Thursday, December 09, 2010

Decking the halls

Every year, the first Sunday in December, I have a party for all my girlfriends. The days leading up to it are always hectic as I try to make sure my home is full of christmas.
It usually takes most of a week to get everything done. But after the party I can relax and enjoy the rest of the season.
Luckily I have most all of my shopping done since I have to stay on top of the writing.
At the moment the couch is covered with blankets and dogs who are snoring loudly while I upload the pics. We're having a peaceful night before Christmas.

I love how the house feels when its full of Christmas. Its like a giant package, waiting to be unwrapped, when the family descends. Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How lucky we are

I had the privilege this past Saturday of welcoming home a group of WW2 veterans who had visited the memorial in DC. We were there especially to greet a gentleman from our church, Sam, who served. It was amazing to see the hundreds of people who crowded in our small airport. Everyone had flags, there were honor guards and we sang patriotic songs to pass the time until the flight of honor arrived.

The faces of the men, all in their 80's and 90's as we cheered them home were glorious. All of the ones I talked to said the trip was more than they ever could have imagined. It made me very proud to be an American.

I am currently reading Meljean Brooks book, Iron Duke. The world she has created is phenomenal. In her story, the people of England have just come out from under oppression from a group called The Horde who infected them with nanos that they controlled with radio frequencies. All they had to do was send out a signal and those infected were at their mercy. They had no choice.

So what does this have to do with WW2 and the veterans of all the wars? They fought and fight today so we have a choice. We live in the greatest country in the world. We have the opportunity to choose how are country is run. Its a gift a lot of people in the world don't have and it came at a very dear price.

To sum it up. Tomorrow is election day. Go vote!

God Bless the USA

Monday, October 25, 2010

Catch Up Time

Wow, I can't believe its already the end of October. It seems as if this year has flown by, even though there were times when it dragged. Waiting is always the hardest part.

I spent the majority of this year waiting. Waiting to hear from editors on the multitude of proposals I sent out this year. Its been my goal for the past two years to break into another publishing house since my old publisher seemed to be dying a slow and certain death. Earlier this year I had agreed to a two book contract with Dorchester as it gave me the opportunity to continue my Wind series. Then in August they announced that they were going all Digital. I asked to be released from my contract and went back to my original plan, break into another publishing house.

And I'm thrilled to say I did. I sold a brand new western series to Berkley publishing. Its called Angels End, after a small town in Colorado that exists only in my imagination. The first book, Godsend, will be out in early 2012. I'm very excited to be writing for Berkley and I"m still in that pinch myself stage.

I'm also happy to say that my entire Wind series will soon be available in digital format for those of you with e-readers. And the series will be released again in Trade size books in case you missed them when they first came out. I will be sure to update everyone when the time comes.

So now crawling into a deadline cave to write Godsend. Happy reading to everyone!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Total Fan girl

One of the best things that can happen to a writer is having fans come up to you and tell you how much they love your work and that it touched their heart. Especially when they get breathless and flustered because they soo wanted to meet you in person and tell you themselves. It always inspires me.

However this weekend I got to be the total fan girl when Diana Gabaldon came to my home town for our annual Bookmarks festival. The great thing about Diana is she's very approachable. When I first started writing, (after being inspired my her first three books in the Outlander series) I emailed her for advice on getting published. And she emailed me back (something I always do with my fans) She was very encouraging and congratulated me when I told her I got a contract. When I discovered she was coming to town I emailed her again. I got to meet her at a talk she gave and she remember me. Woot! And notice how she's holding up my bookmark.

So I had a total fan girl, you inspired me, I love your books moment. And got an autographed bookplate to boot.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A medieval history lesson

When I told one of my writer friends that I was working on a medieval she said..."Eww, gross, those people did not bathe!" My response was the characters in my book will not stink so I made sure to include a bathing scene in the story. And I also did some research.

The English did bathe during medieval times. They also enjoyed it. The Romans left behind many baths after their reign and the people of the age made good use of them. Until Richard came along. Richard broke the country with his crusades. He taxed his subjects into the poorhouse and left a bankrupt country behind for his brother, John. The landowners and their people had nothing. The king, however, had his forests and all that lay within. The penalty for stealing from the king was death. So the people were starving while there was food aplenty to be had. What has this to do with bathing? Not only were the people prohibited from hunting in the king's forest, they were also kept from gathering firewood and cutting down trees. So after they had exhausted their supply, they had no where else to go, unless they wanted to die. No firewood meant no hot baths, because who wants to take a cold bath in a hovel during the middle of winter?

Just a tidbit I found out while researching Breath Of Heaven. I was also interested to see it refered too in Robin Hood (a most excellent movie!) Just for fun I've included a bathing scene from Breath Of Heaven.

