It’s been months . . . MONTHS! . . . since I’ve updated you all with a blog. My apologies for that. 2020 was a killer year, and not only for me, I know that. My writing had to take a back seat to some personal, family, and health issues.
But enough with the excuses! I’m back and I’m psyched. I regained the rights to the first Haunted Voices novel, Phantom Traces, in February. After a thorough re-editing, revising, and redesign of the cover image, I’m proud to announce it’s now available for Kindle for only 99 cents (FREE for KU subscribers). It was the first in the series, and if you haven’t read it already, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with my work and my goal in this crazy quest: write intensely romantic love stories set in scary places!
In the meantime, I’m working on a very exciting story about Rachel, a DNA analyst with some psychic abilities: she can access the memories of a person from the cells they left trapped in (of all things) oil paint. Naturally, she avoids art museums. Problem is, her new love interest, Duncan, happens to be the curator at the Ringling Museum of Art. And her boss, Ethan, is an obsessive art collector.
Then a priceless Van Gogh goes missing from the museum, and Duncan needs her help in solving the mystery of its disappearance.
It’s called Pigments, and it will be coming soon! Later this summer.
Please do check out my other Haunted Voices novels (there are four in all) while you are waiting. I love to hear from my fans, so please do drop me a line.
Living in New England can make winter seem like it lasts for-EV-er. We really haven’t had a bad one this year, but it’s been looong. And cold. I’m so tired of being cold.
On my walk yesterday (bundled up like an Eskimo!) I was saddened to see the wilting heads of annuals planted too early. Bulbs that sprouted too soon. I wonder if they will rebound. I know I’m finding it harder to rebound, this year more than ever.
But on our dinner out for “date night,” my husband and I noticed that our favorite restaurant was busy–packed, in fact, with a wait time. I’ve never been so glad to have to wait for a table. In reality, we’ve been waiting for over a year…
Today I go for my first Covid vaccine. By the end of April I will be fully vaccinated, as will my husband and daughter. Will I feel safer going out into the world? Not really. I’ve felt safe pretty much all along, with masks, all the extra handwashing, and gallons of sanitizer poisoning my blood and drying out my skin. The restaurants showing life, though, is a really good sign. It means, like the early blooming flowers, we are emerging from the darkness. I hope a late frost doesn’t wilt our heads.
Writing for me this past year–two years, almost–has been difficult. A shoulder injury that’s now showing signs of permanent nerve damage makes typing dicey. I am not one who can narrate my books using voice to text. So I plug along, typing at a fraction of the speed I used to, using my left hand, and making twice the mistakes I ever did.
But it will not stop me.
Speaking of audio, thanks to the amazingly talented and energetic Lisa Shea, I have been inspired to produce some Youtube videos for you to enjoy. Think reading excerpts is fun? How about having one read to you, with photos to enjoy while you listen? Coming soon!
“Pigments,” my supernatural suspense novel is almost finished. I have made a personal commitment to have it ready to go to the editor by the end of June, planning on a August release date. I am getting ready to send my cover request to the artist, Wicked Smart Designs. As soon as I have a sneak preview, I will share.
In the meantime, here’s the blurb so you can get an idea of what you are in for…
There’s an unsolved mystery in the world of art history: which painting was really Vincent Van Gogh’s last?
Rachel Parrish is a DNA analyst with a peculiar psychic ability: psychometry. She can access the memories of an artist from their DNA: the genetic blueprint left behind in the amalgam of pigment and oil. This gift—or curse—colors her world with some unusual phobias. So, she remains alone, unable to find the soulmate she so desperately yearns for.
Duncan Nicklas is a sexy museum curator who comes to Rachel’s aid when an unplanned museum visit overwhelms her. That night, a priceless Van Gogh goes missing. Rachel’s gift, he knows, can help him track down the missing painting. He’s also insanely attracted to her.
But Rachel is terrified of paintings. Duncan is a museum curator. How can this ever work?
And then there’s Ethan Fagan—who’s determined to claim Rachel as his own. To use her abilities to identify the unsigned paintings in his grandfather’s collection. To secure his fortune. No matter what the cost.
I have been gorging my brain on historical romances these past weeks, with the dog days of summer bearing down on us and nowhere to go. Nowhere we can go. As of August 1, Massachusetts’s travel ban makes vacations more than 190 miles (the width of the state) illegal.
