Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Curse of the Lost Isle Book 8 - in progress

It's always a little sad to write the last book in a long series. I've been working on the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series for twenty years, off and on, and Book 8, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN, will be the last one, bringing Melusine's curse to its conclusion.
curseseries 
In the historical chronology, this book takes place before Beloved Crusader and Damsel of the Hawk (portraying the other two sisters and set during the Crusades), but it is the most well known legend of Melusine, the myth scholars have been studying for centuries... particularly in Europe.

melusine 2 This book is set in Lusignan, the town Melusine created according to legend. Lusignan is also the name of the family she started in Aquitaine. Melusine is first featured in Book 2, PAGAN QUEEN, as a child. She reappears in Book 3 SEDUCING SIGEFROI, Book 4 LADY OF LUXEMBOURG, and Book 5 CHATELAINE OF FOREZ.

Previously, from her Luxembourg family, after marrying Sigefroi, she gave birth to a line of kings and emperors who lived in Germany, Flanders and Austria. In Forez, however, her initial success was later crushed by religious cleansing.

guydelusignanIn Lusignan, she gives birth to a powerful family. Her descendants Guy of Lusignan and his brother became kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus during the Crusades. Another descendant of hers is the famous and infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen, and mother to powerful kings and princes. King Richard mentions more than once the stain upon his family, his evil ancestress through the centuries, the cursed one. That was Melusine.

melusine-basreliefBut beyond the myth and the legend, I wanted to find the heart of these characters. Remembering that history is always written by the victors, and Paganism was crushed by Christendom. So it made sense that the Pagans of the time would be reviled and presented in a negative light, even accused of horrible deeds.

In my research, I strive to peel the layers of superstition to find the truth of these fascinating characters, and bring them to life in a favorable light, with their hopes and struggles. I hope you will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -


Monday, August 22, 2016

99cts PAGAN QUEEN for a few days in kindle

Yay! PAGAN QUEEN is 99cts in kindle for a few days only, hurry.
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 2
5-star medieval fantasy romance series

"the author makes that long ago era of history feel alive and vibrant. She's able to weave in the mystical in a manner that appears natural, without overwhelming what else is going on... character flaws are eye-opening... watch for interesting twists and turns... unexpected happenings totally caught me off guard." Romance Junkies

Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Monday, July 25, 2016

DAMSEL OF THE HAWK 99cts in kindle

For the first time and only for a few days, hurry. 
99cts in kindle
DAMSEL OF THE HAWK,
5-star Curse of the Lost Isle series, standalone, medieval fantasy romance. Only for a few days...   
https://amzn.com/B01CH93SNM 

"...so vivid I could picture myself right there... tough, honorable alpha hero... fiercely protective and loyal mountain dog, Kopec... Meliora... hints of the strong, rebellious woman she actually is... not a simple HEA for them... but once they finally get it, it's wonderful!" Amazon  also in paperback


HAPPY READING

Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Building Castles in Medieval Times - by Vijaya Schartz

Click here to get it in kindle
As I am writing the last book ind the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN (Book 8) set in Aquitaine, I am thoroughly enjoying the research, as much as the story and the characters.

Start reading the series with the boxed set of the first four novels. Seven are already published, and the last one will be out for the holidays.

From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, build mighty castles, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake. 5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"


* * * * * 
In the Twelfth Century, castles sprouted all over Europe. In England the first castles were mainly built in a hurry, out of wood, by the Norman invader to secure conquered territory. They were motte and bailey castles, with a keep, earth works, wooden fences and sharp stakes. Later, the keep and walls were rebuilt in stone.






Meanwhile, on the continent, like in Aquitaine, castles were already made of stone. The Romans had built stone roads and forts centuries earlier, leaving solid foundations in prime locations. Just out of the dark ages after the barbarian invasions, the central power fractured into smaller estates, the local lords rebuilt and expanded these stone forts for protection. Not only they fortified their castles, but also their entire cities.




Medieval building technique. Notice the crane.


The new cities and castles were generally built on a promontory, a plateau or a hill, surrounded by water, at an estuary, a confluent, or on a cliff overlooking a river. A body of water protected the castle from attacks by land, but rivers could also be highways for enemies invading by boats. Occasional Viking and Norman raids were still common.



Fortified city and castle of Carcassonne - Southern Aquitaine

The lack of a strong central power also encouraged greedy land owners and bands of rogue knights to appropriate territory by force. Stone walls offered the best protection.





Building a castle was expensive and required a great amount of gold to pay the many skilled workers needed for the monumental task. A lord would hire a taskmaster, overseers, a master mason, architects, an army of masons and stone cutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, lead beaters, barrel makers, potters, candle makers, and other craftsmen. He also needed diggers and general workmen, as well as water carriers.





Castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - Original design


First, the trees around the site would be felled and peeled, then sliced lengthwise to provide lumber for the scaffolding, and the giant beams to support the wooden ceiling of the upper floors. Meanwhile, the stone had to be extracted from the surrounding rock, then cut and chiseled to size. Often the stone was extracted from the excavation for the moat. Secret passages and underground storage rooms and cellars would often be dug from the rock before erecting the walls, with arched ceilings and thick columns to support the edifice above.



