Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy New Year!


Here's to health and happiness!


A toast to the New Year!

Peace and joy to all of us!

Prosperity and cheer!

Years come and go, some bad, some good.

New years provide the space,

Each to fill with what one would,

Windows onto grace.

Years come and go, yet still we toast

Each one, for each one seems

As though it were a new-found coast,

Rich with hope and dreams.


May all your writing dreams come true!





Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Wishes To All.

To all my blogging buddies

 Have a great time over the holiday period

See You All in the New Year.

X

Also it's Jen & Melissa's blogfest: so bit of a rushed job is this contribution.

Please do help yourself: Peach Sour & Mince pie

4cl Vineyard peach liqueur
2cl lemon juice
10cl orange juice
Mix in cocktail shaker with two ice cubes.
Serve!  

Christmas Trimmings: I do natural - items gathered from the woods, and with spray glue and glitter Lo & Behold a bit of magic sparkle!



Have a great fest!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Twisted Christmas Fairy Tale Blogfest.


This one is hosted by moi purely for seasonal fun. I'm posting it early (Friday night) because it's snowing heavy and our telephone cables could be down tomorrow. So bear with me if I don't show on your blogs for a few days!

If you're a Brit you'll know all about the Pantomime Season - when men dress up as Dames and Women take on the role of Principal boys. Yep, we Brits have real crazy traditions.



The theme for this blogfest is Twisted Fairy Tale - tribute to Freddie Mercury (singer) and of course I've always admired Brian May as one of the best rock guitarists ever !

Anyhoo, mine is a short presentation of Cinderella (see pic above) - a giggle or two will suffice! 

The ball is in full swing the clock nearing first strike of midnight.  




Starring Adverbia & Adjectivia: the ugly sisters.

--------------------

‘OMG, who is that?’ croaked Adverbia, a sugared plum immediate to mouth as angst washed over her.

‘Who, what, where?’ screamed short-sighted Adjectivia, agitated in extreme because she always refused to be seen in public wearing spectacles.

Adverbia, now near to choking, the sugared plum stuck solidly in throat, her reply mere gobbedly-gook. ‘O ‘er tair.’

Adjectivia noticed Adverbia's distress and gave a resounding slap to her back.

The sugared plum gunned out of Adverbia's mouth and zoomed across the ballroom. Unfortunately, it ended up wedged in the dowager duchess’ wig, which caused much tittering from Adjectivia.

The dowager duchess glanced about to ascertain whom had had the audacity to strike her wig a broadside. As she readjusted her lopsided hairpiece her fingers made contact with the now squidgy sugared plum, and eyes narrowed she assessed its velocity on impact and tragectory path.

Her eyes soon settled on Adverbia; yet another sugared plum gripped between fingers.

Adverbia, engrossed in watching the beautiful young lady dancing with Prince Charming, failed to notice the dowager duchess’ looking her way.

‘There, there, dancing with Prince Charming,' she screamed, 'can you not see her? Oh Adj do put your specs on.'





Reluctanly Adjectivia raised her specs to eyes. ‘I see, I see,’ she rallied, brow furrowed teeth bared. ‘Grrrrr, spit, damn and blast the strumpet. Who is she?’

‘If I knew why would I be asking you?’ snarled Adverbia, sucking second sugared plum.

‘I cannot imagine your asking me,  at all,‘ replied Adjectivia, fanning her face with a feather-plumed fan. ‘Uh oh, the dowager duchess is coming this way. And, oh my, that plum you near choked on  . . .’

Aware of movement beside her, Adjectivia turned to see Adverbia scurrying away.

‘Oh shitzu,’ she exclaimed, and sped after her ugly sister, because no way was she about to take stick from the dowager duchess, whom it was rumoured had a BDSM dungeon where she thwacked a favoured manservant.

Prince charming noticed the commotion of dowager duchess with silver-topped sword-cane raised and looking as though about to commit murder, his dominatrix aunt already in pursuit of the ugly sisters.

He rushed across to soothe the duchess' enraged state, and copped a crack to shoulder for his trouble. Meanwhile the clock had begun striking the midnight hour.

Unbeknown to the prince, the beautiful Countess of Makebelieve (former dancing partner heard the clock chiming) and sudden upped and fled the ballroom.

Dandini, the Prince' personal aide, ran after the countess but not a sight of her to be seen.

Strange as it seemed, several white mice were milling around in somewhat confused state at the foot of the palace steps. Stranger still, a hollow pumpkin reminiscent in shape to that of coach minus its wheels and left in the middle of the courtyard. A glass slipper too, then spied on the far side of the steps.




Dandini picked up the crystal slipper, fondled it, and stood for moment pondering the disappearance of the Countess of Makebelieve. Why would she flee?

Ah, but come to think of it, when first introduced to Baron Noun-Hardup, the young countess had looked radiant? Yet, when the Baron’s new wife flounced toward her, the Countess of Makebelieve's expression fell ashen as though fearful of the ugly sisters' mother, Pronouncia.

In fact, the more Dandini thought about the strangely beautiful young Countess of Makebelieve, a brief encounter came to mind.

The young countess had to be none other than the girl Dandini had seen in the market a few days prior to the Great Ball: the blasted Get-a-Wife Ball, essentially a singles ball.

Damn it all, the mystery countess was indeed Cinderella Noun-Hardup, the baron’s daughter from his first marriage.

It all made sense now.

Hmmm.

Poor Prince Charming, under extreme pressure from his Uncle to secure a would-be bride this very night had implied interest in the Countess of Makebelieve, though far from his desired choice for a life partner.