*Sigh* Good thing for books.
Since I read (as well as write) romance, the recurring theme I see in many of the stories is “Love at First Sight.” A very romantic notion but has to be fictional, right? We would all like to believe there is a knight in shining armor waiting to kneel at our feet, right?
“In sum, science favors the romantics. Love at first sight actually is experienced by people, but it’s not so much “love” or “passion.” Instead, it’s a strong pull or attraction that makes someone particularly open to the possibilities of a relationship (Zsoks et al., 2017). Love at first sight can happen multiple times, and maybe the instances where it fizzles or simply never translates into a relationship are forgotten. But when love at first sight does launch a sustained relationship, the story is a great one.”
Hmm. So scientific studies back the notion. No wonder it’s the favorite trope of romance novels. You know, that spark when two people’s eyes meet for the first time. The electricity when they shake hands (get out the hand sanitizer). That invisible magnet, drawing you to another person without any real rhyme or reason…
Do you believe in love at first sight? Do I? Oh, yes indeedy. And it doesn’t always happen at the most expected times.
Rewind fifty years or so. I am in the seventh grade of what they then called Jr. High School. I am a nerdy, overweight, painfully shy transfer from Catholic school. Thirteen years old and WAY less farther along maturity-wise than any teenager today.
I hated math. I particularly hated my math teacher, Mr. Brown, who was overbearing, rude, full of himself, and took every opportunity he could to embarrass me. I couldn’t stand the man and dreaded the hour I had to spend in his classroom every day.
Until the day he knocked into me and caused my brand-new box of colored pencils (we were map-making in Geography class) all over the floor.
It was an innocent mistake. He was deep in conversation with the school principal and I tried to slip past him when class was over. I was fat, remember? My generously proportioned body + a stack of textbooks half as tall as I was (I was short too) = a tight fit between desks.
Mr. Brown’s elbow came back and knocked into my books. I managed to hold onto the texts, but the box of colored pencils (brand-new, remember?) went flying. When they hit the floor, they scattered everywhere.
Through tears of frustration and embarrassment, I went to my knees to gather them. My fingers were getting stepped on by other kids trying to leave class when I suddenly realized I had help. It was Mr. Brown, down on one knee (I tell you no lie), helping me to gather my colored pencils. When our eyes met, lightning struck. I felt . . . something.
From that day forward, I had a crush on Mr. Brown. An impossible dream. He was fourteen years older than me and married. With kids. I cried myself to sleep many a night pining over Mr. Brown. I got over it, moved onto high school, and heard he had moved away to another state.
He gave me a “C” in math, by the way. The lowest grade on my entire transcript. I have never forgiven him for that.
Fast-forward six years. I am in college, dating a guy in my chemistry class. He was a very nice fellow. Okay, so I was dating him mostly because I sucked at chemistry and he was very good at it.
Billy was a car guy. Months earlier, I had crashed my car into a deer on a dark country road. I’d had it fixed, but the body work and paint job were terrible. He said he had a friend who painted cars on the side. He took me to the guy’s house on a Friday night.
Was I surprised when who came stomping out of his massive, three-car garage, covered in grease but . . . Mr. Brown–who was now divorced.
In celebration of National Wing Day, I thought this was a fitting topic to raise.
When you order your wings today, you will be asked this question: sauce or no sauce? Mild, hot, or super spicy?
I’m going to ask the same question about #historicalromance novels. I’m writing one set in the Middle Ages, before the age of feminism and in a world where men literally took what they wanted, whenever they wanted. Love did exist, however, as did chivalry. That’s the kind of story I’m writing.
There will be naked heroes and heaving bosoms, but sex comes as an expression of love, not solely for lust.
In the books I’ve been reading lately, the “heat level” when it comes to sex scenes ranges from very mild to quasi-erotic. Some stories feature a graphic sex scene every few pages–sometimes in lieu of development of a real plot! Others sit on the other end of the spectrum, with lots of kissing, a little fondling, but the actual “act” happening off-camera. There are, of course, variations all along the spectrum.
I personally enjoy the kind of love story that emphasizes the emotional development of the relationship over the physical. These are the ones that spend lots of time showing us the sexual tension between the hero and heroine, but not as much in the way of the sexual act.