He had no more than wrapped a fur about his naked hips when the door burst open and a line of servants came in with a tray of food, steaming buckets of water and a tub made of hammered copper.
Mathias brought up the rear with a wide grin on his face. “Just as you requested Milord,” he said.
Rhys cocked a questioning eyebrow at the servants. There was one somewhat dusky wench who carried the tray of food but the rest were men. Unfortunately the wench placed the tray upon a table, dipped a quick curtsey, and left while the men arranged the tub in front of the fireplace and poured the steaming buckets of water into it.
“Is this not as you requested Milord?” Mathias asked innocently. He stuck his tongue sideways in his cheek to keep from laughing out loud. “Were your words not someone other than me?”
“I will beat you eventually,” Rhys said.
“Do you make a habit of beating your squire Milord?” A voice called out. Rhys turned to find a tall woman standing in the doorway holding a basket with soap, oils and towels. She seemed older than he yet her face was remarkably smooth except for a few lines around her mouth and her strikingly blue eyes. Her head was complete covered with a thick veil and a long blonde braid shot with silver hung down her back. Her clothing was simple, yet rich, a dark blue bliaut of velvet with an intricate silver embroidery on the sleeves that flared at her elbows to reveal a lighter blue sheath beneath. The sleeves of the sheath tightly hugged her arms, past her wrists and hooked in the opening between her thumbs and fingers. A wide silver chain belt with a small dagger rode low on her hips. The artistry of both was exquisite. The dagger held a large blue sapphire much like the ruby that rode in the hilt of his short sword.
The woman carried the basket past him, across to the tub and sat it on a small stool. She turned to look at Rhys with her hands on her hips. The look she gave him was appraising, as her eyes swept from the top of his head, down his chest, over his hips to slide down his legs where his toes curled into the thick pile of the rug beneath his feet.
“Which do you require first?” she asked as the serving men left the room. “To break your fast or bathe?”
Rhys dropped the fur. “A bath,” he said and strode casually to the tub.
She quirked an eyebrow as her sharp eyes took in every thing about him and Rhys graced her with a smile as he stepped into the tub and sat down in the warm water. He could not help but flinch as the heat seared his skin, especially the tender region between his thighs but he kept his gaze upon the face above him. She might be older but she was beautiful and he had found in the past that older women were most generous and ingenious in the art of lovemaking.
“Are you the lady of the castle?” he asked. He knew that Edward’s wife had died many years ago but had not heard if he had ever remarried.
“No,” she said. “I am but a simple servant.” She held out a bar of soap for his approval. He sniffed it. Sandalwood of course, with a hint of something else…pine possibly? He nodded his approval and she dipped it in the water along with a cloth and lathered them together. “My name is Madwyn,” she continued as she picked up his arm and began the process of scrubbing the days of travel and weather from his body. “My lord and lady both bid me to apologize for their lack of hospitality this past eve. My lord is not well and my lady and I were not present when you arrived.”
“Is your lady at home now?” His curiosity was once more piqued about Edward’s mysterious daughter. Mayhap she was hidden away in a convent where no one would see her.
“Yes,” Madwyn replied as she moved around the tub and scrubbed started on his other side. “My Lady Eliane and I returned early this morning. She is attending to the needs of Aubregate and her father. She will send word when he is ready to meet with you.”
Rhys reclined against the back of the tub with his eyes closed while Madwyn went about the business of washing his body. The heat from the water spread into his muscles and relieved much of the tension he’d carried with him through out his journey. The feel of the cloth sliding across the planes of his chest was pleasurable and Madwyn’s touch was firm, yet gentle. All in all it was quite an enjoyable bath and he had high hopes of it leading to more pleasure before he met Lord Edward. Still he was curious about the missing daughter. “Will the Lady Eliane be present when I meet with Lord Edward?” he asked.
The answer he got was a hot towel draped across the lower half of his face. He opened one eye to find Madwyn standing over his with a blade in her hand. “Shall I shave you?” she asked. The glint in her eye gave him pause and he heard Mathias smother a snort from across the room.
Rhys was not one to back down from a challenge. He nodded his agreement and laid his head back against the rim of the tub to allow her blade access to his neck. Her hands were deft and sure and he could not help but admire the closeness of the shave when she finished.
“Mathias,” he said after she wiped the remnants of the soap from his face. “Did you lay out my best clothes?”
“Yes Milord,” he replied.
“Then go attend to Yorath,” he instructed. “Make sure he is content.”
“Milord?” Mathias questioned. The squire knew full well that his master’s horse was well cared for in the Aubregate stables. Yet he needed to learn prudence, especially when his master wanted to be alone with a woman.
“Go,” Rhys barked. “Now.” He heard the door close firmly albeit somewhat loudly behind the squire as he left the room. “I shall surely beat him before the day it out,” Rhys sighed as he once more closed his eyes. Madwyn had given him a thorough cleaning from the waist up. He was now ready for her to proceed with the rest. More than ready. So ready that the tip of his shaft poked up through the water. His entire body tingled in anticipation as he imagined her hand, slick with soap, moving around it, grasping, squeezing, and pulling. Maybe she would even take him in her mouth.
His fantasy was quickly doused when she poured a bucket of icy water over his head and into his face then her hands grabbed his hair by the roots and pulled.
“I beg your pardon Milord,” she said in a somewhat innocent and breathless voice. ‘I fear I used the wrong bucket.”
Rhys shivered, coughed and sputtered and sat up, certain that he had lost more than a few hairs when she wrenched him back into place with her fingers firmly entrenched in his scalp.
“Did you not wish for me to wash your hair Milord?” she asked as he looked at her face, which was upside down above him. “Or should I take my leave now?”
He touched his head gingerly and was relieved to see that his hair was still attached although a bit soapy. “I can finish up on my own,” he said. “You may go now.” He watched her warily as she dried her hands and left room without a backward glance. He heard the tinkle of her laughter as she closed the door behind her.
“Wench,” he said as he leaned forward and finished lathering his hair. He slid beneath the surface of the water to rinse it. Luckily for him, his most pressing problem had gone away with the blast of icy water.

Its' here!

Finally, after what seems like forever, Breath Of Heaven is here. You might think its strange that I'm so excited about a release after having fouteen books published. The thing is, Breath Of Heaven has been years, no, its been decades in the making.

I had the idea for the story right after I was married (and way before I had children) after reading the Roselynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. That's me with her when I met her in 2008. I just knew I could write an amazing story that would capture the readers imagination the same way Roberta Gellis had captured mine. I was working an extremely boring job at the time, one where all I had to do was answer the phone when the calls came in and set up appoitments. So I went to work every day with a spiral notebook and pen and tried to write. Notice I said try. Even though I was putting words down on paper they were horrible. After about five pages I realized that it was not going to happen so I tossed the entire thing in the trash. I still remember some of the lines and I cringe whenever I think of them.

