Friday, July 27, 2012

SEDUCING SIGEFROI is free today in kindle!

Free today in kindle at:

SEDUCING SIGEFROI - Curse of the Lost Isle Book 3

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.

"Is everything to your liking so far?"
Jarred by the deep male voice, Melusine snapped awake. Sigefroi stood in front of her, one soft boot nonchalantly propped on the edge of the wooden tub. The white of his tunic matched his teeth as he stared at her with a wolfish grin.
Melusine glanced around in panic for something to cover her nudity but her clothes lay too far away. She pulled up her legs in the bath water and laced her arms around her knees. "How dare you intrude? Can’t you see I’m taking a bath?"
Sigefroi’s bold gaze swept over her exposed body. "It’s not as if it were the first time. You seem to like bathing in hot tubs as well as in cold rivers."
Shocked at his effrontery, Melusine released one arm to point toward the door. "Get out of my chamber immediately!"
"Your chamber?" His grin widened. "This is the only private chamber in the villa, and it happens to be mine."
"Yours?" Melusine flushed in confusion. She knew the villa was small but hadn’t really thought about all the details.
"I’ll share it with you, unless you want to sleep on the hall floor with the servants." The scowl on his brow returned. "And as the lord of this place, I don’t take orders from my guests... or my wenches."
Wench? Her solitary life hadn’t prepared Melusine for such vulgarity. According to what she understood of men, however, she must not give herself too fast but rather let Sigefroi grow hungry for her body as long as possible. "I am no wench and demand to be treated with respect!"
He chuckled and effected a mock bow. "You certainly have mine, my lady."
Melusine managed a forced smile. "If you give me your word to behave honorably, I could sleep on a pallet behind a screen at the far side of your bedchamber."
He rolled his eyes. "Truly?"
Melusine hoped her inaccessible proximity would work in her favor. "There is enough space for the two of us."
"Nay." The candles flickered in his amber eyes. "You don’t understand, my lady." A slow smile spread on his sensual lips. "I intend to take you to my bed tonight. After all, we are to be wed."
"So soon?" Panic choked her voice. Impaired by Sigefroi’s close proximity, Melusine couldn’t think. He wanted to consummate their union tonight? She quickly regained her composure. "My lord, it’s not proper. We hardly know each other and are not yet betrothed."
He pulled up the sleeves of his tunic. "A detail easily remedied, my lady. Do you mind if I wash my hands before dinner?"
Before she could react, he dipped his hands in her bath, caressed her knee, brushed the skin of her thigh. Delicious heat coursed through her entire body. He seemed to enjoy her confusion as he swept the length of her folded arms with the back of one finger.
Lifting her chin with the crook of one finger, he bent and softly kissed her lips.
Melusine melted into the bath water, waves of heat swelled and washed over her. His smooth, soft lips teased hers. Her mouth relaxed and opened under his. She let him gently probe her mouth then claim it as his own. Dear Goddess, she was lost.
How could she manipulate this man when she yielded under his touch? She had seen shameless wenches offer themselves to strangers when it served their purpose, or even withhold their favors at will, but Melusine could never do that. She could not refuse this man. She was exposed, vulnerable, and in great danger.

Don't miss this exciting saga. Other books in the series are:

Book Four - LADY OF LUXEMBOURG (Late 2012 release)

Happy reading.

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick
Find my books on Amazon HERE

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seducing Sigefroi is out! - by Vijaya Schartz

Yes, this is the definite cover, and I'm very happy with it. The heroine looks like a dark water creature and wields a sword. He looks fierce, not as red-headed as the real Sigefroi, but so yummy, who cares?


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...



LADY OF LUXEMBOURG (Book 4): is scheduled for release later this year.

Grab it, like it, give it some love with "likes" and tags.
Hope you enjoy the read.

