WRITER GEOFF NELDER IS BACK WITH A NEW ONE–XAGHRA’S REVENGE–& IT’S DIFFERENT

 

Sci-fi thriller fantasy author Geoff Nelder is back on the blog with a new release from Solstice Publishing and it’s sooo different. XAGHRA’S REVENGE incorporates historical fiction, social commentary, adventure and revenge–all the things this blogger absolutely LOVES. Welcome back, Geoff!

I had a number of questions lined up for him, but in the author’s own words, he got a tad “carried away” and decided that one–and only one–question got to the heart of what he was trying to do this time out.

Here we go…

 

1.

XAGHRA’S REVENGE is an historical fiction piece focusing on something that, sadly, continues today–slavery. What is it in your past or psyche that facilitated the need to obtain social justice for the island’s inhabitants?

 

Geoff-IOM-12Never mind the past, I am a slave now! I don’t just mean marriage (Ed.- He dabbles in dry humor); I mean a slave to the economic system; a slave to society’s cultural mores and laws. I am a slave to my damn brain.

It’s a writer’s lot to own a rabid imagination and mine gets into the being of my characters so much so that I can’t escape. Of course, it’s not like the physical slavery of people being brought by force from one country to another to work.

I hadn’t come into contact with an actual slave or knew much about them before I went on a family holiday to Malta. There, I learnt with horror about the 1551 mass abduction by pirates of the entire island of Gozo. I couldn’t believe that cultured and intelligent people such as those pirate leaders could do that. We’re not talking about uncouth Hollywood pirates, but well-educated Muslims (Rais Dragut, who had himself been a galley slave to a Christian Templar Knight!) and Jews (Pasha) who have big, loving families at home. Yet, it was acceptable to them to abduct whole towns and islands, separate families, torture and kill for their meagre wealth, and then go home to their people. It’s another culture and history completely removed from what I was brought up with. Of course Dragut had religion on his side. If the abducted were righteous, their God will see them.

On Gozo, I discovered that not many people knew about the 1551 abduction. It gozocropsdidn’t happen to them or their ancestors because the emptied island was looted and reoccupied by people from Italy, Sicily, and Malta. The pirates were cunning enough to steal property deeds and sell them to the rich in Tripoli and Constantinople.

I found direct descendants of those Gozo abducted, but over in Tarhuna, Libya. They are still there! I could not find many people who felt strongly about that abduction so I had to do something on the victims’ behalf. My Xaghra’s Revenge is for those 5,000.

 

Excerpt from XAGHRA’S REVENGE

frontcoverXaghra is a real town on the small Mediterranean island of Gozo. I chose it to begin the story because I’ve been there many times. It’s the site of one of the world’s oldest buildings, The Ggantija Temple – older than the pyramids and Stonehenge! I’ve hugged those huge limestone blocks and the vibes touched me. I’ve stood in the spot where Stjepan hears the alarm bell, where he sees his friends chased by pirates, and outside his house. It’s personal.

This opening sets the story with a contrast and conflict: an idyllic rural and family scene versus a worrying incursion threatening to disrupt everything.

 

CHAPTER ONE from XAGHRA’S REVENGE

Published 15th July 2017 via Solstice Shadows, imprint of Solstice Publishing

 

The Mediterranean island of Gozo 1551, July 24th

 

Stjepan leaned on his hoe and listened. His beans needed rescuing from the bindweed, but they’d have to wait if that was the warning bell coming from the city.

Five… He stepped up onto a low limestone wall and scanned the horizon. A flock of starlings created an air sculpture – God’s chariots chasing each other. It always lifted his heart.

Six… The Citadel topped the hill to the west; the clock tower visible, but he couldn’t see if people were running up the lanes to the city walls.

Seven, eight… He strained to see, but hills prevented a clear view of the ocean even though Gozo was less than a day’s ride across.

Nine… Perhaps a pirate ship had been seen again. The damned Turkish corsairs raided more often these days. Pirate dogs. He spat at the soil. His short sword lay under his cot at home.

Ten… In spite of the heat, he shivered at the thought of his wife and four-month-old son thrown into the dank belly of a corsair galley.

Eleven, twelve… He held his breath as if that aided hearing. The starlings swirled around the citadel as if they knew something. His heart sank.

Thirteen, fourteen… curses.

He drove his hoe into the stony soil, wishing it was Dragut’s black heart. Stjepan picked his way through berry bushes and olive trees until he reached his village, Xaghra. Karlu, his neighbour, called as he walked in the opposite direction towards the capital, Rabat.

“Ho, Stjepan, you’ll get fined again.”

“I’m not going without Lidia and my son. Your wife?”

Karlu stopped, scratched his head and twitched his moustache. “In Rabat, staying at her mother’s. She’s been coughing up hairballs.”

“That’s cats. Ah, you never liked Senora Angelina. I’ll see you there.”

In spite of the humour, panic tightened his chest as he ran across the central square. Stjepan saw his marmalade cat, its tail upright. She possessed a sense for trouble. “Heket, you’re supposed to be Lidia’s guardian.”

He frowned pushing past neighbours then saw Lidia waving at him outside the church.

“Father’s tripped on the steps. He can’t walk to Rabat.”

“He’ll have to go on the priest’s cart.”

“Already gone.”

Stjepan gnawed on a knuckle while his brain raced. He couldn’t afford another florin fine, yet the alert was probably another false alarm.

“I’ll carry your father.” Blood seeped through Alfredo’s grey robe from his knee. His eyes apologised.

Stjepan crouched before the old man. “Come on, I’ll carry you on my back.”

They crossed the wide village square. Stjepan found the old man lighter than he expected. Nevertheless, he stopped.

“What about Calypso’s Cave?”

“No.” Lidia breathed heavily carrying infant Pietru. “It’d be too obvious a hiding place. Keep going.”

He did, with increased pace until he reached the top of the steep scarp slope. The lane wriggled as it fell to the valley floor before climbing the Citadel’s slopes an hour’s walk away. They could see the exodus along the most direct route from Xaghra to Rabat.

Lidia stopped. “No.”

“What?” He followed her free arm pointing to the north. A dozen men ran along the valley floor lane. Their scimitars flashed in the midday sun, and their white turbans gave them away as Turkish corsairs.

*  *  *

 

To read more of this chapter head over to Amazon Kindle

http://myBook.to/Xaghra

 

Free on Kindle Unlimited

 

Paperback

http://hyperurl.co/y953ga

 

There’s another excerpt from Chapter two where two modern young lovers have their inauspicious and suspicious first meeting.

 

Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/xaghrasrevenge

Website

http://geoffnelder.com

Twitter

@geoffnelder

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY/

 

 

About the author

Geoff at Marton July2015Geoff Nelder has one wife, two grown-up kids, and lives in rural England within easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains.

Publications: One humorous thriller Escaping Reality in 2005;
one award-winning science fiction, Exit, Pursued by a Bee in 2008;
another thriller, Hot Air, published in 2009 after receiving an award from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands; a science fiction trilogy, ARIA – starting with Left Luggage with an original premise, was published in 2012 by LL-Publications; and a fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge, published by Solstice Publishing in July 2017.