My question to my readers is this: how spicy do you like your romance novels? Do you order them up dripping with super-spicy hot sauce, or plain with a little sauce on the side?
When I first started writing romance novels, I was told by numerous sources in the industry that the audience expected a sex scene by a certain point in the book–say, a third of the way through. If the couple wasn’t naked by the halfway point, readers would put the book down.
Is that true? Is no one out there reading romances for the ROMANCE and not just the sex?
A medieval romance I recently read by a VERY successful author featured no sex scene at all until the very end–when the couple was married. It actually appeared as an Epilogue. But that was okay! The relationship was so convincingly developed throughout the novel that it kept me turning the pages. What kept me reading was the throbbing of my heart, not so much my other body parts.
This is the kind of romance novel I like to read. Tastefully written sex scenes are fine, as long as the couple doesn’t shed their clothes and go at it every five pages. Sorry, folks, but as stimulating as these scenes can be, they can, after awhile, become repetitive and even boring.
I have found myself skimming the sex scenes when they present too often. There. I’ve said it. I must be getting old 😦
So my question to you is this: as you order your wings today, how will you order them? Then think about the kind of romance novels you like to read. Which ones do you gravitate towards? Mild, spicy, or super-hot?
I will select one commenter to receive a free Kindle copy of the new release by Bambi Lynn, A Knight in Rusted Armor. In my opinion, Bambi hits the sweet spot, right in the middle of the mild-to-spicy spectrum–plenty of spice, but a heart-melting romantic relationship as well.
Tastefully, done @BambiLynn! And congrats on the new release.
The decision wasn’t hard to make. In fact, with all the chaos and mayhem going on in the world right now, it made perfect sense. Physical travel is risky, hazardous even. So how does one “get away”?
For me, ’tis simple. I climb into a story. Whether it’s one I’m reading, or one I’m writing, the result is similar. I can leave my home (which, in the past few months, has become somewhat of a prison) and go anywhere I want to go.
Even if that place is across an ocean and almost six centuries in the past.
Which, in writing the first book in my series, takes me exactly here: Flanders, 1436. The Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, reigns. Life is reasonably peaceful, compared to what it’s been like for the past hundred years, even though the Hundred Years War is still going on.
But they didn’t call the man Philip “the Good” for nothing. He was a generous and mostly peaceful ruler, and treated his subjects well.
Philip also loved opulence in all things, from his clothing to his many residences (he had either a castle or other elaborate home in almost every major city of the region), to celebrations. The Duke was known for his decadent feasts, which he often opened up to all, nobles and peasants alike.
If ever there was a time for the romantic notion of knighthood and chivalry to flourish, ’twas then. Philip even established his very own group of esteemed knights, The Order of the Golden Fleece. The twelve virtues of chivalry–faith, charity, justice, wisdom, prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope, and valor–were Philip’s established guidelines for members of his Order.
Not that all the knights lived by these virtues to the letter. At least not some of the characters of the first book in my new series, Forgotten Flowers of Flanders.
Take the captain of Philip’s Royal Guard, Sir Engel Knape. His captain gets a free pass in living by the rules because of his loyalty and ferocity on the battlefield.
Mathieu of Flambre, the ostler (horsemaster) at Coudenburg Castle, doesn’t agree. ‘Tis why, even though his father was a warrior, and Mathieu started on the road to earning his spurs and sword, he’s decided knighthood isn’t the life for him.
Too bad the maiden who’s captured his heart has hers set on a marrying a knight.
Kindred Spirit (noun): a person whose interests or attitudes are similar to one’s own.
We stumble across people like this all the time, don’t we? We used to rely on luck or fate or serendipity to meet “our peeps.” It’s easier now than ever with the Internet, since we can “virtually” seek out those whose interests run along the same lines as our own. There are Facebook groups, and Twitter hashtags, and Youtube channels where we can connect with kindred spirits.
I am what they call a “Rennie,” i.e., one who is obsessed with the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods of history. I have a literal library of nonfiction books on the age. I am currently working on the first of a new series set in 15th Century Flanders (present day Belgium and the Netherlands), so I have been doing lots of research (again, yet, still).
