Archive | Jan 2015

Character Profile: Thunder

Seventh NightCharacter name:  Thunder
Parents names:  Storm and Majesty
Character’s Date of Birth: 24th day of the 11th month, year of reason 324
Place of Birth: Stables of Lord Harold of Fortesdale
Book appearing in: Seventh Night 
Profile:  Thunder is a black winged unicorn with a gold horn and unusually large for his breed.  He’s head strong and loyal and loves attention, particularly from his rider Phillip, who acquired a giant’s saddle from a trio of passing showmen.  Thunder loves to fly, with or without his rider, and being part pegasus, he has a good tolerance for the cold weather and enjoys playing in the snow.
Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation:  As a big fan of spotlighting undiscovered talent, I’d leave that up to the casting director.

Top Four Independent Author Mistakes Certain to Drive Away Readers, Potential Reviewers

new-york-times-best-selling-author3As an independent author who is very active on social media (twitter, facebook, and pinterest), I see a lot of book marketing posts.  If you read this blog regularly, you know I have eleven titles out and will be publishing my twelfth, Princess Anyu Returns, sometime before the 28th of February.  So I feel like I know something about this business.

 

Here are the top four mistakes I see independent authors making that are absolutely certain to drive away potential readers.

 

#1 Mentioning you checked spelling and grammar in your book description or on social media.

I am genuinely shocked at the number of times “authors” tout this as a reason to buy their book.  It takes MINUTES to run spell check in a word processing program.  You do not get a gold star or a pat on the head for doing this.  Adults are expected to do this.  Likewise, telling us that you hired an editor to correct your typos only tells us that you do not possess the language skills to write, let alone publish a book.

Writing is a job, a profession.  Treat it that way.  If you need editorial help, hire an editor. That is fine and many experts say you should anyway.  But for heaven’s sake, the only appropriate place to mention you used one is in the credits of your book — quietly and without any noise.

 

#2 NOT correcting spelling, grammar errors

Right after telling someone you corrected your spelling errors, the next best way to drive away a potential reader is to publish with spelling, typing, punctuation, and grammar errors in your book or in the book description.

Why?  Because leaving these errors in your published book screams of unprofessionalism.  It says “I expect you to treat me as a serious writer, but I am not going to bother to fix my mistakes before you read my book.”  It  disrespects readers and it hurts your reputation.

That said, mistakes do happen and sometimes they slip past the best of editors.  What distinguishes the best professionals from everyone else is the response given to locating these errors.  Professionals will quickly and quietly fix any errors they find and resubmit their books to their publishing platforms, knowing that doing so offers future readers a more perfect and more desirable product for purchase.

 

#3 Indiscriminately spamming social media and bloggers

No one likes a hard sell.  As a matter of fact in today’s world we are so accustomed to advertisements across media formats that we instinctively tune out ads in favor of engagement.  We want to be talked to and not talked at.

Enter social media forums and facebook groups, each of them designed around a central theme or purpose.  An effective group offers members conversation and social opportunities.  An effective book marketing group is a place where readers (potential customers) can discover new books without having to sift through a flood of advertisements for books they are not interested in.  This is one reason why I love Tom Tinney’s “Promoting My Published Book,” group.  By enforcing a strict set of rules for posting, readers are able to browse listings relevant to them without having to sift through posts of absolutely no interest to them.

Follow these rules and you are golden; you reach the readers most interested in buying your posts.  But post without care or concern for what the group is about and you alienate not only readers, but the colleagues and potential reviewers most willing and able to get the word out about your books.

#4 Being difficult to reach

For me personally, the number one reason why people buy my books is that I am accessible.  I am easy to reach and I spend large sections of nearly every day on social media answering questions and talking to people. The easier you are to reach, the more people connect with you.  The better they connect with you and the better the rapport you build on social media, the more likable you become and more appealing your books become.

 

Remember:  people buy from people, not corporations.  Be a warm, friendly, accessible professional online and you are certain to see your sales skyrocket.

 

 

 

 

The wind is always there

My simple prayer this evening:

cockatoo in flightHoly Mother, Creatrix of all you know I trust in you and truly believe that everything is happening as it should, that there is a hidden wind beneath my wings. I know that though my feathers are wet from torrents of rain and snow, I know in my heart you are always there to strengthen me.

You also know that for all my faith and trust, sometimes I feel sad. Sometimes those wet feathers feel so wet I am not positive all the time that I can fly. Sometimes I feel a bit anxious because if I fall, it looks like a very long way down.

But for all the inner tremblings, I know your wind is always there. All I need to do is believe in your gentle guiding wind. In the gale, it sometimes feel like no bird can fly. But you are there.

 

Please, Holy Mother, Creatrix, help me to feel your wind under my wings when my feathers are soaked, bring people in my life to cheer me on and tell me they believe in me.

Every bird must fledge, must dare to touch the sky. Be with me and show me how to soar.

Character Profile: Nellie

Nellie KnowsSeries the character belongs to: The Rabbit And The Fox Series

Character name: Nellie

Book appearing in: Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf

Profile:  Nellie loves dressing up. She loves wearing pretty dresses, fun hats, cute shoes and long flowy scarves. Scarves are Nellie’s very favorite accessory.

Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation:  Mia Talerico

 

Authors: this form is not rocket science

Keywords: marketing, self-publishing, blogging

It is three in the morning eastern standard time.  Really truly I thought I would be back in bed like a civilized lass by now.  But I am taking out a few minutes in the middle of the early morning because I am utterly baffled on something when it comes to my sister and fellow authors:  why can so few of you follow kindergarten level instructions?

If you follow this blog you know that on Thursdays I run a character profile column based on the Chris Matthews’ Show column called “tell me something I do not know.”  On his show, Chris Matthews gives political pundits about 15 seconds each to tell viewers something they do not know and should know about current events and politics.  I can be a bit of a political junkie at times; Meet The Press is my favourite program on NBC.  And yes, I confess I love the dedicated journalism of NBC London’s Keir Simmons; he is definitely a role model to look up to as a writer.

Taking a page from this journalism, these character profiles are designed to be SHORT.  Firstly, they are completely free to the authors featured — as opposed to book cover reveals which tend to be PAID ADVERTISEMENTS (and no, I do not find those effective from a marketing standpoint).

Secondly and perhaps most importantly, the purpose of these profiles are to get you CURIOUS.  When you as a reader are curious about something, you take the initiative to learn more about it, to explore it.  The discovery process is satisfying for us as humans; we like to sample and try things ourselves. When authors deny us this process by overselling, our instinct is to move on.

 

The First KingThe requested information on my form is therefore no accident.  It is in fact very straight forward.  I ask for the series name (if there is one), the character name, the book or books the character appears in, the Amazon or Smashwords link (permafree flash fiction like The First King tends to be on Smashwords, not Amazon because Amazon does not allow authors to offer free books there), and of course two or three sentences about the character.  This is not rocket science.  In fact, the instructions for the character profiles are many times simpler than those used by Amazon, Smashwords, and Apple to publish on their platforms.

I assume that someone able to self publish on the above is capable of filling out these fields.

Apparently though I am wrong.  This is discouraging because I genuinely want to profile more character from more secular children’s, middle grade, and young adult books on this blog (if you are an author of these, please email me at peersofbeinan at gmail dot com with your inquiry and proposal).  I love working together to bring great independent and small press books out there to readers like you.  But seriously:  this is a favour to you, a service.  I am not your mother, I am not your editor.  Do not treat me as one unless you want to pay me for the privilege.  Do not get cute or think that the rules here do not apply to you.  Because at this point instead of playing mommy dearest and treating you like a child, I am simply now rejecting submissions.

This form is not hard.  It is not rocket science.  If you can pass 2nd grade, let alone write for the 2nd grade, you can follow my instructions — or at least email me back for clarification on what I mean.

Time to grow up, folks!  Self publishing is not for the feint of heart.  If your aim is to fail at this industry, the best way I know is to disrespect bloggers and other writers doing you favours like this.

 

I for one am done playing mommy.

 

 

 

Purim Celebrations for Gentiles

Originally posted February 28th, 2012

 

Hamantaschen are delicious cookies traditionally eaten at Purim.

The Jewish Holiday of Purim is a festive, often raucous holiday filled with gaiety, great food, and parties. Yet for the gentile, this holiday is often a bit of a conundrum, even though many gentiles know the essential story behind Purim from the Biblical book of Esther.

