A Heroine By Any Other Name . . .

With Forsaken edited and available at online retailers, I thought it was time to answer a question that’s been asked, but one that I couldn’t answer. Until now. And the question is:

Why did I name the heroine in Forsaken MORYNHA?

I wasn’t sure how to answer it because I couldn’t locate the original information until recently and now that I’ve pieced the story together (again), I can share it with you.

Some years ago, we spent Christmas with my husband’s family at Indian Springs State Park in Georgia. Beautiful scenery. The cabins were wonderful. Crackling fire. Good food. Exceptional company. When we drove in, we noticed a stone wall enclosure with a gate, well shaded by a thick canopy of trees. Inside were headstones.

That got my attention—big time! The history buff and genealogist in me kicked into high gear and I vowed to see it before we left. When the chance came, I grabbed it! The gate was open and my husband and I went inside, not realizing that it was larger than the wall let on. It was an old cemetery and a lot of the stones were broken, some lying on the ground, others missing altogether. It was a place of whispering and quiet walking, a place to think about those who had lived in the area and now rested within the protective stone wall.

And then I saw it! Her name was Marhyna. Such an unusual name. She had been a daughter, a wife and a mother, remembered on a headstone placed by those who loved her. An idea exploded in my brain! Why not? I could do it. The name would be perfect in a story! What story? I didn’t know, but I didn’t care! We forgot the camera? What! No pencil or paper? I did my best to memorize the spelling and when we got back to the cabin, I wrote it down. Except that I wrote it wrong. I spelled it MORYNHA.

Within the last few weeks, I felt I needed to locate the original information and since I couldn’t remember where I put it, it seemed to take forever. After some intense searching, I finally found it online. Her name was Marhyna, NOT Morynha. It’s pronounced Marina and she was listed as Rena in one of the censuses. There was also a photo of the headstone.

Well, I get zero points for having a faulty memory, but I rather like the way I spelled it. Morynha – Mor-EYE-nuh. Hats off to the parents who gave their daughter a name spelled in an unusual way. I like to think, perhaps, that the real Marhyna would be proud to have been the inspiration for such a strong willed, yet loving heroine.

Forsaken is available at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other fine online book retailers.

Posted in Medieval, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Forsaken Now at Amazon!

Forsaken has been edited and is now available at Amazon

Forsaken

Forsaken

for the first time! A big thank you to my editor. If you love your Kindle and everything medieval, have I got a story for you! Knights, damsels, sword fighting, castles, royalty–you name it, Forsaken has it! It’s the perfect time of the year for a cup of your favorite hot drink, a cozy fire and a trip back to days gone by.

Posted in Book Updates, Medieval | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heart of a Rose Series now at Amazon!

It was a long time in coming, but I finally did it with the help of a wonderful editor! The three novels comprising the Heart of a Rose Series have made the leap and are now available for Kindle at Amazon! Discover the wonderful world of Victorian London and immerse yourself in the story of Miranda Kingswood and the Earl of Hawk.

Heart of A Rose Series

Heart of A Rose Series

Posted in Book Updates, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Rose Beneath the Snow Now Available at Amazon!

I’m pleased to announce that A Rose Beneath the Snow has been released for Kindle at Amazon! Follow the link to see the book at Amazon. A Rose in Summer and Hawk’s Autumn Rose are next up! A huge thank you to all my fans and readers who have been so supportive and encouraging while I get all this done.

Posted in Book Updates, Victorian | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Heart of a Rose Series Uploaded!

Well, It’s done! Can I do a happy dance? Stand on the roof and shout it to all my neighbors? The three books, A Rose Beneath the Snow, A Rose in Summer, and Hawk’s Autumn Rose have been uploaded to Smashwords. While they’re not available anywhere else yet (pending review for the premium catalog), I’m happy to say this long journey is about over. Amazon for Kindle users is next and after that I’ll offer a print edition for those who just have to have the real deal in their hands. I’m the same way. I love the feel of a printed book.

Posted in Book Updates, Victorian | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Heart of a Rose Series Goes From Two Books to Three!

Heart of A Rose Series

Heart of A Rose Series

Aren’t they gorgeous?! I didn’t think it could ever be possible, but once the editing process was done, I decided to split A Rose in Summer Book 2 and create a Book 3 – Hawk’s Autumn Rose. There was simply too much story to keep it in one volume. The editing process took four months, can you believe it? Jenny Quinlan at Historical Editorial is awesome to work and she really did keep me from having a nervous breakdown! Erin Dameron-Hill at EDH Graphics did the third cover just as she did the first two–she’s so talented and it feels like she can read my mind. Aren’t the seasonal colors beautiful? And I almost forgot to thank Jimmy Thomas at RomanceNovelCovers.com. Their photography is beautiful and top quality. There’s something there for every book genre.

