Wednesday, May 30, 2012


One fun part of being an author is choosing the right name for each character.  It can be challenging when your book is set over one thousand years ago but authors use historical sources - and yes, I even use baby name websites to search for the name by sex and ethnicity to hopefully get the perfect fit.  I am also pretty choosy about having distinct names within the book.  For example, I try to to use the different beginning letters and general sounds of name because I want my readers to easily remember who each character is.  (Read Tolkien to see what I mean.  Arwen, Aragorn, Eowyn, and Eomer - I can't keep straight who is who!)  I did kind of break that rule in my evolution series because my family of men are named Drogo (evil father), Doeg (possible evil son),  David (fabulous archetypical hero).  I thought those names were different enough to keep straight but when my mom read book 2 in The Evolution Series which is about Doeg, she became very confused thinking David had lost his happily ever after somehow and was looking for a new wife.  Lesson learned, and thanks Mom!

I have recently been reading a contemporary fiction where the main character's name is True.  This has alerted me to the fact that I do not like character names that are homophonic with words we use often in speech.  "True, but if we go to the store now there will be less traffic."  Is the speaker addressing True or agreeing with a statement while suggesting an alternative.  More than once I have gone back to re-read a sentence because True or her son Guy's name have shown up in a way that confused me.  Maybe I should stop reading late at night.

I also don't like names that try too hard to assign a personality trait.  I smile at heros who are named Falcon or Rake or Python.  If I met a man with one of those names I'd just feel sorry for him.  Heroines can be just as bad with their flowery names, or heaven forbid, Chastity.  As if!  I did write a very feminine younger sister named Loulou in an American historical but that is about as far as I will go.

What names have really turned you off in a book?

Unbidden   Redeemed

Friday, May 25, 2012

Meet Medieval author Laurel O'Donnell

Laurel O’Donnell has won numerous awards for her works, including the Holt Medallion for A Knight of Honor, the Happily Ever After contest for Angel’s Assassin, and the Indiana’s Golden Opportunity contest for Immortal Death. The Angel and The Prince was nominated by the Romance Writers of America for their prestigious Golden Heart award. O’Donnell lives in Illinois with her four cherished children, her beloved husband and her five cats. She finds precious time every day to escape into the medieval world and bring her characters to life in her writing.

The Angel and the Prince 

In this exciting medieval romance, the French lady knight known as the Angel of Death wages a battle of wills and desires against her dreaded enemy — the English warrior known as the Prince of Darkness.

Ryen De Bouriez is a French warrior, dedicated to protecting her country against the hated English. In place of glittering ball gowns, she wears shining armor. Instead of practicing the gentler arts, she wields a sword. Those who whisper her name in fear and awe call her the Angel of Death.

Bryce Princeton is the Prince of Darkness, an English knight sent by his king to find and destroy their most hated adversary — the Angel of Death. Little does he know that his enemy is no man at all, but a beautiful woman who will challenge his heart and honor at every turn.

Forced to choose between love and honor, the Angel and the Prince wage a battle of wills that challenges everything they have ever believed in.

A Knight of Honor 

Taylor Sullivan is a raven-haired hellion fleeing the tragic flames that destroyed her family. She arms herself with a quick sword and a sharp tongue, hiring herself out as a mercenary, willing to do whatever it takes to survive.

Slane Donovan is a knight of honor, sworn to uphold his oath and his word. He seeks the woman who wears the Sullivan ring, determined to bring her back to Castle Donovan to fulfill a promise made to his brother.

When he finds the fierce young beauty, her sensual innocence inflames his heart, threatening to destroy the very essence of who he is and the vows he has sworn to uphold.

But there are others who seek the Sullivan woman as well, men who pose a far greater threat. Slane must protect his fiery mercenary companion from attacks, but can he protect himself from her undeniable charms?