Purim is a spring holiday, typically celebrated in March, celebrating Jewish survival in the face of genocide. The word Purim means “lots” and is a reference to the lots drawn by Persian courtier Haman to decide the date of Jewish annihilation. The story itself is told in full in the Biblical book of Esther, the name of a very brave Jewish young woman who, according to the story, was chosen as the new queen of King Ahasuerus (assumed to be Xerxes I of Persia) after his previous queen refused to come to a banquet thrown by Xerxes for several nobles. Queen Vashti’s refusal was probably understandable; the summons came while Xerxes was drunk. Regardless the historical details, if any, Esther’s ascent puts her in a rare position, able to influence the king in a time of crisis. After Haman tricks Xerxes into genocidal slaughter of all the Jews in his realm, Esther skillfully uses Xerxes interest in her to amend the new law-allowing Jews to defend themselves. It is her courage and intelligence (and the ultimate victory by the Jews made in self defense) that is celebrated at Purim-one woman who stopped genocide.

Orthodox Jews celebrate Purim with readings of the entire book of Esther in temple. During the readings, it is customary to shout or make noise whenever the name of Haman is read. Children dress up in costumes (making some describe it as a sort of Jewish Halloween). Adults drink-the much debated standard is “until they can no longer distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordecai,'” (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Meal/Drinking_on_Purim.shtml).

These are the parts of Purim that are more or less the real domain of Judaism. Yet it is the other half of Purim that I believe gentiles can robustly embrace and which I keep every spring as a gentile:

  • Charitable giving: giving to those who have less than you do. This part of Purim reminds us that no matter how hard life is or how much we may lack, there is ALWAYS someone who has even greater life challenges-economically and otherwise. Purim reminds us to “count our blessings.”
  • Giving food gifts: certain Jewish foods like hamentaschen cookies are traditional, but any food gift will work. This is related in part with charitable giving; there is always someone we know struggling to have enough to eat.
  • Feasting/enjoying a special Purim meal: this is a merry holiday–of course we celebrate with food.

Purim is more than simply a celebration honoring the courage of a Jewish heroine. The holiday has evolved into a time for charity, food, and humble thankfulness for the blessings each of us receive and too often take for granted. No matter your religious or cultural heritage, each of us can celebrate this very Jewish holiday and its spirit of helping others.

For more about Purim, please see http://www.meirpanim.org/page_e.php?name=Purim andhttp://purim.123holiday.net/purim_customes.html and http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Foods.shtml.

 

 

A nice recipe for hamantaschen is at http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/1366/jewish/Traditional-Hamantashen.htm

Excerpt: Epilogue to “The Ghosts of the Past”

Ghosts of the Past

The Ghosts of the Past continues the Legacy of Princess Anlei Series as its exciting middle chapter.   Find the Ghosts of the Past in paperback, kindle, and nook editions.

The following excerpt is highly unusual:  it is the final two pages of the book, its epilogue.

 

Epilogue:

“On BE 6961, beinor 154, my mother, Queen Constance the Kind, sacrificed everything to give me my one chance at escaping the weapon systems under Lord Yelu’s control. Hating Yelu as much as she loved Lord Knight Corann, she hid her feelings and played along with Yelu’s whims. It would not be until I returned to Beinan that I discovered Yelu’s plans that beinor; the drug my mother drank was no different than the one Janus gave Lady Ecter when he first raped her, conceiving in Lady Ecter his daughter, the future Lady Priestess Miriam, and through them, the Choire Ar Cerridwen.

“In my mother’s body, a child was quickened by Yelu’s persistence in those last beinors of the Beinarian era. Across Beinan, the fires emanating from the Ten-Arian monastery, from the temple of Abka Biya, and from the palace spread widely, destroying many familiar and sacred places. As I set course in my star craft for D425E25 Tertius, my star craft detected a strange anomaly coming out of the temple where I found so much peace. A small shockwave hit my star craft two xiao-shirs later. In my mind I heard Lady Laela’s voice and knew that somehow she was behind whatever it was my star craft detected, working unseen and unnoticed though for what purpose I would not understand until I returned to Beinan.

“The Beinan I knew was gone. But deep inside me I knew something else: that out of the darkness and cold comes a new spring, a new hope. If I ever doubted it, all I needed to do was listen to the messages left for me on board the Liltaél. The story of my exile on D425E25 Tertius and of my return to Beinan, planet B345A15 Quartus in Beinarian nomenclature took me down many unexpected roads. Many I loved perished in that Great War whose lives I honour across this history of the last yen-ars of the Beinarian Era. Many hidden things revealed themselves at last. I am not proud of what I said and did along the way. But this I affirm forever: in the darkest night, in the deepest snow, in the bitterest sorrow, there is love, there is light, and there is a new life waiting for you if you simply find the courage within yourself to believe.

Why I said goodbye to large print

Gone forever:  the large print edition of Ghosts of the Past goes out of print in favor of a larger texted regular paperback edition.

Gone forever: the large print edition of Ghosts of the Past goes out of print in favour of a larger text regular paperback edition.

Ever since I first published the original edition of The Great Succession Crisis, there has always been a large print edition for my books.  It is something I believe in as a low vision author, an accessible resource making reading easier.

Sadly, large print remains the dark child of the publishing industry.  Retailer websites bury large print editions.  In the 2 1/2 years since initial publication of the initial version of The Great Succession Crisis not once was either GSC or Ghosts’ large print edition attached to or promoted with its digital edition.  Large print editions are not eligible for the Amazon matchbook program.  They are, like many foreign language editions, put away where no one can find them unless the customer is absolutely determined to get to it anyway.

This of course creates a hassle — for both me as the author and you as the reader.  No one wants that.  We want finding a great book in the format we prefer to be effortless.  Buying the book should never be difficult nor should it ever be difficult for the author to offer readers choices.

 

This hassle of course also meant that I was not able to keep up with the updates I am compulsively known for.  Snatch up one of my books early enough and you may well be treated to a collector’s item.  Thanks to the wonders of print-on-demand publishing I am able to tweak and prune and reformat as much as I want to until my inner perfectionist is perfectly happy.

 

And so today I make a compromise:  my paperback editions are now and shall henceforth be printed in 16 point font — larger than the industry standard of 11 or 12 point for traditional paperbacks — and a tiny bit smaller than the 18 point that makes a book large print.

 

Like all compromises, it is perhaps imperfect.  But in taking the middle ground I make buying books simple and easy.  What more can you want?

Character Profile: Amanda Jane Ross

Amanda in ArabiaSeries the character belongs to (if any): Amanda travel adventure series

Character name: Amanda Jane Ross

Parents names: Don and Evelyn Ross

Place of Birth: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Books appearing in: Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting, Amanda in England-The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta-The Writing on The Stone

Profile:   Amanda is an average North American girl who dreams of travel and adventure. Her kind, caring and curious nature gets her into trouble as she can´t stop helping people in need. She discovers she is brave and resourceful when she finds herself in trouble while traveling in foreign countries.

Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation: Amara Miller from the Descendants

 

Connect with Darlene Foster on twitter.

Character Profile: Queen Boudicca

Today’s historical person is Boudicca:  Queen of the Iceni.

Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni

Series Name:  The Legendary Women of World History

Character name: Boudicca

Date of Birth: Circa 30 CE

Place of Birth: Gaul — Aedui Tribe

Reigned: 1st century of the common era

Died: 61 CE

Book appearing in: Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni in kindle and audio edition narrated by Richard Mann

Profile:   Born in slavery among the Aedui in Gaul just decades after Julius Caesar conquered her people, Boudicca escaped to Britannia in pursuit of freedom.  Finding true love in King Prasutagus of the Iceni, she co-ruled the religiously devout Iceni until Roman atrocities across Britannia forced her into one of the most famous confrontations in ancient history.

Ideal actress to play in a film adaptation: Amy Adams would make a powerful Boudicca.

 

Connect with author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller on twitter.

Excerpt: The Great Succession Crisis

The Great Succession CrisisThe Great Succession opens the Peers of Beinan Series as book one of The Legacy of Princess Anlei trilogy.  A young adult coming-of-age story, GSC lays the world building foundation for the entire Peers of Beinan Series with a classic love story based in part on Arthurian romances and the real life struggles Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Available in English in kindle, nook, and paperback editions.  Coming soon in Chinese language edition for kindle.

In this excerpt from chapter five, Princess Anlei and her knight protector, Lord Corann meet Corann’s father and two of his half-brothers for the very first time.

