Saturday, March 31, 2012

HAVE YOU HUGGED A MEDIEVALIST TODAY? IT'S HUG A MEDIEVALIST DAY!

I swear I didn't make it up. I just found out on the internet a few days ago that March 31st is "HUG A MEDIEVALIST DAY." There had to be one of those. After all, nowadays, there is a day for almost everything.

Although I don't consider myself a medievalist (maybe I should), I'll take a cyberhug, or congrats, or kudos from anyone anytime. So March 31st is just as good as any a day to get it. Cyberhugs, I mean. You are welcome to comment and hug the contributors to this blog. They are all experts in the medieval period, so that must make them medievalists. After all, they researched the medieval period and became experts, enough to write believable romantic fiction in the genre.

So here is my cyberhug to all medievalists out there today. May your knowlege enlighten those avid for medieval things, may your stories find a loyal audience, may you all prosper and collect the rewards of all your shared knowledge.

Now, your turn. Tell us why you like medievalists.

Visit our favorite medievalists' websites at:

Denise Domning
Vijaya Schartz
Kris Tualla

Friday, March 30, 2012

Historic Accuracy? Part Two: Modern Conveniences

Historic Accuracy?  Part Two: Modern Conveniences  

One of my major challenges in writing in 830s  Europe is making clear to the reader what is NOT there.  As an example, stirrups had not been added to saddles yet.  For modern readers, the stirrup is an integral part of every saddle they have ever seen or sat on but as an author I cannot just come out and tell them the saddle had no stirrups because the concept of a stirrup -- much less the term for it -- did not exist.  There is a scene in Unbidden, 
where my heroine has a difficult time mounting her horse under duress because she has become accustomed to the hero helping her.  The reason she struggles is because she has no stirrups and did not look around for a stump or log when she dismounted.  In my historical notes I mention the stirrup-less saddle but I am still not entirely satisfied with the actual scene because I did not find a way to tell the reader there are no stirrups.

Household fixtures that were not as hard to deal with but did require some thought.  Chimneys were not yet in use so I had to describe the hearth in the middle of the floor and the hole in the roof nor could I have those wonderful love scenes in front of the bedroom fireplace because there were no fireplaces.  Toilets were generally housed in outhouses though I chose to use the term "latrine".  Even something as universal as money requires research.  What denominations of currency were in use?  What did the coins looks like and what were they made of?

As a reader,  how much detail regarding everyday items do you like to have in historical romances you read?

Monday, March 26, 2012

How much history is too much? Part One: Language

How much history is too much?  Part One: Language.   One of the things I love about historical romance is just that - the history!  I am not the type of reader who will write an author a letter about all his/her factual errors, I just enjoy being carried out of my own place and time.  However, when writing historical romance I do think that authors have a responsibility to get it as close to the truth as possible without jeopardizing the entertainment value of their story.

For example, I had to make a firm choice about language when I started my Evolution Series.  The spoken language in Europe in the 830s was a rustic form of Latin with regional dialects.  As an author I made a choice to include a smattering of Latin terms and names to give a sense of that but tried to not overdo it.  I also did not want to fall into too-formal English.  As a compromise, I removed contractions from dialogue, but for readability I retained contractions in the non-dialogue.  I also avoided "modern" terms that might pull the reader out of the 830s and back into the 2010s.

I'd love your comments.  What approach to period-correct language is most effective for you as a reader?




Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why Medieval? by Author Deborah Kinnard

So you say you want to write a story set in the middle ages. Good for you! In our market, medieval fiction is somewhat under-represented. Of course, where a vacuum exists of any sort, nature (or writers) tend to want to fill it...

Many reasons can be found for setting a story in this fascinating time period. For one thing, the question of faith—how many of us can imagine living in a land where everyone is (at least nominally) a believer? Medieval Europeans took for granted that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. These weren’t matters for discussion or question—they simply were. Faith informed people’s lives, and if they questioned, they did so privately.

This pervasive mindset makes for interesting fiction. Medieval people, and your characters as well, will live and walk and work with their faith an ever-present part of their lives. The church was all-embracing and all-pervasive. No matter how deeply a modern character feels and lives his faith, there is a difference—for the medievals, it existed everywhere.

