Thursday, 30 August 2012

Romancing The Hop

Click on the date button to open full post.

See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven,
If it disdained it's brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
From Love's Philosophy
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Well, after such beautiful words one is tempted to say – ‘Enough Said,’ but then it would be a very short blog indeed. Was this sentiment meant for Mary Shelley, I don’t know. But these words have always made me sigh. I can only imagine the original recipient’s reaction.

So this poem and the title of Romancing the Hop got me thinking about romance, love and kissing. Sometimes in this day and age we can lose sight of just how important a kiss is. It can represent so many things, love, friendship, affection and promise. A promise that things will work out, a promise that things have just begun or maybe, it’s a promise of a future together.
When I was seven years old I kissed Roland in our classroom. He was the son of a diplomat and was returning to France. I was shy so this kind of impulse was totally unexpected. I remember that he didn’t pull away even when the other kids started laughing, which was kind of sweet. I never saw Roland again but I hope he is well. *blows a kiss*
Can you remember your first kiss?

There’s a tightening of the stomach muscles as the anticipation rises. He nears and you can feel the heat from his body even though he’s not touching you. A thousand butterflies begin to spiral and dance in your tummy and your heart seems to quicken and beats as loud as a drum. As his lips come closer... and closer....
Kisses can surprise us and take us along paths we never thought we would travel.
They can be fleeting or sometimes lead to a lifetime...
But then occasionally they just don’t quite work...
                                                                    ... And your prince turns out to be just a toad.
But sometimes... just sometimes, the right kiss will linger forever.
I’m giving away a pdf copy of my medieval novella, ‘Capturing Bliss’. So leave a comment and your email address and go into the draw. I will choose a winner at the end of the hop. In addition to that, there are three grand prizes up for grabs -:
1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Large Swag Pack
Now to be eligible to win you have to leave comments and email addresses on the hop stops. Each comment equals another chance to win! Carrie Ann who is Romancing the Hop’s supreme leader will choose the winners at the end of the hop. For non U.S residents the 1st & 2nd are available in the form of Amazon or B&N Gift cards but the 3rd prize of swag is not (as you can see from the picture...too much international postage, guys!) The 'comment' button for this blog is right at the very bottom of the post.
Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by and I hope you enjoy Romancing the Hop!
Click on the link below to take you back .
Nicole xx

Capturing Bliss

In 12th-century England, love isn't part of the marriage equation. But Lady Blissot de Woodville adores her younger sister too much to see her suffer such a fate. Instead, Bliss recklessly switches places with her sister—and marries a total stranger under false pretenses! Fortunately, she soon discovers she shares a rare passion and genuine love with her new husband, the ardent Lord William Reynard. Yet the happier Bliss becomes, the more her secret weighs heavily on her heart...because one desperate lie could destroy everything she's come to cherish.


So in the spirit of kissing, I thought I would share Lady Blissot de Woodville’s first kiss from ‘Capturing Bliss’.
In a blink of an eye Lord William Reynard had caught her hand and gently pushed the large amethyst ring on her finger. Then with no urging from the monk, William caught her in his arms and slowly brought his lips down on hers. Bliss had no illusions, the kiss was merely a sealing of the marriage contract - it would be a cool and chaste token gesture. No doubt that William would be congratulating himself on the acquisition of her lands and coin that she brought to the union. No doubt he would be thinking of the heirs she would give him and the dynasty he would create.  Only a very few were lucky enough to marry for love and at least her sister, Ivetta could count herself among the privileged, Bliss thought as she felt William tilt her head back. She was expecting detachment and was surprised when it did not come. She felt William’s hand lightly cradling the back of her head as his lips gently touched hers; they were warm and soft and insistent. Bliss felt her mouth soften against his, he smelt of spice and wood smoke and the cold breeze that blows through the dark green wood. Her heart raced and her stomach fluttered as William deepened their kiss and before she could stop herself she instinctively wrapped her arm around his neck and kissed him back.


My new time travel romance, Until The Stars Burn Cold will be released on the 20th September!

Forbidden love.

 In ancient Persia, in the town of Adwan, Jinn is ripped from his beloved Shuri’s side. He is cursed into a ring as punishment for daring to love the wrong woman. Empires crumble, centuries pass and Jinn is still captive. That is until present day antiques dealer, Mia Templeton accidentally releases him.


