Characters in Motion: Bestselling Author Margaret Porter

A Pledge of better timesLady Diana de Vere, the heroine of A Pledge of Better Times, was born into an aristocratic and prominent family of the late 17th century. Her father is an earl, a courtier and trusted advisor to Charles II, a position he retains—for a time—under James II. The landscape of Diana’s life, therefore, consists of the royal palace of Whitehall in London—her extended family’s dwellings lie within the palace complex. In a very real sense she’s closed off from the common citizen, from ordinary life, apart from her interaction with servants. Her world is one of opulence and privilege, and also one of restricted movements. A large part of my research was visiting sites were familiar to her during her lifetime, which allowed me to envision her in the actual spaces she had occupied and to imagine her in the ones that no longer exist.

Her father, Lord Oxford, welcomes her questions and provides supportive guidance. Her mother, despite a scandalous past as a courtesan, is far less tolerant of what she perceives as Diana’s faults, and she’s determined that her daughter will achieve a wealthy and advantageous marriage. As a maid of honour to Queen Mary II, my secondary heroine, Diana finds a sort of freedom living away from home, following queen and court from Whitehall to Hampton Court to Kensington and back. Not only does her position remove her from her mother’s orbit, it enables a semi-clandestine courtship by Charles Beauclerk, son of King Charles II and actress Nell Gwyn. As married woman and duchess, Diana’s intelligence, independent spirit, and tendency to speak her mind create conflict on more than one occasion.

Diana’s habits and pursuits are typical of an aristocratic female of her time—needlework, music, dancing, and drawing. Religious instruction in her early life takes firm root, and her faith is a source of strength in difficult times, and supports her during life’s soul-searing tragedies. Her fondness for gardens and sewing and devotional writings make her the ideal companion for Queen Mary, who shares and fosters these interests.

Diana’s personality is a mixture of calm serenity, attractive to the troubled and often agitated Queen Mary, determination, and occasional tempestuousness. In her youth she has convictions but lacks empowerment, but as she matures she gains a certain amount of agency. She will exert herself to control or to remedy a situation, and then faces the consequences with resignation. Her loyalty to her queen, her duty to her family, and her fidelity to her husband are ruling attributes. But she can be prejudiced as well, and finds herself unable to warm to King William—she sees firsthand the distress he causes his wife through his frequent absences. Yet her husband secures His Majesty’s favour, and retaining it is paramount to him.

Diana’s greatest antagonist in early life is her own mother, who values her as an asset to exploit for the family’s advantage, and who hopes to sever her daughter’s relationship with “Nelly’s brat.” Queen Mary’s antagonist is her sister Princess Anne, who causes much grief and anger from insubordination and through her relationship with her confidante Sarah Churchill, the Countess and later the Duchess of Marlborough. The latter is not only an antagonist to the queen, she pulls strings to shatter one of Diana’s most cherished hopes. Sarah was born a commoner, and her unkindness towards Diana—an aristocrat from birth—arises from jealousy.

Charles, Diana’s suitor and eventual husband, faces antagonists at court and on the battlefield—as does her father. For them, the greatest personal antagonist is King James II. Each man strives in different ways to cope with the stubborn and imperious monarch, with varying degrees of success. King James, a Roman Catholic convert, is so fanatical about his religion that he disregards Parliamentary laws and protocols, and thus brings about his destruction. Lady Oxford, Diana’s mother, is antagonistic towards Charles, mocking him in public and in private. In her opinion, he’s an unworthy husband for a de Vere and lacks the money needed to restore the family’s fortunes.

My characters’ self-image is of great significance, with powerful impact upon plot and conflicts within the story. Royal blood flows through the veins of Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Ablans: his father and grandparents and prior ancestors were kings and queens of England. Yet his mother was the lowest of commoners. Nell Gwyn, raised in a brothel, sold oranges in the theatre and was an actress before the king made her his mistress. Charles can never feel completely comfortable at the royal court, especially after his father’s death. He chooses instead a voluntary exile in order to become a soldier. As an army officer, he believes, he can rise to prominence on his own merits. This ambition is unexpectedly undermined, and when he discovers by whom he does not react well.