Now that you’ve decided this is for you, the first question is: which middle ages do you want as your setting? If it’s fantasy-medieval, where lovely maiden Rapunzel waits in her high tower for her stalwart knight to come rescue her—this is for discussion elsewhere.

Instead let’s say your project will be set in the ACTUAL middle ages. What must you do so it reads real? Understand first that the best we modern-era writers can do is to approximate how people lived, spoke, and thought. This doesn’t, however, give license to get the period-based facts wrong.

Let’s assume you “know” your story. Some months before you start to write, you must decide on your setting. Let’s say it’s England. What do you know about England in your era of choice?

If, like many of us, you decide “not enough”, you begin to research. Very soon you find that the breadth of data on your chosen time-period varies greatly according to that time period. There is, however, a wealth of information about the British Isles in the middle ages. More accumulates in the body of knowledge all the time. This is because, alone of all the European nations in their birth-years, England has a rich trove of documents and artifacts which have survived the centuries.

How will you pick what information to include in your story, and what to leave aside? After all, you’re writing a novel, a work of fiction, not a scholarly tome for academics to dissect and argue over. One idea is to keep a separate document, either in Word or Notepad or even the handy MS One Note, for the research items that seem pertinent to your story.

You may end up using all of them. You may use none. Possibly you decide some are fascinating, but do not move your story forward and therefore must be left out. Whether you’re a dedicated plotter or a free-wheeling seat-of-the-pants writer, you’ll need to make a research treasure trove of your very own.

Your characters as they gestate in your mind will dictate some of what you are researching, and how deeply you dig. It’s possible also to mark a spot as you write, where more digging is needed, and return to it at a later time. I change the font color to red so that I can more clearly see the “more research” note on the screen. Some authors bookmark the spot in Word, others highlight.

Questions that might arise may include such things as how did your knight cushion his armor to prevent its chafing his skin? What did your serving maid wear? In what year did English people first use table forks?

You’ll need to research these things, rather than making them up as you go. Yes, you’re writing fiction, but depend on this: if you fudge an item, some more knowledgeable zealot-reader WILL catch it and call you out on it.

Granted, in places history shrouds her secrets and we won’t find out everything we need. Above all, whether you’re looking to market your story to a specific publisher or you’re writing with a distant dream of publishing the project, be aware of the need to make your characters true to their own era.


Creating a feisty, spunky heroine will work great for a contemporary, but would she really act this way in the thirteenth century? Or would she conform to that age’s attitudes about women? If at any moment she feels rebellious, will she voice her opinions or keep them to herself? Can she read? If so, you must explain why. Until the late fourteenth century, this skill was felt to be inappropriate outside the Church or the highest nobility.

Is he an atheist? If so, he can’t be vocal about it, unless it works better for your story that he be brought up on charges for heresy. Does he embrace tolerance of races and peoples outside his own? Then your character may ring untrue to some of the more racist views the medieval centuries held.

When you write in this era, you’re reaching for mindsets and attitudes many of which we no longer honor. Give the age its due by making your characters true to that age’s spirit, and not necessarily like ours. This can be a hard line to walk when writing, because of course our readers are our contemporaries and we’re reaching into their mindset, not those of our characters.

There is much to admire about the medievals, and much that resonates with our own experience. Love, grief, loyalty, friendship endure through the ages. Writing in this setting merely means you must call up different ways of expression to do them justice.

Now, on specific research, some suggestions for sites I’ve found profitable:

http://www.regia.org/ The Regia Anglorum site is full of period detail, provided by re-enactors who have done the jobs they describe.

http://www.sca.org/  The Society for Creative Anachronism is a group of dedicated re-enactors. They focus on the long stretch between the Roman twilight and the 16th century.

www.milieux.com/costume  for details about dress and its creation.

http://www.behindthename.com/ – to research what names mean and whether they might’ve been used in your century. You really don’t want a medieval maiden named Tiffani.

http://www.etymonline.com/ – to look up a word. You may want to see whether your word of choice even existed in your chosen time.

http://www.plantagenetdynasty.blogspot.com/ – a blog about the royal family in the 13th and 14th centuries.

http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/ – to find out about life and customs of the English medieval period.

http://www.saints.sqpn.com/ – for information on saints and who is the patron of what area of life, the legends that grew up about them, and when their feasts are celebrated.

http://wychwood.wikidot.com/ – a re-enactors’ recreation of medieval life, complete with a town they are building, recipes for medieval food, etc.

http://www.saradouglass.com/relfest.html -- a site that will let you figure out whether Easter fell in March or April that year, and many other “movable feasts.”

http://www.medievalists.net/ – a potpourri site – a little of everything.