And, of course, Noun-Hardup’s second wife had wanted the ugly stepdaughters presented to the Prince excluding the beautiful Cinders from same opportunity.

So, who had helped Cinders make it to the ball in disguise?  Cinders, for definite, keen for the prince’ hand in marriage.

Well, that wouldn’t happen any time soon.

Dandini tossed the glass slipper over the palace wall.

The sound of splintering glass to be pure satisfaction to the ear. 

Much to Dandini's consternation there was nothing but silence.

NEVERTHELESS: Dandini turned about, sense of glee on face, and there stood Prince Charming.

'You look decidedly guilty, my dear Dandini. What pray, went over yonder wall?'

Dandini chuckled, 'The one item assured to secure a marital noose around your neck, by some do-gooding fairy godmother no doubt.'

‘Thank God, for that,’ said the prince, rubbing the spot where the dowager duchess had clobbered his shoulder. ‘I felt sure my secret obsession soon to be exposed.’

'Oh please, anytime.' Dandini stepped close to the prince, voice fallen to whisper, ‘Kiss me, Queenie.’

‘That I shall, my gorgeous six-pack Dandini, but don't ever call me that in public. Prince I am by day, Queenie by night.’

Dandini fell into the Prince’ arms, said, ‘We cannot hide our love for ever, my prince.’





‘The prince kissed Dandini with passion and intensity.

Unbeknown to the amorous bewigged young gentlemen, the glass slipper remained unscathed and safe in the hands of the real Prince Charming: Prince Rupert Charming.



Supposedly lost at sea when in fact turned into a frog by an evil witch, the real Prince Rupert Charming all the while awaiting his opportunity to reclaim his throne. Knowing only a maiden's kiss can break the evil spell, he's had no luck so far in that quest.

With the glass slipper he has a bartering tool and he knows Cinder's is kind and loving and will want the slipper back, and she'll kiss him for it, he'd bet his life on that for he knows her smitten with the bogus prince: his younger brother Quentin (Queenie) Charming.  


Having fantasised over Cinders for three years and a day of his sitting on a lilypad watching her fetch water from the well,  Rupert serenades her the very next time she passes by his royal pond!

And Lo & Behold: the ruse works!





Meanwhile: banished from the Principality two men sail off into the sunset!  


To see entries by other participants follow the links.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Crazy Holiday Blogfest!


This blogfest is kindly hosted by Christine Danek

Brief:  this birthday scene is snatched from my novel "Unbidden Billionaire Legacy" air of sadness prevailing. Tara’s boss is having a bad moment  – suffering terminal illness and knowing his time is almost up he hoped Tara might have extended a little TLC of a sexual nature in his direction. She in turn understands his sense of insecurity and impending doom, but has not succumbed to his desires despite extreme fondness toward him.

Caribbean Christmas

Darrell Easterly's yacht lies at anchor just off the beach beneath Tamlin Villa.


For the most part Tara felt sure Darrell had enjoyed having his most treasured staff and dearest friends around him, but seeking him out after his mysterious disappearance she's surprised to see him standing on the lower deck leaning on the deck rail: not looking shoreward but gazing out to sea.

She makes her way down to him, sensing something wrong.

Rather than draw attention to him by calling out, she makes to stand quietly alongside. And, for the first time ever sees tears welling in his eyes.

She places a hand on his shoulder. ‘It’s OK, you’re allowed to have a bad moment.’

He grips her hand, a kiss to it and no words are needed to express the awfulness of his plight. It's reflected in his eyes. Surrounded by people who love him, he nonetheless felt isolated, his fear of losing them and life itself unbearable.

‘I’m OK now,’ he says, a sniff, whilst wiping away tears, ‘and I’m sorry you had to see me like this.’

‘That’s what I’m here for, remember?’

He smiles, turns to face her. ‘You’ve been the best thing in my life in a long while.’

‘Flattery will get you everywhere.’

He chuckles. ‘Not where I’d like to be, though.’

She turns about and leans her lower back against the deck rail. ‘Hell Darrell, look at all the lady guests on the upper deck. Haven't you noticed them, like exotic perfumed flowers draped languidly on the deck rail in hope you might glance their way.’

’You wish.’

She ignores his deliberate input, and furthers with, ‘You mean to tell me their scanty outfits and all eyes in your direction  as they sip Krug, fails to make you want to go party with them, really party?’




Darrell glances up, and scans the array of beauties. ‘Most are married, a few too soiled by strings of lovers and . . .’

He pauses mid sentence, and Tara suspects someone has caught his eye.

‘The blonde, who did she come aboard with?’

‘Uhmm, that banker friend of yours, if I remember correctly.’

‘Did she now,’ he says, easing away from the deck rail. ‘I don’t remember being introduced.’

‘Perhaps your friend thought it a wise move to keep her out of your sights.’

Bastard,’ he says, making straight for the steps leading to the upper deck.

Sense of relief sweeps over her, for if his interest dwells elsewhere her life will be so much less complicated in the days to come.


Brief I know, but the word count is almost double Christine's recommended word count.

To see other participants' entries, go here.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Marieke's Midwinter Blogfest is so appropriate right now!


This blogfest is kindly hosted by Marieke

I had planned a love in the snow scene, but how about we escape the chill of a Northern Hemisphere Midwinter and go South?!

I've snatched this snippet from a novel written earlier this year, and of course relates to a romantic engagement at African Safari lodge. How timely, in consideration of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement whilst on a Safari Holiday.  It goes over word count I'm afraid: eeeek!