Having had around 50 short stories published, Geoff was chosen to be the short fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize, 2009.

Geoff was a co-editor of science fiction magazine, Escape Velocity, and is a freelance editor.

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STAND AND DELIVER! HISTORICAL ROMANCE AUTHOR CRYSSA BAZOS DOES IT WITH OUTSTANDING DEBUT

 

1.

You have a debut novel. How are things going?

 

I have learned that excitement fortunately doesn’t kill you, and it is possible to run on caffeine and adrenaline. I’ve had an amazing first week. I’ve managed to maintain my position on Amazon’s top 100 in my category, and even made a Hot New Release. I’ve also discovered new things about myself, specifically how competitive I am. Traitor’s Knot has been battling The Last Kingdom’s Utred son of Utred for position on the charts. “If it’s reputation you want…” Can you not hear him say that? At one point, he and the heroine on my cover were cozying up too close for my hero’s comfort, and he had a few choice warnings for the Dane. I was not best pleased with my grumbling hero when Utred pulled ahead. I’ve locked him in a water closet for now.

 

Ed. — That’s amazing! Congrats. 😀

 

2.

Tell us how you settled on 17th century England?

 

I’m not sure that I settled on the 17th century England as it settled on me. When I was mulling on what to write (the desire to write something came before what that something would be), I realized that all my favourite reads came from that era (i.e. The King’s General and The Three Musketeers). 17th century England is a time of social and political reform, civil war, advances in science and exploration! The Tudors have nothing on the  Stuarts (IMO) except a cross ginger-haired serial husband. The Stuart men were far better looking, with their dark, wavy hair, larger than life personalities, and their tragic ends. One day, HBO or Netflix will wake up to them.

 

3.

The monarch’s side is not usually favored in film and popular novels (unless it’s NETFLIX’S The Crown). Are you a monarchist generally, or specifically, as in the case of Charles?

 

That’s a good question. I wouldn’t consider myself a monarchist and yet I do find myself on the Royalist side. Here I am, waving an oak sprig. I can’t argue against what Parliament tried to accomplish in rising up against the crown. They had to deal with a stubborn king who believed in absolute monarchy which left no room for the will of Parliament. The moderates were trying to hammer home a constitutional monarchy, which happens to be  the system that we have today in Commonwealth countries. Furthermore, one of the movements that caught fire at this time were the Levellers, who lobbied for the freedom of men. If the war was only about fair representation and democracy, I’d be sporting a rosemary twig in my hat (nod to the Levellers). Unfortunately, as with all revolutionary movements, the fanatical extremists fill the void and redefine the conflict. The result was that the fanatical Independents (Puritans) in the New Model Army, with Oliver Cromwell at their head, purged the moderate elements and forced the King’s trial and execution. Cromwell sets himself up as a de facto king with a weak Parliament and no more rights for the common people.

 

4.

We’re hearing more and more about “blended genres.” Some might say that TRAITOR’S KNOT is a blend. Care to comment?

 

I do believe that Traitor’s Knot is a blending of the historical fiction genre with the romance genre in a way that the description ‘historical romance’ doesn’t entirely fit. The heart of the historical fiction genre is incorporating historical details to build a world that a reader can become immersed in. The history forms the spine of the story and propels the characters (historical or fictional) through the events. Historical romance is similar to historical fiction in that the best of the genre is well-researched and conveys a sense of place and time. But here, the romance drives the story, not the history. As a result, most historical romances are played out in the charm of a drawing room or a ballroom.

 

Traitor’s Knot puts the historical events front and centre with a central love story. Instead of allowing them to remain in the safety of a drawing room, I’ve thrown my lovers into the middle of a civil war. Their reputations are less at stake than their lives. They don’t spend the book wondering if they should or shouldn’t; James and Elizabeth instead fear that they will never see each other again. I would consider Traitor’s Knot a darker historical romance.

 

5.

Strong female characters are ‘most wanted’ these days. Gal Gadot’s Wonder WomanVikings’ Lagertha, and House of Cards’often villainous Claire Underhill. How would you classify your character Elizabeth Seton? Do you favor her over her beloved James Hart?

 

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I don’t have a favoured child, mostly. 🙂 I believe there is a strength to a woman that is not defined by her ability to run off and be badass. It comes through in the choices that she has to make and the steel in her spine when faced by those who want to take her down. In historical fiction you need to capture the sensibility of the age so it wouldn’t be credible to have sent my 17th century heroine off on a rampage. But she found other ways to show her strength, through her resistance against a hypocritical regime, protecting the weak, and defending those she loved. Not as badass as James racing along the highway, but both characters bring different strengths to the fight as well as compliment the other.

 

6.

Interesting. But how would they do in a modern context? How would they cope in our time?

 

James would be a football captain (British for soccer), and he’d give David Beckham a run for his money. James is a natural leader and inspires his men to pull together and never give up, no matter how deeply behind they are. Besides, he’d look great with his stubbly beard and shoulder length hair while rocking a red and white jersey. But he’d be pretty oblivious over his effect on his groupies.

 

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Without question, Elizabeth would be doctor. Probably an emergency physician. You can’t take the herbalist out of the girl no matter how many centuries pass. She always considered healing people to be her greatest calling, and she fought so hard for the right to practice her art. I can see her in a white lab coat and blue scrubs. Her dark hair would be tied back in a pony tail, and she’d be practically attached to her clipboard. Come to think of it, she’d probably be the attending physician when James is brought in over a pulled tendon.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

 

I’m working on the second book of the series, the Severed Knot. It touches on the fate of the Battle of Worcester prisoners, many who were shipped to the colonies as indentured servants. This story will focus on one of the characters from Traitor’s Knot who is captured and shipped down to Barbados. I’m not telling who though. I’m very excited about this as this is a part of history that hasn’t received very much attention.

 

8.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

If you enjoy being immersed in the past and are looking for a love story combined with action/adventure, then you’ll Traitor’s Knot should be your next read. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon. And don’t forget to leave a review!

Ed. — Thanks, Cryssa. Let’s take a closer look at TRAITOR’S KNOT.

 

 

TRAITOR’S KNOT

Traitors Knot CoverEngland 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

 

 

Praise for Traitor’s Knot

 

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story. Five stars.”

– Elizabeth St. John, bestselling author of The Lady of the Tower

 

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.”

– Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife

“Cryssa Bazos is equally at home writing battle scenes as writing romance, and the pace keeps the reader turning the pages.”

– Deborah Swift, bestselling author of The Gilded Lily.

 

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Excerpt

From nowhere, a racing black horse flashed past her window, the rider passing close to the carriage. Startled, Elizabeth craned her head, wondering at his reckless pace. Without warning, the coach veered off the road and pulled up, throwing her onto the floor. The others shrieked and braced themselves. They heard panicked shouts from the driver and the deep, jarring voice from another.

“Stand and deliver!”

Elizabeth heard the measured clopping of a single horse drawing close and the nervous shifting of their team. She crept to regain her seat. Mistress Pritchett shook with terror, and Elizabeth reached out her hand to reassure her.

