, loving her with far more tenderness the second time around. 

“Lady Philippa will have been told two things: that it may hurt, and that she must lay back and bear it—as any good wife must.” She rubbed at her belly. In response, the child within kicked. “If you want a happy marriage, you don’t want her to lay back and bear it, my lord. You want her to enjoy it.” From the amused look in the king’s eyes and the heat in her cheeks, Kit suspected she was presently the bright red of rowan berries, but she pushed on. “You must…well, I suppose you have to…” She glared at him. “Why don’t you ask Adam instead?”

“He’s not a woman.” The king studied his hands. “I have to touch her, don’t I?” 

He cleared his throat. “Everywhere.”

“Yes.” Kit fiddled with the clasps of her cloak. “Touch her and kiss her until she strains towards you.”

“What if she doesn’t?”

“Then you’re not touching her boldly enough.” 

The king grinned. “Can I hope for some demonstrations, Lady Kit?”

“Most certainly not!” She stood. “If you want further guidance, I suggest you ask someone else.”

“Like Adam.” Yet again that broad grin. “He must do everything right, to judge from your bright face, my lady.”

Kit grinned back, patting her belly. “As a matter of fact, my lord, he does.”

Thank you Anna, for the great post!
  

About the Author

 

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she's multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive… For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she's still there. Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Interview With Historical Fiction and Fantasy Author Amalia Carosella

02_daughter-of-a-thousand-years

Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 442 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval Romance
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Greenland, AD 1000 More than her fiery hair marks Freydís as the daughter of Erik the Red; her hot temper and fierce pride are as formidable as her Viking father’s. And so, too, is her devotion to the great god Thor, which puts her at odds with those in power—including her own brother, the zealous Leif Eriksson. Determined to forge her own path, she defies her family’s fury and clings to her dream of sailing away to live on her own terms, with or without the support of her husband. New Hampshire, 2016 Like her Icelandic ancestors, history professor Emma Moretti is a passionate defender of Norse mythology. But in a small town steeped in traditional values, her cultural beliefs could jeopardize both her academic career and her congressman father’s reelection. Torn between public expectation and personal identity, family and faith, she must choose which to honor and which to abandon. In a dramatic, sweeping dual narrative that spans a millennium, two women struggle against communities determined to silence them, but neither Freydís nor Emma intends to give up without a fight.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Hi Amalia, thank you for taking the time to give our readers an interview.

1.    Tell us a bit about your new book, Daughter of a Thousand Years.

Daughter of a Thousand Years is about the timeless struggle for freedom to exist as we are, to worship as we please, and build a place for ourselves within the greater community of the world – this is something that Freydis struggles with in Viking Age Greenland, and something that Emma’s still struggling to work out in today’s world.  That fight is what connects their stories across time.

2.    What did you love writing about it? What was hard to write?

This was the hardest book I’ve ever written. It terrified me and it put a hard deadline on a lot of personal things I had kind of been putting off addressing. I mean, I’ve written books that dealt with issues I was coping with on a subconscious level before – but this was the first time I was writing a book that dealt with things I knew I wasn’t ready to face for myself. So that added a whole extra layer of emotional turmoil to the process! But ultimately, I love that this book exists. I love that it offers people a different perspective. I love that it has the potential to reach people who need to read it. That it might just change someone’s life, because they’ll know they aren’t alone. All the tears and stress and heartbreak is worth it for that chance. To give someone that gift when they need it most.

3.    What is your favorite period to write about and why?

I love Bronze Age Greece. I think I will always love Bronze Age Greece the most. Because there is so much room to explore, and we only have these tantalizing glimpses to fire our imagination – that’s pretty much my ideal for writing. But...  I won’t say I’m not interested in potentially revisiting the Viking Age someday, either. :)

4.    What is the favorite place in the world you traveled to? Where do you want to go next?

I am, sadly, poorly traveled right now. The majority of my adventures have been domestic, with just a few jaunts across the border North to Canada when I was younger. But my parents gave me and my siblings an amazing gift when we were young (I was only 3 but I still remember parts of it!) and took us all around the continental United States by car, camping out along the way, and I wish I’d been a little older to remember it better, but it’s definitely something that stuck with me!

There are a million places I’d love to go, though. First up is Iceland – that’s my number one travel priority – and then definitely I’d love to go to Greece and see the Bronze Age ruins everywhere there. Then Rome. Britain! All of Scandinavia. There is so much history to see!

5.    What is your advice for aspiring authors?

Develop a habit. Build in yourself the habit of sitting down in front of your word document and putting words on the page. Once you have that, and your creative muscles have been trained to work with just that small level of discipline, you can play around with how you approach your goals and projects to find the most productive methods and fine tune, but ultimately, I think it all starts with that habit of writing. I know it changed my writing life.