As for Diana, she is a woman of sterling reputation and great depth, but most people in her world (and down through history) regard her primarily as a court beauty. The greatest painter of the day painted her—repeatedly—and she retained her looks till her dying day. Her mother believed that the girl’s lovely face destined her for a brilliant match rather than a match based on passion, affection, and compatibility. As a married woman, Diana wonders whether her beauty alone attracts her husband instead of other qualities she values in herself. Her beauty, like Charles’s bastardy, is isolating, troublesome, and a source of inner conflict. She tends to judge others as critically as she does herself, but that judgment is usually tempered by an effort to understand…something her husband is slower to do.

Lord Oxford, Diana’s father, has lived long and seen much. He tends to regard himself as a relic of the past, yet he’s pragmatic enough to be progressive when necessary. During the Civil Wars he was Royalist—twice he was imprisoned by Cromwell on suspicion of being a spy—and believes himself forever loyal to the Stuarts. When James II tests this loyalty in unexpected ways, his lordship’s conscience as a member of Parliament and as a Protestant force him to turn against his king and support the Williamite cause.

Queen Mary, for a variety of reasons, has low self-esteem and a poor self-image. Her uncle King Charles married her off to her Dutch first cousin, a complete stranger. But her dread and sorrow at leaving England for a foreign court gave way to a true and lasting love. She’s tortured by guilt over her repudiation of her father the King when her husband seizes the crown for himself. Although her claim to England’s throne is stronger than William’s, she regards herself as his inferior, unfit to rule, and willingly cedes all authority to him. Yet it is she who is—most unhappily—left in control of the nation while he’s away fighting his endless wars. At the same time she must deal with her recalcitrant sister Anne and the problematic Lady Marlborough. Adding to these woes is her husband’s infidelity, and the fact that his mistress is a courtier—and much less attractive than Mary.

For me, writing biographical historical fiction requires the weaving of three necessary strands to form a plot. First there’s the factual biographical record of the individuals depicted—gleaned from period diaries, newspaper accounts, portrait sittings, memoirs, family genealogies, and other primary sources. Then there’s the factual historical record of their times—what significant events did they participate in, how were they affected by events near or far, with whom were they likely to interact on a regular or irregular basis. And lastly, but in a way the most important for a fiction writer, is the imagination, the creative component that enables the author to invent.

The bare facts of biography can’t really reveal how a real-life individual felt at any given moment. The private aspects of life—personal opinions, passions, deepest feelings about self or others—are concealed areas of past lives, the least accessible aspects of the individuals. Especially if the characters are relatively obscure, as Diana and Charles are. I must therefore invent conversations, reactions, consequences for my characters. I have to draw conclusions from research that I hope bear a semblance of accuracy, but I can never lose sight of the fact that I am telling a story for the purpose of entertaining—informing about history and enlightening about the human condition are wonderful side benefits. That combination of elements made me love historical fiction in childhood, and they’ve kept me writing it throughout my adulthood!

A Pledge of Better Times

“Porter’s ambitious novel of 17th-century England is brimming with vivid historical figures and events . . . rigorously researched and faithfully portrayed.” ~  Publishers Weekly

“A true delight for fans of monarchy. . . Porter does a sensational job portraying the time period . . . the relationship between Charles and Diana is complex and interesting.” ~ The Examiner

“Elegant prose and vivid detail…sweeps you into late Stuart England.” ~ Marci Jefferson, author of Enchantress of Paris and Girl on the Golden Coin

margaretporterthumb1Because I was born into a family of readers and writers and scholars and travelers, there’s no mystery about how or why I found my profession. From a very early age I invented characters and composed scenes and stories in my head. At about 10 years old I first saw my own words printed–in the grammar school newsletter that I co-founded, typed, and published. Around the same time I decided to combine my theatrical and my writing ambitions, and adapted all my favourite youth novels into scripts.