“One inch more and your brains will lie in a pool at your feet.” They heard the click of a cocked pistol.

Elizabeth froze, fearful that he spoke to her. But with his next words, she knew that he still dealt with their driver.

“Toss your musket over the side.”

“You’ll have no trouble.” The driver’s voice cracked, and the carriage swayed and creaked as he scrambled down from the top seat.

“Everyone out!”

Elizabeth followed the Pritchetts, nearly stumbling on her skirts. Her foot found the first step and froze. A pair of pistols trained upon her, unwavering and baleful. Slate-grey eyes burned with equal intensity above a black scarf. Although every instinct screamed retreat, Elizabeth descended the coach.

The highwayman rode a large black horse with a white blaze on its forehead. He commanded the powerful animal by his slightest touch, moving like one, rider and horse, fluid and instinctive. The highwayman wore all black from his heavy cloak to his mud-splattered boots.

“Richard Crawford-Bowes.” The highwayman’s voice cut through the stunned silence. “Step forward. I would fain make your acquaintance.”

Sir Richard did not twitch.

Provoked by the absence of a response, he pointed his pistol at Sir Richard’s stubborn head. “Mark this well—I never repeat myself.”

“I am he,” he said and stepped forward.

The highwayman circled Sir Richard with the imposing horse. “This is a unique pleasure, my lord. Are you beating the countryside looking for desperate souls to fill your court, or have you reached your quota?”

“Now listen here,” Sir Richard sputtered. “If you persist in this venture, I vow to bring you before the assizes and see you hang!”

The highwayman shrugged. “You deserve nothing more than to share the same fate as the honest men you rob in the name of your Commonwealth. Strange idea that— common wealth. As though the wealth stolen from the King would ever be given to the common man. Deliver your coin or die.”

Sir Richard’s brow darkened. From his pocket, he withdrew a handful of shillings.

A shot fired. Elizabeth jumped and smothered a scream, pressing her hand to her mouth. Shouts and shrieks erupted from the people around her. The highwayman lowered his smoking pistol. Sir Richard remained standing, a foot back from where he had been and pale as chalk.

“My patience is nearing an end,” the brigand said, levelling his other pistol. He tucked the spent one in his belt and replaced it with a primed carbine. “A few pieces of silver. I’m sure you have more than thirty.”

Colour returned to Sir Richard, and his thin mouth pressed into a resentful line. “You will regret this.” He drew a larger pouch from his cloak and took a step forward, but the rogue’s next words stopped him.

“Take one more step and it will be your last. I care little for the honour of judges and trust their intent even less. Hand the purse to someone else.” His flinty gaze passed over the huddled couple and singled out Elizabeth. “Come forward, mistress. You’re neither fainting nor quivering.”

Startled, she considered pleading to be left alone but smothered the impulse. She would not show fear to this villain. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth walked towards Sir Richard. A sheen of sweat beaded his forehead, and his Adam’s apple bobbed in this throat. She held out her hand and tried to keep it from trembling. Her nape prickled as if the pistol pressed against her skin. Sir Richard clutched the purse, glaring at her as though she was the villain.

“Your purse, my lord,” she whispered. “Please.”

Sir Richard hesitated for another moment before shoving it into her hands.

Greedy wretch. Elizabeth’s annoyance with Sir Richard gave her the courage to walk up to the brigand. With every step, her determination grew. She would be quite happy to hand over Sir Richard’s money.

The rogue motioned her to give him the pouch, and when she dropped it into his outstretched hand, she met his direct gaze. Elizabeth expected to see the cold eyes of a ruthless madman, but to her surprise, she did not. There was a hardness in those grey depths, but also a keen, calculating intelligence that heightened her curiosity. He stared back at her boldly, and she could not look away.

“My thanks.” His tone was an unmistakable dismissal.

Elizabeth stood puzzled. Old Nick’s small purse rested under her cloak, the sum of everything she owned. She would have been sick over parting with it but wondered why the highwayman had made no demands on her or the others.

“Was there anything more, mistress?”

She was about to shake her head and back away, but the muffled weeping behind her ended thoughts of retreat. Having reached the end of her endurance, Mistress Pritchett began to cry, soft at first and then with more violence. She would have collapsed to the ground had her husband not supported her. Elizabeth grew outraged for the hysterical woman. The audacity of the scoundrel, with all that he dared, awakened her. “Pray, what is your name, sir, so that we may know the coward who threatens us behind a scarf?”

The highwayman’s eyes narrowed. The silence unnerved Elizabeth. Beneath him, the great black shifted. “Who are you?”

“Elizabeth Seton, late of Weymouth.”

“So, Mistress Seton from Weymouth dares where others fear to tread.”

“Your words suggest you were once a King’s man,” she said, ignoring her better judgment.

“Aye, proudly so.”

“Your manner disclaims it. The Royalist soldiers I knew did not hide behind scarfs.” His expression darkened. “Times have changed,” he said in a rough voice. Instead of firing his pistol, he urged his horse closer. Its shadow cast over her. “Your people fought against these rebels?”

Elizabeth’s stomach gave a sick lurch as she realised her blunder. She prayed that Sir Richard didn’t mark the significance of her words. Being caught between a highwayman and a Roundhead justice, she should have had the wits to mind her tongue. Elizabeth’s eyes darted to Sir Richard—his entire attention seemed to be focused on the purse in the brigand’s hand.

The highwayman waited for her response, and when none came, it seemed to Elizabeth that he smiled behind his scarf. He leant forward as though they were the only two on the road. “’Tis a shame that we had not more with your bravery. We may have yet won the war.”

With a curt nod, he spurred his horse and disappeared down the road. Elizabeth released her breath in a rush, and her limbs dissolved into unset jelly.

 

 

About the Author

 

fullsizeoutput_d9Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction writer and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is published by Endeavour Press and placed 3rd in 2016 Romance for the Ages (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance). For more stories, visit her blog cryssabazos.com.

 

 

 

 

Links

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbazos/

Twitter: @CryssaBazos

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cryssabazos/

Traitor’s Knot is available through Amazon.  http://mybook.to/TraitorsKnot

 

 

OUTSIDE THE LINES: MARIE LAVENDER

 

Marie LavenderPlease welcome back to the blog, crowd-pleaser Marie Lavender. With a shiny new release out, Marie takes a pause to answer some questions about multi-genre writing and staying outside the box. Oh! And she has a WIP on the go too. Hey, Marie.

 

1.

With so many sub-genres to choose from, romance fans are truly fortunate. How do you define your work? Are you a traditional romance writer?

 

UYL promo - AI actually prefer to define myself as a multi-genre author because I’m truly all over the place when it comes to the type of books I write. After releasing a children’s fantasy in 2015, I took a hard look at my works-in-progress, and then realized I needed to make a change instead of just calling myself a romance author. Some of the stories I have planned are dystopian or have time travel themes. I’ve even tried my hand at horror. Compared to some of the romance stories I’ve written, it was just easier to term my work as multi-genre.