Why haven’t I started writing medieval romances earlier? I am a stickler for historical accuracy, and up until now, I just didn’t think I was good enough to do the tales justice. I hope perhaps now I am.
I’ve been Googling all sorts of medieval subjects, such as jousting, medieval warfare, what it was like to live in a castle, and what did it take to be a knight. One channel kept surfacing time and again: Modern History, a channel starring a certain Jason Kingsley. Jason hails from and lives in the U.K.
Even though we are an ocean apart and have never met (virtually or otherwise), I feel I have honestly found in him a kindred spirit.
I became curious about the man in the armor, the one who shares my obsession for the Middle Ages as well as for horses. Jason rides as if born in the saddle. Some further research revealed that Lord Kingsley (my title for him) is actually the CEO of a gaming company called Rebellion. Along with his brother, Chris, the Kingsleys have built Rebellion into a multi-million-dollar company, employing hundreds of people and having produced more video games than I can count.
Kingsley lives in front of a computer monitor by day, in the barn with his fifteen horses after hours, and suits up in custom-made armor on the weekends to participate in jousts. I was particularly intrigued by this blog in The Mane Quest, where Jason talks more about his love for horses and dedication to training them in the classical way.
In this interview, I discovered that for Rebellion’s video game, “Joust Legend,” Kingsley had a very personal investment in the creation of the game.
“The movements of the horse and rider in the mobile games were motion captured from Kingsley himself and (his horse,) Warlord.”
Wow. Double wow. Can you say, “the perfect modern knight in shining armour”?
“For me, wearing armour and riding a horse is actually a form of time travel. I know what it feels like to close your visor in the heat of summer, pick up a lance and gallop past somebody, trying to hit them.”
Oh, I can SO relate to this. My first visit to a Renaissance Faire at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida happened when I was in my twenties (many, many moons ago). When I paid my ticket fare and stepped through the gates, I felt as though I’d been transported back in time. Strangely enough, it was like coming home. I am only truly in my element when the sights and sounds of the Middle Ages surround me.
Jason doesn’t know it, but he is very actively participating in helping me write this book. It’s one thing to read about a historical time period—it’s quite another to see life as it might have been lived on the screen, in real time, with a real man and real horses. I’ve viewed dozens of Modern History’s videos, watching Jason gallop with a lance aboard his Lusitano gelding, Warlord, practicing his aim at a quintain (a medieval practice target for jousting). I’ve watched him visit a raptor aviary and learn about how falcons and hawks were (and are) handled, trained, and used for hunting. I’ve watched him try his hand at shooting arrows from a longbow, with amazingly good results for his first go at it.
In short, Jason has become, in my mind, the model hero for my planned series of medieval novels.
Interestingly, Jason has applied the knight’s codes of honor to his business practices as well, as he explains in this BBC interview where he is described as the “Boss in Shining Armour.” Jason believes that the chivalric principles of bravery, honesty, and kindness are key components for achieving success in any business venture.
With my obsession for the Middle Ages, as well as for falconry, archery, and horses—and dressage, in particular—I can’t imagine how much Jason and I might have to chat about over a glass of ale or mead. As far as the game development? Not so much. Mayhap he could help me, though, in figuring out how to format my manuscripts more easily–a process that now takes me many frustrating days at the keyboard!
My “dream trip” up until now has been to return to Belgium and the Netherlands, a part of the world I have been inexplicably drawn to all of my life–thus the choice of setting for my new series. I visited once—my only trip overseas.
I may have to rethink my plans, now. I may be aiming to travel to the U.K.
Once upon a time there was a shy, introverted little girl who was growing up in a strict Italian, Catholic family. She was the only daughter. They lived out in the country, in a place where there was little to no opportunity for her to make friends.
So she read books. In this way, the little girl found a way to make new friends and travel to faraway places. She even found she was able, by diving into the pages of a book, to travel back in time.
Unfortunately, her mother couldn’t drive, and trips to the library were few and far between. The private school she attended had a very small library. So once a month, the town library sent a box of books. Each child was permitted to select a book from the box for that month.
She was in the second grade when, due to her shyness, she again found herself at the end of the line to pick out her book for the month. There were few left. One, a very large picture book with a glossy paper jacket, caught her eye. The name of the book, the teacher-nun helped her to read, was “Early Netherlandish Painting.”
