Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chivalry Is NOT Dead!


Chivalry is not dead. At least not in Canada!

Vincent Gabriel Kirouac is six weeks into a cross-Canada journey, and he does it the medieval way – atop a horse, in full knightly regalia. It can get hot under a helmet on sunny days. His purpose? To prove that chivalry is not dead. And, to demonstrate that, he is chivalrous with his horse, Coeur-de-Lion (Lionheart) – they share the hard work by walking some and riding some.


“I’m crossing Canada on horseback dressed as a knight, to remind people of the values of long ago, such as devotion,” he said. “All the values of the knight.”

So far, it works. Wherever he shows up, stares turn to laughs and in the end a friendly welcome from a good many strangers.

He started in Riviere-du-Loup, a town on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, a month and a half ago. He has been heading west ever since, keeping to the back roads, although he made an exception to visit the capital, Ottawa, where he sang O Canada on Parliament Hill. You can’t ride a horse down the main highway and you can’t check into most hotels with one!

Kirouac is unemployed at the moment, after working for two years to raise funds for the trip. He describes himself as a “full time knight”.

Somewhere in all this there is a medieval song about courtly love just waiting to be written, one about hardships and pilgrimage, and a lady waiting at the end. Like the Roman de la Rose, eight centuries later and minus the naughty bits!

If you come across this modern-era knight (who carries a cell phone) no need to bow or curtsy – a smile and a wave of hand will do fine, thank you very much.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Three of My Favourite Hunks

I have a soft spot for three actors who are unfortunately no longer with us. All easy on the eye!


Here is Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments. I liked him best in the movie Taras Bulba, but he didn't take off his shirt in that film! He was born Yuliy Borisovich Bryner in 1920 in Vladivostock, Russia. He was part Romani on his mother's side, and in 1977, he was named Honorary President of the International Romani Union, an office that he kept until his death.


Here's a great picture of Robert Mitchum taken about 1944. What is your favourite Mitchum movie? He played in 135 of them. When Mitchum was two years old, his father, a railroad worker, was killed by a train.


And the courageous Patrick Swayze. What can we say? Ghost is my favourite. People Magazine named him The Sexiest Man Alive in 1991. Singer, songwriter, dancer and actor. A great guy!


Quick reminder the Indie Book Blowout ends Mother's Day. A ton of great ebooks for 99 cents each. My Conquering Passion is one of them.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

USE IT OR LOSE IT! by Mimi Barbour


Use it or lose it! As retirement approached that old saying kept reverberating, haunting me. I worried that there wasn’t heaps of brainpower left to take any chances on losing even a little bit. So I decided the answer was to keep busy, get involved and learn something new.



I tried ceramics and stain glass, quilting and cross-stitch. They were just too much work. All that stitching, glass cuts and cleaning up my messes, (you wouldn’t believe the messes!) exhausted me. I needed something that would be less taxing, more fun.



For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with this force inside to create something that would make me proud—an endeavour that would delight my family and also keep my juices flowing. Since I've read thousands of romance books, and everyone knows how easy they are to write (uh-huh), I decided this cushy pastime would fill my days and keep my mind occupied.



How could a mature (notice I didn't say old) woman be so…so dumb?



But in my defence, it did seem like a good idea, and so I got started—wrote the first book. Now you might ask yourself, where do the ideas come from? My best professional answer is...heck if I know!  For me they magically appear after reading a particularly funny article or watching an appealing show on television. It’s not the whole story, you understand, just that one small glimpse of a character, or it could be a little nudge about a ‘what-if’ scenario where maybe an angel has to kick-start a shy, young women to get on with it, live up to her potential, and then be happy with who she is.



Remember though, books don’t get out there by themselves. I needed help to market this…ahhh ‘bestseller’. (Unknowledgeable about protocol in the business, I actually sent it along to a top New York agent, Donald Maas, with instructions for him to tell Nora Roberts to move over because there was a new author in town.) Still have a copy of the e-mail, and blush when I remember how serious I was, but it is sort of funny.)



Not hearing back from Donald, I decided that I would do more research and used the Internet, but this didn't work. Feedback from real people, living breathing individuals who were either going through, or had gone through, the same experiences would be a far better way to learn what was necessary. You know the old saying – search and you shall find? Well that's what happened with me.



I joined a local RWA group and met wonderful, giving, kind-hearted ladies who were happy to share their knowledge with a raw beginner…and trust me, some of my questions were pretty silly and na├»ve. Their patience was unending, more than I deserved and they took me to a place where I began to gain knowledge and the confidence to create a book that made me proud. Back in those days my stubbornness carried me through so many setbacks. Persistence and my new found love with being a writer kept me glued to my computer.