Brief: Allessandre has just presented Nina with an engagement ring and asked her to marry him, but a commotion outside the lodge defers Nina's answer: her brother on the war path.

African Safari & Mid-Winter Engagement.




Paul’s 4x4 pickup skidded to a halt outside Allessandre’s lodge. It caused a bit of a stir among guests just returned from a two-day safari, their guides unpacking a safari truck eyes agog.

Paul leapt out rifle in hand and came striding toward Allessandre who’d heard the commotion and stepped outside to see what in hell was going down.

Reluctant to follow Nina remained inside the lodge awaiting imminent verbal explosion. She really did not want another confrontation with Paul, but nonetheless watched his approach from the shadows behind the mosquito screen door.

‘Did Nina arrive here, earlier?’ he asked, his tone that of man in panic mode.

‘She did,’ replied Allessandre, flippant in response, ‘and supposed to be back before dark, right?’

‘This is no joking matter,’ said Paul, as Aniel his trusted tracker appeared from beside the lodge. ‘She came up here with a young lioness at heel, and Lost returned home twenty-minutes ago at the run.’

‘That was my fault,’ volunteered Allessandre, still feeling guilty for having challenged the poor animal in a stand-off: man with golf club against young lioness. ‘I kind of scared it off.’

‘And Nina, how long ago did she set off back from here?’ asked Paul. ‘We searched the lower path, and Aniel risked his neck to walk up here. There's a pride of lions nearby tonight, and he clearly hasn’t found her, either.’

‘She’s still here,’ declared Allessandre.

In the glow of light cascading from the veranda Paul’s relief evident on face, his tone of voice still tinged with anger. ‘Why didn’t you say so before? I very nearly had a heart attack when Lost returned and no sign of Nina.’

‘Sorry about that,’ said Allessandre, as Nina appeared and came to stand beside him.

‘I do know my way back Paul, and I know what to listen out for,’ she said, defensively.

‘That’s not the point,’ argued her brother. ‘You know the dangers of walking about in the bush at night, and I can’t believe you seriously thought you could stroll back when it suited you to do so.’

‘I’m not that stupid,’ she snapped.

‘Stupid enough in not using the pickup to get here,’ he stated, sounding more furious than before. ‘And Lost, what happened to her? She looked traumatized on her return.’

‘As I said, that was my fault,’ declared Allessandre. ‘I saw Nina coming up the slope behind the lodge, and then suddenly this lioness came charging toward her.’

‘He played the hero,’ said Nina, cutting in, ‘and got between Lost and myself and frightened her.’

‘And only a golf club to defend us,’ said Allessandre, wrapping his arm around her shoulders in protective gesture.

‘She’s only a youngster,’ said Paul, sounding disheartened to think Lost had been traumatized by one man’s ignorance, when she herself knew it had taken him months of tender loving care to get the cub to trust him after man had shot her mother.



Paul had every reason to be angry, and she knew in her heart it was because a terrible nightmare incident from their past had driven him up to the lodge in panicked rage. But what could she say, other than sorry, the past her reason for being there.

‘Thank God Lost came straight home, and didn’t panic and run out into the bush. If that had happened and she’d encountered the nearby pride she’d have been lucky to survive.’

He turned to Aniel, said, ‘Right, let’s be getting off home.’

Aniel leapt into the cab of the pickup, and Paul said in parting shot, ‘Next time you come up here let me know if you’re not coming back.’

Nina felt suitably chastised, and said, ‘I’m sorry, I thought I’d be coming straight back, and you’re right, I should have used the pickup.’

Paul paused by the driver’s door. ‘I take it you ‘re staying?’

‘For tonight,’ she replied, hiding her left hand beneath her right, ‘but I’ll be back in the morning sometime.’

‘See you tomorrow then, and be careful.’

Nina sighed a sigh of relief as he turned the pickup and drove off.

‘I feel so guilty,’ she said, looking to Allessandre. ‘I should have gone with him.’

‘But you didn’t,’ he said, taking her in his arms. ‘Does that mean you’re accepting my proposal?’

‘I have,’ she replied, holding her left hand aloft to display the engagement ring. ‘It’s beautiful and completes the ensemble that you bought on the first day we met.’

Allessandre smiled, his expression that of triumph tinged with surprise.

After all, he’d asked her to marry him, produced the ring, and she’d dallied on reply. Then her brother had suddenly arrived and, perhaps, feeling a little dejected by her silent reaction Allessandre had come outside as much to escape inevitable rejection as that of Paul's hurried arrival.

‘I do love you,’ she said, cupping his face in her hands, ‘and I didn’t falter on reply because I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to marry you . . .’

‘I know, it just came as a bit of a shock, right?’

‘You can say that again, and I’m not sure now that it’s happened. That I’m not dreaming,’ she said.

‘Believe me, it's no dream, and as my wife you’ll want for nothing.’

‘But I don’t want you for what you’ve have I want you for who you are,’ she said, eager to set the record straight. ‘I love the man behind the arrogant mask, the man with the big heart, the man who wanted to be my lover, the man who’ll be my everything.’

He laughed. ‘You think I don’t know all that?’ He kissed her. He hugged her tight. He scooped her off her feet. ‘You never once bothered looking at what I had in any great detail, nor were you the least bit impressed by my stable of cars and horses, and earlier, look what you said about the LearJet.’

She couldn’t help but smile.

‘You can smile,’ he said, carrying her inside the lodge.