———————————————————–

“Make way.  Make way for her Royal Highness, Anlei, Crown Princess of Beinan,” cried the herald as Anlei entered the state dining room where the reception for the most important suitors was already in full swing.  Lord Corann kept a single pace behind her, visibly protecting her and yet not overly obtrusively.  Anlei could feel the warmth of his body near her as she moved and felt glad for it in this intimidating setting filled with so many richly dressed Beinarians representing so much power and prestige.

Gazing around the room, she saw her parents, and then noticed several groupings of young men, many with their fathers.  As her presence became noticed, Anlei attended to the posture and disposition of these men.  Many of them were richly dressed with crimson belts, embroidery, and trims to their tunics.  As a group they seemed to be somewhere between thirty and seventy yen-ars with an air of self-confidence and ego, mostly in their physical appearance, she could tell, by the way they preened and showed off as she passed.  These men were obviously interested in a trophy wife, not her.

Overwhelmed by what felt like a wall of men wanting to devour her, Anlei clutched Corann’s arm, trying to conceal her fear.  Corann put his hand over hers, trying to both comfort her and cover the fear in her hand, transforming the grasp into a secure escorting hold.  “Courage,” he whispered into her ear.

Navigating away from the first group of young men as far as she could in the crowd, Anlei bowed courteously but did not approach them too closely.  Suddenly an older gentleman wearing a Ten-arian broad sword turned into her path, stopping her in her tracks.  His eyes were a bright grey and his hair was a medium brown that curled into wavy locks.  He was 56.8 cun 寸 tall and very athletic in build, his muscles well defined under his fine pale yellow wool tunic embroidered in silver symbols.  Just as stunning to Princess Anlei was the way his face and the way he carried himself reminded her of Corann. Suddenly she realized who he was, “Good afternoon, my lord.  Would I have the honor of speaking to none other than Lord Cariadoc of House Ten-ar?”

Lord Cariadoc bowed graciously, “Indeed, Your Highness…but it is House Shem that I represent in your fair hall.  Many yen-ars ago I gave my soul to the Shemai; though I am a brother of Ten-ar, it is my devotion to my faith that calls my heart first and foremost thanks to my lady wife. I am blessed, Your Highness, to be the father of and extend my name to many sons and daughters.”

“Not all, my lord,” corrected Lord Corann from behind Anlei.  He knew it was against protocol to speak now, but he was eye to eye with his father for the first time in his adult life.  Surely Cariadoc knew from his face who he was. “You have a son, your first born – and he is a Knight of Ten-ar.”

Cariadoc eyed Corann with veiled contempt, “You are Corann, I presume?”

“I am.”

“What are you doing here?  Are you courting the princess?” demanded Cariadoc.

“I am vowed to her side as knight protector.  No man shall harm her as long as I am alive.  I have a sacred trust to fulfill, to stand always at her side in friendship and in service to her.  Her highness is my dearest friend for whom I would gladly lay down my life if called upon to do so as a true knight of Ten-ar,” declared Lord Corann with pride.

“A beautiful woman of House Miyoo is a dangerous creature, Lord Knight Corann, I would be careful of falling to the magic of your charge.  You may find yourself in regret one beinor.”

“Is that why you avoid me, Father?  You feel some sort of regret that I exist?”

“You have no father, young one.  All you have is a witch’s spell that entrapped an honorable man into dishonorable lust until you were made of that abomination. “

“I was more than a yen-ar old when you left, Father.  You knew me as an infant and yet you chose to leave.  Do not blame the prayers of House Miyoo for your actions.  No one made you leave.  Nor did anyone make you ignore me all these yen-ars.   How many yen-ars did I train in the monastery – ever once did you speak to me, did you say my name, or admit that I am your son?  I never asked much of you, only that you admit that you sired me.”

“The Shemai help us all that such a spell was cast over my body, that I ever laid with your mother, boy.  Did I lay with your mother, the Lady Cordelia, until you were born of that lust?  You want me to say it?  YES.  I did – for it there has never been a beinor of my life I have not felt the judgment of The Shemai on my head.  He will judge all of Beinan for it; destroy us all because of my lust, because I was too weak to prevent your making.  I have sinned and I can never undo my sin.  This is why I never acknowledged you.  You are a mark of shame upon my flesh, Lord Corann.  You are an abomination before the god I worship.  I beg my wife every beinor to forgive your making and in penance, I have given her many children, only some of whom have survived.  My eldest sons, Kaleb and Janus are here.  THEY are the sons of my hopes and dreams,” asserted Lord Cariadoc.

Anlei felt Corann’s slow temper rising.  It was very difficult to stir Corann to anger, she knew, but this time she could tell, Lord Knight Cariadoc was actually insulting him enough to do it.  Fearing for her friend for whom she cared deeply, her many yen-ars of training and practice asserted themselves, “Perhaps, Lord Knight Cariadoc, in a less formal setting the three of us may re-convene in a quieter place to discuss the past in more serene and genial environments.  Perhaps this is not the best setting for healing old wounds which clearly need to be healed.  Not speaking after all these yen-ars have obviously wounded both of you.  If you are amenable, I would be happy to serve as arbiter in your dispute and help end this misunderstanding between you.  I understand, my lords, that the past is unpleasant for both of you.  But we ARE civilized Beinarian nobles, are we not?  Have we learned nothing from the beinors of clan warfare when such misunderstandings were resolved at the points of blades and arrows, with generations of clan feuds, endless and needless bloodshed?”

Cariadoc tried to suppress a laugh and failed, his guffaw escaping his lips against his will, “Well, young one, you have trained your princess well.  Perhaps this can be settled in more genial environments.  That is, if you really do want a few xiao-shirs of clearing the air between us?”

“Lord Knight Cariadoc – father – I have wanted little else from you in all my life.  Just to sit and TALK to you for a bit.  I am sixty yen-ars old; I do not need a father per se.  But I would like to know who you are and how you have lived your life since you left Lady Cordelia and me.  And I would like it very much if you would take some miniscule interest in some part of my life.  Right or wrong in what she did; I am innocent in this.  I had no choice in how I was made or why,” answered Lord Corann.

Cariadoc softened, “No you had no choice, you are right.  Your Highness, if you are willing to arbitrate, I am willing conference with your protector in, say, ten beinors?”

“Agreed,” answered Anlei.

“Agreed,” answered Corann.

“Until then,” bowed Cariadoc, leaving them both.

Corann and Anlei tried to recover mentally from the confrontation with Cariadoc which, by this xiao-shir, had left them both with headaches.  Before either could move from their spot, even to look for refreshments, Prince Anwell, her younger brother, rushed up behind her, “There you are.  Where have you been?”

“I might ask the same thing of you, Anwell.  You were not at grandmother’s dinner when father, Corann, and I came back from the Ten-arian monastery.  I’m surprised grandmother did not have your hide.  You know how grandmother feels about those formal dinners.  You – you – you….”  Anlei could not finish her sentence.

Corann laughed behind her, “My dear friend, can I reasonably presume this is your brother Anwell?  You’ve grown since last I saw you.”

“Friend?  Or lover boy?” teased Anwell.  “Father told me you two were kissing back there in house Ten-ar.  Any truth, Lord Knight?”

Anlei eyed her brother with contempt, “Lord Corann, this is indeed my younger brother by seven yen-ars, Prince Anwell the Unready, 37 yen-ars old and still acting 17.”

Anwell returned her dirty look as Corann addressed him, “What is true, Your Highness is that I am the sworn protector of your sister and that it is my job to lay down my life in her personal defense should either honor or physical danger be threatened.  I would hate to use my sword on someone as royal as your person, Your Highness, but as I said, my vow to her includes Her Highnesses honor.” Corann met his eyes steely, scaring the irresponsible prince.

“You wouldn’t….” implied Prince Anwell.

Corann put his dominant left hand on the hint and drew the sword two cun 寸 to demonstrate his intent, “I would if you pressed the matter.  Do you intend to keep pressing it, Your Highness?”

Convinced at last, Anwell backed off, “NO SIR!”

Corann smiled and returned the blade to its natural position in its sheath, “I did not think so.”

Lord Prince Bevin, from a few zhang across the room, naturally saw the slight drawing of the Ten-arian sword and joined the conversation, “Is there a problem here?”

Corann answered him, “Your son does not respect house Ten-ar, Your Highness.  I had to teach him a small lesson in…respect.”

Bevin laughed, “Well done, my lord. Carry on.”  He strode off to resume his conversations with the fathers of candidates for Anlei’s hand.