The Trinket Seller's Daughter

Lost in the forest, Emelin runs for her life after her traveling party is massacred by outlaws. Sir Allard de Gerril is in pursuit of the ruthless band when he finds Emelin. Bound by vengeance the pair seek out the outlaws, but as they journey through the dark woods revenge gives way to passion. With each passing day, Emelin dares to dream that there is a place for a lowly trinket seller’s daughter by the knight’s side. But soon Emelin & Allard become the hunted. Emelin fears that she and Allard will not have a future together as they may never escape the tangled wood alive.
Covers - Pink Petal Books - Tibbs Designs & Winterheart Design




Friday, 24 August 2012

Romance Through The Ages

Hi everyone,
                      I’m very excited and over the moon as I’ve just discovered that The Trinket Seller’s Daughter has come 2nd in the Historical Novella section of the Romance Through The Ages (RTTA) contest. This is the annual contest which is run by Hearts Through History.

Lost in the forest, Emelin runs for her life after her traveling party is massacred by outlaws. Sir Allard de Gerril is in pursuit of the ruthless Archer and his band when he finds Emelin. Bound by vengeance the pair seek out Archer, but as they journey through the dark woods revenge gives way to passion. With each passing day, Emelin dares to dream that there is a place for a lowly trinket seller’s daughter by the knight’s side. Yet as Archer begins to hunt the couple, Emelin fears that she and Allard will not have a future together as they may never escape the tangled wood alive.

He was going to die.

Allard cursed as he fell. Around him swirled the chaos of battle. He could hear the clang of metal upon metal and the primordial cries of conquest and defeat rang in his ears. He inhaled and the air caught at the back of his throat, it was tainted with dust, sweat and blood. He felt helpless as he was tossed from his horse’s back, but beneath that feeling was a growing ball of anger. He was angry at his own stupidity for walking blindly into a trap. He was angry because wasn’t fighting alongside with his men. Angry because he knew that in a moment he would be lying broken at the bottom of the ravine and mad as hell that he was going to die when he just didn’t want to. Time appeared to slow and Allard felt as if he was suspended in mid-air, just as a spider hangs in its glistening web. He could see the hills beyond the river, the fields of young green crops in the valley and the sleek black raven that was perched a few feet away in an overhanging branch – eyeing him with curiosity. Allard reached towards the bird but his body rotated and he plunged head first into the yawning chasm.

Emelin felt every bump and jolt in the road as the crude wheels of the little covered carriage inched along. She glanced nervously at the dense green forest which lined the road. The oaks were twisted, tall and broad. Their branches met and plaited high above with that of their sisters on the other side. The sun had trouble penetrating the foliage and only a few shafts of golden light illuminated the wood. Emelin felt as if she was in the nave of a great cathedral. All was quiet except for the slow and rhythmic sound of Hebby’s hooves.

“Be at peace, child. There is nothing to fear.” A deep and lyrical voice comforted beside her.

“All is well, Father. I am not afraid. It is just that Brother Arnauf said that the forest was a place of evil and should be avoided. He said that it was wicked and wild and filled with all the unnatural things that walk the world.” She smoothed out an imaginary crease in her pale grey gown.

“Emelin, I think that Brother Arnauf is a good and learned man but do not put too much weight behind what he believes is in the forest.” Roger’s blue eyes shone with amusement as     he turned and looked at his daughter, her eyes a mirror of his own. “Is this not the first time he has ventured out of the monastery in nearly twenty summers?”

Emelin laughed but quickly looked to see if Brother Arnauf was close enough to hear. To her relief she saw him walking quite a distance behind having an animated debate with his

fellow monk, Brother Carwin. The Benedictine monks were from St. Neots Priory and were journeying to St. Benedict’s Church in Cambridge on Church business. Two days ago whilst riding on the road to Cambridge, Emelin and her father had come across this small group of travellers which included the three monks, a cloth merchant and his wife, their servants, three peddlers and a minstrel. Brother Arnauf had hailed Roger to stop the carriage and asked him where they were headed.
“To the fair at Reach, Brother.” He replied with a smile. “I sell amulets, jewels and trinkets.”
“But the fair is still many days away, is it not held on Rogationtide?”
“Aye Brother, but my daughter and I wish to arrive a little early and old Hebby here is not as fast as he once was.” Roger said as he indicated with a nod towards a small brown horse which was harnessed to the carriage. “He has a stout heart but age is creeping upon him as it does with all things.”
“Then if you are not pressed for time, come and join our party and we will be in fellowship until Cambridge. The road is a dangerous place, yet I believe there is safety in numbers.” The old monk said before turning his smile to Emelin. “Besides my son, I think you have a far greater treasure to protect than your amulets, jewels and trinkets.”
Hearing the wisdom in the old man’s words, Roger decided they would join the party of travellers.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Clayton’s Conference - Reflections

Hi everyone,

                    So yesterday I attended my first Clayton’s Conference. The Clayton’s Conference is put on by The Romance Writers of Australia. It is an on line affair which runs simultaneously as the RWA (physical) Conference which was held this year at the Gold Coast. The organiser and captain at the wheel was the remarkable Jenny Schwartz. She was a pillar of strength and kept the rest of us rowdy Claytoneers in line. Thanks Jenny, for all your hard work.