‘Well it is a bit OTT arriving at a game reserve in a private jet.’

‘So you won’t be going OTT back to England, then?’ he mooted, a broad grin as he let her feet slide to the floor.

‘Perhaps not,’ she said, teasing him.

‘You’re flying back with me and nothing more to be said.’

‘Is that so?’ she said, attempting to extricate herself from his clutches.

Allessandre gripped her tighter, his lion-like growl pre-cursor to a kiss she had no intention of trying to escape from.


This is an extra cutey pic, because the lioness in the story looked like this when found by Paul (the heroine's brother). But for Nina, Lost proved to be a wonderful companion throughout weeks of much inner soul searching and time to rethink through past heart-breaking events!

To see entries by other participants go here.  

Friday, 10 December 2010

When Fiction meets Reality it can be Scary!!!

This is a really quick post this morning re above title!

Over a month ago I wrote a short story for Tessa's blogontest blogfest: it was meant as a fun read and featured a scary creature stalking a youth while on his way home from the pub. The story seeded and stemmed from a rather large black cat I'd spotted lounging at the bottom of our paddock. It leapt up and jumped across the ditch and headed into the cover of trees, nevertheless I thought it unusually large for a feral cat, but thought no more about it.  It looked not unlike this: big, but not so big you'd think it a black panther.





That sighting was almost five years ago in middle paddock: seen here as hay field!


Narberth is 6 miles from my house, Clynderwen 2 miles.


Now read this: Big cats terrifying livestock in Pembrokeshire





This is the short story penned by moi:  "Hoody"

What do you think?


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Chapters from Latest Novel up for perusal!


Well, I've done it: I've set up a profile blog and posted 2 chapters from my lastest novel. 

It's a historical as you can see from the image.


To read chaps go here:  

The overall story is one of unrequited love, scandalous seduction, tragic deaths and much heart-searching for both hero and heroine. Although Civil War wrenches them apart, it brings them together again yet the hero all the while unaware of the heroine's presence, but truth will always be outed and love that never died can win true heart again with patience and affection.  

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

How to Get a Lit Agent? - So says Lit Agent!

In this month’s edition of Writers’ News I noticed a very interesting article on “Getting an Agent”, in which Kirsty McLachlan voices the virtues of author web profiling, i.e. blog, facebook, Twitter. All three if you feel so inclined, though she did recommend Twitter for following agents and the like as a means of getting to know more about them and their personal preferences: all things literary. She also recommended blogs for posting samples of your work: WIPs etc., and promote your characters, after all, it is they that are the important factor.

  




Kirsty furthered with, quote:

“Blogs are great ways to keep writing – but remember not to over-use them. Think about why you are writing a blog and whether it links into the book you are actually writing: if your book is funny, is your blog? Don’t tell your readers about your lunch or whine – whining in blogs is the biggest turn-off! Be positive and be entertaining. Think about other sites and link to them – be successful through association”. (she means gain visual presence of interested followers – this adds to your appeal as a potential published author)





But, what struck as extra note worthy was this comment, quote:

“Look for hungry agents – those with small lists and who have just moved agencies or have recently been promoted to become a junior agent”.

And, last but not least another, quote: “Remember to be passionate about your book – this might sound very obvious but too many unpublished writers feel they have to apologise in some way. An unpublished writer is just a writer that hasn’t been published yet. So talk about your book – bore people if needs be, you just never know who will hear your conversation. Get on your soap-box – start talking, shouting – about your book. Someone somewhere might hear your conversation and will help you get your manuscript to the desk of an agent”.


So there you have it: from the horse’ mouth so to speak!



The Do:

1) Promote, promote, and keep right on promoting you and your writing!

2) Have a blog specific to your book/s. See mine here.

3) My suggestion: have a fun-time blog running parallel.



The Don’t:

1) Don’t whinge and don’t cringe in the corner like a cowering dog on a pile of rejection slips!

2) Keep your profile professional in appearance and avoid clutter on writer blog: make every post count in displaying your artistic ability as a writer.

What say you - are you thinking professional image or just waffling for the sake of, and if you are indulging in the latter is it now time to set up a blog for promotional purposes?

Or is this the way to get what you want?

"You're gonna be my lit agent - right?


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pile 'em high ...then let 'em die: Aspiring authors take note!



There's been much talk on blogs about subbing, about writing the perfect "Query" letter, about avoidance of specific "utility" words, about re-crafting sentence structure to eliminate pesky words etc., but no one, no editor or lit agent thinks the same, reads and absorbs content the same, nor will any of the former like the same material set before them (as in passionate for same), so what should an aspiring writer do? Read the following for starters!



This was Simon Trewin (UK lit agent) featured way back in The Independent, June 2004:


Quote: "Clearly, the compulsion to write should come from a genuine desire to say something, rather from a baser desire to get rich fast. Writing for the market is the quickest way to produce a hollow novel which won’t get off the starting blocks".

So what's changed in the world of publishing if anything since that article first saw light of day?


With hindsight the arcticle makes for intriguing reading. Note my *ing endings* - and two-fingers to the *ing* hate brigade!


To read the article go here. But, before you do, have you ever felt like flinging a book on the fire? I have twice, and all because the word rueful appeared more than once per chapter in two romance novels, in fact the despised word popped up no less than fifty times in twenty pages. By page twenty-one I was beside myself with book rage!  Grrrrrrrrr.  Needless to say I didn't burn said books (gave them away) but this image is kind of satisfying because I can imagine all are blighted with the dreaded *rueful grin* and every other connotation of rueful utilised by obsessed romantic novelist: whom I would love to send a Thesaurus for Christmas!