Vijaya Schartz

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Fun Part of Writing - Putting "Pencil to Paper"

I am so happy to be concentrating in earnest on writing book three of the Evolution Series, called Vain.  After spending most of May finalizing a completely unrelated historical romance, Sass Meets Class, and most of June working on promotion for it, getting back to the craft of stringing words together is a welcome thrill.  Every time I get to this point in in the writing process I literally feel a "Whee!!!" kind of excitement because the hours spent putting words in the document (I don't really write with a pencil and paper) are what I love about being an author and what compels me to continue.

I am trying a new, more disciplined approach:  writing the story in chronological order (for the most part).  I did cheat ahead twice but am now committed to taking it from beginning to end because some great threads are starting to sneak out of my brain, and I mean that almost literally since the heroine works with fabric. 

So, who is Vain about?  The hero is Theophilus (Theo), who was introduced in book one as David's best friend. Theo is dedicated to his responsibilities as a nobleman in the Carolingian Empire .  His heroine is Lily, the daughter of the town's weaver and tailor. The class difference between nobility and artisan/merchant will be one of the conflicts between hero and heroine.  Lily thinks she knows how her life will spin out, but starting from the first scene, her plan begins to unravel.

If you read book one, Unbidden, you might remember that Theo once stated he needs a wife who can sew because she will save him a fortune on his clothing.  (Theo is a bit of a clothes-horse.)  I am giving him his seamstress, and using themes of fabrics and their colors and textures in the building romance.

The writing also flows little more easily since this is the third installment in the same series, so I am comfortable with the time period, terminology, and the way I want to manage dialogue.  Now that the plotting and timelines and character names for Vain are all planned, I can let the story flow and for me, that is the really fun, really inspiring part of authorship.  Whee!!

What is your favorite part of writing, or if you are a reader, what touches can an author add to a book that really makes you appreciate their craft?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

SEDUCING SIGEFROI - the cover process - by Vijaya Schartz

After PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE and PAGAN QUEEN, comes the third book in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, SEDUCING SIGEFROI.

You wouldn't believe all the work Michelle  and Judith went through, researching the perfect characters for the cover. In this case, Sigefroi of Luxembourg, the hero, is a real character, the founder of a dynasty that became very influential later in history. As such, there are representations of Sigefroi on stained glass windows, and written descriptions of him in history books.

Of course, little is known of this first Sigefroi of 963 AD, since the written records of the period are few. Still, there is a generalogy, and a few land deeds, and then there is the legend.

Sigefroi had red hair and light hazel eyes, which was a common thing for a germanic knight of the period. Finding a red-haired cover model to fit the bill, however is an impossible task.

I've given my opinion on several pictures and sent pictures I found that might work, in order to help, but I realize how difficult it is.

As for the heroine, Melusine the Fae, she is even more difficult to pinpoint. She is an ondine. She is a woman most of the time, but one day each month she becomes a mermaid, a serpent from the waist down. She sometimes dresses in chainmail, rides a white horse, and wields a magic sword. Here is the best representation I could find of her transformation at sunset.
 Oh, and here is a picture of the Bock of Luxembourg, a castle (now in ruins) at the top of a cliff. Can you see the Roman bridge at the very bottom? That's where Sigefroi and Melusine meet for the first time.

I can't wait to see what the very talented Michelle Lee who designs the book covers for Books We Love will come up with. But judging by what she did with the previous covers, I know it will be great.

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick
Find her books on Amazon HERE

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ANGEL'S ASSASSIN - a new medieval romance by Laurel O'Donnell

Damien is an assassin, a man with no home and a tortured past.  Sold into slavery as a young boy, he is trained to kill with cold calculation, without remorse.  As reward for his ruthless success, he is given a chance to earn his freedom from his cruel master.  One last mission.  One final person to slay…

Lady Aurora of Acquitaine is the epitome of purity and goodness, beloved by all her people.  She lives her life trying to atone for her mother’s cruelty by being a fair and just ruler.  Secretly she fears that one day her mother’s murderer will return for her.

When Damien enters Aurora’s life, tempting her with promises of dark passion and forbidden lust, he threatens to tear her peaceful world apart with shadowy secrets of his own.