Anwell’s expression changed, his posture shifting to one of great caution,  his voice softening so that Corann and Anlei could barely hear him even after he put his arms around both and huddled the trio close together, “Actually, sister, I do respect your knight very much.  But I had to know how trustworthy you are, Lord Knight Corann.”

“I don’t understand,” replied Corann, just as softly.

“I’ve been in this room longer than both of you and I’m not nearly as ‘unready’ as I seem to be, Sister.  I just don’t want the throne in this political climate. After all, it claimed Prince Alastair’s life when I was just a toddler.  That tells me that someone or something is very interested in seizing power for himself, someone prudent enough to realize that our little brother would have readily made a proper king successor for mother. Anyone with that sort of – political ambition is a danger to us all.  I for one am not interested in dying at the hands of some social climber.  A knight of Ten-ar as consort can protect this house better than anyone can—everyone in this family knows that.  Why do you think mother managed to become queen?  She married a knight.  You think our father doesn’t have the skills to repel an attack on this palace?  Sure he does…and the skill needed to avenge anyone who tries to kill mother, let alone succeeds.  That is why; I think the assassin did not try to take mother’s life when doubtless he had the chance.  The security recordings I’ve seen show that father was barely two steps away from mother when we were little.  No murderer chances getting a knight of Ten-ar involved like that; they are too fierce of warriors with too many different weapons.  Even the knights of Gurun mostly train with modern weapons, not the heritage ones from original home world,” explained Anwell.

The fine hair on Corann’s arms stood up on end under his tunic.  Was Anwell saying was that he was actually playing this political game quite astutely, trying to avoid assassination and trying to keep his sister alive in the process? “How do you know so much about the training of knights of different houses, Your Highness?”

“What do you think I’ve been doing the past thirty yen-ars?  Sister…I know you think I’ve been doing little more than playing our whole lives…you even came up with that awful nickname that seems to stick with me everywhere I go.  But in truth what I’ve done is infiltrate most of the other houses, learning what they know and don’t know – especially what they won’t say in Council chambers.  Our constitutional monarchy is much more fragile than anyone here seems to realize – or at least, if they know, they are not speaking of it. Taking an interest in martial arts and in technology is the perfect way to learn what they know, Anlei.  I’ve travelled our planet – from Nan-li in Xi-Nan Fang to Belarn to Olos-Mir and beyond…. There is a predator in the fold, one very well hidden.  I do not think you will catch him before it is too late.  But you might prevent him from striking, Corann – if you can bring yourself to do what you know you must,” riddled Anwell.  “The time to stop him is now.  Do not wait for tonight, no matter what her visions may say.  Stop him now, noble knight.  He will strike in a way you will not see until too late – but will recognize from your own past, I think.”  Anwell slipped away and melted into the crowd like vapor.

Anlei stood shocked, “He doesn’t…”

Corann’s senses from Lady Cordelia carefully marked Anwell’s words, “Oh, but he does.  He’s just as house Miyoo as you are.  There is no reason to believe he hasn’t foreseen something.  He just doesn’t want to tell us outright anything.”

“Why do I feel afraid?” trembled Anlei.

“I think we both have a good reason to be afraid now, Your Highness,” replied Corann.  Escorting her gently through the crowd, he brought her to a buffet table and found her a cup which he filled with the contents of a nearby silver pitcher filled with nanla wine.  He handed her the cup, then filled one for himself and drank deeply.  Both started to sigh a bit of relief and tried to relax.

 

“Have you tried the kelan fruit, it’s quite good?” offered a 55.5 cun 寸 tall bright blue-eyed nobleman with short blond hair. Lord Janus smiled at Lord Corann and Princess Anlei genially.

“No – I – we have not had the chance yet.  Too much politics in this room for us to make it to any food,” replied Anlei.

“Are you here as a couple?” asked Janus.

“You may not realize this, my lord, but I suppose I am the lady this whole thing here is all about.  I am Princess Anlei…this is my protector, Lord Corann, Knight of Ten-ar.  He stays close to me to ensure all of you behave yourselves,” she answered.

“Oh, of course.  Royalty can never be too careful these beinors.  All the rumors of those kidnappings and so forth are enough to make any noble woman nervous.  You know the older of my two sisters Lady Ecter had that happen to her.  Her child, a daughter, is two yen-ars old now.  No husband – and the bastard is quite proud of what he did to her, of course,” replied Lord Janus.

“I’m – I’m – speechless,” answered Anlei.  “I have never met anyone who was affected by such violence before.”

Lord Janus eyed Corann, recognizing his looks, “Oh, I am sure that if one looks close enough, one will find these practices are more common than one thinks.  But enough of our sorrows.  This is a party and, if you will permit me, Your Highness, I brought you a gift that I hope you will honor me by accepting.”

Anlei deferred to Corann as Janus brought out a small box from a pocket and offered it to her, “Corann, what do you think?”

“I think you should be careful, Your Highness.  You do not know this man and, whatever it is, you should not fully accept it without security fully testing it,” answered Corann cautiously.

Janus’ pride struck out, “Are you utterly paranoid or is that just your self-interest as a suitor of the princess talking that you don’t want her to accept a gift from me?  What is it, Knight?  Yes, I know who you are, Corann, son of Cariadoc of house Ten-ar.  Oh, I don’t dare challenge you by the old rules…you could kill me in an instant and call it ‘protecting’ her.  But what is really at play is that you want her for yourself.  Everyone knows it.  You’ve been in love with her for yen-ars.”  Janus’ raised voice judiciously drew the attention of everyone in the room.

Janus’ words lashed at Corann.  As Lord Knight Culain’s squire he had served as his master’s aide when the Great Council was in session along with Lord Eisiq and his squire, Lady Elda, the daughter of Lady Cara and her late husband, a knight of Gurun.  Together, Corann and Elda had learned to recognize members of the Great Council by sight.  In just the seven xiao-shirs since Anlei and his arrival, Corann counted at least twenty such councilors in the room, making Janus’ accusation politically damaging to his protection of the princess.

Corann stayed calm, remembering his training and avoiding Janus’ flagrant attempts to provoke him. Corann knew palace security protocols as well as any knight of Ten-ar, a factor of the close relationship between houses Ten-ar and Gurun. Standard procedure was to never let a royal accept anything potentially dangerous and unknown without certain tests being run.  Tests for poisons, for enchantments, for technologies, weapons, and so forth had to be run.  This had nothing to do with him.  Any palace guard would have insisted upon it.  No foreign object could be brought into the palace without first rigorous tests, much less offered to a royal.  So how did this gift get past all that security?  What had Cariadoc and his family done to bypass these protocols?  How many tai-ors had been paid out as bribes to get this far?

Concerned about attention Janus attracted yet even more concerned for Anlei’s safety, Corann took the high road, “Anlei … there are rules for these things, basic security procedures that have to be followed in the palace.  That he is offering this without my advanced knowledge tells me that something is wrong, that none of these rules have been followed.  Your safety could be at stake.  I know all of these words are designed to discredit me because he makes it sound like the issue is not your safety, but our friendship and my feelings for you.  But I beg you.  Listen to wisdom and reason.  Do not accept this until all of the normal tests have been run.  If you do not believe me, summon one of the knights of Gurun charged with protecting your mother during court.  Every knight and guard in the palace can tell you this box is not on our list—and it has to be on our lists before it is allowed anywhere near a royal or a dignitary for that matter.  Nothing presented to royalty comes to you without our first knowing about it.  This is how we keep you alive in dangerous times.  Please, I beg you…let me keep you safe.”

Anlei smiled at Corann, taking the box and handing it to him, “As you wish, Lord Knight Corann.  My life is in your capable hands.  Summon the knights of Gurun charged with palace security and begin testing this at once.  If it is safe, I would be most pleased to accept the gift.  If it is not, I think we both know what happens then.”  As Corann moved to a nearby panel in the room to bring in security, Anlei took Janus aside, “That was very badly done of you, Lord Janus.  Corann is my best friend and closest confidant.   Humiliating him is not the way to win my heart.  I know he loves me more than he will ever tell me.  He knows I cannot return his feelings.  We have…and understanding on this matter.  But as friends, I am just as protective of him as he is protective of me.  You want to win my hand and possibly my crown? That was NOT the way to do it.”

Shamed, Lord Janus bowed deeply, “Forgive me, Your Highness, I did not know.  I thought more to play to the crowd – and to impress my older brother, Kaleb.  My father loves Kaleb much more than me, you know.”