Quick add-on: I've had loads of e-mails from published authors and aspiring writers in support of this post, each and every one unwilling to pass comment in a public arena, but all having read category romance novels that annoyed, irritated, cheesed off, infuriated, even p*ssed off two, another stating she actually binned one in disgust, and five having sold unwanted CR novels on Ebay to regain partial compensation for badly written, poorly edited and downright lousy plots! Though I must say I thought the funniest was the case of the shredded book: fed to a garden shredder for compost! 
                     

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Romantic Novelist/Editor/Poetess/Blogger Scoops 3-book Transworld Deal!

Sort of a NEWS post and hopefully huge INSPIRATION to all romance novelists: inclusive blog deserving of a visit!


Dreams really do come true, and did big-time for Jane Holland

Editor at Salt Publishing/Editor for Embrace / Romance Author &  Lady Poetess, Jane has achieved her dream: she's hit the Transworld jackpot!  Wow!!!
A three-book deal for historical novels, and the first, I know for sure, is a Tudor period piece.

As Jane said: she hopes a bit of fairy dust will fall on all those who follow her blog, so why not go and grab some before it's all gone, then watch her progress from contract to publishing date.  ;)


---------------------------- 

Now to the blog I think is worth a vist!

I truly recommend everyone take a moment out of your day to pay Owl's blog a visit.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you have an ounce of romantic essence streaming through your veins and love all things natural world!   

Friday, 19 November 2010

Liz Fichera's First Gift Blog-Hop - What did I get?

Liz is hosting this blog-hop.


Fitting with her guidelines I hereby present a vivid memory!



It is a hot sunny Summer’s day, sky of blue with occasional scud of white cloud, and a couple are taking a stroll along an English country lane bedecked with wild flowers. Bees are buzzing, birds twittering and the sweet essence of fresh mown hay drifts on a clement breeze. They’ve known one another for several weeks, not intimately but well enough in the company of others.




On this particular day they are alone, abandoned by others, the two of them chattering and laughing a little. The man plucks a wild briar rose from a hedge in passing. He then lovingly places it in the woman’s hair, words of affection expressed. They laugh and chatter some more, both knowing there’s a connection between them but as yet nothing beyond that of friendship: or is there? Whatever, they continue on their way, and when the stroll is at end they go their separate ways, though do meet from time to time over a period of a month. Come the end of the month it is known the man is to leave the area and sense of sadness prevails, but before the man leaves he presents the woman with a parting gift.




A year later they meet again, and nothing is insurmountable if something is wanted badly enough. Walking, boating, dining, riding and other leisure activities can easily lure two people into a close relationship, and that’s what happens. They eventually get married and gifts for her become more lavish as time passes.






Now after years of happy marriage the love and friendship is as strong as ever, the first gift forever a treasured memory, because it was the greatest gift of all: as good as a first kiss, involving touch, intimate eye-contact and that special something that comes with first throes of love.

A wild briar rose.


To see other entries go here.

Oh, and while you're here check out my upcoming Twisted Fairytale blogfest: top right corner.

Loads more listed in sidebar, too!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blogfest Retold - my contribution, such as it is!


This blogfest is kindly hosted by Sarah



This blogfest is supposed to represent a story "Retold" from differing perspective, but  I guess I'm stretching the paremeters here in presenting male POV by way of letter. The letter is taken from a historical novel, (my own novel) in which the hero conveys his present situation to the lady he adores. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond his control discontent and unnease between them prevails. Nevertheless, she did go to his aid in time of need, and he ignorant to that fact for over a year: his having been sick with swamp fever and for most of her stay he delirious and unaware of her presence. The letter does tell a story in itself re Charles I and the English Civil War.






My Dearest Anna,


I trust this letter finds you well.


We march for home, and I can honest say I am sorely sick of this war. My heart and that of other commanders cannot hold with the opinions of Colonel Thomas Pride, the jumped up brewer’s drayman. Nor are we in trust of Lord Grey of Groby. The two doth hold Parliament in numbers of 150 members at instigation of Cromwell’s son-in-law, Henry Ireton. Of the rest, the majority, some imprisoned and others under house arrest, are banned from Westminster Palace.


The King is in custody and the call from the ‘Rump, these men of wilful intent is for his head. The Presbyterians stilled by Colonel Pride, twas John Lilburne the leader of the Levellers did up and rail in good and Godly voice. He denounced the plot as trumped up by the ‘Grandees’ and the ‘silken independents’. My Lord Fairfax has called for the illegal rabble to withdraw, yet Rioters now storm through London and provincial townships, and I fear Cromwell persuaded these men have their way.


Charles was ridden in to the city in hope of a ridiculed monarch, but cheers and calls for his reinstatement rang loud, whilst others called for his head. My Lord Fairfax refuses to participate or condone a trial of treason as lain down against the King, and I for one have no stomach for public execution of a man better punished with banishment from the country. I am done with fighting, done with the army. As we march so we disband, I pay my men as best I can from my monies received as Colonel in The New Model Army, for they have not seen wages paid from Parliament long these three months and all.


I am wearied Anna, and of hope you are more favoured toward me now that time has passed since your visit paid me at Glastonbury. News of your tender loving care was only lately revealed by Thomas, and I much ribbed by him. I am now sore ashamed for indecency in your presence. Though I am informed you played a part in exposure of my manliness and in doing so saved this stubborn and wilful soul from the jaws of death. I remain ever in your debt, meadow nymph.