Can Aurora’s light heal Damien’s dark spirit or will his evil consume her?  The eternal battle of good versus evil, love versus hate, dark versus light, all come to a shattering climax in this historical romance.


Damien was not to be put off.  A dark intensity burned in his eyes.  He stalked her.
Aurora continued to move away until her back hit a tree.  She turned to move, but Damien’s arm blocked her path.  She whirled the other way, but his other arm was there, trapping her.
“Admit it,” he whispered, his voice husky.
Aurora pressed herself back against the tree and lifted her gaze to meet his.
“You liked it,” he coaxed softly, delight shining in his eyes.
“No,” she answered fervently, again turning to flee.
This time, Damien stepped in close.  Their bodies weren’t touching, but he was so close he could feel the heat from her body.  “Liar.”
Aurora shook her head, denying his accusation.
“I’ll prove it.”  His lips were almost touching hers, so close.  “You will lift your lips for me to kiss.”
Aurora shook her head.  She looked away, her eyes darting across his bare chest as if searching for a way of escape.
Damien bent his arms, bringing his face close to hers.  He moved his lips near her forehead, not touching, but wanting to.  He slowly lowered his mouth down over her cheek to hover over her lips.  He could feel her sweet breath on his lips.  He wanted to taste her, feel her against him.  He was so hard he thought he would explode.
Her lids drooped over her eyes.  “Damien,” she whispered in a shaken voice.
“I know you want to,” he coaxed.  “Let me kiss you.  Lift your lips to me.”
Her mouth was open, her breath coming in shallow gasps.  She lifted her head just slightly but not enough to be a surrender.  Her nose touched his, sending tingles of desire through his body.  It was such an innocent gesture, so tentative.
His lips skimmed hers.  She was so tantalizing.  So breathtaking.  Just a kiss.  One kiss. “Aurora,” he called.
Aurora lifted her eyes to his, lifted her lips to his, giving in to the temptation.

Find more about Laurel and her books at:

Find all her books on Amazon HERE

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 The 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.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Devil in the Detail by Joanna Fulford

Accurate period detail is all important in historical fiction. Everything has to be checked, including the things you think you know. Having slipped up there a couple of times in my early writing career, my rule now is not to include anything I can’t substantiate: when in doubt, leave it out. Readers are pretty savvy and someone out there will know if you get your facts wrong. As Bernard Cornwell wryly observed, “There’s always a helpful reader.”

Unfortunately, one of the problems with writing about the distant past is that much of the evidence has disappeared. Nevertheless, there are still gems to be found in the quest for accurate period detail.

I have been undertaking research on Norman England and, in addition to my reading, wanted to visit some Norman castles as well. They aren’t hard to find, but most are in a poor state of preservation. Orford Castle, on the Suffolk coast, is a notable exception. Although the outer walls and towers are long gone, the remains of the deep moat are still visible and the keep is largely intact. Parts have been restored but it still contains some wonderful period detail. It’s a gift for anyone writing about the period.

Built between 1165 and 1173 in the reign of Henry II, Orford Castle gave the king a power base in East Anglia from which to control his rebellious barons. It cost just over £1,400 to build. That seems like a small sum now but by 12thcentury standards it was enormous. The whole royal income for a year was little more than £18,000.

The keep has several unusual design features. Assuming the attackers got that far they would have discovered that the entrance is roughly ten feet above ground level. Access is via a stone stairway that hugs the line of the wall. (The present one is actually 19th century but it follows the line of the original.) It’s just about wide enough for two people (or one man swinging a sword) and precludes all possibility of a massed attack or the use of a battering ram. At the top of the stairs is a narrow oaken door banded with iron. Grooves in the wall reveal where a heavy portcullis could be lowered for additional protection. Beyond, a small lobby allowed visitors to be vetted before gaining admittance to the lower hall. Entrance to this was from the lobby via a passageway in the 3-metre-thick wall, a passageway protected either end by solid oak doors barred with massive beams.