It turns out I had a lot of growing to do. And much more reading. I read and read and read, more books than I can count. I didn't realize while I was reading that I was also learning the craft. The story never left me and after writing the Wind Series I was given the opportunity to try something different so I told my editor about Rhys and Eliane and she said lets do it. This time it was much much easier and the characters finally came to life.

I've been waiting a long time to share Breath Of Heaven with the world. I hope you enjoy it. And if you happen to see it on the shelves, let me know!

Monday, May 17, 2010

one week and counting

Breath of Heaven will be released next Tuesday. I can't believe its almost here. To get you ready for the big day I've posted another exerpt that was cut from the book. Enjoy!

Edward’s hand shook as he dipped the quill into the ink. Was it nerves or the advanced stages of his disease? Whatever the cause, it did not matter. What did matter was the fact that even though his hand shook, his strokes upon the parchment showed sure and strong as he began his letter.
January 1, 1170. Fourteen and one half years passed since the day he pulled Rhys de Remy from the mud. Five months passed since he last heard from the now Lord de Remy upon the anniversary of their meeting as he had every year since. Finally, the time had come for Edward to call upon the debt owed to him.
Edward’s gazed wandered from the parchment before him to the woods beyond the outer wall of the castle. Even though his eyes were not as sharp as they once were, he caught a movement at the edge of the wood, a flash of dark green amongst the drab browns and grays of the winter day. Eliane, off to see Madwyn, with the huge beast of a dog at her side as usual. She held no fear for the forest, or the beasts that roamed there. Nor did she fear the strange tales of magic that always surrounded the place. Luckily the people of the keep and the town below held a great love for her, despite her strange behavior and her strange appearance. Just as they had for her mother before her. Was he too late to save her? The good Lord above knew he had done his best to prepare her for what was to come but…
Edward ran a trembling hand over his brow. So much time had passed since the day Han came to him in France with the news. Yet the time passed was not enough to prepare his daughter for what was to come. The problem was he had thought at one time that he would live a long and happy life with Arden at his side. That was the promise given to him when he took Arden as his wife. He was her choice for a husband and that meant the rest would come with it.
She was not supposed to die of an arrow wound to the heart as she defended the walls of Aubregate from Ragnor Vannoy. Ragnor had never given up his desire to be master of Aubregate. Not after Arden refused him time and time again as her mother refused his father before her. Nor would Arden agree to betroth Eliane to Renauld when Ragnor discovered that there was another daughter in a long line of daughters born to the Mistress of Aubregate. Even when Ragnor declared that Eliane’s strange deformity would not affect the terms or her worth as a bride for his son at all. Of course it wouldn’t. It was not Eliane that he desired. It was the land and the riches that came with it. Riches that would not last with Ragnor’s sorry rule.
The bastard knew Edward and his men were with the king so he attacked a castle defended by a few men of arms and a woman. The walls did not fall but Arden did. Luckily Madwyn spirited Eliane away and kept her hidden in the deep wood that separated the two estates. It was rumored that she used magic to keep Eliane safe. Many of the men who were tempted by Ragnor with great reward for the safe capture of the missing daughter ended up dead, as did their master when Edward finally came home and sought his revenge.
Ragnor’s death, quickly endorsed by the king who held Edward in high esteem, did nothing to restore Arden to him. Nor did it enrich his coffers. Renauld was the heir and remained so because of the King’s benevolence towards those who supported him at a time when it was not sure if he would wear the crown. Never mind that Renauld was a squire at the time. He’d sworn his allegiance to Allan who served the king faithfully and therefore would not be punished for the sins of his father. Even now he was at court, or so the men who were still friendly with Edward said. Peter was one of these men. Peter was well related and had proven to be honorable time and time again. He was also indebted to Edward and looked after his interests at court since Edward was no longer able to do so himself.
If only Peter had not been betrothed at a young age else he could solve Edward’s problem for him. He was now well married with sons and daughters of his own. Now there was no time for Eliane to choose, nor would she, as she told him time and time again. He was her father and he would choose for her as was his right. If Edward died before the matter was taken care of and Renauld was there to plead his case it would be the end of her and of all of Aubregate. That was the one thing Edward was certain of. He should not have waited so long to resolve it.
The deep wood swallowed Eliane and the beast at her side just as the earth had swallowed Arden after her death. Just as it would, one day soon, swallow his faltering body and return it to the dust from whence he came. He could only hope that he still had enough time. Edward turned once more to his parchment and picked up his quill.
Han was waiting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two weeks until release day!

Two weeks from tomorrow is May 25th, which is the release day for Breath Of Heaven. Wow, its almost here. Since my last release was in February 2009 with Fallen, to say I'm looking forward to this release is an understatement. I'm also getting nervous. Have I done everything possible to alert people to its coming? Just to make sure I'm flashing my awesome cover once again. (isn't it pretty?) I'm working on posts for my upcoming blogtour. I'm preparing my newsletter. You can sign up for it on my website Also preparing for my big launch part on June 3 at New Beginnings in Rural Hall. I will also post an exerpt next week just to get you in the mood to read it.

Wow.(insert deep breath here) I'm getting tired just thinking about it. As you can see there is more to being a writer than just writing. So what do you think? Is there anything else I can do to get the word out about Breath Of Heaven?

Monday, May 03, 2010

RT10 and 3 weeks til release day

Made it safely home from RT10 late last night. Had the most marvelous time. I think this was my most relaxing experience, even though I had stuff going on everyday.

Wednesday was the Intergalactic Bar and Grill. Wow what a crowd! We stuffed 200 bags and they were gone in just a few minutes. I hope everyone enjoyed all the blink y stuff, including the blinky unicorns I gave out in honor of the coming release of Breath O Heaven. I also participated in a great panel on writing SciFi romance.