As for what types of romance I write, I never like to box myself in. If I can cross different genres, it’s all for the better. Case in point, book two of the Blood at First Sight Series, Blood Instincts, which I’m currently editing, is more detailed than the first book in the trilogy. It’s a paranormal romance/urban fantasy with a futuristic angle. Also, the book I just sent off to beta readers, titled Directions of the Heart, is a modern romantic drama collection. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll always have a soft spot for romance. But I see no reason not to break the mold with genres now and then. Even Upon Your Love is a family saga as well as a historical romance.

Ed. – I love mixing it up too. There are more surprises for the reader and the writer, I think.

 

2.

The challenges the protagonists face in UPON YOUR LOVE are not time sensitive: work vs. family; personal goals vs. self-sacrifice. When thinking about the near past, how do these challenges differ in a contemporary setting?

 

I think they are universal themes. Even today, parents struggle to raise their children UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian1while balancing careers. And who hasn’t accepted a not so great job just to make ends meet? Obviously, some of the challenges Adrienne faces as a woman in Victorian New Orleans aren’t quite as relevant, but I think readers will quickly see she is a formidable character, and will appreciate that she knows what she wants. Shouldn’t we all be so self-aware? Besides, she quickly became a female quite out of her time as I grew to understand her during the writing process. I believe the audience can easily picture the heroine in the present day, making her own mark on the world.

 

3.

What would Scarlett O’Hara think?

 

Are you kidding? Scarlett would be appalled at Adrienne’s behavior, like most of her contemporaries. Perhaps Ms. O’Hara could even take a page from Adrienne’s book. She’s rather admirable.

Ed. – Well, fiddle-dee-dee. lol.

 

4.

What are the greatest villains in romance: persons, places or things? How do you co-opt these in your own work?

 

UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian6I always gauge these things based on the character’s strengths and fears, things deep in his or her background which can influence what happens. The plot forms from there. For one, I believe society usually interferes with the HEA (or, Happily Ever After) in romance. That especially occurs with historical romance. Modern settings are a different animal entirely. Secondly, events or yes, villains often prevent the characters from finding their happiness. To me, every story is different. Every character is different too, so it all depends upon the subtle nuances you discover as the tale progresses.

 

5.

Strong female leads always rule. Which of your three characters in UPON YOUR LOVE are the strongest? Weakest? Is this deliberate, or did they emerge that way as you wrote?

 

Am I biased if I say I believe they’re all strong, at least in their own ways? Of course,UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian8 conflict Adrienne is the one rated most likely to be stubborn and act as unladylike as possible, to forge her own path, in a sense. But I do not think any of them are weak. If a reader reads the series from the beginning to the end of the trilogy, he or she will notice how these characters grow as capable women in a time when females don’t have much power at all. I even admire the ones that aren’t mentioned in the blurb; Claudette Giroux has a quiet kind of strength, which, of course, appeals to Eric Caron.

Ed. – Not biased at all, more like a true believer, which is essential to reader belief, yes?

 

6.

Romance is alive and well, yet so many stories end tragically. Categorically, this may not be romance in a true sense (no happily ever after). Where do you think the demand for tragedy comes from?

 

Ah, you thought you’d catch me in a spoiler, didn’t you? Did I say there was no HEA in this book? Well, I would never categorize it as a historical romance without one. As for tragedy, I think personal tragedies hit us all at some point in our lives. My stories tend to have some drama here and there. And my loyal fans know I enjoy torturing my characters for a while before they can have what they want.

 

7.

What can readers take away from UPON YOUR LOVE after the last page is turned?

 

I think a key lesson is that we’re all human, capable of flaws and strengths, and you’ll often see that nowhere else but close to home, within your own families. One takeaway here is how important family is, and how strong they can make us once they band together.

 

8.

Last words?

 

Check out the book! Upon Your Love will be a pleasant surprise, I promise. Emotion-filled, yes, but entirely worth it. You can find out more about me and my work via my website, as well as my monthly author newsletter. Follow me on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for other updates. Also, I host three blogs if you’re interested; Writing in the Modern Age, the MLB blog and the I Love Romance Blog.

As always, happy reading! Thanks for hanging out with me for a bit! 🙂

And thank you so much, A.B. You’re a great friend and such a talented author!

 

Why, thank you! It’s always a pleasure dreaming up new questions to tease out your authorly insights. Congrats, again, on the release!

UPON YOUR LOVE released February 26th, and is available through most booksellers online.

 

Read This

 

Upon your love-final coverThe Hill family saga concludes as loyalties are questioned, faiths will be tested and undying love may come at a terrible cost…

Fara Hill, mother and faithful wife, is torn between her family at home and her urge to be at sea. Soon, she learns some disturbing truths. Was the past a fairy tale instead of reality?

Chloe Hill, loving wife and young mother, questions her faith when her husband sets an ultimatum she cannot meet. Will she be able to keep her marriage from falling apart?

Adrienne Bellamont Hill, born of a valiant captain and a fiery redhead, is untamed to her core and will bow to no man. Then Christian du Plessis enters her life with an offer she can’t refuse. Discovering the man behind the polished gentleman, she is drawn to him in many ways. Holding out for love is a family tradition, but can she resist the temptation of passion?

Christian finds this young woman to be a fascinating challenge, and is torn between keeping his distance from her and succumbing to her charms. A fierce battle of wills ensues as he sees she is much more than he ever imagined.

But danger lurks, threatening to destroy everything…

Can these two strong-willed individuals unite in the cause before time runs out?

 

See the Trailer

Marie Youtube art.png

 

Excerpt

The neigh of a horse brought her out of her reverie and she looked over, but her mare stood quietly beside the stream. Adrienne’s instincts nagged at her and she stood up, her ears on alert. The clomp of hoof beats came to her on the swift afternoon breeze. Was the rider coming from the estate or perhaps it was simply a stranger? In any case, a sense of unease grew in the pit of her stomach and she reached down to unearth a small dagger Gabriel had gifted to her two summers ago. She kept it in a sheath around her thigh. Gabe had always said that if she didn’t have a sword on hand, it was best to have something. And she couldn’t agree more.

She clucked her tongue to alert Persephone and led her quickly by the reins under the cover of the trees. The rider was closer now and her mare shifted uneasily, blowing a breath out of her nose. She must have heard the approaching horse as well. “Shh. It’s all right,” Adrienne whispered, stroking her neck. She tied the reins to a tree and waited.

When the rider appeared from the forest, she couldn’t see him clearly. It was a man—that much she was certain—but the lapels of his dark coat and the thicket of limbs brushing her face kept her from placing his identity. He had dark hair and was tall, his body lean and muscled. She watched as he got down from a fine, black stallion and led it to the stream for a rest. The man took a drink from his cupped hands. He wiped the remnants of the water from his chin, and then seemed to search the area nearby. She shivered. Was it possible the man had been tracking her? If that was the case, her dagger would certainly come in handy. Adrienne crouched on alert, spying through her vantage point in the trees. From behind, she observed as the tension eased from his shoulders and he sighed.