Arrow slit in a castle wall


And do not think castles were uncomfortable. Although the external defense walls only had arrow slits, the buildings inside the enclosure had windows to bring in the light. They also had amenities, like giant fireplaces to provide heat during the winter, large kitchens with bread ovens, to cook for hundreds of soldiers, and skilled chefs to prepare meals and special feasts for the nobles. There was wine and cheese aplenty in the cellars.




medieval toilet - or garderobe


The castle even had toilets called garderobe, simple sitting holes at the outer side of the wall, allowing automatic disposal of human waste straight down into the moat or the river below, which conveniently eliminated odors.




Castle of Tiffauge - Aquitaine - France


Also important to the castle was a permanent source of fresh water, so if there was no natural spring on the premises, digging a well would constitute a first priority. In case of a siege, the castle must be self-sufficient.




Mock up - castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - France


A great castle would include several courtyards, including one for weapon practice. Also inside the walls would be stables for the horses, a barn for the hay, barracks for the guards and soldiers, sheds and work places for the artisans, blacksmiths, etc. The kitchens would have their own buildings and storage rooms.




Castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - France


Very few of these early stone castles have survived a thousand years of warfare, and those that did survive were updated and modified over the centuries, but we have lithographs and drawings, as well as mock ups to show us what the original construction looked like.


Vijaya Schartz
Swords, blasters, romance with a kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Monday, June 6, 2016

The story behind the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series

Vouvant walls - Postern gate
As I start writing the last book (#8) in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, I realize this project has been twenty years in the making. Twenty years? Where did the time go?

That summer of 1996, I was vacationing in my mother's village, in western France, a tiny place named Vouvant, voted one of the most beautiful villages in France. As I walked through the local museum, a silver and blue tapestry in a special exhibit piqued my curiosity. The scene of a noble wedding between Melusine the Fae and Sigefroi of Ardennes, first Count of Luxembourg. I did a double take. The date on the label: 963 AD.

You see, in Vouvant, Melusine the Fae is the local celebrity. Cursed since childhood to become a mermaid on certain days, she nevertheless married knight Raymond of Forez, with whom she started the famous and infamous family of Lusignan. Among her descendants are Eleanor of Aquitaine, Guy de Lusignan, Robert of Lusignan (Kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus) even King Richard the Lionheart. She built fortresses to protect the entire region and is said to have built the castle of Vouvant with the tower that bears her name in one night... to protect the village against invaders... but that was in the late eleventh or early twelfth century. So how could she be in Luxembourg in 963, even less marrying its founder, Count Sigefroi?

I could never resist a mystery, so I started digging. I went from local castles to museums, asking questions, visiting libraries, finding old accounts of ancient legends, translations and studies of medieval myths, gathering historical details. To my great surprise, Melusine the Fae appeared at different times in history in different places in Europe, with a similar curse and a different story. First in Luxembourg, then in Forez, and later in Lusignan near Vouvant.


I learned that her mother was Pressine the Fae, who married King Elinas of Alba (ancient Scotland) during the Viking invasions in the early 800s. Melusine also had two sisters, Palatina and Meliora. All of them cursed for abusing their powers in childhood. The only problem was, their story spanned too many centuries. From their birth in the 800s in Scotland during the first Viking invasions, all the way to the Crusades in the 1200s.


Melusine, Castle of Lusignan
The early accounts of the legends, written in the 1300s and the 1400s varied greatly. I found genealogies, scholarly studies of the myths, and a host of historical facts. The writer in me saw an opportunity. A series... a family of Fae... persecuted for their powers, roaming the medieval world in search of redemption from a curse... and they had to be immortal!

I wasn't published yet, but I had three manuscripts with an agent. When I returned home to Arizona, I told my agent about my idea and she gave me her blessing with great enthusiasm. So I started writing.

My agent shopped the idea for the series. No one wanted to hear about it. It was a mix of several genres, historical, fantasy, and romance. I didn't have a following to guarantee booming sales. No one wanted to take a chance on such a series... especially from an unknown author.


Melusine's tower in vouvant still stands today
In 2000, my first contemporary novel came out, then two science fiction novels. Many other sci-fi and romance novels followed with various publishers, but still no interest in my immortal ladies. My agent retired. I kept pitching the series to other agents and publishers. No dice. I put them on the back burner but kept writing and researching in my spare time. Over the next ten years, each trip back to Europe became an opportunity to research a different location where the legends occurred.

In 2010, I signed up with Books We Love Ltd, a Canadian publisher who was reissuing my back list of out of print books. They liked my writing and asked me if I had any original works for them to publish. I sent them the first book of my immortal ladies and they loved it. The rest is history. Seven books are now published in the Curse of the Lost Isle series. The latest, DAMSEL OF THE HAWK (the story of Meliora) came out last month, and I'm just starting the very last novel in the series, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN, which should come out in December or January.