Thursday was Bad Boy Bingo with Alyssa Day, Victoria Dahl and the imaginative and hilarious Sarah Reyes as out bingo caller. How was it that she kept drawing O69? If you missed it then try to make it next year because it will be an absolute riot!

Friday I was on an outstanding panel on Genre Jumping and met up with one of my college roomies, Nancy, who wanted to see what my exciting life was like. She got an afternoon of RT experience, then we met up with other roomies, Lana and Sue for dinner. We laughed and we cried. It was so amazing to see old friends again after 20 years.

Saturday I was privileged to be a judge in the Mr. Romance pageant. I must say the winner, Jamie Ungaro is the most amazing young men I have ever met. I have to give kudos to Andy and Antonio who were thrown into the mix at the last minute and handles it all with both grace and humor.

I made lots of new friends and deepened other friendships. I realized that the RT group is like a large family and we get to have a reunion every year.

And I got to promote my next release, Breath Of Heaven. Since I forgot to get my camera out at RT I will once more flash my beautiful cover and mention that its only three weeks until release day. Now its time for a nap. RT is exhausting!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Four weeks and RT

I'm leaving tomorrow for the Romantic Times convention in Columbus Ohio. I can't wait to get there and see my fans, my writer friends and on Friday night, a special reunion with my college room-mates. I am so excited to see Shelley, Lana, Nancy and Sue. Its been 20 years since we've seen each other.

I'm not signing on Saturday but I will be visible. I'll be talking about writing kick-ass heroines with Ann Aguirre, about Genre Jumping with Alyssa Day, will be loud and proud with Linnea Sinclair and Jade Lee at the Intergalactic Bar and Grill and playing some Bad Boy Bingo with Alyssa Day and Toni McGee Causey.

Hoping I can dance (if my foot doesn't give me trouble) at the awesome parties every night. I'll also be passing out Blinky Unicorns at the Intergalactic Bar and Grill.

Just for fun I'm flashing my lovely cover again, because its only four weeks until release day. Plus I'm going to be snatching up the new releases of my favorite authors. Find me at the book signing to see who they are.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Release Day Countdown

I've got a book coming out in five weeks. Ack! Its crunch time! What do I do? Do I flash the beautiful cover again? Do I mention the release date one more time?


Should I tell you to go to my website and sign up for my newsletter?

How about giveaways and prizes?

How about I give you a blurb?

An Elusive Huntress She appeared out of nowhere, clad in form fitting leathers and looking as magical as the mysterious woods she roamed. With flashing emerald eyes, she taunted the intruder, daring him to come deeper into her enchanted realm.

An Arranged Marriage Rhys De Remy owed his life to her father, just as he owed unswering obedience to his king. If he took the heiress of Abugrgate to wife, he could clear the debts of the tormented boy he had been as well as the battle-hardened warrior he'd become. But it was Eliane herself who called out to the man in him, whose fierce pride cast a spell on him, whose silken bed promised a...Breath of Heaven.

Should I post exerpts? Links to reviews (while I nervously wait for them to come in) Tell me readers, what do you want to see? What builds up your anticipation for a new book and makes you rush out to the store on release day to pick it up? As an author, I'd love to know what puts a book on your TBR pile (To Be Read) Let me know what works for you and we'll to our best to make it happen when we have a new release.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breath Of Heaven Prologue

The priests said in hushed tones that Hell was fire and brimstone and never ending torment for those who did not confess their every sin. Lord Edward Chandler of Aubregate supposed it easily could be the other way around. Hell could be ceaseless rain, a cold dampness that settled into one’s bones and an endless sea of mud up to one’s ankles that made every step a battle.

That particular version of Hell lay all around him. Edward removed his helm and sat it before him upon the saddle, pushed back his coif and yanked his gauntlet off with his teeth before he rubbed his hand through his close cropped gray tinged hair. His hair in his youth had been a fiery red which led to his being called the Flaming Sword in battle, much to his amusement. Now his hair, just like the world, was faded and gray.

Edward felt each one of his years. His arms and shoulders ached from an acute overuse of his sword and shield. His head pounded from the dispensation of his many prisoners. His back reminded him that he had spent far too many hours in the saddle. He wanted nothing more than a bath, a meal, and a bed, all of it to be had in exactly that order as he had no desire to eat or sleep covered in sweat, blood and dirt.

Somewhere among the mud and the muck and the mess before him was King Henry. His liege’s messenger had requested his presence posthaste after the recent battle. Edward just wanted to go home. He had been too long on the King’s business and he sorely missed the peace and tranquility of Aubregate, the lands he called his own. He longed to see the face of his beloved wife, Arden. Once he saw her he knew he would no longer see the many faces of the men he’d killed. Once he heard the childish laughter of his darling daughter, Eliane, his ears would no longer ring with the cries of battle. Once he was home, the smell of fresh grass and deep wood would cleanse the putrid smells of death, decay and rot from his nostrils. He longed for the hidden magic of the land that came to him through Arden to cleanse his soul. He needed it as if it were the air he breathed or the water he drank. It was a part of him, a part that was too long missing from his life.

“Please God, let him release me,” Edward said in a quick prayer as he tried to decide his best course to find the king. His prospects were dim at best. The sight of a wagon buried up to its axle in the mud did nothing to encourage him.


Edward turned to his squire, Peter. The boy’s face was pale and there were great circles beneath his brown eyes. He was exhausted and at fourteen, much too young to have been bloodied. Yet given the alternative, he came through it well enough. He was alive and he was whole which was more that could be said for many who had broken their fast with them this morning

“It seems that someone had the forethought to create a bridge,” Peter pointed to the left. The boy’s eyes were as sharp as his mind. Edward had no reason to doubt him as his eyes followed his line and saw a neat bit of engineering. A large oak had been felled and split, the two halves laid side by side over a ditch that most likely at one time held running water. Now it was a morass of mud and waste, both animal and human from the smell that assaulted his nostrils as they rode in that direction. It also contained the wreckage of war machines. The debris was so thick that it was not beyond reasoning that bodies could be present beneath. If it were in fact true then they faced the prospect of the outbreak of disease. Surely someone would see to the cleansing of this area.