On the other side of that coin, be kind to yourself. Be mindful of where you’re at and don’t drive yourself into burn out. Find the joy and the love and the passion for writing and keep that foremost. If that fire starts to flicker out or dim, give yourself permission to take the time you need to refill the tanks and rekindle that joy.

6.    Why the love for goats? :)

Ha! Well, there’s the obvious association with Thor. Goats are his companion animals. He has a pair, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, that pull his chariot and he can also kill them and eat them while he’s adventuring, and as long as he leaves the bones whole and unbroken, he can resurrect them again to continue on the next day. I love this element of Thor’s mythology so much because it makes it really clear that he’s in tune with the average farmer – he’s not fancy, and he doesn’t need fancy livestock like an eight-legged horse or golden boars. He’s practical and grounded. He’s the god of the common people, not kings and nobles.

But also I just think they’re kind of fun, and I have a REALLY BIG YARD that is kind of a pain to keep up, so I feel like goats would be a good life choice from a more practical perspective!

Quick questions round:

1.    Coffee or Tea
Herbal Tea – and mostly only when I’m sick.

2.    Ideal vacation
The kind where you kind of take a really extended stay and completely immerse yourself in the people and the culture and the area, without having to go crazy trying to jam everything you ever wanted to see into five days. I’d really love to have a month or three or six to just explore at my own pace and LIVE in a different place.

3.    Writing at home, in a café or in a park

At home. A park wouldn’t be terrible, but I think I’d get pretty distracted and not get a lot done. Being at home (most of the time) allows me to focus and not worry about whether my battery is going to make it, or what the people on the other side of the room are whispering about, or what time the place closes, etc. When I want to write, I just want to write, with as little disruption as possible!


Thank you Amalia, this was fun!



About the Author

03_amalia-carosella-authorAmalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes myth-steeped fantasy and paranormal romance under the name Amalia Dillin. Learn more about her other works at www.amaliadillin.com. You can connect with Amalia Carosella on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+. Sign up for her newsletter, The Amaliad, for news and updates.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Name Your Demon Box Set Book Birthday and Giveaway!

Today, we are celebrating the release of the Name Your Demon box set, a collection of 15 amazing novels for only $0.99. This is a great way to discover new favorite authors and to catch up with your favorites. This set includes A Touch of Darkness, the first novel in the Key Series, co-authored by Tina Moss and yours truly.



The set is available today at all major ebook retailers. Pick up your copy today!






CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN KINDLE FIRE EREADER! 

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/080aaeb416/

ALSO ENTER BY CLICKING THE RAFFLECOPTER LINK BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN CUSTOM JEWELRY AND NAME YOUR DEMON SWAG:



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a truly great 2017, filled with love of friends and family, amazing opportunities, good health, laughter, self-improvement, inspiration and lots of good things!




Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Giveaway from City Owl Press!


Look at this awesome giveaway! All you have to do is sign up for the City Owl Press newsletter to be entered to win an eBook of your choice from the City Owl Press titles! But you have to sign up before the end of December, so what are you waiting for? Click the banner below. 

http://www.cityowlpress.com/
*Winner will be selected randomly from December subscribers and contacted in January.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Soul Keeper Series Book Blitz


Soul Keeper Series Box Set
L.A. Starkey
Publication date: March 10th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon readers had a hard time putting this series down… you will to. Now you don’t have to wait – the full story is yours for a discounted price.
This boxed set includes all three full-length novels from Starkey’s beloved Soul Keeper Series. That’s over 800 pages of intense twists and emotional turns, heart-breaking romance and soul-shattering deception – all in one series.
In a battle of wills,
of the gods of old.
For each his revenge,
will he forfeit his soul.