A frisson of unease ran through her again. Taking it as a sign, she confirmed he was still faced away before she quietly eased out of her haven. Stepping up behind him, she lifted her dagger to his throat. A smile of grim determination danced over her lips as he stiffened.

“Who are you? Why are you here? Are you following me?”

“What if I was?”

Fine shivers moved along the surface of her skin, caused by the deep timbre of his voice.

“I would have to ask for your reasons, Monsieur.”

“I haven’t come to kidnap you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he sighed. “I didn’t expect you’d be prepared. I commend the effort, of course.”

She frowned. The compliment threw her for a moment, but she then brushed it off. Surely, he ridiculed her, and thought he could overtake her somehow. She shook her head. He would be gravely disappointed.

“You will state your reasons for your presence and your identity, sir.”

“And if I don’t?”

“You will regret it, of course.”

“Indeed? Do you intend to harm an unarmed man?”

She scoffed. “Unarmed? No, I doubt that. With the way you appeared to be tracking me, I am sure you’re quite armed.”

“Right again. What will you do about it?”

She shrugged. “This is Bellamont land. You’ve clearly trespassed. If I must, I will drag you straight back to the house. You know, I believe the foreman has a Winchester sporting rifle. He can be quite formidable when he puts his mind to the task.”

“I’m sure,” he murmured.

“What say you then?”

“I say, Mademoiselle, that you have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

Before she could open her mouth to take him to task, she felt a blow to her arm and the numbing pain caused her to drop the knife. Everything else happened in a blur. As he turned, he caught her leg, which caused her to collapse. But, before she landed, he grasped her up in his arms. He was too close, she thought. Panic threatened inside of her, but she fought it by degrees. She was a fighter, not some idiot who would succumb to a man’s power. Gabriel had taught her many tricks, as had her father. She forced herself to go limp so that he’d pull her closer. She let her eyes drift closed and pretended to have swooned.

Mon Dieu,” he whispered.

Then she unmanned him with a swift rise of her knee. He coughed out a grunted response, releasing her.

She retreated from him, intent on finding her dagger, but did not see it. The leaves in the grass crunched beneath her hands and knees as she struggled to her feet. She would have to rely on the resources of the forest to save her if he pursued further. Somehow, she doubted he’d be able to. She turned and her mouth dropped open as she looked at her attacker.

His dark hair had fallen over one eye and he was hardly doubled over in pain. No, he scowled at her now and he seemed quite well. She’d missed her target, she realized. His identity shocked her further. She felt quite stupid for not recognizing him, even from behind. But, why had Christian tried to attack her?

 “How…,” she whispered.

“You are not as fast as I, Mademoiselle.” Then he laughed, but there was no mirth in his expression. His eyes seemed darker suddenly. “You little brat,” he bit out. “You almost had me.”

She sucked in a breath and, when she saw him advance, she backed away. But, it UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian3.jpgeffectively put her back right up against a nearby tree. She cursed. Christian closed in, blocking her in with his arms as he braced his hands on the tree trunk. Her breaths came out in harsh pants and her stomach had fallen somewhere at her feet. Dear God, what would he do? She jerked her arms out to break his hold, but his muscles were like the ratlines between the shrouds of a mast in a ship’s rigging. Solid. Struggling with his obvious intimidation of her, she managed, “Why are you trying to kidnap me?”

Some of the arrogance left his face. “I’m not. I thought we already established that.”

“Then why… this?” she asked, weakly. And why couldn’t she breathe? His clean, male scent caused her to feel lightheaded. No, she thought. That just had to be terror.

“I wanted to get you alone so that we could continue our plans. I didn’t mean for you to see me as a threat. I certainly didn’t expect a dagger at my throat.” He reached out and cupped her face, stroking the line of her jaw gently with his thumb.

Adrienne gazed into his nearly black eyes. She thought she saw a hint of admiration and something more, perhaps desire, in his gaze.

“P… plans?” she stammered, annoyed with the hypnotic effect he had on her. And what was that strange, but wonderful scent coming off him? She detected cologne which contained a hint of fresh pine. But then, she’d smelled it before, both in her room and at the Broussard’s engagement party. Even though the fragrance was pleasant, she tried to ignore it.

“Our matchmaking endeavor, chére.”

“Oh. That.”

“Yes, that. Did you forget?”

She cleared her throat. “No, of course not.” Her resolve returned in full force then. She slapped his hand aside and sidestepped him. Stalking away to locate Persephone, she unearthed her mare from the brush in no time. When she returned, he still stood there, watching her. She shivered again.

Mon Dieu, she thought. Why was this happening to her? Why did the man tie her in knots?

 

About the Author

Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.

 

Links

http://marielavender.com/
http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
http://www.ambrosiainnovations.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a
Amazon author page: Author.to/MarieLavender
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender
http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos 

Amazon Universal link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B06XBPVS7D

myBook.to/UYL

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-love/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/upon-your-love-marie-lavender/1125931721

Books-A-Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Upon-Your-Love/Marie-Lavender/9781625265401?id=6842447479054

CreateSpace link:  https://www.createspace.com/6969887

 

THREE GENERATIONS IN SEARCH OF PEACE

 

Multi-disciplined resident of planet Earth author Sandra sandraPerez Gluschankoff can rightly claim expertise in the fields of psychoanalysis, anthropology, Judaic studies and Hebrew language. And, man, can she write! Today on Blog Funkhauser, the celebration of the publishing journey continues with an amazing shining light. Welcome Sandra!

 

 

1)   Tell us about your book?

 

Franzisca’s Box is a story that spans seven decades and delves into the irreversible damage war causes in the lives of three women, in this particular case. The novel is set against the backdrop of World War II in Romania, the immigration of Nazi criminals into South America, and present day California. It’s a heart-beating journey through mystery, murder, betrayal and passionate love.

 

2)   What made you decide to write it?

I don’t have specific reasons why I write a story. The ideas strike me like lightning, well, it’s not that dramatic… I get to walk away with my life, though. Anyway, back to the question, when a story strikes me, comes to me, I know I have to write it. It is then, during the writing process, when I start identifying stored memories, personal experiences, which make for key parts of the story. Very Freudian, if you ask me.

 

3)   How long did it take you to complete?

I started and abandoned the story a few times, life and other things got in the way, but all in all, less than a year.

 

4)   Do you have more planned?

Of course. I’m in the midst of another historical/women’s fiction novel. It’ll be my third.

 

5)   What’s your guilty pleasure?

Cheesy, romantic holiday movies.

 

6)   All writing and no play makes the writer suffer. What do you do in your spare time (other than work the day job)?

I exercise regularly, love hot yoga, spin, I run sometimes and when I get the chance I ride horses. I also get together with friends and we gossip till no end. Shopping is always on my to-do list, I may own more shoes than Imelda Marcos at this point. Also, I live a block from the beach, so I do take advantage of it and walk along it for miles.

 

7)   What’s the thing you love most about this thing we do called writing?

The stories, the characters, the deep emotion I feel when everything comes to life before my eyes as I pour it into words. But I guess, one of my favorite parts of being a writer is that no matter how uphill I feel the path sometimes is, I still sit down and write with a smile on my face.