The pictures in the book were strange, and the little girl didn’t understand them at all. But for some reason, they fascinated her. The images embedded themselves in her mind. Sometimes it was as though she felt she had seen all of these paintings somewhere before.
Perhaps she had.
The little girl was me. At the tender age of eight, I became fascinated with the history of the Middle Ages–the Netherlands, to be more precise. The images in that picture book haunted me all through my childhood until researching that place, and that time, became a verifiable obsession.
There was no Internet. Research meant requesting books through inter-library loans, or spending hours in the special collections room learning how to read microfiche. Once I was old enough to drive and had a little money from my job, I began buying used books on the history of the Middle Ages.
My early forays into the world of writing were nonfiction essays on Medieval history. I’ve been published in a number of magazines, including the History Magazine, and was a regular contributor for Renaissance Magazine.
When I was in college, I took a course on Medieval Manuscripts. I also took more Latin courses than they offered–I was assigned a private instructor to complete Advanced Latin Level IV. I couldn’t read or write in any other language than English, but Latin came to me as though I’d known it since birth.
Or perhaps before.
Do you believe in reincarnation? For obvious reasons, I do. That’s why reading, and now writing, historical, medieval romance feels like coming home.
~ THE GIVEAWAY ~
Last week I was honored to have interviewed one of my favorite authors of medieval romance, Jayne Castel. I invited people to comment on the blog, and intended to select one lucky person to receive a free digital copy of the first of Jayne’s Brides of Skye series, The Beast’s Bride.
We only got three comments. So guess what? I’m going to gift Jayne’s book to all three of you. I want to hook others on this amazing author’s stories as I have been.
So please, commenters frass521, Kami, and Barb–email me at gem.writer@ yahoo.com so I can gift you all a Kindle copy of The Beast’s Bride.
It’s an addiction, I’m warning you. Once you start reading Jayne’s books, you won’t be able to stop. And they have an incredible power to transport you back to the Middle Ages–no masks required.
Of late I have discovered some “new to me” authors, some of whom I am obsessed with! One of these talented writers is Jayne Castel, author of Historical & Fantasy romance, most set in the Dark or Middle Ages. It’s amazing to me how much research has to go into producing a credible novel set in these times. I’m in the process of writing one now, and believe me–it’s a labor of love.
Today I am more than thrilled to have Jayne as a guest on my blog to talk about her books and her writing process. This is yet another place where the internet is such a blessing–Jayne lives, literally, on the other side of the world from me, on the south island of New Zealand. Yet I was able to interview her as if she were sitting beside me enjoying a cup of tea (six feet apart, wearing masks, of course) 🙂
I kind of did this backwards, since the Brides of Skye comes before the Sisters of Kilbride in time. Let me stress, however, that every one of these books stands alone beautifully, and they definitely do NOT have to be read in order.
Since I’m such an avid new fan of Jayne’s, I want to hook all my own fans as well. That’s why I will choose a random commenter from this blog who will receive a gift from me: a free Kindle copy of Book I from the Brides of Skye Series, The Beast’s Bride. So be sure to leave a comment below!
Welcome, Jayne, and let’s get started getting to know you better.
Claire: What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or pantser? Morning or nighttime writer?
Jayne: I’m a morning writer and try to stick to a routine these days. If I write all day I get drained, so I try to do around 3,000-4000 words each morning from 8.30am-12pm. I write in 45 minutes sprints – I only just started doing this recently, and have found it’s really upped my word-count, while ensuring I take regular breaks. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser, although I don’t tend to do lengthy outlines. I do a couple of pages outlining my story (I use a four-act structure) and then I do some work on my main characters: their motivations, flaws, origin stories, which makes the story come together well. I always leave some room for discovery in my stories, but I still need to know where I’m heading!
Claire: I envy your ability to outline. I tend to be more of a pantser, which definitely leaves me at times lost, wondering where to go next. 😦
What inspired you to write within the medieval era?
Jayne: I started of writing books set in the Dark Ages (7th Century Anglo-Saxon England and 4th Century Scotland), but realized that there was a real ‘hunger’ for medieval romances – especially those set in Scotland. So I decided to use a setting I was already familiar with in previous books (The Isle of Skye) to set my two Medieval Scottish Romance series. The Medieval era is great to write in – and because it lasted a few centuries you have quite a lot of scope as an author!