More books from Laurel to come in a few days. Stay tuned. In the meantime, find out more about her and her books on her website at:

Monday, May 21, 2012


After PRINCESS of BRETAGNE and PAGAN QUEEN, comes the third book in the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series, SEDUCING SIGEFROI. Set at the foundation of Luxembourg in 963, it involves an immortal magic lady introduced in Book 2, and continues the Saga of immortal Celtic Ladies meddling throughout history... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

ENTER THE CONTEST to win the pdf of this summer release by clicking on CONTEST at the top right at:

Book Three - Seducing Sigefroi
963 AD. Seeking redemption from the curse that makes her a serpent from the waist down one day each month, Melusine, daughter of Pressine, must seduce Sigefroi of Ardennes, a shrewd, ambitious knight, son of the Duke of Lorraine, who wants to carve himself a kingdom. But Sigefroi is more than a match for Melusine's supernatural gifts, and the task proves daunting... especially as he stirs deep in her strangely confusing emotions.

Good luck.

Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
WHITE TIGER paperback:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


 Since we are a medieval blog, before I start rambling I will recommend one historical fiction I just read.  The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell covers a time period in England's history that I really did not know much about and deftly gives the reader both sides of the conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danish invaders.   If you like to get your history lessons through great story-telling this is for you.  And it is part of series!

On to my "writing zone":

I haven't dedicated the time I should to writing in the past few weeks.  I am in the final stages of preparing a sweet historical romance for publication.  (The heart graphic is from the cover!  Guess what - it is not medieval.)

I love to write so I don't mind the work but I am most productive when I have big chunks of undisturbed time.  These are hard to come by.  Even an hour flies by so quickly when I get in the "writing zone" that it feels like I've barely started and its over already!

I am trying to not hurry through this stage of preparing the manuscript so I can put out a well-proofed, perfectly crafted story.  But the book will never get done if I don't set aside some consecutive hours to do the work.  I realize this is the challenge of all authors, especially the aspiring ones like me who still have day jobs.  But I wonder if it is particularly challenging when writing historicals that require our writing zone to occupy another time period in addition to setting and character.

Anyway, today is a writing day.  I am putting the manuscript through Autocrit so I can get it to a proofreader.  It is time to wrap this one up so I can move to the next - the third in my Evolution series!

Authors and readers:  do you have activities that you just won't start if you do not have a certain length of time to dig in?  How do you get into your zone?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Medieval Romance and Paranormal Suspense - by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

When I carried wood as a pre-teen so my Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, I wasn't thinking, "I could use this in a novel someday." Yet almost 60 years later, the skills I learned from my horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for my historical romance novels. Growing up with paternal grandparents born in the 1890's made creating historical novels a logical choice.


When I carried wood as a pre-teen so my Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, I wasn’t thinking, “I could use this in a novel someday.” Yet, the skills I learned from my horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for my medieval romantic suspense novels. Until doing research, I didn't realize how many cooking and household tools and utensils were still in use at the turn of the 20th century which were similar to those in use in the Middle Ages.

  • The biggest surprise was the grinding wheel. My grandfather had one in the garage to sharpen knives. I found the only modern difference was that my grandfather’s wheel had a section of rubber tire to hold water to wet the stone.

  • My great aunt used wooden spoons for cooking and pewter platters for serving. She dried her long hair in the sun or in front of the fire. Chamber pots were under the bed and the outhouse was down the path.

  • Ceramic basins in bedrooms were filled from pitchers of warmed water brought upstairs from the kitchen. A washcloth and sudsy water in a basin were used for daily bathing. The Saturday night bath was in the metal washtub and set up in the kitchen to be close to the water boiled on the cooking stove and the only source of running water inside the house. (My great aunt had a hand pump outside.) The kitchen location for the washtub also made it easier to drain the water afterward.

  • My great aunt had a root cellar dug into the ground which kept her stored foods at a cool temperature. Berries and nuts were gathered from the woods and canned or dried to eat during the winter. Throw rugs were draped over the clothesline and the dirt beat out of them periodically with a wire carpet beater.

