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!