Claire: You have chosen some fascinating times and locations, and your ability to transport the reader back into those is simply amazing!
Do you have a goal for how many books you publish each year?
Jayne:This year I’m planning to have 7 full-length novels out, and a novella! This is quite a lot for me … usually six is perfect.
Claire: You set the bar high, no doubt! But that’s okay–I’m reading your books as fast as you’re writing them . . . maybe faster =/
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? The least favorite?
Jayne: My favorite part of the writing process is getting lost in a story I’m writing – I love those moments when the characters and story just take over and I feel as if I’m living it all right there with them! The least favorite part is when I first sit down to work on the structural edits on a manuscript. I’m alright once I get going, but always takes so much concentration!
Claire: When an author gets lost in the story is when magic appears on the page. It must happen to you a lot!
How much time goes into the research end of producing the wonderfully portrayed settings for your books?
Jayne: A lot of research goes into each of my books. However, I try not to get lost in the research rabbit hole as knowing ‘too much’ can actually make it hard to start writing. Often, I highlight bits and pieces as I write, and then go back after the draft is finished and research specific details. You have to be careful with how you use all your historical knowledge though – I like to think of the details I share in the books as the ‘tip of the ice-berg’. The reader should always feel that you know more than you’re revealing. You don’t want to bog them down.
Claire: You are so right–there is a fine line between portraying a vivid historical setting and delivering a history lesson. You have definitely found the right balance.
Do you write full-time or do you have a “day job”?
Jayne: These days I’m fortunate to write full-time. It’s a dream come true and I sometimes have to pinch myself! 🙂
Claire: Tell us about your current project, The Immortal Highland Centurions? Where did the idea come from? (And here’s a peek at the awesome cover!)
Jayne: I got the idea for this project when I was watching the historical action movie, ‘Centurion’, which is about a group of Roman soldiers who end up fighting for survival in the wilds of Caledonia after their legion was ambushed and destroyed. Watching the movie I was fascinated by the myths associated with the disappearance of the Ninth Legion – and I thought ‘What if three Roman centurions survived … only to be taken captive and then cursed with immortality?’ The idea for the series was born!
Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Jayne. It was an honor!
Readers, I want you to know how much respect I have for the caliber of Jayne’s novels. As many of you know, I am a professional reviewer, and so tend to be a bit overly-critical. I also possess an “eagle eye” for typos and grammatical errors. Jayne’s books are pristine. I even tried to steal her editor, but alas, she has first dibs on Tim Burton, her “personal” editor 😉
Be sure to leave a comment to be entered for a free Kindle edition of the first Brides of Skye, The Beast’s Bride. I will announce the winner next week on this blog, so check back! I’ll need to contact the winner via email to gift the Ebook.
Award-winning author Jayne Castel writes epic Historical and Fantasy Romance. Her vibrant characters, richly researched historical settings and action-packed adventure romance transport readers to forgotten times and imaginary worlds.
Jayne is the author of the Amazon bestselling BRIDES OF SKYE series–a Medieval Scottish Romance trilogy about three strong-willed sisters and the men who love them. An exciting spin-off series set in the same story-world, THE SISTERS OF KILBRIDE, is now available as well. In love with all things Scottish, Jayne also writes romances set in Dark Ages Scotland … sexy Pict warriors anyone?
When she’s not writing, Jayne is reading (and re-reading) her favorite authors, learning French, cooking Italian, and taking her dog, Juno, for walks. She lives in New Zealand’s beautiful South Island.
BLURB FOR MAXIMUS (Book 1: The Immortal Highland Centurions) Set to release on October 1st, MAXIMUS is Book #1 of my new Scottish Medieval Romance series about three immortal warriors and the brave-hearted Scottish women who will change their lives forever.
A Roman centurion doomed to an immortal life. A strong-willed woman running from her mistakes. One night of passion that changes everything. High adventure and epic love in Medieval Scotland—with a touch of fantasy.
As many of my friends and fans know, my writing life has taken a back seat over the past months due to an injury to my right arm–my writing arm. It’s been almost a year now, and although I still may be facing surgery to repair the damage, I have managed to figure out a way to put words down on the screen.