  • She made her own starch and the lye soap for doing the laundry. A metal iron was heated on the wood-burning stove before ironing her clothes.

  • The local farmers brought to the door, freshly slaughtered meat or harvested fruits and vegetables. Life was at a much slower pace.

Those days are gone and that's fine by me. Hanging heavy, soaking, dripping wash on the clothesline in the cold of winter with my fingers freezing to the clothespins was not my cup of tea. The backbreaking work tending a vegetable garden and farm animals was also not for me. A well-stocked grocery store suits me just fine.

What I got from those times spent with my grandparents’ generation and was a sense of their daily lives before technology. No plastic, no vacuum cleaners, no wash machines and dryers, no t.v., no phones, no box stores, no cars, no jet planes, no Internet.

I transfer those intimate details into my manuscripts. By doing so, I create for you the experience of medieval times just by reading MATILDA'S SONG and OUT OF THE DARK.


JoAnn Ainsworth (

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Duty requires sacrifice…but the heart will not be denied

At the time, pretending marriage to her middle-aged widower cousin seemed like the best way to escape a politically motivated betrothal to a brutal knight. Now, her journey toward a new life has landed her in hot water—she’s been waylaid by a local Norman baron who’s mistaken her for a real bride. And he demands First Night rights.

Hot water turns to steam in a scalding night of passion…passion she has never known. And now must live without.

Lord Geoffrey is entranced at first sight of the Anglo-Saxon beauty and finds that one night in her arms is not nearly enough. But all he can offer the low-born Matilda is a life in the shadows—as his mistress.

Back Cover Blurb OUT OF THE DARK ISBN: 978-1-60504-277-0

Blinded—she by nature, he by loyalty.

As a blind woman seen as a flawed commodity, Lady Lynnet is used to the idea that she's unlovable. But her parents' plan to force her into a loveless marriage is too much. Wandering, upset and lost in the cellars of the king's castle, the darkness doesn't frighten her, but the murder plot she overhears chills her to the bone. Worse, no one believes her, and the only one she can turn to is a Norman sheriff whose voice sounds disturbingly like one of the conspirators.

Basil, Sheriff of London, is battle-hardened, fiercely loyal—and torn apart. He's falling in love with the Saxon beauty, and he longs to show her she is worthy of love despite her physical limitation.

But the very corruption she is helping him root out may implicate his own half brother. How can he turn his back on family—for an Anglo-Saxon woman?

Check out JoAnn’s website.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Don't miss this incredible deal. Get PAGAN QUEEN for free in kindle today and tomorrow HERE. And since it's book 2, you should first read book 1, PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE (get it HERE). Book One features the very same main characters a few years later. The next books in the series will skip a generation and feature new heroes and heroines.


806 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland)
As the Vikings raid the coast of Alba, Pressine of Bretagne sets out to seduce King Elinas of Dumfries, chosen by the Goddess to unite the tribes against the foreign invader. Elinas, still mourning his departed queen, has no intention to remarry. Head-strong and independent, Pressine does not expect to fall for the very attractive, wise and noble ruler... Furthermore, her Pagan nature clashes with the religious fanaticism of the king’s Christian heir, who suspects her unholy ancestry and will stop at nothing to get rid of her.

Download it free at:
810 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) - Queen at last, Pressine brings victory to her beloved Elinas and prosperity to their growing kingdom. But 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?

What the reviewers said:

"Schartz paints a realistic picture of life in a medieval castle, with all its smells, tastes, visuals, and feelings, and as always, all the primary, as well as the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. I'm looking forward to the others in this series." Roberta at Manic Readers - 4 1/2 stars

"The exciting battles and period details also drew me in as did the intrigue surrounding Elinas' son trying to prevent him from marrying Pressine... I'm very much looking forward to finding out what's next for Elinas and Pressine when the series continues with the release of Pagan Queen." - 4 stars - The Hope Chest Review

Vijaya Schartz writes medieval in futuristic and fantasy settings as well as straight medieval historical novels and historical fantasy.  She also writes science fiction for women, with kick-butt heroines and romantic elements.