Always you dwell in my thoughts and heart, Anna, and I long for nothing more than your happiness and good fortune on my return. Perchance I live in hope too much, and you are still unable to see your way in showing affection toward me. If that is so my heart will be broken upon my return.


Yours ever,


Morton.



To see more "Retold" offerings go here.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sex Sex - The Greatest Love Story Ever!

Gone with the Wind: is it the greatest fictional love story ever written?


Clark Gable & Vivienne Leigh: the movie image.


Published in 1936, it became an immediate bestseller, and Margaret Mitchell received critical and popular attention. In 1937 it won the Pulitzer Prize, and then quickly adapted to a movie in 1939, which won ten Academy Awards. It was categorized as “A Historical Romance”.

And, we all know it was set in northern Georgia during the drama of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction years. The prime characters were Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler (above image), Ashley and Melanie Wilkes. The novel itself addressed romantic love, unrequited love, jealousy, obsession plus survival and destitution post wealthy lifestyle. It covered the social structuring of gender and class during that period of history: timeline American Civil War 1861 – 1865 = 4yrs and reconstruction years, though the latter left vague in the movie.



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Now let’s compare fictional romance with a real-life Historical Romance.

The great love affair between Horatio Lord Nelson, Admiral of the Fleet and Emma Lady Hamilton:



Emma Hamilton had not been unfaithful to Sir William Hamilton since becoming his mistress in 1787 and his wife in 1791 - William considerably older than Emma. Nelson too, had been loyal to his wife as defined of good husband, but had indulged with courtesans. Neither marriage had given Emma or Horatio the fulfilment of love and romance they’d craved, and both had fallen out of love with respective partners.

When Nelson and Emma met for the first time, besotted expressed the intensity of feelings between them, but it was a hopeless situation: they were both married and he due to sail to war. The second time they met, in Italy, the love they felt for one another could not be denied, and during the flight from Naples and the struggle against the French they fell profoundly in love, and by May 1800, Emma was pregnant with Nelson’s child. He arranged rent of a house and set up home with Emma, but his wife refused to give him a divorce. When Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar news reached Emma and she was devastated, but worse was to come. She lost every thing because although Nelson had made provision for Emma and his offspring whilst he at sea he had not named her as a beneficiary in his will. His wife laid claim to all his estate despite no children of her own. Emma ended up destitute and it is said she died a pauper-cum-prostitute.

Nelson and Emma’s love affair lasted 6 yrs. It was an intense, emotional romance that swept them away on a tide of genuine love that knew no bounds yet ended in terrible tragedy: for both.

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Napolean and Josephine: Another great love affair, or was it?




The story of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais is supposedly the most passionate and stormy love affair in history.

When Josephine's husband was executed at the guillotine during the Terror in Paris in 1794. She refused to mourn his death and soon became mistress to several prominent politicians of the time. In 1795 Josephine had a brief affair with Napoleon. He was 6 years younger than her, and she didn’t even like him, but it was a politically motivated affair conducted by third parties. Napolean, though, proved utter smitten much to her annoyance and pursued her with intent to make her his wife. She did eventually marry him in March of the following year after an intense an all-consuming love affair for his part, while she had lovers besides. In 1810, after years of failing to produce an heir for him they both agreed to divorce.

A happy and sad affair is this love story: poor old Boney (Napolean) besotted, and Josephine swayed by power of favour and greed.



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War And Peace: again a fictional story, but is it a mere Historical Romance? No, for it does not have a single hero and heroine, it has several of each. Yet the Hollywood movie “War And Peace” supposedly based on the novel by Tolstoy, depicts one heroine, one hero, and sort of anti hero.


Movie image.

With Napoleon's forces controlling much of Europe. Russia is one of the few remaining countries unconquered by Napoleon. So it is a Russian epic story of war and the Rostov family, the Bezukhov family, and that of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky’s family.

The principal characters consist of soldiers: Nicholas Rostov, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Pierre Bezukhov, a self-styled intellectual [knows what's right but still does wrong] and is not interested in fighting. Pierre's life is irrevocably changed when his father dies, leaving him a vast inheritance. Although attracted to Natasha Rostov, (Nicholas' sister) Pierre gives in to baser desires and marries the shallow, materialistic Princess Helene. When Pierre discovers his wife's true nature the marriage is ended.

Meantime Prince Andrei is captured and later released by the French, and returns home only to watch his wife die in childbirth. During a visit to the country months later, Pierre and Prince Andrei meet again: cue old friendships/hate/jealousy/desires etc. Prince Andrei sees Natasha and falls in love, and the course of true love gets tough, plus this is one hell of an epic and it would take blog after blog post to write a full synopsis. So go buy the book and read the damn thing this time, don’t rely on the Hollywood version, which is just one snippet of love snatched from what is a multiple story of lovers, their lives and their families. Suffice to say there is death, heartache, misery, loves (plural) and both happy and sad ending.

Which of the above is the greatest love story ever told beside that of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet? Bear in mind all were written more than fifty-years ago.


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Now, here’s the crunch. According to a poll organised by Woman’s Weekly Magazine in conjunction with the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the novel Star Gazing by Linda Gillard has nudged A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford aside.

It’s official the most romantic novel written in the last fifty years is Star Gazing see

Great work Linda, a Brit on Top for a change.

Quote Writers’ News: Linda began writing in disgust at being unable to find romantic novels that reflected the lives of woman over forty.