“Please God, let that task pass me by,” he muttered. He would do his duty if asked, but he was most anxious to be home. It chaffed at him more of late, as if there was some urgent need he should attend too.It was way past the time to leave this place. Edward pulled a linen scarf from beneath his hauberk and held it across the lower half of his face as his well seasoned destrier Hector, delicately picked his way amongst the scattered remnants of discarded weaponry and armor to the bridge.
It was a busy place. Men and boys scurried back and forth bearing messages and supplies from one side to the other. In the distance he saw the standards of the king weakly fluttering in the puny breeze. Gray clouds hung heavily above, holding with them the promise of more rain.

“Tell Cedric to bring my things across,” Edward instructed Peter as they waited for the bridge to clear. “And please pray that we can set up in as dry a place as he can find if any such place still exists in this world.” He trusted Peter and Cedric, his manservant, to do just so. His young squire was smart enough to impart the things Edward need not say and Cedric wise enough to do what needed to be done.
Without a word Peter turned his horse to make his way back to where Edward’s troops waited for their orders. The men at arms would have to find their own place as Edward was certain the area around the king was full of those whose rank declared such privilege. Edward was assured of a place close by, not that he wanted it. But duty and honor required that he take it no matter what his personal feelings on the matter.

Two young squires stood in line awaiting their turn in front of him. His rank was such that he could delay them for his own crossing, no matter who they served. The colors beneath the dirt on their tunics indicated they served Lord Allan Barclay. Edward knew the man well enough to know that his talents were more inclined towards fighting than diplomacy. Edward recalled his wife, the Lady Giselle, who was of a most sweet nature and pleasant company to sit next to at the infrequent court dinners he was forced, by necessity, to attend. In sharp contrast to his wife, Allan was quite a bore, unless one was inclined to talk endlessly about the proper way to hold a lance during a joust and which way you should strike at a man in battle. A boy who was anxious to learn such things could do much worse than to squire for Lord Allan.

Edward decided to let the two squires go on their way. The largest of the pair who was the same size and near the age of Peter, turned and gave him a sullen look. Edward was surprised to recognize the face of Ragnor Vannoy, who held an estate on the other side of the wood that bordered his. Vannoy was not one he would not call a friend or ally under any circumstances. The resemblance was so striking that Edward surmised the boy must be the son, Renauld.
Renauld wore a surly expression on his face and held a small chest in his arms. Edward made no indication that he knew who he was and the boy responded in kind. Instead Renauld snapped at his companion, a dark haired child of eight or nine, who stood precariously beneath the weight of several pieces of armor. He seemed a bit young to be a squire but sometimes circumstances sent them off at a young age.

“You better not drop it,” he snapped. “I will make sure Lord Allan beats you if you do.”The smaller boy did not respond, instead he hoisted his load up more securely and raised his chin.

Good spirit, that one. Here’s hoping that Ragnor’s get will not bully him to his death.

The way became clear and the two before him took their turn. Edward made to follow and urged Hector forward. The horse tossed his head and his huge hooves made a thunking noise as they hit the green wood of the makeshift bridge. At that moment a man stepped on from the other side and declared to those waiting that he was on urgent King’s business. The man hustled across and Edward quickly backed Hector off as there was no way the man could pass by the wide girth of his war horse.

The two squires stopped in their tracks to allow the messenger to pass. Edward frowned at the puffed up importance of the messenger who brushed by as if the boys were causing him a great delay. To his astonishment, Renauld used a well placed elbow to shove the younger boy off the bridge as the messenger passed them. The boy toppled backwards into the ooze below and quickly sunk beneath the weight of the armor.

“Damn!” The curse rang forth from his mouth without thought as Renauld looked down with an appearance of horror and despair upon his face. Those waiting on both sides stood and watched helplessly. None wished to go into the muck to save a mere boy.
Edward quickly dismounted. He still wore his armor and knew it would weigh him down but he had no choice. The boy must be saved. He waded into the stink and filth that sucked upwards to his thighs. The mass bubbled where the boy went under and Edward stuck his hand down and felt around for anything soft. He came up with a helm and a deep gash on his hand. He cursed at the cut, flung the helm aside and reached down again. This time he came against something soft and yanked the child forth. The mud let go with a sucking sound as he lifted the boy by the cloth of his tunic. The boy’s features were lost beneath the muck that clung to his face like a second skin. Edward turned him over his arm and pounded on his back three times.
The boy gagged and spewed and desperately fought against Edward’s arm as if he was the one holding him under. Edward turned him about and held him before him with both arms. The boy dangled in the air like a puppet but managed to wipe the mess from his eyes and peered at him with eyes as dark as night.

“Than…thank you sir…” he gasped out before his eyes fluttered and closed. Edward shook him and the boy sighed deeply. He was alive. That was enough for the moment. Getting out of the ditch was the next step. He could feel it sucking at his calves as if it were a live thing and he its prisoner.

It appeared that having a Lord of the Realm in the ditch was a much more serious matter than having a mere boy fall in. Suddenly there were helping hands all about. Edward kept the boy balanced on his hip with one arm and allowed two men to pull him forth by grasping onto the other. He scanned the gathered crowd for any sign of Renauld but he was suspiciously missing.

Peter appeared at his side. “Cedric was not that far behind,” he explained as he took a step back from the offensive smell.

“Good,” Edward said. “The first order of business is a bath for both of us.” He looked closely at the cut on his hand. “Find me something to wash this with, and make sure it’s clean.”