It won’t be long now–the wait is almost over! I can see it–a light at the end of the tunnel! For those of you who have been so patient, the books will be uploaded first at Smashwords to be distributed to other online retailers.

More information on the Books page!

Posted in Book Updates, Victorian | Leave a comment

Unveiling The New Book Covers for the Heart of a Rose Series

With the professional editing of A Rose Beneath the Snow and A Rose in Summer nearing completion, it’s time to unveil the new covers! Ta -Dah! What do you think?

A Rose Beneath the Snow

A Rose Beneath the Snow

A Rose in Summer

A Rose in Summer

All the credit for these gorgeous covers goes to EDHGraphics. Erin Dameron-Hill took my scrap of thoughts and designed the covers using photos from the Romance Novel Covers (RNC) website. She captured perfectly the theme and mood for both novels. Aren’t they delicious? She also did the cover for Forsaken and will be designing the next two books in the series.

I wanted to release the novels for Kindle on Amazon.com and had received numerous requests for a paperback release. I decided that before I did that I needed to review the manuscripts and make sure there were no errors. Oh, was I in for a shock! Did I find mistakes in the manuscript that I had missed? Yes. And I kept finding them after six weeks. Frustrated, I finally cried uncle and contacted Jenny Quinlan at Historical Editorial. She’s wonderful to work with and kept me from having a nervous breakdown. She also made me think about scenes and why things unfolded the way they did. In several instances, I had to dig deep and do a complete rewrite which made for a better story, although the bones of each story remains the same. The changes are most obvious in the first half of A Rose Beneath the Snow and the second half of A Rose in Summer. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Was it worth the effort? Definitely!

As soon as I have a confirmed date for uploading the revised books, I’ll post it here. For now, I just wanted to unveil the new covers. Stay tuned for more updates!

Posted in Book Updates, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

To Edit or Not To Edit…

I decided to edit. Professionally, that is. After reading an article about balancing passive voice with active voice in fiction, I got curious. I opened A Rose Beneath the Snow and got the shock of my life! A glaring error! I kept reading on and found more and more errors. Even after 3 beta readers and my own line by line proofing, I still found mistakes. After six weeks of trying to find them all–and fix them, I was sick. The more I looked, the more I found. I cried uncle and came to the realization that I’m a writer, not an editor.

Enter Historical Editorial. Jennifer Quinlan came to my rescue and kept me from having a nervous breakdown. She loves historicals and it showed in the way she handled my story. She was a consummate professional, keeping her edits to a minimum and making suggestions that forced me to look at my story in a different way. Her fresh take was wonderful! Though I thought I had researched everything, she found two things that were historically inaccurate and I was able to make necessary changes.

By the end of the process, I believe I have a much better story. I made a wise decision in having a professional edit done on my book. I know, I know. It’s all over the internet:  write the best story you can; have it professionally edited and have a professionally designed cover made. I thought I could do the editing myself, but I can’t. I heartily recommend that writers do all three.

I’ve asked Historical Editorial to edit A Rose in Summer, which she will do in July–Jennifer Quinlan is one, very busy lady! Will I have her edit Forsaken? You betcha! And every book after that so long as she’s willing to have me as a client.

So, what’s next? Placing my books on Amazon will be the first order of business–both in print and as ebooks. The Heart of a Rose Series will have brand new covers–more about that in another update! I’m working on a contemporary called Pictures for Maddie, a story that takes place right here in my home state of Alabama. I’m also in the planning stages of the De Montbrai Saga Book 2; Aerck and Anne’s story.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Book Updates, On Writing | 4 Comments

Taglines…Really?

Those pesky one-liners that are clever subtitles on book covers have become the bane of my existence!  Take my entire book and write just one sentence about it—are you kidding me?!  I can’t even write a book with fewer than 100,000 words—well, at least, not yet—and I’m supposed to distill the story down into a few words.  I don’t think I have what it takes.

When I send email updates to family and friends, they’re the longest emails in their inboxes and I almost hear a collective groan when they see who it’s from.  My daughter suggested I write some short stories (less than 7000 words) and I cringed inside.  I can’t even begin to think that short—my brain wants to keep going—expand!  Expand!  Never delete!  Keep going forward!  More!  More!  More!