 

Thanks, Sandra. Her new book, FRANZISCA’S BOX is available now. Read on 

 

Cover FranziscaMystery, betrayal, murder, and passionate love were things Sofia Lazar only experienced as a movie producer. All of that changed after her grandmother’s sudden death when she comes face to face with an unwanted revelation contained in a tattered box. The meager contents take her back to her childhood and the fantastic bedtime stories that Abuela, her grandmother, used to tell her of a heroic warrior girl named Franzisca. Now, two decades later, fragments of Franzisca’s stories creep back into Sofia’s life, tying Franzisca and her grandmother to an unknown past. With the memories of her childhood bedtime stories to guide her, Sofia sets out to piece together her grandmother’s mysterious history leading her to discover the truth behind her life.

Set against the backdrop of World War II Romania, the immigration of Nazi criminals into South America, the later years of the Military Regime in Argentina during the 1980s, and present-day California, Franzisca’s Box is a story of war that ultimately affects three generations of women who will never find peace until they call for a ceasefire in their own wars and surrender to forgiveness and love.

 

Excerpt 1

“Sofia, are you happy?” she asked.

No one had ever asked me that question before, especially not her. Before answering, I looked around the set, felt a pull in my lower back that had nagged me for the past two weeks and visualized my unshaven legs.

“Yes, I am.”

After a prolonged silence, she came back on the line sounding a bit hoarse as though she had been crying. “I love you, Sofia.”

Her urgent declaration had come as a shock. For Abuela the word love was not spoken freely. Her conception of love was a raw, unrestrained surrender of oneself to another, a responsibility, a lifetime commitment. I knew she loved me, but why had she the need to assert it now?

“Abuela, are you all right?” I asked. My chest had tightened with concern.

“Never better,” she said, regaining her steady commanding voice.

The conversation continued without any mention of the sudden pronouncement of her feelings and with my assurance that I would be back home in time for our rescheduled breakfast the following Sunday, even if I was dead on my feet.

Standing alone in her study, the irony of the metaphor undid me. One of us was indeed 115dead. My eyes slid over the darkened order of the room then went back to the box staring insolently back at me from the center of the desk. It wasn’t an ordinary box. Its battered state spoke of safely kept secrets, hardship, and survival. There was only one character in my life that had tempered all of those experiences and more. With that in mind, the events of the last twenty-four-hours were gradually falling into place. I thought back on the last conversation I had with Abuela. The way in which she had pronounced the words I Love You, brought back long buried childhood memories. Her words hinted to a time when we had shared a love for stories, fantasy, adventure. To Franzisca, the make-believe heroine she had introduced me to during my early childhood years. The fearless adventurer who could do it all, the fictional character I had secretly admired all of my life. The brave woman I’ve always aspired to be.

I remembered looking around the disheveled state of my rented apartment in Sienna, wondering if I had become who I had dreamt of being. Wondering if I was really happy. I shrugged. Was there a real answer to such an existentialist question? I saw my life as sliced in two. One part was infused with unlimited possibilities alongside Franzisca and her adventures. The other was limited by my fears, my skeptical thoughts on happy endings and my repudiation of everything Franzisca stood for.

Perhaps it had been the piled-up exhaustion throughout the production of The Italian Nightmare that had me fervently wishing that I could be embraced again by those stories that used to bring me so much warmth and comfort. Stories I ejected from my life because regardless of how much Abuela loved me, I had learned the hard way that fairytales only belonged in books. The most important question that nagged me with a big question mark was, why now? Why did I want to claim Franzisca back? The answer was simple. I missed Abuela terribly; moreover, I missed the connection we shared when we were both immersed in the land of Franzisca.

 

Excerpt 2

A wave of conflicting memories invaded Margaret as soon as her eyelashes rested atop her cheekbones. But this time, unlike the weeks preceding this trip, she did not pursue the safety of the light, and kept her eyes shut. It was time she revisited the event that had triggered her becoming Margaret.

Her silence had been sworn more than sixty years before when she was only a little girl. But her tender age had nothing to do with the years her soul had accumulated during her short life. Perhaps it had to do with the distress all survivors of war suffer. She had been amongst a group of thirty-five fortunate children who have fallen under the protection of an anonymous philanthropist.

It had happened during the second year of War World II when Margaret was a girl of six. Streets, sewage tunnels and abandoned buildings had become her temporary housing during the war-years. Margaret learned survival skills and to hide like a rodent during the daylight. She was not certain of the reasons that drove her to live in hiding, but the memory of her parents’ glazed eyes, as they lay dead after being shot in the head, caused her to avoid being seen by anybody in uniform.

Since the death of her parents, the butchery on the streets had diminished significantly. The soldiers sporting the interlaced crosses on their jackets became a common sight in her town, especially around the oil refineries. On many nights, when she was scared and hungry she had made her way back to where she thought her home was. But when she approached the main gate of the property, visions of guns and death pushed her back into the darkness, back to the safety and the anonymity of homelessness.

However terrifying the Nazi occupation had been in her town, Margaret had found a certain balance to her survival. The intense questioning the citizens of Ploesti had been subjected to during the first year of the war had ceased soon after her parents were murdered. She noticed that most men, the ones she knew as neighbors or local business owners, were no longer in the vicinity and she wondered if they, just like her parents, had breathed their last breath down the cold barrel of a pistol.

The lack of adults made for a large amount of unattended children, which at one time or another moved together as a swarm of bees only to shoot in different directions at the slightest sign of danger.

When caught, children were forced to work in the oil refineries managed by the Nazi soldiers. The activities inside the refineries were a mystery to her. Yet, the results of being swallowed by those grim buildings stayed branded on the faces of their young prisoners. Some of the kids, who only days before had been on the run with her, were now gradually turning grey behind the barbwires surrounding the forced labor camp. Margaret was too young to understand the concepts of freedom and oppression, but she was old enough to notice the path of death, a one-way road, the imprisoned kids were set upon.

The refineries had become a target for continuous bombings. It was said that the Germans milked the depths of Ploesti to help finance their dream of worldwide domination. With each blast, the interest the Nazis had in the town waned. The cash cow Ploesti represented during the first years of the war became a trap where high ranking Nazi officials lost their lives; burning in the fires of the hell they created. As the production of the rigs stopped, the number of people imprisoned diminished. Soot-faced zombies in striped pajamas became the latest sight along the deserted streets of Ploesti. The Nazis did not waste bullets on the escapees; the smoke and tar inhalation took care of their dirty work for them. After a few steps into a desperate freedom, the former prisoners met their untimely death by natural asphyxiation.

Although tender in age and ignorant to the mechanics of war, Margaret noticed that the appearance of the enemy had changed over the years. No longer were the neatly dressed soldiers wandering the streets of Ploesti. Instead a new breed of bearded savages roamed the shell-shocked industrial town. Much like the Germans, the newest invaders, the Bolsheviks, were bent on mayhem. Both spawns of similar evil, sought out murder as a way to leave their imprint and manifest their domination. However, there was a noticeable difference between the two. While the Nazis conducted their operations in a cold and organized manner, turning their massacres into business transactions, the Russians behaved like butchers. Their trail was bloody and dirty.