“Do we know who he belongs to my Lord?” Peter asked as Edward shifted the boy up into his arms.

“We do,” Edward said. “However circumstances dictate that we keep him for a bit as I feel my saving his life would have been in vain.” He pulled his piece of linen forth to wipe his face and instead pitched it down when he saw it would only make matters worse. “Send word to the King that I am indisposed to meet him at the moment and I humbly beg permission to come as soon as I rid myself of this vile smell.”

Edward had no worry of the King’s response as Peter took off to do his bidding. Peter was the son of one of the King’s closest advisors so he would be well received. As Peter left, Cedric rode up with several men at arms and a wagon holding his supplies. Cedric took one look at his Lord and quickly sprang into action, relieving Edward of his burden in the process.

Within an hour Edward was as clean as he could be under the circumstances, his hand bandaged, and he was enjoying the first meal he’d had since the night before. He did not know how Cedric did it, but bless him; he always managed to find a way to do what Edward thought impossible. Who would have thought that there was a decent place left for him to set up his tent? Much less, someplace that was high enough to have good drainage yet still close enough that he could reach the King in a brisk walk. The coals in the brazier gave off enough warmth that he did not need his cloak and wearing clean clothes felt like a sinful indulgence.
He was a lucky man, luckier than most. He’d survived this day and the days before it, he was clean, he was fed and most gratifying of all, he was dry. He had a feeling the boy lying beneath the furs upon his bed would not wake with the same blessings foremost in his mind.

Edward studied the boy. It was exhaustion that took him, more so than the near death he’d come close too. Shock at his experience could have added to it. From his appearances he was close to starvation also. His bones jutted painfully beneath his skin and his eyes were rimmed with dark circles. A healing bruise marred one cheek, most likely put there by Renauld, if Edward’s memory of the boy served him correctly. If he was anything like his father. Vileness such as what Ragnor possessed tended to expand with each generation.
As if he knew he was the object of attention, the boy stirred slightly, then sat up quickly. His dark eyes blinked owlishly at Edward, then darted about the tent as if looking for an escape route.

“I will not harm you,” Edward assured him.

“Where are my clothes?” the boy asked suspiciously.

“Here,” Edward replied. He tilted his head at a rope that hung over the brazier where several pieces of clothing hung, with the boys things among them. A pair of leather shoes curled on the floor beneath the cheery fireplace. “Do you not have a cloak?”

“No sir,” the boy replied. He pulled the fur around his thin shoulders and clutched it to his chest with long and elegantly tapered fingers. There was good blood running in his veins. It was obvious in the cheekbones and line of his jaw along with his hands.

“Who are you?” Edward asked.

“I am Rhys de Remy of Myrddin sir,” he said. Second Squire to Lord Allan Barclay.”

“Yes, I surmised that much from the colors of your tunic,” Edward said. “Rhys de Remy…” he pondered the name in his mind. “Was your father Roger de Remy? And your mother…”

“Yes sir,” Rhys said quickly. His dark eyes lowered to stare at the furs.

That certainly put an interesting light on the subject. Edward knew the story quite well. The mother was Welsh, one of the daughters of a troublesome Welsh Lord given as a hostage to guarantee his cooperation. Edward had been present for the giving of hostages. He recalled the Lady Branwynn well, even down to the meaning of her name. Fair raven. It suited her. Her skin was porcelain white and her eyes and hair both dark as coal.

It was not surprising when Roger de Remy, who was assigned to be her guardian, as his property had been the most threatened during the skirmishes with the Welsh, became quite enamored with her. Even Edward, with his own marriage well content although childless at the time, was tempted for a brief moment when he first beheld the enchanting and mysterious face of the Lady Branwynn. It was not a secret that the other men in the party, including the past king who was long dead now, felt the same way.

It was soon told that she was expecting Roger’s child. Whether she wanted his attentions or not was ever discussed. What was discussed was the fact that she was tied to the altar during their marriage ceremony. It was also told that immediately after the child was born, she cursed its father before jumping to her death from the battlements of Myrddin. She told the women present at the birth that the babe was to be called Rhys. The naming of the child was such a contradiction to her actions as Rhys meant passion in her native tongue.

After that it was said that Roger went insane with grief due to Branwynn’s parting curse. No matter what the cause, he joined her in death soon after and in much the same manner as the lady. The boy was sent to his mother’s father by his grandmother, the only surviving de Remy. The Welsh Lord was too overcome with grief at his daughter’s death and sent the child back so he would not be reminded of her.
The young Rhys de Remy was the heir to a large estate and would be Lord once he was knighted. What ever was he doing with Lord Allan? He should be in custody of the King until he came of age. Of course the recent uncertainty of who actually was the King could have played a part. It would not have done the boy any good to send him to the wrong court. Edward was one of the few Lords who supported the rightful heir as he owed much to Henry’s mother Matilda.

The rumors of the curse could have followed the boy in any case. Edward looked at him speculatively. If he remembered correctly, the grandmother was very devout. She had wanted to go to a nunnery but as she was the only child of some Lord whose name he could not remember, she was betrothed at an early age to Rhys’s grandfather. Lord Allan was a cousin or some such relation. It was all so complicated and he spent as little time at court as he could get away with yet this tale had managed to spread the width and breadth of the country.

“Where is your grandmother?” Edward asked.

“She went to the nuns sir,” Rhys responded. “As soon as she was rid of me.”

That explained it, Edward surmised. She gave custody to the only living male. It was a good choice. Allan was not greedy and he only had daughters. Mayhap he even had betrothed one to the boy. Still, he should take better care of the child.
Unless…Edward rubbed his chin. The boy had character. He was not one to complain of his lot. He must have learned that early from his grandmother.

“What happened to your cloak? Certainly you had one when you came to be with Lord Allan.”