“Your father has given poor Corann nothing but contempt his entire life, something he does not deserve.  Corann is the finest example of house Ten-ar I have ever known.  There is no finer man in all of Beinan.  If my father had arranged him for me, I would have felt lucky to be his wife.”

“Why didn’t you marry him?  I hear he practically grew up around the palace, that he’s your grandmother’s protégé?” asked Janus.

“I don’t know,” she replied.  “I guess there is something intimidating about knowing someone is in love with you when your heart is just not there.  I grew up in such a political world. I never had a chance to think about love.  Corann is so…passionate, so tender.  I guess I figured I would be a poor choice for a wife for him, that he deserves better than me.”

“Political marriages.  Ever we arrange our lives around power and prestige, never love.  We bed people we don’t want to spend any time with normally out of just pure…physical instinct or political obligation to procreate.  And all the time, we feel like we would rather be somewhere else as we feel our bodies just automatically act.  What a strange world we nobles live in.  You gotta envy House Cashmarie for their ordinariness.  They at least get to enjoy sex with their spouses.”

Anlei smiled, “You are very perceptive, Lord Janus.”

“Well, I am a son of Cariadoc.  I suppose some good has to come of that.”

“Who is your mother?”

“Oh, the Lady Jebez of House Shem, a very fine but serious woman.  She bore Cariadoc ten children, only five of us survived past forty yen-ars.  She and father really enjoy being close.  Naturally, my father doesn’t believe in using technology when it comes to affecting procreation, one way or the other.  I think one or two of my siblings would have lived longer if he did…just using modern medicine to heal their illnesses.  Instead, when they became seriously ill, we went to our religious house to pray and The Shemai chose to take them in death instead.  Unlike your religion, we do not believe we are reborn after this life.  We only believe in one life and once only.  So my siblings are gone – never their like to be seen again.”

“Are you done talking to her?” asked a low voice from behind.  It was the grey-eyed Lord Kaleb, the eldest of Cariadoc’s children by Lady Jabez.

Bowing, Janus introduced them, “Princess Anlei, may I introduce to you my older brother, Lord Kaleb, first born of Lord Cariadoc.”

“Second born,” she corrected. “You are the first born of your mother, but you do have an older half-brother, you know.”

“Temporarily,” sneered Lord Kaleb.

“Indeed?” squirmed Anlei, gliding over to Lord Corann and grabbing his arm.  The tightness of her fingers said it all.

Kaleb turned to his brother, “So what was all that about?”

“A setback – for now – but there are a still a few shir-ors before the masquerade, brother.  We still have time.  See what we can do about that; this is not over, not at all,” schemed Lord Janus.

Excerpt: Good-bye A672E92 Quintus

Good-bye A672E92 QuintusGood-bye A672E92 Quintus is a young reader, young adult novella from the Peers of Beinan Series exploring the final yen-ars on planet A672E92 Quintus.  It tells the story of the meeting between Lord Malvyn of house Balister and Lady Priestess Brigid of house Miyoo and how together they helped unite their divided people before their sun went nova.

Available in English for kindle, nook, and in paperback with a Chinese translation due out in 2015.

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The isle of Ben-Ar glittered with the crystalline temple of Ainisil, its many spires and towers weaving together organically out of the island’s craggy cliffs with smoothness and geometric precision.  Dormers flowered near the pinnacles of each tower, amplifying the number of windows and usable working space.  Twenty zhang张away from one of the spires, a species of falco albus circled, then wringed and stooped, catching a large rodent in her talons to feed to her hungry chicks being watched over by her mate in their nearby nest.  Three stories below wound a carefully paved road leading from the docking port for low altitude shuttles one full li里 to the main entrance to the temple, a choice made to reduce the environmental impact of technology upon the area wildlife.

From the elaborately carved portal arch of the main temple entrance, Lady Brigid walked the smooth stone path with practiced precision.  Fifty zhang 张 along the path from her starting point at the heavy wooden temple doors she stopped and stood gracefully at attention.  Two figures, one male and one female, appeared as growing specks from the opposite end of the path.  Brigid smiled as slowly the features of Lord Malvyn of house Balister and Lady Abbess Sareth of house Ten-Ar became clearer to her eyes.  As they approached, Lady Brigid noticed six more figures appearing in the distance that too began to walk the smooth stone road.

Lord Malvyn bowed to Lady Brigid, taking her hand and kissing it, “Honor and respect to the lady of many names and to her ambassador in you, my lady!”

As Malvyn’s lips touched her hand, Brigid felt a shockwave of spiritual energy.  Her eyes widened and balance faltered barely perceptibly, taking her breath as a presence filled her consciousness.  Who was this Malvyn of house Balister and why was his polite kiss of respect, presumably directed at the triple goddess known collectively as Ainisil, affecting her so?  Knowing an answer was merited by protocol, Brigid curtsied politely, “Merry meet, Lord Malvyn.  House Miyoo greets you in the name of the Lady.”  Malvyn smiled chivalrously in turn.

Lady Abbess Sareth bowed in greeting to Lady Brigid, “It is an honor and pleasure to meet you, Lady Brigid.  Honorable Lady Kendra praised you highly when informing me of the conference.”

“I shall endeavor to earn your respect then, Your Grace.  How fares house Ten-Ar this beinor?”

“Too few choose the healing arts, I am afraid.  You speak honorifically to me, Lady Priestess Brigid, but I fear there is precious little honor in my title; it appears to be more of a formality than a true position of authority,” confessed Sareth.

“But surely you are a skilled healer and gifted teacher of the healing arts,” protested Brigid.

“These are not gentile times, my lady.  Master knights and generals of war hold the greater prestige.  Better a warrior and knight of Ten-Ar than a healer to them– at least for the present.”

“Perhaps we may reverse that trend,” suggested Brigid, her mind still mostly focused on Malvyn unexpectedly even as she applied Miyoo mental discipline towards staying in the present.

“Reverse what trend?” asked Lord Horatio of house Xing-li, his eyes forward so as to avoid noticing the delegation from house Cashmarie immediately behind him.

Lord Malvyn offered Horatio the Balistrian gesture of respect, “Good morning and welcome lord …”

“Lord Admiral Horatio of house Xing-li, at your service,” echoed Horatio.

“A pleasure and an honor, lord admiral.  I am Lord Malvyn, master bowman and head of house Balister.  Please allow me to introduce the ladies:  Lady Abbess Sareth of house Ten-Ar and our hostess, Lady Priestess Brigid of house Miyoo,” presented Malvyn.

“A pleasure as always,” greeted Lady Silmira of house Cashmarie from behind Lord Horatio’s right ear. “I am Lady Mariner Silmira of house Cashmarie and head of our delegation.”  Turning towards Horatio, Lady Silmira smiled politely and sarcastically, “A pleasure to see you again, lord admiral.  Killed any children lately?”

“The affairs of house Xing-li are none of yours, Mariner.  Or should I call you a hapless dimwit of a sailor who cannot navigate her way out of a sea to an ocean?” snarled Horatio.

Lord Malvyn raised his eyebrow with a turn of his body so only Lady Sareth and Lady Brigid could see his expression of mild annoyance and disbelief.  The ladies echoed his body language silently.  Turning his attention once more to Horatio and Silmira he motioned, “Well then, clearly we have much to discuss.  Shall we enter the castle temple then and begin?”

Lady Silmira bowed and curtsied politely, her ocean green kirtle catching a sudden gentle island breeze, “By all means, Lord Malvyn!  Let us find the solution to this problem.  The sooner we conclude negotiations, the sooner we may all return to our homes.”  Horatio nodded consent as Lady Brigid led the way into the castle temple and showed each of her guests their quarters for the duration of the negotiations.

 

Two shir-ors later, the negotiations began without progress.  At the first meeting lasting three shir-ors, the three delegates from house Xing-li shouted insults and insinuations at the three delegates from house Cashmarie who returned them with equal ferocity, trying the patience of all three arbiters and forcing an early adjournment.  The next morning talks fared little better as the delegates from each house numerated the flaws they saw in the other, their voices increasing in volume and the cutting of their mutual insults escalating to levels none of the arbiters realized was possible.  After four full shir-ors of shouting with barely any breaks for meals, Lord Malvyn left the conference room for some air.   Heading to his quarters, he collected his heritage bow, a recurve bow made of a tawny white wood called Nara known for its lightness and strength.  Heading outside, he set up two targets, the first twenty zhang 张 from the invisible firing line he drew in his head and the second at sixty zhang 张. Stringing his bow he picked up an arrow from his nearby quiver, nocked it into the bowstring, and drew the string to his ear, sighting carefully at the far target.  Releasing the arrow he heard it thump into the ground clumsily, his concentration clearly off.  Picking up another arrow, Malvyn tried to quiet his mind.  Behind him strode Lady Brigid, “You are angry.”