My writing, though, has taken a slight detour.
Lately, I’ve become enamored with historical romance. I’ve always been a lover of history. All of this time on my hands (can anyone say “quarantine”???) has allowed me so much more time to read. I’ll bet I’ve read fifty books in the last three months alone. I have some new favorite authors, and my goal at this point, while I’m working on a new novel, is to invite some of these authors to be interviewed on my blog.
There’s no doubt Kathryn LeVeque has medieval romance down to a science. I recently read the first in one of her latest series, Wolfeheart, and let me tell you, it hits all the right beats. Just the right combination of historical accuracy, action, and heart-melting romance. What I particularly love about this book is that the author introduces a mature heroine with children. Watching the hero, Markus, interact with and bond with Amabella’s very rambunctious, very realistically described family is a rare and delightful treat.
And then, of course, there’s the romance. *swoon*
Another author I’ve fallen for hard is Jayne Castel. I’ve read all of her Sisters of Kilbride Series, and am into the second Brides of Skye. Jayne has a wonderfully accessible flow to her stories. Her descriptions literally transport you back in time to medieval Scotland. And again, her characters are very real, with problems and flaws we all as humans can identify with. Her love scenes are sizzling but tastefully portrayed.
So, here’s my wish for the “reboot” of my writing career: When I grow up, I want to write medieval romance like Le Veque and Castel.
Am I dreaming? Probably. But every writer needs a goal, a pinnacle to shoot for, and that’s mine. I’m going to give a shout-out to both Kathryn and Jane and see if they might be willing to be guests on my blog for an interview. I would absolutely love to get to know them better–and also spread the news to readers of historical romance everywhere how wonderful their books really are.
As for the book–actually new series–I’m working on, I’m keeping it quiet for now, except to say that it will be set in the 15th Century and take place in my very favorite part of the world, Belgium and the Netherlands. I’m well into Book 1, and hope to have it ready for the world’s eyes by early fall.
Life for all of us has been challenging of late, so what better time to step on a virtual time machine and escape into another place, another era? Check out Kathryn and Jane’s books–you won’t be disappointed.
2020 certainly has been a banner year, although I can’t quite pinpoint what the headline should say. I believe the universal theme has been CHANGE. Our world is radically different now than in most of our lifetimes. It’s difficult to imagine us ever really going back to the “old world,” the way things used to be.
Up until now, my “thing” in the world called “Author” has been paranormal romance, with ghosts. I was recently interviewed by Alida Winternheimer on her podcast, StoryWorks/Roundtable, to discuss that genre. If you’d like to see me with bad (quarantine) hair filming this podcast, check it out here.
I “met” Alida after reading her fantastic book on character development. I believe she is at least partially responsible for knocking down the wall I was facing in my attempts to write my next book. Please do check out The Story Works Guide to Character Development.
So, lots of changes. All of this time at home has given me the opportunity to really think about my writing, and I believe that a CHANGE is coming in that venue as well.
As my readers well know, my ghostly stories are always set in a haunted location, one that bears quite a bit of very real history. Research has always been my favorite part of the writing process, and I am obsessed with history–especially of the Middle Ages. Over these past months, I’ve been able to branch out from my normal reading favorites and venture more seriously into reading historical romance.
I believe that’s where Claire Gem is headed.
Actually, I more than believe it–the first book of a newly created series is already well underway. I am unwilling at this point to reveal much more than this:
The books will be set in the Middle Ages.
They will definitely be romances.
The stories will be set in an entirely different location than the current historical romances on the market.
That’s it. That’s all you get for right now. Over the next few weeks I will be rolling out the Series name, the title of Book One–I might even reveal a sneak peek at the cover.
Sadly, for those of you who are waiting for another ghost story, I regret to say there will be no haunting in this new series. There will be, however, a just as intensely emotional love story with lots of conflict, along with setting details it has taken me a lifetime to collect.
You see, at the tender age of eight, I stumbled across a painting in a picture book of art history. After years of nightmares associated with this image, I decided to research the artist, the area, and the era in which it was painted.
My bookshelf looks like a library dedicated to Medieval History.
So I guess, in a way, you could say my new series is based on a haunting–but one that’s lived inside my own head. Up until now, I’ve never felt my abilities as a writer were “good enough” to do these stories justice.