“Does my Lord have need of it?” Rhys asked.

Edward shook his head. “Nay son. I am well cared for as you can see.” He smiled at the boy. The child had spirit as evidenced earlier when he struggled with his load. “Does Lord Allan beat you?” he asked.

“Only if I deserve it,” he replied.

“Have you deserved it much?”

The boy’s eyes were upon him, clear and steady. “Deserved sir?” he replied. “No.”
Edward had to laugh at that. It spoke volumes about the boy and his situation. Edward had heard many tales of Renauld’s tendencies.

This meal would taste much better if I had someone to share it with,” Edward said, phrasing his words carefully. Even though the years were long gone, he recalled his own years of service and bouts of pride that carried him through. If he asked the boy if he was hungry he would say no because it would reflect poorly upon his Lord to say otherwise. “Please join me.”

“Yes sir.”

Rhys ate with great care for his food and his manners. The boy seemed intelligent yet acted in a reserved manner which was a rare combination and surprising in one so young. If his memory served him correctly the boy could be no more than ten years of age. Now that the boy sat up and the light from the candles shone upon him, Edward saw the resemblance to the mother. He had the same pale skin, the same dark hair and the same fathomless dark eyes. Edward recalled well thinking there were mysteries hiding behind the ladies dark eyes. Mysteries that even he, one who was well seasoned and well married, had been tempted to solve. Mayhap the mother was the one who was cursed.

The boy stopped eating and studied him. “I have yet to thank you for saving my life,” he said solemnly. Such a big statement for one so young. Edward thought it possible that the boy more than likely was never allowed to be simply a child with his grandmother. Instead he was taught piety and responsibility and not allowed the luxury of playing with pretend swords and lurking about the stables as he had been inclined to do as a lad.

“Oh I assure you, you did,” Edward replied. “It was the first and only thing you said when we came out of that mess.”

The boy flushed and Edward regretted reminding him of his faint. But then again, pride would only get you so far when you were in need. Mayhap he should have a word with Allan and remind him that not all boys were created equal. Some learned evil and cruelty at an early age and were not beyond the use of such tactics on those around them. There was no doubt in his mind that Rhys’s lack of food and adequate clothing was because of Renauld’s mistreatment, not Allan’s.

It would also not do any good to further incite Renauld to do mischief to Rhys. Still, Allan must be told of Renauld’s crime. Edward had personally seen the boy’s cruelty years before and had often heard his vassals speak of the things they’d seen. Fortunately, or mayhap unfortunately, none had happened on Edward’s lands that he could prove. Therefore the matter was not one that he could control. Apparently absence from his father had not softened the boy’s heart at all, not that Edward expected it too. Ragnor Vannoy had no thought to anyone but himself and his personal advancement of riches and title and was not one to forgive any slight whether real or imagined. Edward knew that well enough from personal experience. He did not expect the son to be any different.

‘You must have a care to yourself,” Edward instructed the boy. “Even when dealing with those who act without honor.”

The boy looked questioningly at him with his dark eyes. “I would not think to dishonor my name or my Lord should such an occasion arise.” He said it quickly, as if it were something he’d memorized. It was a statement of the grandmother’s teachings.

Edward shook his head. If he were a younger man he’d think of taking the boy on himself. It was rare one came across one with such quick understanding. At his advanced age, Peter would be his last squire. “Nor would I expect you too,” he continued. “What I am saying that there is no dishonor in fighting for your rights. The right to food and shelter as promised to your grandmother by Lord Allan.”

The boy nodded.

“And the right to learn all there is to know about being a knight so that you may protect your own lands if they are ever under attack.”

“Lord Allan instructs me when he has time,” Rhys assured him.How much time Lord Allan had of late was not discussed. Edward knew the man well enough to know that once this war was over and they returned home that Allan would see to his duties. Allan took great pride in his fighting skills and would take it personally if one of his squires did not live up to his reputation.

Peter entered the tent and with a quick bow to Edward informed him. “The king awaits you at your leisure, Milord.”

“Tis good to know Peter,” Edward responded. “Sit and eat.”

“Thank you sir.” Peter wasted no time in reaching for a hefty portion of venison and placing it between two thick slices of crusty bread.

“Sir?” Rhys asked. His voice still held the innocence of childhood in its timbre. Edward could not help but smile indulgently as the boy seemed hesitant to go on with his inquiry. His dark eyes darted towards Peter who had already finished a goblet of watered wine and was in the process of refilling his empty vessel.

“Sir,” the boy continued. “Since you saved my life I would like to serve you as your squire,” he said in a rush. “My grandmother taught me that the scriptures said that you must repay in kind for a deed well done.” His dark eyes were filled with hope as he looked up at Edward.

Peter looked at the boy. “Do you mean an eye for an eye?” he asked. “A life for a life?”

Rhys nodded solemnly. Edward cast a warning eye to Peter. It would not do to injure his pride by having Peter laugh at the boys offer. Peter quickly grabbed his goblet and sucked down his wine as if he were choking.

“So it does,” Edward agreed. “However I am not sure how we can achieve that end, and to be truthful, my days of training squires will come to an end when Peter is knighted in four short years.” He looked pointedly at Peter as if to remind him that his knighting was not necessarily guaranteed. “You have much to learn and it would serve you well to listen and learn from Lord Allan.”

“Yes sir.” The boy’s face remained impassive. But the eyes….the eyes showed his deep disappointment. He had hoped for a way out of his misery. It would serve him well in his later years if he could come through this with an understanding of how the world worked. Edward could only hope that the great depth of character the boy showed now would see him through. “If I can not serve you Milord, how am I to repay you for saving my life?”

Such responsibility for one so young. Was it a good thing or not? There did not seem to be any joy about the boy, if such a thing was even possible in his life. Edward could not brush aside his intent, no matter how impetuous or impractical it seemed.