The day she was discovered, she was huddled, with two other children, in the bowels of an abandoned aqueduct in the outskirts of Ploesti, Romania.

There were three things about herself that Margaret did not remember. One was her name. She had no recollection of her given name. She remembered her mother’s panic-stricken face and her last attempt to call for her. However, every time Margaret tried to put a sound to the last word formed on her mother’s lips, all she heard was the deafening explosion of the gunshot that silenced her. The next thing she did not remember was how to talk. Since the day she became an orphan, nobody ever addressed her directly again. She understood the tongue of the local people, the foul sound of the iron invaders; however, she could not articulate a single word.

The third thing she did not know was what she looked like.

Not until the day before she was found did she discover her face for the first time. Right before the earth swallowed the ball of fire that illuminated the city, the children made their way to the Teleajen River to try their chances at catching anything edible from the riverbank. It was customary for fishermen to take pity on the little souls that roamed the docks as if sleepwalking, and before retiring for the evening they would toss them a few scraps of fish.

A storm had hit the vast river the previous week, and after succumbing to its natural course, the waters became once again a silver mirror. Margaret was among a group of children who inched hopefully toward the docks scouting for food. The sight of a lone fisherman cleaning his dinghy sent the group of starving children running his way. Margaret was ahead of the pack when she hit a rock with her naked toes. The impact sent her flying a hairsbreadth from plunging in the river. Suddenly her face was confronted by a pair of hollow dark circles that fixed her with shock. She blinked a few times, fighting tears ready to slide down her face. The pain shooting through her toes was unbearable, but the curiosity at the image that floated on the face of the river was enough to make her forget about it. The vision staring back at her from the water remained still while she did her best not to breathe. Then, she wrinkled her nose and arched her eyebrows. The silver image mimicked her actions without skipping a beat. Margaret suddenly forgot about the nagging hunger clawing at the inside of her stomach. Instead, she smiled at a reflection that accepted her with the same smile. Move by move, she discovered the contours of her face, the mechanics of her facial joints and the many funny things she could do with them. For a brief moment, her mind was free of war, and in the watery mirror, she relived her short life before everything was lost. Filled with memories of happier times, that evening, Margaret snuggled next to her wretched companions and fell into a deep slumber.

When they heard heavy footsteps approaching the large sewer pipe where they had decided to spend the night, two of the children took off running. She and a few others were too tired to flee and slept beyond the allowed depth for survival. There was a soft knock on the outer wall of the tunnel. Resigned, Margaret and the other children crawled out. She was worn out, and if surrendering meant going back to the warm embrace of her parents that had kept her safe during one the best dreams she had in years, so be it.

What she encountered outside out of the pipe was far from fear. A soft hand reached out and took hold of hers and from that day forward, Margaret was never alone again.

 

How to contact Sandra:

Email: Sandra@palabrasandstories.com

Social Media

Website: www.palabrasandstories.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sandra-Perez-Gluschankoff-1960339320857070/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter:  @SandraGluschank

 

Buy Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6451518.Sandra_Perez_Gluschankoff

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Franziscas-Box-Sandra-Perez-Gluschankoff-ebook/dp/B01BX2M7A4

Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Franziscas-Box-Sandra-Perez-Gluschankoff-ebook/dp/B01BX2M7A4

 

 

 

TREADING CAREFULLY WITH DAVID K. BRYANT

Solstice Author David K. Bryant

The Solstice family of authors are to be congratulated for their community support–they are always there for each another. I should know, becoming one of the group a little under two months ago. It’s been a whirl wind with a learning curve that at times threatens nosebleeds. I nonetheless carry on, because I’ve got good friends behind me with lots of advice and positive vibes. David K. Bryant is one such cheerleader, and the pressure to live up to his expectations is exhilirating, because HIS stuff is that good. Have a look:

TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA

FIRST BOOK BY DAVID K. BRYANT

www.davidkbryant.com

Buy link: http://amzn.to/1zs9ebu

SOLSTICE PUBLISHING

 

Step up the gangplank to an adventure tale set in the 18th Century, when the world made its money from conquest and slavery, pirates were the muggers of the sea lanes and life was fragile – with violence and disease never far away.

Tread Carefully on the Sea is the first novel by retired journalist David K. Bryant. Packed with historical atmosphere, it will take you on a voyage from Jamaica to the “New World” of the American colonies. The Tread Carefully on the Sea cover pictureaction comes as rapidly as the horrors in a ghost train, starting with the kidnapping of an aristocratic young woman on the night of her 21st birthday party by Captain Flint’s crew.

Amidst conspiracy, murder, cannonades, bare-knuckle boxing, disease and a devastating storm, there is the chance for all the main characters to reveal the better or worse sides of their natures. This is a swashbuckle, yes, but it’s also a story about the strengths and weaknesses of believable human beings.

“I’ve written an escapist yarn in the tradition of high adventure but in much more user-friendly language than the old classics,” says David K. Bryant.  “It’s exciting, involving, a bit tear-jerking and is pure adventure and romance.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE MAIN CHARACTERS

Captain Flint is a lonely man. His education, intelligence and wit leave him isolated amongst the pirate crew who sail with him. He feels more affinity with the hostages who are brought aboard his ship but he becomes trapped by the need to escape the consequences of the kidnap and the challenge to his leadership from one of his officers. Flint kills and schemes his way out of several dangers but there are two threats from which he cannot escape. The first is the failing health that he refuses to accept. The second is the scale of his own success as a criminal. He will never be left in peace to enjoy the proceeds of his piracy. In this story we learn what finally happens to him.

Captain Michael Townsend is the model of a disciplined and dutiful Navy officer. He is also a man haunted by something in his past; something that could ruin his future. The decisions forced upon Townsend by the kidnapping help him to resolve his inner conflicts but jeopardize the survival of those he wishes to protect. Townsend’s instincts are to put duty first but will duty deny him happiness?

Jessica Trelawny is the spirited niece of the Governor of Jamaica. She hates the conformity of 18th century society. Soon after she is snatched away from her home she puts her rebellious nature to work against the pirates. Captain Flint learns to admire her — and to regret that she ever came aboard his ship.

Jessica’s maid Libby becomes a prisoner simply because she is with her mistress at the time of the kidnap. She plays a major role in the fight-back against the pirates. Does she bring into use special talents inherited from her African origin — or is she simply a very clever woman?

Patrick O’Hara began life in the squalor of the Irish famine and by a fluke became an officer in the Royal Navy. He is thrust into a vicious bare-knuckle fight aboard the pirate ship. Whether or not O’Hara wins, the legacy of the fight is a power struggle threatening the survival of Captain Flint himself.

The Walrus is the huge black galleon stolen by Flint from a Spanish captain. It has a pivotal role in the narrative and a heart-rending demise when Captain Flint’s voyage of crime comes to an end.