Yeah, sock it to ‘em Linda. Not that I even knew “A Woman of Substance” had top billing, did you?

For me, the greatest literary romances: Gone With the Wind/War & Peace and Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. I forgot the latter, and should add, all Austen novels, the Bronte Sisters, Daphne du Maurier etc., because I loved Carver Doone (wicked anti-hero), I adored Mr D'arcy etc., and got all dreamy about the Captain Jean Benoit Aubin - Frenchman's Creek.
How about you?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A real life Ghost story for the Boo-fest!

A real life ghost story?  Nah, you say, pull t’other one, it has bells on it . . .
((((ring ring)))

Thanks to Quinn for hosting this blogfest: see link below.

Whatever your thoughts on ghosts and strange spiritual happenings, this incident did happen, and it all started with the early morning feed round in the stables, and sudden mystical apparition of a horse.




 A really thick morning sea mist swirled around the stable block, and with half the horses already fed I happened around the corner from the tack room to see a dark bay – identical to my favourite horse. It was standing a little ways beyond the far box. He shouldn’t have been there he should have been inside his box, so it was natural to assume one of the stable girls had inadvertently left the bolt unlatched and he’d sneaked out to graze nearby lush pasture.


As soon as I made toward him I realised he was bridled and the rein broken, but no saddle. What in hell ? came to mind. Meantime he turned about and ambled off, unlike Barboy who would have stubbornly carried on grazing in defiant stance until made to return to his box. I never thought to look in Barboy’s box: needless to say he was standing at the back of his box and merrily munching hay whilst I made toward the apparent mirror-image horse.


The horse immediately swung about and took off at a meandering trot out of the main driveway and then headed off along the lane keeping a few strides in front of me. At times like these it's best to follow without trying to intercept a renegade horse, which is likely to spook just for the hell of it. So, there I was jogging in its wake hoping to hell no vehicle came our way and collided with either one or both of us. The mist by this time had thickened somewhat and there was nothing but eerie silence as we headed off the lane and down a track through sand dunes. By the time we hit the beach it felt as though the horse was leading me somewhere, but where and why?




It’s difficult to judge distance covered in fog, on open estuary it can be deadly, especially when the tide is out but on the turn. The incoming tide washes across these sand flats and flows up the river so fast it’s easy to get cut-off from safe ground, so few people ever venture beyond red flags. Unfortunately, in thick sea fog red flags are worse than useless.

Suddenly water is seeping across the sand so I know the tide is incoming, water rapidly deepening, and that’s when the horse turned about – me following in its wake – and before I knew it we were back on dry sand, the dunes directly in front of us. The horse stood motionless for a moment as though the fun was over and he was ready to give in. Nevertheless I approached with caution, and not wanting to alarm him I sat down, which usually incites a horse’ curiosity and they’ll come investigate why you’re sat down. Anyhoo, that’s when I heard voices, male voices yelling and splashing sounds out on the estuary.

If you’ve ever been out in real thick fog you’ll know when trying to discern exactly where sound is coming from it is nigh impossible. I looked to the horse, his ears pricked. He let go an earth-shattering whinnie, and replies came back. By this time I was on my feet, and shouting like mad trying to guide whomever and their horses to safety. More shouting came across the water, more splashing and eventual silence. I had no cell-phone with me, and although it was only a short jog back to a telephone it wouldn’t have mattered, and as hard as I listened there was only silence coming out of the fog.

The horse whinnied again and then took off at the gallop from a standing take-off; rein trailing in its wake as he thundered along the edge of the dunes. The horse I never found, nor sign of dead horses or people when the fog cleared quite suddenly as it often does with offshore breeze. There was nothing, not even a hoof print in the dunes. No one else reported hearing horses or voices, and I think people seriously thought I’d lost it.

Five days later out riding I met a wild fowler who’d been shooting on the salt flats up stream, and whilst passing the time of day he said he’d heard about my experience. He then confessed to a similar incident he’d had some ten years beforehand, and relayed a similar story told by a yachting family who were anchored out at sea and came in on a high tide. All had heard horses and men as though floundering in the waters of the rising tide.

The wild fowler revealed he’d already embarked on research some years back because his experience had haunted him, plus he learned through his findings that when the first dredging of the estuary was carried out in the 1900s (to allow larger boats access to the neighbouring harbour the other side of the estuary) bones were recovered and identified as that of equine in nature. Also some people with metal detectors had found horseshoes on the sand flats dating back to the 1600s.



Haunted day and night by the horse apparition I set to with historical research 1600s upwards to present time. What came up was a Castle besieged during the English Civil War by Cromwell’s forces,  (castle above). Beneath the castle lies a cave, through which Royalist top brass reportedly escaped from by boat and sailed up river to where Royalist troopers and horses were waiting for them. They then fled northward to what they thought was a safe haven under Royalist control, intent on making for Chester and expected there but they never arrived. Unfortunately the only crossing point of a third river was under the control of the Parliamentarians, so the assumption being the Cavalier force lay low on the salt flats and undercover of darkness set out to cross the estuary.

All of the Cavaliers presumably perished, with exception of one horse: the horse I encountered, because he galloped along the fringe of the dunes quite hail and hearty. And given his broken bridle and no saddle, maybe his rider escaped a drowning as well. Who knows? But, that experience still haunts me, and if you’ve followed this blog for a while you might have read two snippets from historical novels set within the period English Civil War. This experience is featured in my latest Civil War novel, and I do feel a sincere affinity with this particular period in history. Given poetic licence the rider of the ghost horse survives, but that's all I'm prepared to tell you!