Anyway, it was four o’clock in the morning and there I was with browser windows open to infinity looking for quotes, thoughts and musings that would complement my story.  I read articles about taglines and how important they can be.  I tried looking at book covers that had taglines—searching for inspiration.  I searched poignant moments in the story, waiting for the aha! moment.  Which never came.

Souvenir Thimble of Abbotsford

Souvenir Thimble of Abbotsford

I told my daughter that it felt like I was trying to take my story—now wadded into a biiiiig ball of paper—and set it on top of a thimble.  Try to picture me giving my all to shove that ball of paper into the thimble!  Of course, that doesn’t work, so I scale the massive wad and jump up and down on it!  And that works, right?  Um…nope.  Flattened thimble.

And I’m back to square one.

Never say die!  I want to be clever, too.  I decide I need a slogan.  Like in a commercial.  Short and sweet.  And to the point.  Believe it or not, I found a slogan generator online.  Cool!  I typed in a word, clicked the button and it said, “Winter – A Class of its Own.”  Okay, try again.  “Have a break, have a summer!”  Hmmm.  After a few rounds of that, I gave up.  They sounded more like a—well, a commercial, and I realized that wasn’t the way to go.

So here I sit twenty-four hours later and I’m back where I started, trying to think of a tagline for the book.  I’m tired and my brain is fried.  As I close my laptop and shut off the light, I realize I’m faced with a desperate choice.  I’ll either have to get better at writing taglines or forget it altogether.  I think I’ll just run to the store later to buy another thimble…

Posted in On Writing | 2 Comments

When Pepper Was Gold

While I was writing Forsaken, I did a lot of research.  A lot.  How the medieval world obtained pepper, salt and other spices was part of that research.  It was fascinating how something we don’t give much thought to was as costly as gold.

Dried_Peppercorns

I’ll admit it.  We love pepper…a lot of people do.  We actually wore out a Peugeot pepper mill in just two years.  Everyone has access to pepper.  Everyone buys pepper, but we never stop to think how precious a commodity it was in times past.  We run to the store and buy a tin or a plastic shaker bottle—or peppercorns if you like grinding your own.  It’s inexpensive as spices go, but that hasn’t always been the case.  It was so valuable at one time, that the desire for pepper and other spices changed the course of world history.

Originally, pepper, like other spices, made its way west by way of trading.  The grower sold it to Trader A, who took it some distance where Trader B bought it and carried it further west.  Each time it was sold, the price went up.  By the time the pepper and spices reached the ends of Western Europe, it was so expensive that only Kings and wealthy nobles could afford it.  Spices became a status symbol—the Ferraris of their day.

Pharaoh Ramses II obviously loved pepper.  He must have, otherwise he wouldn’t have had peppercorns shoved up his nose after he died.  Not a very appetizing thought (as you stand at the stove with a pepper mill in your hand), but it did show that the Egyptians revered the little black peppercorn we generally take for granted.

The Greeks and Romans used pepper, too, and there seem to be many Roman recipes that contain pepper.  I read somewhere that when Hannibal rode his elephants through the Alps into Italy, he demanded more than one ton of pepper as a ransom.  I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s a lot of pepper!  And remember, the Romans used salt as a form of currency—it was a good thing if a soldier was “worth his weight in salt.”

By the time of the Middle Ages, a trade route had been established from India to Italy, which took about a year to make round trip and for more than a thousand years, Italy had a stranglehold on the pepper trade.  The Portuguese decided they’d had enough of the exorbitant prices and Italy’s monopoly.  They found a way to India by sailing around the tip of Africa.  Monopolies, however, are tricky things to maintain and even harder to keep.  Smugglers found ways around the trade routes and through the blockades.  By the 17th century, Portugal had lost its monopoly to the Dutch and English.

Back to the Middle Ages.  The Crusaders brought back many items from the Near East never before seen in their home country; fruits like apricots and lemons, perfumes and soaps, rice and pistachios.  Pepper was a luxury item, as were many spices.  They were costly.  What delicious fun to one-up high ranking guests by having an especially rare spice used in the dishes prepared for the meal!  Herbs and spices also improved the flavor of salted meats kept for winter use.

It’s amazing to think about how something as simple and seemingly insignificant as a peppercorn could influence history.  And yet, it did.

Posted in Food In History, Medieval | 1 Comment