Find out more about Vijaya and all her books on her Amazon page HERE 

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... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Medieval Medicine - Scary Stuff! by Anna Markland

In medieval times doctors and barber-surgeons had plenty of practice treating wounds and broken bones because of the many wars going on at the time.

They knew how to set broken bones in plaster and how to seal wounds using egg whites or old wine to stop them getting infected.

They used alcohol or plants like mandragora to send people to sleep or dull the pain of operations. They could even remove diseased parts of the body, for example the gall-bladder, and deliver babies by Caesarean section.


In my latest release, The Winds of the Heavens, the heroine is a Welshwoman named Glain who is a healer with a special skill for setting broken bones. I took a bit of poetic licence here since most of these bonesetters were men.

Glain’s skills are needed when the brother of the twin heroes falls into a gorge and breaks his leg. If you’ve read the book that precedes this one,
Dark and Bright, you’ll recall the accident. You’re probably wondering how twins Rhun and Rhydderch solved the problem of both being in love with Glain. They’ve always shared everything, but can they share a woman?

Conquering Passion).

I am not going to let the cat out of the bag! You’ll have to read The Winds of the Heavens to find out how they solve their dilemma!

Glain does in fact use egg whites and a plaster cast to mend her patient’s leg, and she drugs him with mandragora to ease the pain.

Another medical catastrophe strikes in the book. We know it today as meningitis, but then it was simply referred to as a plague or pestilence.

In Dark and Bright, the hero, Rhys, saves his sister’s life after she gives birth to a child. His knowledge comes from ancient Celtic lore passed on to him by his mother, the healer Rhonwen.

Dark and Bright and The Winds of the Heavens are Books Two and Three of the Series Sons of Rhodri. Both are available exclusively on Amazon.

I will gift a digital copy of The Winds of the Heavens to the first commenter to reveal the meaning of the name “Glain”.

Find out more about Anna Markland and her books on her website at:
Passionate About Historical Romance

Today and tomorrow, you can get CONQUERING PASSION for free on Amazon kindle HERE

So hurry, grab it while it's free.

Friday, May 4, 2012

PAGAN QUEEN - Excerpt - Vijaya Schartz

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... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

810 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) - Queen at last, Pressine brings victory to her beloved Elinas and prosperity to their growing kingdom. But 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?


“You almost died. And our son might have lived if you had not disobeyed.” Elinas slapped Caliburn’s scabbard against his leather trews.

Pressine had not seen him so upset since the first day he’d barged into these very rooms, after she had cleaned and rearranged them, erasing all traces of his departed queen. Even the roaring fire in the hearth did not dispel the chill.

“I did not think the child would suffer. At the time, I had to save the villagers.” Still, the guilt weighed heavily on Pressine’s chest, robbing her of the will to defend herself
“Endangering your life and his, to confront a pack of hungry beasts... alone?” Jaw twitching, Elinas locked his hands behind the back of his purple coat and paced like a caged wolf, eyes ablaze with simmering fury.

“I had the power to stop the carnage. No one else could.” Heart racing, Pressine smoothed her blue dress, trying to sound convincing. “In my vision the wolves slaughtered many women and children. It was my duty to help.”

Elinas rolled his eyes toward the wide beams holding the ceiling. “Do not talk to me about sacred duty!”

Walking the length of the table, he ignored the untouched breakfast of pea flour bread, boiled duck eggs, and fresh goat cheese. If Elinas infuriated so easily, now would not be the time to tell him that Mattacks had tried to kill her. He would never believe it.

“Maybe you did as you pleased among the Ladies of the Lost Isle...” Elinas turned fiery eyes on Pressine. “But in my castle, I am responsible for your well being. You should never have endangered your life. No duty of yours is worth dying for.”

Pressine’s chest tightened at the harsh tone. Where had all the love and tenderness gone? Was this the same man who had pleasured her all night on this very bed, whispering sweet words in her ear?