Seasons in the Mist
by Deborah Kinnard
Category: Fiction / Romance / Time Travel
Imprint: Sheaf House
Format: Trade Paperback / 5.5 x 8.5, 336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9824832-1-3
Price: $13.99

Stranded in 1353 Cornwall, American graduate student Bethany Lindstrom knows she must find a way back to her own time or face a life of falsehoods and peril. But with the stern overlord Sir Michael Veryan, she is swept into the intrigues of King Edward’s court, which will test their mettle and their faith in God to the limits—and forever bind their lives together.

Purchase using the following links:
Amazon

Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Nook

Books-a-Million

Friday, March 23, 2012

Meet medieval author Kris Tualla

Kris Tualla's motto is: "Norway is the new scotland." She has it on tee-shirts and mugs and her medieval novels feature Scotland and Norway.

She writes gritty historical novels, not all medieval, but all very well written and fascinating. Her writing style places you right in the middle of the action and you really feel for her characters.

She presently lives in Arizona. She will be attending the Romantic Times Conference in Chicago the first weekend of April, the Desert Dreams Writers Conference on April 27-29 in Scottsdale Arizona, and the AZDreamin' Readers Convention on June 2, 2012 in Chandler Arizona.

Here are what her two purely medieval romantic novels are about:




Grier MacInnes buried three fianc├ęs in the Black Death; soon she'll be replaced by her cousin's teen bride as Lady of Durness Castle. After two decades in Greenland, Rydar Hansen is desperate to return to Norway and reclaim his inheritance ~ if he still has one. Thrown together by a North Sea storm, they don't speak the same language. But apart from each other, they have no future.

*****
"LOVING THE NORSEMAN has a lovely cast of characters, and a nice, cinematic quality to it. I also liked the balance Ms. Tualla creates in Ryder's character, allowing him to be vulnerable yet strong."
~ Grand Central Publishing





Lady Eryndal Bell is a fraud. A bastard orphan, she has claimed the Bell estate in the aftermath of the Black Death. When Lord Andrew Drummond, courtier to King David II, arrives Eryn hides her treasonous deception from the knight, despite his passionate proposal. After Drew discovers her lies, will he convince the king to spare her life? And will either one move beyond their stubborn pride and painful pasts to salvage love ~ before it's too late?

Happy readings.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hello fellow lovers of medieval romance.  I am Jill Hughey, author of The Evolution Series, historical romance set in the Carolingian Empire in the 830s.  The Carolingian Empire covered a vast area of Europe that Charlemagne conquered.  I think the 800s are technically part of the Middle Ages but many readers consider medieval romance anything set prior to the frillier times.

Although I read Regency and other types of historical romance, I do get tired of England.  I really enjoy romance that is set somewhere new and has more rusticity than life in the ton.  I love stories that include a little humor; that have reasonably intelligent heroines and strong but human heroes; and are not too long-winded in their descriptions of clothing.  Since this is what I like to read it tends to inform what I like to write.  I have attempted to recapture the basic elements of the classic historical romances that I loved (Judith McNaught, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Julie Garwood) with a modern voice and fast pace.

I have released two books in my series so far.  The first is Unbidden, set mostly in 831 Francia.  Unbidden follows the story of Rochelle who manages her late father's estate and vehemently resists being matched by the emperor with David, a capable soldier and second son of a Bavarian nobleman.   Rochelle  fears that she will lose her independence.  She uses every weapon and tactic at her disposal to avoid the marriage, realizing too late that she may have lost the love of her life.