On the chessboard of blood,
will their narrative play.
Aged, innocent lives,
revenge claims her way.
Out of hate will come love,
and love will come hate.
For immortal and man,
have entwined their damned fate.
The battle between the Titans and the gods of old did not end with them. The demand for revenge has dripped down into the next generation.
Twins, Marcus and Nicolas, heirs to the throne of the gods and sons of the last remaining Titan, learn that the purpose of their existence is to fulfill a prophecy born of hate and despair. They must battle for Pandora’s daughter’s heart, a girl lost to the human world and unaware of her hidden heritage. For four hundred years Marcus and Nicolas have only been allowed to touch the edge of their soul mate’s dreams, but the time of the prophecy has come.
For Samantha, life has been nothing more than a series of misfortunes and heartbreaks. For years, she has kept her heart locked away, but change is rolling in like a tidal wave. She is now forced to discern the thin line between love and lie, myth and reality, and it would seem that time is running out …
Grab for 99¢ this week only!
EXCERPT:
There was no moving in this moment. Her body afforded her no such luxury, as swirling white mist covered the soft green grass, giving the world an ethereal appearance. Crimson danced against the golden sky as the evening moved in quickly, hoping to make way for its dark lover.
Sam gazed around her, trying to make sense of the familiarity she felt with her setting, but she failed to hold onto the fleeting memory. The soft crunch of grass moving changed everything as realization dawned—she was no longer alone.
Her dark sapphire eyes narrowed, brow creasing as a figure cut through the dense, chalky air. He towered over her by a head or two, and judging by the large expanse of his shoulders, he often left the gym stained in his scent. As his shape continued to gain clarity, from color and size to the defined lines of a life well lived, the swell of anticipation grew within her at the story his facial features might tell.
As he drew close enough for focus, her jaw slackened and her eyes widened with wonder. He was for all intents and purposes a teenager, and yet by his exotic appearance, she guessed him to be a foreigner. Wherever he was from, he was simply beautiful.
He stopped just before her, his gaze locked on hers, and try though she may words escaped her cry for assistance. His piercing jade eyes bore into her, dark orange rays stretching lazily from the iris, his skin seeming to glitter as if kissed by the sun.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
“For me?” Sam blinked in surprise, taking a hesitant step back.
“Ah, Samantha,” he breathed out, his brow creasing ever so slightly. “Same questions every time, my love. Shall I give you the same answers?”
“W-what a-answers?” She shook her head, attempting to draw in a breath that wasn’t filled with the smell of pure male.
There would be no relaxing in front of him for something was so very familiar and yet alarming to all of her protective senses. Brick by brick, her heart constructed a thick wall that would promise protection. He took a step forward and reached for her hand, but was a bit too late to infiltrate her senses as the wall was up and impenetrable.
She exhaled softly as their skin connected and instinctively let her fingers wrap around his as a sign of friendship. The warmth of his touch sent tingles racing along the corridors of her body and yet still the cold loneliness remained because she demanded it so. No one would ever penetrate her defenses again. Self-preservation had become her lifelong companion simply because life required such company.


Author Bio:
L.A. Starkey is the author of the Soul Keeper Series, a supernatural young adult series, and The Liarus Detective Series, a supernatural middle grade series.
She is a fulltime writer, and loves spending time with her family and reading a good book. With more ideas than one person should be allowed, she is blessed to have a muse that doesn't seem to take a vacation and more energy that one might consider healthy.
She writes under the following pen name:
Kate Thomas - NA/Adult Paranormal (http://amzn.to/1SKV9ey)



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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cover Reveal - Raphael's Fling by Alix Nichols



Raphael’s Fling
Alix Nichols
Publication date: November 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
My name is Mia Stoll and I dream about publishing a monograph on medieval Paris. Problem is, I’m better qualified for writing a handbook on how to go from a budding scholar to a pregnant runaway in three easy steps.
– – –
My sister Eva carries a torch for the wrong man. Here’s the gist of my sermons to her: “Drooling over your hunky astronaut boss is a loser’s trek to Calamity with three stops along the way: Heartbreak, Job Loss, and Spinsterhood.”

The thing is, I’m in a terrible—you could even say impossible—position to lecture Eva.
I’m attracted to my own boss.
Raphael d’Arcy is funny, smart, and uber-rich. He’s also smoking hot. That alone should have scared me away, were I not such a dolt, my academic achievements notwithstanding.
But there’s more.
Raphael is France’s most notorious playboy who doesn’t do relationships. He does one-night stands. If sufficiently intrigued, he might do a fling. Which is the most I could ever hope to have with him—a short-lived fling.
So what, right? It’s not the end of the world.
But consider this: Getting my heart broken by Raphael d’Arcy is the least of my worries. Some very serious merde has been piling up in my life lately.
And it’s about to hit the fan.
Raphael’s Fling is a standalone sexy romance in the Darcy Brothers series. No cliffhangers. Guaranteed: a swoony bad-boy hero, laugh-out-loud moments and a happily-ever-after



Author Bio:
Alix Nichols is a caffeine addict and a longtime fan of Mr. Darcy, especially in his Colin Firth incarnation. She is a bestselling author of romantic comedies set in Paris.

At the age of six, she released her first rom com. It featured highly creative spelling on a dozen pages stitched together and bound in velvet paper.
Decades later, she still loves the romance genre. Her spelling has improved (somewhat), and her books have made Amazon Top 100 lists, climbing as high as #1. She lives in France with her family and their almost-human dog.

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