“You deliberately endangered your life!” A heavy fist slammed the table.

Pressine jumped along with the breakfast food, the pewter cups, and the ewer of mulled ale. Elinas’ anger hurt so much, she wanted to cry, but she steeled herself against the onslaught.

Although deeply shaken, she managed to keep her voice calm. “I am not just your wife, not just a queen. I am a Priestess of the Lost Isle. I belong to the Great Goddess. I thought you understood, since you have some Fae blood in you.”

“So I am told, but it does not affect my judgment.” Elinas glowered from across the table. His dark stubbled jaw tensed.

Pressine braced herself to weather the storm.

“After three years of marriage, you still remain a mystery to me. What are you really?” The feral eyes narrowed to slits. “How many deadly secrets are you hiding from me? Would you leave me if the Goddess demanded it?”

Pressine remained silent. Would she? Could she?

Elinas paused, as if stunned by the implications of her silence. He turned away and stared at the rug, shoulders tense with raw emotions. “What else are you not telling me? Will all our children be deformed?”

The despair in his voice made Pressine cringe. She struggled to steady the pounding of her heart. “Only male children are at risk. Not all are affected, but yes, there is greater danger of abnormal male children among my kind.”

Elinas exploded into a mirthless laugh. “You choose a fine time to tell me!” The derisive tone sounded threatening. “Do you not know that only boys matter to a king? What if my three sons die early?” He shrugged. “Daughters cannot rule the land. They are only good to marry off to seal alliances.”

Insulted by the remark, Pressine decided to fight back. Leaning for support against a heavy oak chest, she molded her palms around the smooth carvings of the lid. “Women could rule in the old days. Women went to battle. When did we become weak and unable to decide for ourselves? I was not raised to do the bidding of a man. I serve the Goddess and obey the laws that govern the Otherworld.”

“What a perfect excuse!” The sarcastic tone cut into the stifling air like a sharp dagger. “What else?”

Wondering how Elinas would react to more forbidden knowledge in his present state, Pressine hesitated.

He lifted a heavy chair and slammed it down on the flagstone in his rage. “Speak now, woman! Afore I run out of patience and banish you from my sight.”
Taking a deep breath, Pressine let out a reluctant whisper. “Longevity.”

Elinas’ eyebrows shot up questioningly. “What about it? Pray tell.”

“When Aunt Morgane came to our wedding, you thought you recognized her.” Ignoring the lump in her throat, Pressine paused to watch understanding dawn on her king’s face. “You were right. It was her you met as a lad. She has not aged a day since.”

“Morgane?” Doubt crept into the angry voice. “That was thirty years ago and she barely looks thirty now. How old can she be?”

Elinas no longer seemed angry, but Pressine refrained from smiling at her small victory. “I do not know exactly, but she knew King Arthur, the bear of Britannia. She remembers former lives as well. She claims to have witnessed the Trojan Wars, and she speaks about Hercules and Achilles as if she knew them well.”

“Ridiculous!” Elinas turned away as if to dismiss the idea, then looked out the window. “These are only legends.”

Pressine swallowed hard. “All legends are rooted in reality.”

“Do not mock me, woman.” A calm, threatening tone returned to the king’s voice as he faced her again.

It crossed Pressine’s mind to use her powers of persuasion to influence him, but such coercion would not be fair to the man she loved, or even to herself. She needed to be understood and accepted for what she really was. Harnessing her courage, she pushed herself away from the oak chest and walked toward the table that separated them, keeping her chin up.

“This may sound unbelievable to you now,” she explained softly, “but in the ancient world, immortality was not unheard of.”

Download it today on Amazon HERE


Find all my books HERE

If you also like paranormal, download CRUSADER Archangel Book One, for free today and tomorrow only in kindle HERE Warning: despite the title this is not a medieval novel, but a timeless one. Book 2 in the Archangel series is CHECKMATE