Since then many, many more words have been published: novels, nonfiction articles on British history and travel and theatre, website content, book and film reviews, my M.A. thesis, advertising copy…and more.

Website Website

Twitter @MargaretAuthor

Blog Blog

Characters in Motion with Janet Wertman

I’d like to welcome Janet Wertman to Layered Pages today. Janet is taking part in my characters in Motion series and talks with us about her earliest draft of Jane the Quene. Be sure to check out her links below and click on her website to learn more about her.

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Janet WertmanFirst, let me thank you for this series and the opportunity to discuss Characters in Motion. It was a fun exercise for me – especially since it was a topic I struggled with. I didn’t get to create the story from my characters, I had to create my characters from the story…and likable ones at that!

My debut novel, Jane the Quene, is the story of Jane Seymour, the third wife for whom Henry VIII executed Anne Boleyn. A lot of people know the basic facts, and virtually all of them are Team Anne.  But there is a way to tell Jane’s story that highlights its natural poignancy. That’s the story I wanted to tell, the one that would give Jane a team of her own – or at least acceptance.

The earliest drafts of the novel failed to do that. I wanted to make sure I got the story factually right, so I established my markers – very specific dates on which things happened – and I filled in the characters based on how they were reported to have acted at that time (I did have some wiggle room thanks to conflicting reports from inconsistent chroniclers, which let me pick and choose from a tapestry of stories that many had heard before, and reinterpret them in the way that felt right to me). As my writing books suggested, I told each scene from the point of view of the person most impacted in it …but that led to me giving voices to eight people – Jane, Henry, Edward, Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, Anne Seymour, even Mary. Jane’s voice and experience were lost, and the story was flat.

Then I found a great developmental editor who told me that I needed to forget the objective story and make it all about Jane’s personal experience. I could keep my timeline but I had to drastically cut the POVs. She originally suggested keeping only Jane’s voice, but I knew I needed a second someone to tell the other side of the story, someone who could detail the actual plotting that was taking place. Cromwell was the perfect choice – he was another vilified character with a poignant story (though the poignancy does not emerge until the close of this book), and he allowed me to reveal more of Henry (Jane saw him as good, Cromwell saw him as evil).

jane-the-queen-book-cover

From there, everything just fell into place. Since everything I wanted to say had to be filtered through Jane or Cromwell, I found myself showing more and telling less. Making each scene unfold slowly, with sensory details to anchor it. This was fiction after all and I was able to layer in the imagined private moments of Jane’s journey.  The September 1535 meeting in the gardens, the April 1536 hunting trip where Jane learns that Anne will die…these were the key pieces of the narrative. Invented, but still loosely based on facts (like the fact that Henry loved concocting medicines…the fact that hunting involved unmaking the deer and sharing the “good” organs on the spot…).  I had almost free rein with these, except for one particular pivotal scene: The December 1536 confluence of two blessed events (Mary’s return to court, London gathering on the frozen Thames to cheer on the royal procession to church) with two tragic ones (Jane’s father dying and another miscarriage). Luckily, everything worked (assuming a relatively speedy messenger!).

I’m finding the same challenges in the sequel: I am currently working on The Path to Somerset, which is the story of Edward Seymour (another vilified character with a poignant story…I have a pattern!) during the second three-set of Henry’s wives (Henry’s crazy years). Jane was about morality, Somerset is about power and risk. I am really enjoying getting to motivation in between the things we know happened…though I have to say I look forward to the editing process as I already know some places to be smoothed out a bit!

Janet Wertman

Author Links:

LINKS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

For more information on Janet and her book Jane the Quene, go to her wonderful website, where she blogs on Tudor history.

Facebook Author Page

My Twitter

Jane’s Twitter (yes, she has her own – and tweets different stuff than I do!):

Pinterest

Google+ 

Be sure to check out Nancy Bilyeau’s  interview with Janet!

 

 

 

 

PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY IS AN HISTORICAL MYSTERY, BUT IT’S ALSO A TOUR OF FLORENCE

Welcome Donna Russo Morin to Layered Pages! 