Slowly, I became involved with other groups, pushed myself to promote my work, and even entered contests. That was scary! But doing so opened the door for me to be published with Wild Rose Press. This time I didn't hesitate to join their loop and interact with their super friendly group of authors. Once again, in this my new career, I found strength and unprecedented support. Women, who I interacted with online, people I never saw in my life, became my friends. Not just co-authors, but honest-to-goodness pals. I suffered their bad reviews and celebrated their successes, as they did mine. They made the introverted daily grind behind my lonely computer screen something to look forward to—even enjoy, because I wasn't really alone.



Since then, I've reached out to many others and realized I've come full circle. I now have something to share and give back. Over time, I've learned so much about this wonderful profession, and now it's my turn to repay. I've managed to create something lasting, a gift worth more than wealth—friendships that make me truly happy and a career that has given this old brain more activity than it should be subjected to. 

I do love these golden years! 

As a recipient of Mimi's assistance and support in my writing journey, I can attest to her altruistic character. It has been a great pleasure to have her on my blog today.
Mimi and I are involved this week in a FREE promotion on Kindle. She is featuring her novel, His Devious Angel. May 7-9 ONLY.
Here is my review of her book. I loved it.
If you love tongue-in-cheek paranormal romances, you’ll love this story.
We all carry baggage from our childhood. Sadie cannot forgive or forget the taunting and abuse she endured as an overweight schoolgirl. She believes all members of the male species are jerks.
Liam’s childhood demons feed on the shame he feels for his parents who shared a difficult and complex relationship. Traumatic experiences as a Special Forces operative in Iraq have only worsened his state of mind. He is a haunted man, plagued by shame, guilt and insomnia.
They struggle to help each other come to terms with their ghosts, aided by an unlikely guardian angel who looks like Johnny Depp, and a motley crew of whip smart dogs.
This seemingly light-hearted romance touches on deep-seated fears and nemeses that only love and forgiveness can counteract.
You will LOVE the ending of this story. And if you are a dog person, it’s a must-read.

Monday, 7 May 2012

FREE PAR-TAY is ON

I am excited to be part of the latest FREE Par-tay for May 7th to 9th. The Kindle version of my book, Conquering Passion will be FREE, along with dozens of others, all genres. Visit the FREE Par-tay website for a complete list.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

INCORPORATING LEGENDS AND MYTHS IN MEDIEVAL NOVELS by Vijaya Schartz

It's my pleasure to welcome award-winning author Vijaya Schartz to my blog today.


The Curse of the Lost Isle series proved difficult to place with a publisher, because of the number of genres it represented. It was not just historical, but medieval. It was romantic but had too much action and battle scenes to qualify as straight romance, and it was also fantasy because it was based upon authentic legends and myths, and involved a family of immortal (or very long lived) Celtic ladies related to Morgane the Fay. And as we well know, immortals are the stuff of legends.



Tour at Melusine-Fougeres
The setting and time period swept through several centuries, from Scotland during the Viking invasions, to the creation of Luxembourg in 963, the gold-rich hills of Forez, the mountains of Aragon, the first Crusade, Aquitaine, and the middle east during the Crusades... I had lots of research to do.



Born and raised in France, I had the advantage of language when researching this series among the folklore and legends of small French towns and villages, which in medieval times were thriving centers with fortresses, and a lot more important than they are today. It took many trips to Europe, which I also used to visit my family, and about a decade to piece together all the elements of my stories, so that they would make sense as a series.



Finally, I had a skeleton of story, settings for all the books in the series, important historical events for the backdrop, even a few authentic historical characters popping in, and I started writing. But I wanted the story to be realistic, and ring true enough for the reader to identify with the characters, beyond the great divide of time and cultures. I also wondered whether my readers, accustomed to my kick-butt heroines in science fiction settings, would follow me on this different path.



Roman Bridge, Dumfries,Scotland
Of course, my medieval heroines are just as strong. Immortals usually are. And I had written medieval stories before. Well, not really medieval, but an entire romantic science fiction series pitting a human medieval society against advanced technological races, titled the Chronicles of Kassouk. So medieval was already familiar to my loyal readers, and my bookshelves sagged with medieval research books.



But after all this preliminary work, the Curse of the Lost Isle series is finally out to a good start with PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE, published in March 2012 by Books We Love Ltd, and PAGAN QUEEN will follow later this spring. More books are expected to follow soon after. You can get an overview of the entire series on my website (click on medieval series at the top left)






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, 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.






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.



Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims she comes from the future. Her books collected many five star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Her stories have been compared to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance. So, go ahead, dare to experience the magic, and she will keep you entranced, turning the pages until the last line.



Find out more about Vijaya Schartz and her books on her website at: http://www.vijayaschartz.com