“Shouldn’t you be at the conference listening to their profanity?” remarked Malvyn.

“I adjourned the meeting three xiao-shirs after you left.  It was pretty clear we were not going to achieve anything this beinor.”

“My lady,” began Malvyn, trying to conceal his anger at the stupidity that filled the negotiations, “I – I don’t know what to say or feel or do.  I am used to leading women and men; I have certainly heard my share of petty arguments.  But this?  This I do not know how to handle – do you?”

“Anger and hate is like a gale force wind; sometimes you have to simply endure it and let it run its natural course before you can clean up the damage it has created.”

Malvyn lowered his bow and set it aside gently, “What makes you think anything will survive the ‘gale’ as you put it?  These two houses are determined to destroy one another.”

“They are more alike than they are different.  But Cashmarian discipline is based on cooperation and mutual respect; Xing-lian discipline is largely about fear and obedience to authority.  Until they stop shouting and recognize how much they really do have in common …”

“… This nonsense will continue,” finished Malvyn.

“Yes.”

“I am sorry I lost my temper.”

“There is nothing to apologize for, my lord.”

“Please call me Malvyn.”

“Malvyn.  May I ask you a personal question?”

“Yes, of course.”

“When you first greeted me last beinor – did you feel anything, notice anything out of the ordinary?”

“You mean beyond simple respect for you as the chosen representative from house Miyoo for these talks?”

Brigid paced nervously, “Yes.  I do not know how to put it into words.”

“I am not a man of religion.  The Lady Ainisil is a mystery to me; I need priests and priestesses like you to help me understand.  Of late I have had dreams, a face and an image that made no sense to me – until I saw your face and recognized you from the dream.”

“What happened in the dream?”

“It is hard to remember.  But you were with me, steadying me in some way, I think.”

“Politically? Personally?  Do you remember anything about the context?”

“It makes no sense to me.  I saw – people I recognize to be on the Great Council.  There were people everywhere around us, all dressed in their finest fabrics and brightest colors. There was food and drink being served, then some sort of formal – I do not know – maybe an inauguration or something?”

“Then what?”

“I do not remember.  But I do remember feeling you close to me and liking that feeling,” blushed Malvyn.

“When you touched me, Malvyn, I felt an energy flowing from you into me.  It was unexpected and hard to understand.  Something changed in me from that touch.  I have no words to elaborate with.  In all my training I have never heard of anything quite like that before.  But we are taught one thing:  the goddess of many names whom we called Ainisil often gives us sign posts on things to come so as to alert and prepare us for some challenge.  Do you think it is possible that your dream and my experience last beinor are perhaps connected?”

“I do not know, my lady.  But I am willing to see what comes next.”

“As am I.”

“Assuming there is some special significance to all this, may I touch you again?”

“Are you married?”

Malvyn’s grey eyes lit up at the question, “No. I have never actually been close to any woman in any particularly personal way.”

Brigid smiled, “Then you may.”

Encouraged, Malvyn closed the distance between them and brushed a free lock of her hair back behind her ear.  Tentatively he brushed his lips shyly upon hers before feeling bold enough to kiss her fully and completely. Brigid reciprocated the kiss.  Malvyn kissed her again, “Could it be that you and I are destined to be together?  Are you to be my wife?”

“Let’s find out,” blushed Brigid.

 

Excerpt: Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of Henry V’s queen consort, Catherine de Valois.  Caricaturized by Shakespeare in “Henry V,” the real Catherine you meet in this biography was a woman of great intelligence, courage, and conviction.

Available  for kindle and in paperback.  Look for Catherine de Valois in Chinese language edition and in audio edition narrated by Richard Mann later this year.

In this scene from the end of chapter one, Catherine meets King Henry of England for the first time in October 1419.

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“Must we do this, Mother?” asked Catherine, pacing furiously.

“What choice do we have, Catherine?  The blood of the women and children of Rouen cry out for action.  We must meet with King Henry this day or risk further slaughter,” conceded Queen Isabeau, her heart equally furious and grieved at the same time at Henry’s atrocities in Rouen.

“I do not want to meet him!  I hate him!  I have never heard of any living  man being so vile and disgusting to me.”

“It  is  said that he is otherwise to his own English people, that he governs them kindly and with great skill.”

“But what about the  Welsh, Mother?  Was he kind to them when he slaughtered them while his father reigned?” countered Catherine.  “I know it is my duty as your daughter – but you know how I hate violence, especially against  the innocent.  How are the Welsh any different than  us?   All they wanted was to not be slaves to this conqueror.  We of all people understand this!”

Before Isabeau could respond, the door opened.  Jacques de Heilly entered with a bow, “Your Majesty, Your Highness may I introduce you to Henry, by God’s grace King of England.”

As Montjoie stepped aside to take his traditional place one pace behind the queen, King Henry emerged into the room, his eyes immediately fixing themselves on the beautiful Catherine in her embroidered cotehardie and fur-edged side-less surcoat, the royal fleur-de-lys glistening in gold thread on her gown.  For a moment, Henry found himself so moved by  Catherine’s beauty that he could not speak.  Finally after two minutes, the king took a chivalrous bow, “Good ladies, we meet at last!”

Coolly, Catherine curtsied politely,  “Your Majesty.”

Henry, normally so confident and proud stammered, “Y-y-you are more beautiful than I ever dreamed!  Truly a vision of all that flowers in France.”

“If you value the beauty of the flowers of France, perhaps you should not have killed so many along the way,” countered Catherine, her rage flaming from her eyes.

Chided, Henry turned to Queen Isabeau, “Your Majesty, you permit your daughter to speak to me like this?”

“Catherine speaks her mind. In that, she is quite her mother’s daughter – and a Bavarian,” smirked Isabeau proudly.  “That you slaughtered our people, we concede.  That we wish to end this war, we fully declare.  But do not think you can force the mind and heart of my daughter in any matter.  Though you may, through the brutality that brings us here together, compel a measure of outward obedience, if it is affection of the mind or heart you desire, it would serve you best to put aside all savage warrior ways and behave yourself like a gentleman.

Henry blinked in shock.  No woman had dared to speak to him so boldly – or venomously.  Rather, he was accustomed to fearful pandering – not the confidence of a woman seeing herself as his equal, “I – I do not know what to say.   I was not born a prince, though certainly I wear the crown more easily than my father.  I,” Henry paused, his pride hurt even as his desire to possess Catherine grew.  Marrying Catherine was his birth right; since the death of Princess Isabella, Catherine’s sister and widow to Richard II, all talk had been across his life of his marrying Catherine. Was it not his destiny to marry Catherine?  Did she not see it the same way?  As his thoughts grew more confused by Catherine’s obvious spite, the rhythm and confidence of his speech waivered, “I have wanted this alliance for many years.  I cannot imagine myself with anyone else.  Yet do  I dream of love, of your love, Catherine.  Will you not be my wife?”

“Not out of love, England, for you are my enemy.  What am I to you but a trophy to your murders?” burned Catherine.

“If I swear on my soul to end this campaign this very day and never again kill, will you not agree to  marry me?”

“If you never kill again – yes – but there are many things you must agree to in order to make this treaty one and whole,” bargained Catherine confidently.

“I SWEAR IT!”

“God will hold you to your vow, Henry of England,” warned Queen Isabeau. “If you acknowledge this and still so swear, then shall we both draw up the formal terms to be signed once they are ready.”

“God hold me to my vow and strike me down in death if ever my hand spills French blood again!” vowed Henry fiercely.

 

Content with Henry’s answer, Queen Isabeau supervised the drafting of the now agreed-to peace treaty. On May the twenty-first 1420 King Henry the Fifth and King Charles the Sixth met in the city of Troyes where they both formally agreed to and signed the treaty. As demanded by King Henry, King Charles gave Catherine to him in marriage in a grand wedding held a few days later on the second of June.

Across the summer and autumn of 1420, Henry and Catherine became better acquainted as they toured together across France over the next six months.  Towards Catherine, Henry expressed the utmost admiration and, if not genuine love, certainly an intense romantic attraction to her.