Thank you so very much for hosting me today. It’s always a pleasure to have a chance to chat with bloggers and their readers.

PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Da Vinci’s Disciples has its historical basis rooted firmly in truth…one of the greatest conspiracies of the 15th century, a conspiracy that reached all the way to the Vatican. An assassination plot history now calls the Pazzi Conspiracy. With such a firm historical foundation, it allowed me to immerse myself fully in the city of Florence, as it was in 1478. And thanks to the many resources, both paper and virtual, the details of the setting found their way onto my page. It even allowed me to create a map, something I’ve always wanted to do.

Renaissance Florence map

Today, I’d like to share some of those remarkable architectural delights with you.

We must start where the story starts, where the assassination takes place: in Brunelleschi’s Duomo. In truth the Gothic style basilica, part of the complex of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers Cathedral), was originally designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. Built on the ruins of the 7th century Santa Raparata Church, construction on the new structure began in 1296; it wasn’t complete, as it stands today—as it was in 1478—until 1436.

 

Duomo collage

The exterior façade is a checkerboard of marble using three different colors and strains of the opulent stone. Only in comparison, can the inside be called rather plain. By far one of its most enchanting features is the mosaic pavements that cover the floor.

But it is the dome itself that has always made the Duomo not only one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world, but one of its most innovative. Using buttresses was forbidden in Florence, for it was a favored technique of their enemies to the north. Creating an unsupported dome had never been done before. Only a Renaissance genius such as Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) would dare attempt it. For decades, Florentines feared it would fall upon their heads, especially during times of unrest, when they believed the wrath of God would strike the dome, burying any beneath in a fatal rubble. Today, the golden-bricked dome is one of Florence’s most recognized monuments and dominates the skyline.
Palazzo della Signoria collage

Giuliano de’ Medici is murdered. His brother, the powerful Lorenzo de’ Medici survives. But he would never be the same again. He sets out on a rampage of vengeance that would eventually find close to one hundred executed. Lorenzo’s preferred method of eliminating his enemies…throwing them out a window of the Palazzo della Signoria (now known as the Palazzo Vecchio), a rope wrapped around their throats.

The government palace is made of solid rusticated stonework and is enhanced with two rows of Gothic windows. It is from these windows that the Otto, the eight that ruled the police forces of Florence, flung the Medici enemies.

Built in 1299 by the citizens of the original Florence commune, it has been enlarged and enriched by decorative details in the many years since. It is at one of the main entrances to the palace that Michelangelo’s David originally stood. This most famous sculpture has since been replaced with a copy when the original was damaged in one of Florence’s many military challenges.
Santo Spirito collage

The secret society of women artists that inhabit Portrait of a Conspiracy are a product of my imagination only. Santo Spirito, the church in whose sacristy the woman have their ‘secret studio’ is very real.

The Basilica of the Holy Spirit (simply known as Santo Spirito) is located in the Oltrarno quarter of the city, in 15th century Florence, one of the wealthiest sections of the city.  The original structure was also built in the 13th century. The existing structure was also designed by Brunelleschi after it suffered both physical and spiritual ruin during a period of the city’s civil unrest. The first cornerstones of the building, the pillars, were delivered ten days before Brunelleschi’s death. His followers Antonio Manetti, Giovanni da Gaiole, and Salvi d’Andrea completed the work begun by the master.

Santo Spirito will play a major role in all volumes of the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy. It is not only the home of this secret art society, it is the location of some of their most decisive challenges.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Florence. You’ll find more, including the actual names of the streets as they existed in the 15th century, within the pages of my books.

Book Blurb:

02_The-Portrait-of-Conspiracy

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

“A riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.” -C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 About the Author

03_Donna Russo Morin (2)

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on

Twitter@DonnaRussoMorin.

 Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 10
Review at Unshelfish
Review at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 11
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 12
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 13
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, May 16
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 17
Review at Seize the Words

Wednesday, May 18
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Thursday, May 19
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, May 20
Guest Post at Layered Pages
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Monday, May 23
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, May 24
Review at #redhead.with.book
Interview at Reading the Past

Wednesday, May 25
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, May 26
Review at Puddletown Reviews

Friday, May 27
Review at The True Book Addict

Monday, May 30
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, May 31
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, June 1
Review at The Book Connection

Thursday, June 2
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, June 3
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Giveaway

To enter to win an eBook of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY by Donne Russo Morin please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. FIVE copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link to enter giveaway click here

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Guest post with Author Peni Jo Renner

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They slogged up Gallows Hill, forming a somber and silent queue as they took their places beneath the shade of the great oak tree. Dounton and his men lashed the two ladders together while the spectators assembled at the base of the hill. The hem of Rebecca’s mud-coated shift clung to her legs. Even without the chains, her feet felt as though they were leaden. These are my very last footfalls, she thought glumly. Ascending this cursed hill. Lord, let not my last thoughts be those of hatred and vengeance. The militia assembled, sticks poised above their snare drums as Ned dropped the ropes into a careless heap at the base of the tree. Then he clambered up the ladder and straddled the sturdy limb. Reverend Noyes again officiated, his voice resonating in the crisp autumn air. He invoked the name of God and then signaled the waiting militia to begin the execution call.

Martha Corey stepped forward with as much dignity as possible. She mumbled prayers as Dounton, puffing casually on his pipe, secured her arms and legs. Flinging her over his shoulder, he ascended the ladder and placed the noose around her neck. As she stood upon the wrung and Noyes asked for last words, she locked eyes with Rebecca. “God be with you, Martha Corey!” Rebecca cried, and Martha smiled sadly. The condemned woman proclaimed her innocence a last time before she was turned off the ladder.

So goes one of the darker scenes in Puritan Witch; The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, my debut novel! Not only is it my first published book, but it is a true labor of love. Rebecca Blake Eames, my ninth great-grandmother, was one of over 140 people accused and imprisoned during the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692. We are fortunate that several documents of the times survived 2 fires and are still in existence. But unless one happens across Rebecca Eames in a genealogy search, her name is not as well-known as some involved during that horrific episode in American history.

It was during a genealogical search that I myself stumbled upon Rebecca and her story. Through www.Ancestry.com, I got in contact with a third cousin. We began emailing and immediately became close. She was the one to tell me about Rebecca Eames’ involvement with the Salem Witch Trials, a subject that always intrigued me. I told my cousin how I “used to write,” and I said, “It’s a shame I don’t write anymore; that would make a great novel!”
“So write one,” she said (or words to that effect.) And just like that, my love of writing, which had been dormant for nearly 25 years, was reawakened!

Puritan Witch has gotten several good reviews on www.amazon.com, www.bn.com and www.goodreads.com. I wrote it for those of us who have a rather short attention span; its 242 pages, less than 60,000 words and can be read in an afternoon. I’m really hoping others discover Puritan Witch and I hope they enjoy it. Like I said before, it was a labor of love to write, and a tribute to a beloved ancestress whose real-life ordeal was more horrific than I can ever imagine.

About Author:

03_Peni Jo Renner

Peni Renner is the author of “Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames”, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great grandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachusetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into genealogy and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.

After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.

I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.

For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.

Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 28 Book Blast at Broken Teepee Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, April 29 Book Blast at The Lit Bitch Book Blast at A Book Geek Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Wednesday, April 30 Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover

Thursday, May 1 Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, May 2 Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, May 3 Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Sunday, May 4 Book Blast at I’d Rather Be Reading

Monday, May 5 Book Blast at Kincavel Korner

Tuesday, May 6 Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 7 Review at Books in the Burbs Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, May 8 Book Blast at Curling Up with a Good Book

Friday, May 9 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past Book Blast at Carpe Librum

Monday, May 12 Interview at Flashlight Commentary Book Blast at West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, May 13 Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 14 Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, May 15 Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, May 16 Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, May 19 Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, May 20 Review at 100 Pages a Day Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 21 Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 22 Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Friday, May 23 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer Book Blast at Reviews by Molly

Saturday, May 24 Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, May 26 Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, May 27 Review at WTF Are You Reading? Guest Post at Layered Pages

Wednesday, May 28 Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 30 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, June 2 Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

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Guest Post with Author R.L. Syme

02_The Runaway Highlander

I would like to welcome, R.L. Syme to Layered Pages today. Author of the The Highland Renegades Series.