            Friday night social was all about getting to know each other. It was lovely to meet everyone. I would also like to thank Jodie Smith who was an enormous help as co host. I, on the other hand gave out a few clues for our scavenger hunt and stood about with a virtual drinks tray and tried to look as if I was helping. There were a lot of laughs and a lot of prizes given away, thanks to the amazing generosity of the RWA members.

            The next morning was when the ‘work’ began. The first session was meeting Heather Howard from Entangled Publishing and Beth Walker from Secret Cravings Publishing. They spoke about what they were looking for in submissions and what each of their lines encapsulated. It was informative and got the little grey cells working.

            Next Jenny took up ‘High Concept Plotting’ and issued the Fast Fiction Challenge, which had lots of people grabbing the nearest pencil so they could scribble away.

            After that, we broke into two groups. Some headed to a chat about ‘What readers want’, led by Kate Cuthbert, Kat Mayo and Louise McNally. I was told it was fantastic, chatty and everyone learnt a lot.

I on the other hand, decided to face my demons head on and brave the synopsis writing session. I find them frustrating, awful, scary and I know that I am complete rubbish when it comes to writing them. Enter the wonderful Shona Husk  who led us through a step by step guide of how to write the perfect synopsis. Several people in the group said that they had ‘light bulb moments’... Me, I swear I heard the whole Hallelujah chorus singing. Suddenly the dreaded synopsis was no longer an evil, dark entity waiting to suck out my soul but something far less frightening and dare I say it ... feasible. Thank you Shona!

            After lunch, Maree Anderson led us through an interesting self publishing forum, which was followed by a chat with Shona Husk  *Who from now on shall forever be known as High Queen of the Synopsis* and Greta van der Rol. It was great and we covered all sorts of topics including promotion, back list, submissions and agents. Here Greta shared her memorable advice on submission guidelines...hehehe.

            Jess Anastasi, Melissa James and Chris Weston led a session called “Why We Write”. It was a fascinating look at different aspects of how and why writers... well, write. I love history and for me, Lisa’s talk on her research was enthralling.

            I found my first Clayton’s experience to be not only informative but also very supportive. Thanks to my fellow Claytoneers for making it such a fun and friendly conference.

            And once again I would like to thank everyone involved in the RWA’s Clayton Conference for their time, knowledge, generosity and hard work.

        Image  - Bigstock   

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Howloween Blog Hop

Hi everyone,
                     I know, I know... Halloween is still a bit away but I've signed up for the 'Howloween Blog Hop'. Looks like it's going to be fun. If you want to sign up there are still spaces.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Medieval Fairs

Medieval Fairs

The origins of the word ‘fair’ comes from the Latin ‘feria’, which means ‘free day’. In ancient Rome, ‘feriae publicae’ equalled a legal holiday.

During the Middle Ages the Church took part in sponsoring feast day and fairs. The main reason for this was lively commerce and trade translated into money and therefore revenue for the Church.

In England, a fair could only be held if it was granted a franchise by the crown. Between the years of 1199-1483AD, 2,800 grants of franchise for markets and fairs were bestowed.

Medieval fairs were held on and around a saint’s feast day. Thousands would flock to the town. Here, you could buy anything from hunting dogs, gloves, trinkets, jewellery and food. There was music, entertainment and luxury goods, such as spice and exotic fruit like oranges, figs and pomegranates.

In my story, The Trinket Seller’s Daughter, Emelin and her father are journeying to Reach fair. In 1201 AD, King John granted the town of Reach in Cambridgeshire a charter to hold a fair and I believe they have held a fair every year since. In 2001, Reach fair celebrated their 800th year anniversary.

I have a pdf copy of The Trinket Seller’s Daughter to giveaway. Please leave a comment and your contact details to be in the running.

Nicole  xx

References –

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
Medieval People by Eileen Power
Images -
Cover - Pink Petal Books / Winterheart Design