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EXTRACTS

**

As the shirt was removed, her eyes came level with a huge tattoo of an eagle on his chest. Ridiculously, that gave her renewed terror, as though the tattoo was worse than the man. There was certainly menace from the eagle. It stared at her, its talons outstretched and its wings spread wide. It looked prepared to pounce right out of his chest and claw at her face.

**

The cry that would have brought forth a dozen soldiers was about to leave the governor’s tongue – but remained unleashed as the pirate warned: “I wouldn’t do that, Governor, for the sake of your niece’s health.”

**

“Did you get the name of the ship?” demanded the governor.

“It was the Walrus, Sir,” the messenger replied.

“Captain Flint,” said Trelawny, and for the moment that was all he did say.

**

One of the stories that had evoked within the Royal Navy a sneaking admiration for the pirate chieftain was that he had captured a big Spanish galleon and made it his own. Now Townsend could see in front of him the confirmation of that audacity. The big ship sat on the ocean like she owned it.

**

“Britain came to this part of the world to find riches. It was very successful in doing so but it had a major problem. It was shipping around so many slaves and so much merchandise that it didn’t have sufficient military resources to protect its new-found wealth. So what did it do about the policing of its trade routes and the protection of places like Jamaica? It found it convenient to encourage the people you would call pirates…You had better hope that the King never turns against the Royal Navy in the same way that he turned against the privateers.

**

Reeling and with blood dripping down his face, O’Hara got up on one knee, then the other. By the time he was on his feet, Hugh was charging forward like a stag in the rutting season. Another head butt was imminent.

**

Flint bent his knees and placed his hands on them so that his face came level with Townsend’s. “That’s it, then” barked the pirate captain. “You don’t agree to my proposal. I don’t agree to yours. Our fates are intertwined.”

**

She didn’t close her eyes and her brain pitifully tried to distract her from reality by registering that the gunman was left-handed. His finger was going back with the trigger. Spontaneously, she said a few words of her native Ashanti. The phrase had been taught to her by Queen Nanny: “Do not fear death any more than you fear life.” If Libby was going to die, she wanted those to be the last words she said.

Tread Carefully on the Sea by David K. Bryant

Solstice Publishing

www.davidkbryant.com

Buy link: http://amzn.to/1zs9ebu

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DAVID K. BRYANT – BIOGRAPHY

 

I started writing fiction after retiring from journalism and public relations. I suppose the books waited their turn during all the years I wrote articles, features, speeches and promotional material for other people. My career included running a district office for a daily newspaper, helping to introduce professional PR into the British police service and promoting a major parliamentary Bill for Margaret Thatcher’s government.

I live in Somerset, one of the nicest counties in England, and am blessed with a wonderful family. My wife Stephanie and I have been married for forty years. We are proud of our two children Matthew and Melanie, grandson Henry, son-in-law Jamie and daughter-in-law Fleur.

 

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Tread Carefully on the Sea – the background

I was seven years old or thereabouts and I walked round the garden reading Treasure Island. When I got to the bit about the musket and cutlass battle I was so engrossed I walked into a tree. I was proud of my bleeding nose – I imagined I got it in a fight with a pirate.

What intrigued me most about that classic book by Robert Louis Stevenson were all the references to Captain Flint, a pirate king who was brutal, intimidating and quite likely an alcoholic – yet obviously very clever.

Without Flint there would have been no Treasure Island for he was the man who had buried the Treasure on the Island. Yet in that book we hear about Flint only in reminiscences from some of the protagonists because Flint is dead by the time the story begins.

Stevenson’s narrative tells us Flint took six men ashore with him to stash the loot. But, having apparently murdered the others, only Flint came back to the ship, giving him the security of being the only man who knew where the cache was.

There had to be a story around that. For me, Flint deserved a biography of his own. What’s more, it should answer all those other questions posed by Treasure Island. If, as Stevenson tells us, Long John Silver had lost his leg in the same broadside as Old Pew lost his ‘deadlights’, what were the circumstances of that broadside? And how come that Billy Bones, the first mate, came into possession of Flint’s map where X marked the spot of the buried loot?

It’s taken me a long time but now I have supplied my own answers. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you identify with the experiences of the other characters I’ve created when you read Tread Carefully on the Sea.

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INTERVIEW WITH DEBORAH MELANIE

Thanks to my friend Deborah Melanie for interviewing me.

Deborah is at     http://londoncatreviewsanddesign.blogspot.co.uk/

Can you tell us how to came to be an author? Has it been an easy or difficult journey?

It’s a journey I didn’t know I was going to make. I spent my career in journalism and public relations, writing reams of stuff for other people. During that time I made one attempt at a book, a pirate story. Many years later I read it to my young son. Then in about 2010 when he was in his twenties he asked to read it again. I was ashamed to give him the sub-standard original so I set about re-writing it. It became Tread Carefully on the Sea, which has now been published by Solstice. It’s my first published book – at the age of 68.

What motivates you as an author?

This should be a simple question to answer but it’s got me stumped. Hoping not to sound trite, I think I want to produce something that people will enjoy. I want it to be good in terms of making sense, being exciting, having some originality and a believable set of characters. I think it’s important to create characters who readers can associate with, feel their emotions, understand their faults – and like.

How do you deal with rejection and setbacks as an author?

I think I can boast that I deal with them well. I approached 370 literary agents with Tread Carefully on the Sea. But I wasn’t going to give up until there was nobody left to try. Then I started sending to indie publishers who took direct submissions and Solstice took me on. God bless Mel Massey-Maroni (my editor-in-chief).

How do you deal with writer’s block?

While it’s very frustrating, I think you have to wait. All of a sudden when your mind is totally elsewhere, you’ll get an idea of how to continue your story. I think it’s worth always carrying a notepad around and writing down thoughts whenever they occur to you. And if you can’t write at that particular moment because you’re driving or something, then keep repeating the idea inside your head so you don’t forget it.

Do you have any motivational books or websites which you find useful from time to time?

I am so glad there is a thing called the internet because it answers so many questions. Motivational books – The Odyssey, one of the oldest bits of literature around. It’s about a guy who spends ten years encountering all the dangers of reality and fantasy yet he never gives up.

Who has been the biggest influence upon your writing?

My dear brother Ray. He helped me get into journalism and he was an author himself. His main work was published in the 1980s and is still available from Amazon. It’s called Warriors of the Dragon Gold and is based on the Bayeux Tapestry. Ray died far too early.

Tell us about a typical day for you. Do you have any special routines which you strictly keep to?

I’m retired so my time is my own and a lot of it is spend hitting the keys I’m hitting now. I make a conscious effort not to leave my wife an ‘author widow’. But she’s very understanding and helpful with the books.

How have family and friends reacted to you as an author? Are they supportive?

Yes, they are supportive. They make constructive suggestions and have stopped me falling into a few traps.

Do you have a muse? If so, please could you tell us a little about him/her?

No, I don’t think so.

Going forwards as an author, what do you realistically hope to accomplish?

Recognition for being good. I’m not being conceited and saying I am good, but I would love the world to judge me so – and enjoy my work.