When I first conceived of The Runaway Highlander, I had one basic plot point. I knew that two minor characters escaped from the dungeon at Berwick. I knew that there was someone there to help them, but I didn’t know who that someone was yet. Then, I started writing character sheets and the connection between Anne de Cheyne became clear.

The de Cheyne family are a real historical family who really did have power in the Caithness region of the Highlands during this time period. There were some discussions in my research about fealty to England being the deciding factor for some of these lorships, and given that the Sinclair family already had ties to the historical de Cheyne family, I decided to flesh them out and meet them.

Anne de Cheyne was born out of the knowledge that, in The Outcast Highlander, Broccin Sinclair was engaged to Anne for most of his childhood. It made sense that, when she found out he was in Berwick and she was about to be sold into marriage, she would consider helping Broc escape from prison in exchange for his helping her escape from her bad marriage contract.

The research for this book was partly done when I researched the first book, because their timelines overlap and I wanted to stay true to the real events (big events) that were happening during the wars of Scottish independence taking place at the time. For the first book, I spent about six months buried in books and maps and library catalogs. So much fun. For this book, I reprised some of that research, but did a lot of locational searching.

I’d discovered the “Street View” version of Google Maps, so once I figured out exactly where these things were set, I used the street view to look at the surrounding areas in order to get a sense for the setting. That was a lot of fun. But lots of work. It’s amazing how much time it takes to go even just a mile or two in that kind of street view.

This particular genre, Scottish romance, requires a good amount of detail, so the discovery of Google Street View was really a fantastic one for me. However, this Fall, I’m going to be making my first research trip to Scotland and I’m absolutely ecstatic. I feel like the more authentic details (things like smells and touches) can really only be known if you’ve physically been in the space.

Of course, that provides a huge challenge to write well in this genre, because I haven’t been to Scotland yet. But I’ve done so much research and have been reading Scottish historical romances since I was a kid. So I definitely love the genre.

My favorite part of writing Scottish historical romance is actually the community of writers I belong to who all write Celtic romance. In the national Romance Writers of America organization, we have created a little home called Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, where we all love Celtic romance of all kinds. I’ve been the President over at CHRW for almost three years now, and on the Board for five. I adore Celtic Hearts and I’m so happy to get to have research conversations with my favorite Celtic authors, and hear about their work process and take workshops from them. It’s so rewarding.

The Highland Renegades Series

Book One: The Outcast Highlander Book Two: The Runaway Highlander Book Three: The Pirate Highlander — Coming Soon!

Buy the Book

Amazon UK Amazon US Barnes & Noble CreateSpace

About the Author

03_Becca Syme

R.L. Syme works at a youth theatre, teaching kids performing arts and musical performance classes/camps when she’s not writing. Otherwise, she’s putting her Seminary degree to good use writing romance novels. Let not all those systematic theology classes go to waste…

For more information please visit R.L. Syme’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 14 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 15 Review at Bibliotica

Monday, May 19 Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, May 20 Review at A Bookish Girl (The Outcast Highlander)

Wednesday, May 21 Review at A Bookish Girl (The Runaway Highlander)

Thursday, May 22 Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Girl

Friday, May 23 Guest Post at Layered Pages

Monday, May 26 Review at My Not So Vacant Bookshelf

Tuesday, May 27 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 29 Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, May 30 Review at Lily Pond Reads Review at From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 2 Review at The Mad Reviewer Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, June 3 Review at The Most Happy Reader

Wednesday, June 4 Interview at The Most Happy Reader

Thursday, June 5 Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Friday, June 6 Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Monday, June 9 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, June 11 Review at Fic Central

Thursday, June 12 Review at Reviews by Molly Interview at Books and Benches

Friday, June 13 Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read

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