For her part, Catherine found herself more than flattered at Henry’s attention. King Henry seemed so sincere in how he treated her.  Certainly he was gentle when she yielded to him in wifely duty, despite his fiery temperament.  Still in her heart, Catherine could never forget that this man who caressed her so softly in private was the same man who killed women and children for the crime of being born Welsh or French, his eyes both tender like a baby bird’s – or fierce like a raging storm – depending on his mood.

 

 

Christmas came. Henry wisely decided  their first Christmas as husband and wife should be spent in Paris with her parents and siblings.  As familiar songs filled her ears at the traditional midnight mass on Christmas  Eve, Catherine knelt in silence, the music gone from her heart and reflected in her eyes.  Though she tried for the sake of her people to make truly merry, Catherine found herself sad instead, as if something precious to her was lost, gone forever.

Finally, at the end of January, 1421 they at last arrived at Calais for the crossing to England.

 

Character Profile: Lord Malvyn of house Balister

Today’s character is Lord Master Bowman Malvyn of house Balister

Good-bye A672E92 QuintusSeries Name:  The Peers of Beinan

Character name: Lord Malvyn

Parents names: Lady Archer Kluane and Lord Archer Brion of house Balister.

Character’s Date of Birth:  OW 48539, beinor 99

Place of Birth: the borough of Richmarche on A672E92 Quintus

Book appearing in:  Good-bye A672E92 Quintus

Profile:  The son of Balistrian guildmistress Lady Archer Kluane and her husband Lord Brion, Lord Malvyn mastered both heritage and modern bows as a young child.  A natural diplomat and leader, Lord Malyvn is a simple man charged with enormous responsibility after the Great Council chooses him to be the first king.

Ideal actor to play in a film adaptation:  Dr Who alumni David Tennant or Christopher Eccleston.

 

Connect with science fiction author Laurel A. Rockefeller on twitter.

Character Profile: King Henry V of England

Today’s historical person is King Henry the Fifth of England.

 

330px-King_Henry_V_from_NPG

Portrait of King Henry V of England.

Series Name:  The Legendary Women of World History

Character name: King Henry V of England

Parents names: King Henry IV (Henry Bolingbroke) and Welsh noblewoman Mary de Bohun

Date of Birth: 16th September 1386.

Place of Birth: Monmouth Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Reigned: 9th April 1413 to 31st August 1422.

Died: 31st August 1422 while on campaign near Paris, France.

Book appearing in: Catherine de Valois

 

 

Catherine de ValoisProfile:  Immortalized in Shakespeare’s play, “Henry V,” the real king was an ardent warrior who spent much of his reign trying to conquer France. After making outrageous demands, he used Princess Catherine as his excuse for renewing the Hundred Years War.  At home, Henry made English the official government language in England for the first time since the Norman Conquest.

Ideal actor to play in a film adaptation: Dr. Who alumnus Christopher Eccleston has an unsurpassed stage presence that worthy of the legendary king of England.

Connect with author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller on twitter.

Excerpt: Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni

Boudicca Chinese coverBoudicca:  Britain's Queen of the IceniBoudicca:  Britian’s Queen of the Iceni is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of one of the ancient world’s greatest heroines.  In 61 CE Boudicca shocked Roman patriarchs by uniting most of the English Celts in what became the last great stand against Roman conquest of the British isles.

Available for kindle in Chinese and English, in paperback (English only), and audio edition narrated by Richard Mann.

In this scene from chapter four, a prayerful Boudicca seeks wisdom from The Morrigan.

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Two years of peace passed.  For the time being, it seemed like the Roman governor was keeping his word.  But with each passing week and month, Alys and Morgan grew more anxious as their dreams became filled with visions of the future.

Boudicca watched them, her heart aching for their pain.  Finally, three days before mid-summer’s day, she and Linet drove her light chariot to a small shrine to the Morrígan in the thick ancient forest to the north of their village.  All day and through most of the night, Boudicca and Linet sat in prayer and vigil, asking the goddess for guidance.

Finally, as dawn broke through the trees and birds woke from their sleep, Linet stood up and put her hand on Boudicca’s shoulder, “Your Highness, we must return.”

“We will not survive what is coming, my friend, though it seem victory will be in our grasp for a time.  War is upon us; the Romans do not see the equality of women as our peoples do.  This governor – Paullinus – does not even consider me queen of the Iceni – only my husband’s personal servant for his bedchamber.  Should anything happen to him, they will come to claim what they feel belongs to them.  The Iceni will become as my people are,” wept Boudicca.

“We do not have to let them take our people; we can fight.  Already we are fighting them in the west.  They would stamp out our faith – but we are not afraid.  We fight them with all we have. The goddess is on our side, Your Highness, as is the morality of our cause:  freedom and equality for all people!  They think that those who lack certain kinds of strength are created and designed to be inferior.  But we know better.  We know we are all one – equals.  Surely our goddesses and gods will fight for us in the great battle.  Camulos, god of war, he shall be our champion!” proclaimed Linet with fire in her eyes.

“Camulos must hate the Romans for taking his city and claiming it as theirs.  He must especially hate this temple to the dead emperor Claudius in his city.  How can he fight for us while the temple still stands, while animals are killed and offered to this Claudius where once our people prayed to him?” asked Boudicca.

“All the more reason for him to support us and help us cleanse his city of Roman stench.  We will re-dedicate it to him – when all of us are free.”

 

Just then a scream echoed in the forest.  Drawing their swords, Linet and Boudicca charged towards the sound.  By the time they reached the source all that could be seen was Prasutagus, his blood spilling into the ground – as if a year-king killed as an offering to the gods for his people.  Prasutagus looked up, his eyes blurring, “Boudicca?”

Boudicca knelt, weeping, the blood from his chest wound soaking her dress, “I am here.”

“A Roman – scout – I – surprised him.” gasped Prasutagus, trying in vain to tell his wife what happened, knowing the moment he died rage would fill her – rage against Rome.

Boudicca kissed him tenderly, “My love, do not leave me!”  Prasutagus kissed her repeatedly, his eyes fixed on hers until they saw no more.  Feeling his spirit leave his body, Boudicca wept, as if her entire life suddenly passed with him – at least for this moment.  Finally, she rose, helping Linet carry him to their chariot.  With a gentle nudge of the reigns the horses turned for home and the sad work ahead.

 

Several days later, war trumpets heralded the arrival of a group of twenty soldiers and five centurions dispatched from the Roman capital of Camulodunum, the once great capital of the Iceni’s southern neighbor, the Trinovantes.  This was a relatively small force for the Romans to send, a sign that the Roman governor expected little trouble enforcing Prasutagus’ will and claiming the Iceni for Rome.  At the head of this group marched Centurion Marcus Vetus, the son of a legionary born among his mother’s Aedui tribe near the Seine River.  As he approached the fortification guarding Boudicca’s village, Boudicca could not help staring at the man who looked far more Aedui than Roman.  Resolutely Boudicca intercepted him, “Who comes to the heart of the Iceni?”

“I, Centurion Marcus Vetus come in the name of Nero and his imperial governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus.  Your king is dead; your kingdom now belongs to us.”

“No, Centurion.  It belongs in equal measure to my daughters and to Nero. Until our people deem them ready to rule, I rule as queen as is my natural right as Prasutagus’ widow and by the customs of all British people.”

“You are a woman; you have no rights under Roman law.”

“But I do under Iceni law,” countered Boudicca.

“There are no Iceni now, only slaves,” proclaimed Marcus, seizing Boudicca before she could draw her sword.  With the help of another centurion, Marcus bound and gagged the struggling Boudicca and her daughters, forcing them to watch as the remaining soldiers spread across the village.  Every Iceni, armed and ready for the attack within hours of Prasutagus’ death, challenged the soldiers resolutely, creating a great noise.  With the Roman attention entirely on the battle, Linet slipped quietly out of the village in order to raise the alarm across Britannia.