It boggles the mind that this series has been my obsession for the past twenty years. I hope the readers enjoy the experience I created for them. I'm going to miss these wonderful characters when I write "the end" on this last novel.


DAMSEL OF THE HAWK
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 7
in kindle and paperback: https://amzn.com/B01CH93SNM

1204 AD - Meliora, the legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or  embrace it and trigger the sinister curse... and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake...


The complete Curse of the Lost Isle series includes:
Book 1 - PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE (early story of Pressine)
Book 2 - PAGAN QUEEN (later story of Pressine) still 99cts?
Book 3 - SEDUCING SIGEGROI (early story of Melusine in Luxembourg) still 99cts?
Book 4 - LADY OF LUXEMBOURG (later story of Melusine in Luxembourg)
Book 5 - CHATELAINE OF FOREZ (story of Melusine in Forez)
Book 6 - BELOVED CRUSADER (story of Palatina First Crusade)
Book 7 - DAMSEL OF THE HAWK (story of Meliora exiled in Turkey)
Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN (last story of Melusine late 2016 or early 2017)

There is also a boxed set of the first 4 novels in kindle for a friendly price. CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE boxed set

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz
http://www.vijayaschartz.com

Friday, June 3, 2016

99cts PAGAN QUEEN for a limited time

99cts in kindle for a few days only:
PAGAN QUEEN
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 2
https://amzn.com/B007Z8F7IA 
5-star medieval fantasy historical romance. 

810 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) -  Queen at last, Pressine brings victory to her beloved Elinas and prosperity to their growing kingdom. Still, she has to contend with the intrigues of Charlemagne's bishops, spurred by her Christian stepson. While Elinas, on the battlefield, remains unaware of his son’s machinations, Pressine fends off repeated assaults against her life. She also fears the curse that could bring her downfall. For the love of Elinas, she will tempt fate and become with child. But when her indomitable passion challenges the wrath of the Goddess Herself... can she win that battle?

"Schartz is an accomplished writer, whose pacing, conflicts, and goals are always complex and whose good characters are always likeable, and whose villains are evil incarnate. You have to like her villains as much as the good guys! Mattacks is a magnificent example of this!" Manic Readers

"...attention to the details of the period makes that long ago era of history feel alive and vibrant. She's able to weave in the mystical in a manner that appears natural, without overwhelming what else is going on. I enjoyed learning more about Pressine and Elinas, but Mattacks and his diabolical plans play an important role... his character flaws are eye-opening... watch for interesting twists and turns... unexpected happenings totally caught me off guard... I want to know more..." Romance Junkies

Other books in the series:

Book 1 - PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE
Book 2 - PAGAN QUEEN (99cts)
Book 3 - SEDUCING SIGEFROI (still 99cts)
Book 4 - LADY OF LUXEMBOURG
Book 5 - CHATELAINE OF FOREZ
Book 6 - BELOVED CRUSADER
Book 7 - DAMSEL OF THE HAWK
Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN (Dec.2016)

There is also a boxed set of the first 4 novels in the series:
CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE

Happy reading! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

99cts kindle countdown SEDUCING SIGEFROI

SEDUCING SIGEFROI
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 3
Medieval Fantasy Romance
by Vijaya Schartz

 Luxembourg - 963 AD - To offset the curse that makes her a serpent from the waist down one day each month, Melusine, exiled Princess of Strathclyde, must seduce and wed a mortal knight, the shrewd and ambitious Sigefroi of Ardennes.

Sigefroi, son of the Duke of Lorraine, suspects Melusine is not what she appears, but her beauty, her rich dowry, and her sharp political skills serve his ambitions. He never expected her to soften his stone-cold warrior heart.

So close to the Imperial court, dangers and intrigue threaten Melusine. War looms on the horizon, a Mermaid was sighted around Luxembourg, and Sigefroi’s bishop brother questions her ancestry. If anyone ever suspects Melusine’s true nature, she will burn at the stake...

"As always, Schartz spins a great story. It’s a bit bloody in places... But that's part of the drama, and Schartz certainly knows drama." Manic Readers 4.5 stars

"Ms. Schartz did a fine job with this offering, and brought elements to the myth that fleshed Melusine out and made her a sympathetic character. I think fans of Fantasy romance will enjoy this steamy version of the myth and fans of the myth might find it interesting as well." - Julianne Draper - The Examiner

The Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy romantic series includes:

Book 1 - PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE (Pressine's early story)
Book 2 - PAGAN QUEEN (Pressine's last story)
Book 3 - SEDUCING SIGEFROI (Melusine's early story)
Book 4 - LADY OF LUXEMBOURG (Melusine's later story)
Book 5 - CHATELAINE OF FOREZ (another Melusine story - standalone)
Book 6 - BELOVED CRUSADER) (Palatina's story - standalone)
Book 7 - DAMSEL OF THE HAWK (Meliora's story - standalone)
Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN (Melusine's last story, end of the series, winter 2016/2017)

There is also a boxed set of novels 1 through 4, CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, for a very friendly price.
Find all my books HERE

HAPPY READING.