So, what happened that morning in the rolling sea mist, other than that of equine ghost expressing loss of fellow horses and their riders on the sand flats?

To see entries by other participants go here.


Halloween party two posts down from here.


Monday, 25 October 2010

The Never-Ending Blogfest!

Today's blogfest is hosted by Brenda Lee Drake.

The criteria: to write a never-ending scene (cliffhanger -whatever)



Naturally, because I'm a romance writer this is a snip from a romance novel.

Brief: After a horrendous journey in blizzard conditions, cooped together in one vehicle, Luc has finally broken through Tory’s ice-maiden stance, and has, he thinks, reclaimed lost ground on a once happy love affair that went awry for reasons beyond on his control. Meanwhile, although momentarily basking in a rosy glow of renewed affections, Tori is wary and unsure she can fully trust in his sincerity toward her. And so, to the cliff edge moment:





Tori had just emerged from the hotel lift and making toward her own room when Luc stepped from the far lift, Fiona at his side; the other woman fussing about him in manner that of wife rather than PA.

Although there was a brief exchange in passing, more eye contact than verbal between herself and Luc, Fiona's expression was pure cat-with-cream, and Luc’s former request to keep their relationship businesslike hurt more than Tori had thought likely. Worse, anxiety took hold, in seeing Luc about to enter Jean-Claude’s suite and Fiona hovering alongside, though her heart did lift somewhat when Fiona suddenly turned away and walked briskly toward Jean-Claude’s office looking less than pleased with herself.

Mind in turmoil Tori sought sanctuary in her own room, well aware that the next few days would be a testing time. She held no illusions to the fact that Fiona saw herself as Luc’s future wife. The other woman had made that quite clear, just by the manner in which she’d plucked a speck of fluff from Luc’s jacket whilst he busy putting key-card to door.

Tori couldn’t help but think Fiona was the reason behind Luc’s request to keep their romance quiet. He could not be ignorant to his own PA’s overt interest in him beyond that of mere PA, surely?

After all, as soon as Luc had walked inside the foyer Fiona had pounced on him, her entire persona that of a jealous fiancĂ©. She hadn’t needed to say hands off, he’s mine all mine, that was clear by her body language alone. Luc on the other hand, had given the impression of being incensed by the implied intimacy between them. He’d even made his excuses and moved away from Fiona and had gone to have a word with Rory. Yet the damn woman had still hovered close by, as though immune to his indifference.

Tori slid her coat from her shoulders relishing the thought of a long hot bath, and as she made her way to the en suite bathroom something Luc had said, came to mind:

What had he meant by his not looking forward to what he had to do, and, that he was hoping to achieve a happy outcome with little, or at best, no unpleasant fallout. Was that statement an admission of some sense of guilt? That perhaps he and Fiona had been more than mere boss and PA, and that Fiona rightly believed they were a couple? What-if, what if Luc wanted out of the relationship purely because of Tori Bellamy?

Questions, questions, there were so many unanswered questions.

She would hate to think herself to be the cause of a once perfectly happy relationship wrecked because of her, but she loved Luc, had loved him since they’d first met. And what of Fiona? Was she as Tori Bellamy imagined: mercenary, dangerous, malicious and of the gold digging kind of PA?

She’d met sexually obsessive and devious PAs before and had seen the damage flirtatious office affairs had inflicted upon unsuspecting wives and children, the latter innocently believing their loved one genuinely running late due to business commitments. She’d hated witnessing the fallout from such liaisons, and had suffered the wrath of a boss wracked with guilt and torn between sexual love for the mistress and loving duty to wife and children. Often as not these silly men had ended up the losers, their lives ruined by emotional stress and latterly financial straits post divorce, and all because of a moment of madness and wild bout of physical indulgence. She’d sworn, sworn she would never set her eyes at a boss, no matter how dreamy or devastatingly handsome he might be, and now she’d broken that rule.

In Luc’s case it was a little different because he was unmarried and had no children. Fiona was his PA, maybe more, Tori couldn’t be sure. But, and it was a big but, Fiona hadn’t known Tori existed until Paula’s wedding day, and Luc hadn’t known then that Tori Bellamy was still as free as a bird and no partner, but he’d still made a play for her. He hadn’t known then that she was about to become PA to one of his company directors, or had he? She couldn’t be sure on that, because on reflection he hadn’t looked the least bit surprised at seeing her at the airport: in fact, highly amused more like.

Oh God, he’d known, known all along she was free, had known she’d taken this job, and had known that with a bit of love talk en route from the airport and a kiss in the 4x4 he could twist her romantic wrist and get what he’d set out to get that day at Paula’s wedding.

Tori stupid Bellamy, had done it again, fallen in love with Luc Montagne who would break her heart a second time just as surely as he had the first time. God, how she remembered that wonderful ski holiday and the fun they'd had and then, then the romantic entanglement and the disaster no one could have foreseen.




‘Life’s hell,’ she said, turning on the bath taps, thinking: I can’t do it, can’t do what Luc wants. I can’t stay here I really can’t. To be the other woman is just not for me. I’m out of here, as soon as.

 
  To see contributions by others to this blogfest go here.

If you're inerested in knowing what happens next in the Tori & Luc saga, go here.

Always, if I join a blogfest I make every effort to read all entries, so if I don't get to your blog today I will be there tomorrow: promise!

Quick add-on: I've been having trouble with Google friend follower - it seems to be down at the mo  but I will check it out tomorrow!