In print, Unbidden is 318 pages and has all 5-star reviews on Amazon.  It is also available for Kindle.

http://amzn.com/B0067DDX1M

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Have you read the Graistan Chronicles, a medieval series by Denise Domning?

This series is not new by any means, but it is now available in kindle at a very affordable price. Besides, if you haven't read it, it's new to you. Denise Domning is an expert in the Middle Ages. She was successfully published in medieval romance with large publishers when I was struggling with my first book. She inspired me to write gritty characters, and to do exacting research. She was a medievalist even before she wrote her first novel. Here is an overview of her Graistan Chronicles series:


The Graistan Chronicles, 1194-1197 (sometimes known as the Seasons series)



WINTER'S HEAT: Winter’s Heat - A powerful baron forced to marry for want of an heir. A woman's expectation to rule an abbey torn from her. Now, a tide of treachery rises around them and their only hope is to trust, to cherish and to love unconditionally.


"Splendid...A superstar in the making" -Romantic Times



 



SUMMER'S STORM: Summer’s Storm


In a world where folk are either common or noble, this knight is neither and both. When he finds the only woman who is his equal, he takes her from her abusive husband knowing they will pay the ultimate price for what he dares. On that day can she find the courage to defy death and reach for the happiness that is her true legacy?


Praise for Summer's Storm
Ms. Domning combines the well-thought out plot with the well developed characters of a true professional! --- Diane Potwin -- Copyright © 1994-97 Literary Times, Inc. All rights reserved




SPRING'S FURY Spring’s Fury


A woman trained to wield a sword, plotting revenge against the man who killed her sire. A knight, claiming her land as his own. If they are to survive the hungry season it will take every bit of his talent for taming wild creatures.


"Ms. Domning's mastery of the time is evident in this sparkling medieval jewel. Denise Domning directs a riveting presentation of rollicking action with a marvelous cast of characters in a superb plot line, headlining two unforgettable lovers that are sure to find a lasting place in your heart. Denise Domning's impressive talent for mesmerizing her readers leaves them dreaming long after the last page."---Lori Wright -- Copyright © 1994-97 Literary Times, Inc. All rights reserved -- From Literary Times


AUTUMN'S FLAMEAutumn’s Flame


One pregnant widow trapped in the sheriff's care and grieving for the frail son torn from her arms. A knight, scarred in body and soul, and a wee lass who has lost all hope and heart. They must learn to trust again if they are to save themselves from those plotting to destroy them.


"Domning has done an incredible job of giving the reader a true flavor of medieval life..."




A LOVE FOR ALL SEASONS A Love for All Seasons
From Library Journal: Summoned home from her convent refuge by her greedy, vindictive husband, Johanna of Stanrudde is stunned to find her town starving, herself accused of adultery, and her husband plotting the destruction of the only man she's ever loved. Strong, vivid writing and compelling characters quickly pull readers into the harsh reality of 12th-century Britain, and a multilayered plot and well-handled sexual tension keep them entranced. In the fifth and final volume of her "Seasons" series, Domning (Autumn's Flame, Topaz, 1995) uses dual time periods in alternating (and somewhat confusing) chapters to provide a well-researched, intensely sensual story of the medieval merchant class that nicely completes the set. Domning lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


ReviewDenise Domning is spectacular! She explores every human emotion with a cunning eye and an open heart! A one of a kind author!Kristina Wright -- Copyright © 1994-97 Literary Times, Inc. All rights reserved -- From Literary Times


Here are the buying links again. Happy Reading!

Monday, March 19, 2012

PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE - Curse of the Lost Isle Book One

I wasn't expecting it to be published this month, but it all happened at once. My first book in the long awaited medieval series CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, titled PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE, is out today from Books We Love Ltd.

The publisher's cover artist did a super cool job, and used cover model Jimmy Thomas (my favorite), and I am thrilled. The book is available today in kindle on Amazon for $2.99. Here is the link:
http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Bretagne-Curse-Lost-ebook/dp/B007K1EGAM/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_11

Here is what the book is about:

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.

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.


I hope you check it out and give the page a like and agree with the tags.


Thanks for being such loyal followers.


Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Guns, Swords, Romance with a kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com/


Vijaya's books at Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com/author/vijayaschartz