“Do you know what day this is?” Edward asked.

“Yes sir,” Rhys replied. “Tis the day we took Anjou back for the king.”
Peter smiled into his goblet while Edward managed to keep his face solemn.

“On this day a year hence, and every year here after I want you to write a letter to me, informing me of your progress until such a time comes that you are able to repay your debt to me. I will be sure to let you know when and if I require such payment.”
The boy seemed disappointed but also relieved if that was possible. His dark eyes looked upon Edward without guile. “Thank you milord,” he said. “I will be sure to do so each and every year.”

“Good,” Edward said with a smile. “I look forward to your letters.” He rose then; the king had awaited his leisure long enough. “Peter will see you back to Lord Allan.”

“Yes sir,” Rhys replied.

Peter followed Edward out of the tent. He was lucky in the fact that Peter watched him well enough to realize his Lord wanted a private word with him.
“If the young Lord inside does not have a care to defend himself against the others he will not survive the year,” Edward explained. “See if you can offer him some encouragement in that direction,” he instructed.

“I know of whom you speak sir,” Peter said with a wry grin on his face. “I am certain I can arrange something that will insure that someone will think twice before harming young Master Rhys.”

Edward placed a hand on Peter’s shoulder. His squire showed a promise of great size when he achieved maturity. His shoulders were broad and his limbs long and straight, although his youth still showed in his face and in the softness around his girth. He would do well enough in a fight. “It will not do any good for Rhys to have others fight his battles for him,” Edward instructed. “But I also see no harm in reminding someone what its like to be on the receiving end.”
Peter’s grin widened and his eyes sparked at the prospect. “I will do my best to make sure Rhys is delivered safely sir,” he promised.
Edward nodded. “I just hope we can have the same guarantee of the boy being delivered safely to knighthood.” He ruffled Peter’s hair. “I am off to see to the king’s business,” he said. “Have a care that nothing else disturbs my day.”

“Yes sir.” Peter bowed his way back into the tent with his face still split in a grin.

“One more thing,” Edward said. “Find a cloak for the boy. Surely not all the bodies have been stripped. See if Cedric has one among our supplies. It would not due me any good if the boy froze to death before he can repay his debt to me.”
Peter’s laughter followed him as Edward started off towards the King’s tent. He had not gone far when he was stopped by a familiar face rushing toward him. One he had not seen since he’d left his lands over three years ago.

“Han,” he said to the young huntsman when he came before him and bowed low. “What brings you hence?”

Han swallowed hard. His youthful face was etched with weariness, either from the travel or the news he bore, Edward could not tell. Edward feared it was the latter.

“I bear a message Milord,” Han said. “One that I fear will trouble you greatly.”

Edward placed a comforting hand on his man’s shoulder even though fear curled around his heart and clenched it within its fist. “Fear not Han,” he said. “Whatever it is, I am grateful it is a kind and familiar face that delivers it.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Valentines Surprise

A couple of weeks ago my husband told me to be ready to go at 5:00 on Valentine's Day and that the rest was a surprise. Since I love surprises I said okay and didn't think anymore beyond that since we've been together several years and he knows what I like. Yesterday we're leave and I immediately know that we're on our way to our friends house. As we come in from one direction a big white stretch limo is arriving from the other. Squeee. I go into the house where the two other wives have been told to stay.

"Do you know where we're going?"
"Nop, but there's a big limo out there that's taking us."
"Nooo way." They look out the window and bust into laughter.

The limo has champagne and the works. Our husbands played mysterious the entire hour trip. We finally arrived at a winery where we were greeted with dinner, dancing and roses. We ate and laughed and danced and had a most wonderful time.

Well done guys!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Mammoth Book of Irish Romance

First of all....Yay Saints. While I adore Peyton Manning I was thrilled to watch the Saints get their first victory. Drew Brees is a hero in my book

And nope that isn't Drew Brees, nor is this story about him. Fellow Chatelaine Jennifer Ashley and I were invited to participate in the Mammoth Book of Irish Romance. I was thrilled to contribute a story to the mix because my ancestry is mostly Irish (with some Cherokee and English mixed in) I have a picture of my Dad's grandfather and mother that was taken after their family came here after the great Irish famine during the 1800's. Ireland is one of the places I would love to visit. I know that when I go I will feel the magic that is part of the land.

While researching the story I found that the tradition of Irish story telling goes back several hundred years. While most of the history of the world was lost during the dark ages, the Irish have several tales that tell the story of their history. I incorporated one of these legends into my story about a lost warrior and a mysterious woman he finds in the surf one night. Its called Quicksilver and I hope you enjoy it.

The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance is available at any of your favorite bookstores.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Just another post about resolutions

I'm a big fan of the Mutts comic strip. Right before new years Mooch said his resolution was to eat more pancakes with whipped cream. He made the resolution because he knew it was an easy one to keep. So here I am with a shiny new year and a boatload of good intentions and resolutions that I probably won't be able to keep. You know the usual, the diet, the organizing, the cleaning, the volunteering, all those things that you swear you are going to do once the new year starts, or on Monday, which ever one comes last. New Years Day was on a Friday. Who wants to start anything new on the weekend?

However, I am going to try. I'm going to continue to exersise, even though it seems to have no impact on my weight. I just feel better so I will keep it up. I am going to get all the boxes stuffed in my attic unpacked. I just have to take them one at a time. I now have shelves and places to put things so my excuses are gone.

Most important, I am going to make better use of my time. I'm going to quit wasting it. I'm going to make every minute count, even if its enjoying a peaceful Sunday afternoon snooze. Time is my most precious commidity right now,(especially if the world ends on 12/21/12.) And occasionally, I will eat pancakes with whipped cream.

So here's wishing everyone a Happy Whipped Cream covered 2010 and much success with your resolutions.