The lower hall was always in use and was where the daily business of the castle took place. At Orford it is a circular room with a stone bench around the perimeter affording seating, convenient for those attending meetings or the assize courts held there. The large hearth would not only heat this room but also the chambers above which abutted on to the chimney. It was a form of central heating.

Latrines with remnant of dividing wall
Wall urinal
The keep is also well supplied with latrines. There were two on this level, originally divided by a stone partition and each closed off by a wooden door. Below the thunderbox, a long chute took waste outside to the castle mound. Some unfortunate individual had the task of collecting and removing the waste from time to time. (That would seem to be a candidate for one of The Worst Jobs in History series.) The passage leading to the latrines was also closed off to prevent unpleasant smells wafting into the nearby kitchen and hall. The chaplain, being a person of some importance, had a latrine adjacent to his room. However, the Constable went one better: he had a urinal built into the wall of the passageway outside his door. That would have saved him the trek down to the lower hall each time he wanted to relieve himself.

Clockwise spiral stair
A spiral stone stairway leads off the lower hall. As with most castles it rises in a clockwise direction which immediately puts an attacker at a disadvantage since he would have far less room in which to swing a sword compared to the defender above him. This assumes that most fighting men were right-handed.

The upper hall was only used on important occasions such as a royal visit or for entertaining other noble guests. The walls, like those of the private chambers elsewhere, would have been plastered and hung with tapestries. A conical wooden ceiling, supported by beams resting on stone corbels, would have helped to keep the heat in and made it a relatively cosy and comfortable space. Stout wooden shutters kept out the weather. The only room to have expensive glazed windows was the chapel. Evidently the best was reserved for God.

At various points in the castle, such as the kitchen and storeroom, stone sinks were built into the walls. These came complete with drainage holes to the outside. The chapel has a piscina, or small sink, for washing the sacred vessels, and two cupboards for storing liturgical objects. On the walls are still traces of the original 12th century plaster with evidence of a chevron pattern. The chapel is small so it could only accommodate a limited number of people; members of the ruling order. However, religion was a key aspect of life in the Middle Ages and lesser persons like servants and soldiers would also have been required to attend daily mass. Therefore, to the left of the altar is a squint, a small hole in the wall that would allow the service to be heard from the passage outside.

Basement with well amd storage space
In any castle defence is a prime concern. In this connection a reliable source of water is crucial. Water came from the castle well in the basement but, because of its proximity to the sea, the water was brackish and suitable only for domestic chores. Drinking water came from a dressed-stone cistern that collected rainwater from the roof.

The basement also doubled as a large storeroom. Alcoves in the walls provided additional space for such items as rope, tallow, iron, salt, preserved meat, root vegetables and sacks of grain. In the event of war the castle was well equipped and provisioned and able to withstand a long siege if necessary.

Orford is surprisingly sophisticated in terms of design and certainly provides numerous insights into the Norman period. It also caused me revise some of my former thoughts. I intend now to put the information to good use and try to avoid the devil in the detail.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hurray for Brave, the movie - by Vijaya Schartz

Disney has proven time and again that they know how to tell a story. They also use the most brilliant actors to breathe life into the Pixar animated characters. Award-winning actress Emma Thompson gives her voice to Queen Elinor. All the other actors are Scottish, and it shows in the authentic accent and flavor they bring to the sound track.

If you like medieval times, you'll love this hilariously funny and incredibly dramatic fantasy full of destiny, dark magic and rebellious teens, and mistakes regretted, and family values, and courage to face one's mistakes, and self-sacrifice, and happy endings.

The only thing this story is not is romance. Although isn't it the sacred rule of romance that one should be able to be with the one they really love? In this case, Merida decides that she is not ready to wed, and that whenever she does, it will be with a man of her own choice.

And if you like a good kick-butt heroine, like I do, you'll appreciate Merida's energy and courage.

I went to see that movie almost as an afterthought, but I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it immensely.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Guns, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Find my titles at AMAZON HERE