Chinese excerpt: Boudicca 《不列颠女王布迪卡》

Boudicca Chinese cover

《不列颠女王布迪卡》是一种创造性的非小说类传记适合年轻读者探索古代世界最伟大的女主人公之一的生命。在 61 CE 布狄卡在什么成为最后的大立场,反对英伦三岛的罗马人征服团结大多数英语凯尔特人震惊罗马元老。

可以点燃在中国英文印在纸上(只有英文),和音频编辑理查曼叙述。

在这个场景中,从第四章,一个虔诚的布狄卡寻求智慧的摩瑞根。

————————————-

爱西尼人度过了两年和平安稳的时光。至今为止,那个罗马城主似乎一直在

履行着他的诺言。但是时间一天天过去,爱丽丝和摩根越来越焦虑不安,因为她

们的预感越来越强烈,可怕的梦境似乎很快就会成真。

布迪卡看着女儿们,她的心也随着她们所受的煎熬而疼痛。终于,在仲夏节

的三天前,她和莱内特驾着她的轻巧战车驶向了一个供奉着摩莉甘女神的小神殿,

那座神殿坐落于她们村庄北边一片葱郁的古老森林里。布迪卡和莱内特不眠不休

地祈祷了整整一天一夜,祈求女神的指引。

最终,黎明的曙光穿过了厚重的树林,鸟儿也从睡梦中醒来。莱内特站起来,

将手放在布迪卡的肩膀上,“殿下,我们必须回去了。”

“我们没有办法在即将到来的惨剧中存活下来,我亲爱的朋友——虽然现在

的情况似乎是我们取得了短暂的和平,但是我们都知道,属于我们的战争即将到

来。罗马人并不像我们一样平等地对待妇女,那个城主——保利努斯,他甚至从

没将我当做爱西尼的王后看待过——他认为我只是我丈夫寝宫里的一个私人奴

隶罢了。一旦我的丈夫出了什么事,他们就会将所有东西占为己有。爱西尼人会

重蹈我的族人的覆辙。”布迪卡哭泣道。

“我们不会成为他们的奴隶,我们可以反抗,可以战斗。事实上西边的战争

号角已经吹响,他们会践踏我们的信仰,但是我们不会害怕。我们拼尽所有同他

们战斗,女神会帮助我们。殿下,正如我们所尊崇、所追求的目标:人人自由与

平等!他们认为我们这些体质柔弱的女人生来就低人一等,但是我们知道不是这

样的,我们知道我们都是平等的。诸神会帮助我们打赢这一仗,战神卡姆洛斯会

成为我们的战士!”莱内特的眼中似乎燃烧起了熊熊烈焰。

“卡姆洛斯肯定恨罗马人夺走了他的城市并占为己有,他肯定尤其憎恨在他

的城市建立起的供奉死去的克劳迪亚斯皇帝的神殿。然而神殿还在,我们从前向

他祈祷的地方现在也成为了克劳迪亚斯的祭祀场,却什么都没有发生——这样的

卡姆洛斯战神如何能为我们战斗?”布迪卡问。

“所有的这些都将成为他帮助我们清理个充满罗马人恶臭的城市的理由。当

我们会将这座城市重新贡献给他——当我们获得自由的时候。”

这时森林里突然传来一阵尖叫声。莱内特和布迪卡立刻拿起她们的宝剑向声

音传来的方向冲去。当她们抵达声音的发源处时,只看到普拉苏塔古斯躺在地上,

血流了一地。时间像是过了一年那么久——国王被杀害了,为了他的子民,将自

己作为祭品贡献给了神明。普拉苏塔古斯向上看去,他的眼睛已经变得模糊,“布

迪卡?”

布迪卡哭着跪了下来,任由从他胸前的伤口流出的鲜血染红她的裙子,“我

在这。”

“一个罗马的,侦察兵,我,他没想到我会出现在这里。”普莱修亚斯大口

喘气,想要告诉他的妻子发生了什么事,却无能为力。他知道他一死,愤怒便会

倾覆她——针对罗马的愤怒。

布迪卡温柔地吻他,“亲爱的,我的爱人,不要离开我!”普拉苏塔古斯一遍

又一遍地回吻她,他们一直都专注地看着对方的眼睛,直到有一方再也无法看到。

布迪卡感觉到他的生命逝去的那一刻,悲伤得好像她的整个生命也随之而去了。

最终,布迪卡还是勉力站了起来,和莱内特合力将她的丈夫搬上了战车,指挥着

马慢慢走向家的方向,走向那个悲伤的未来。

几天后,一个二十人士兵小队和五个百夫长带着他们的手下从曾经的爱西尼

人的南边邻国——特里诺万特的首都,现在的罗马首都科尔切斯特出发来到爱西

尼部落。这支队伍对于罗马人而言算是规模比较小的,代表着罗马掌权者希望能

够避免冲突,顺利执行普拉苏塔古斯的遗嘱,取得爱西尼的掌控权的心愿。走在

队伍最前方的是百夫长马库斯·维特斯,他在当地出生,母亲却来自于塞纳河畔

的埃杜维部落。当他来到布迪卡所在的这座军事化防卫的村庄外时,布迪卡不能

自已地盯着这个颇具埃杜维人长相的男人。布迪卡果断拦截他,“来者何人?”

“我,百夫长马库斯·维特斯,代表伟大罗马皇帝尼禄和城主盖乌斯·苏维

托尼乌斯·保里努斯来此。你们的国王已经死去,你们的王国现在属于我们。”

“不,百夫长。我的女儿们和尼禄各自拥有一半。按照英国人的惯例,在我

的子民认为她们具有管理一个国家的能力之前,我,作为王后,作为普拉苏塔古

斯的遗孀,有权接管这个国家。”

“你是个女人,在罗马律法下你没有权利这样做。”

“但在爱西尼法律下我有。”

“现在没有爱西尼了,只有奴隶。”马库斯宣布,并在布迪卡拔出她的宝剑

前抢先将她制住。在其他百夫长的帮助下,马库斯捆住了一直在挣扎的布迪卡和

她的女儿们,并堵住她们的嘴,强迫她们看他们的士兵怎么扫荡整个村庄。每个

爱西尼人都拿起武器,在他们的国王尸骨未寒时毅然决然地反击罗马的入侵,勇

敢地与罗马人战斗,硝烟一片。趁着罗马人的注意力完全被激烈的战争吸引,莱

内特悄悄地逃出村庄向不列颠岛的其他部落示警。

Character Profile: Princess Anlei

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Series Name:  The Peers of Beinan

Character name: Princess Anlei

Parents names: Queen Isabelle of house Gurun and Lord Knight Bevin of house Ten-Ar

Character’s Date of Birth: BE 6281, beinor 54

Place of Birth (if known): the palace in Hejing in Dongbei on planet Beinan.

Book appearing in: The Great Succession Crisis

Profile:  When we first meet Princess Anlei she is a rebellious adolescent determined to be opposed to everything her family wants and believes in — especially religion.  Through the experience of choosing between politics and love and the very real danger to her life, she grows as a person, finally embracing her birthright and becoming the leader that was always inside of her.

2014 panto ensemble

Kluane Saunders (left in blue) as Fairy Liquid in the 2014/2015 production of Jack in the Beanstalk at the Elgiva Theatre.


Ideal actress to play in a film adaptation:
British actress Kluane Saunders

 

 

Connect with science fiction author Laurel A. Rockefeller on twitter.

In this bitter cold, a missive to Congress and Parliament

Dear Congress of the United States of America and Parliaments of the western industrialized world:

 

Forest River. winter sunsetThis week we the residents of the United States and Canada are experiencing the sort of dangerous cold weather that kills in a matter of minutes.  This is the sort of weather where if you have no safe home to go to you really run the risk of going to sleep and never waking up again. This storm will kill thousands of people whose names are lost because we think they do not matter anymore. But each of us may easily find ourselves wandering the streets, alone, exposed to this bitter cold, never knowing when we go to sleep if we will ever wake up again.

Count your blessings for your home — then do anything and everything you can to help those without food, shelter, and warmth.

Yes, I know this is difficult for you.  You cannot relate to the rest of us.  You have more money than any single person can ever spend.  You do not look like most of us nor do you have the same life experiences as most of us.  So I can see why you have a hard time understanding how much we are suffering.  You have probably not shivered in your home because it cost too much to properly heat your home or insulate it from the cold. You have probably never had to find ways to make three days worth of food last for a week.  You have probably also never had to eat food not suitable for eating because it was the only food available to you.

We have.

Instead of bickering among yourselves in your comfort and ease, please please walk a mile in our shoes.

 

Eighty years ago everyone suffered together in the Great Depression and our countries were all stronger for it.  Stronger because instead of looking down at those of us without proper shelter, clothing, and food, those elected to your same offices you hold together experienced these things with us and therefore became resolved to create jobs, to build roads and bridges and repair those things that needed to be fixed.  They put in place measured designed to give everyone somewhere safe and warm to live and spend the winter.  And they were determined that no one in countries as great as ours would go hungry — especially our children.

I ask you to please care about us again!

No one is “surplus population.”

 

Please stop treating us as if we are!

 

Sincerely,

 

Laurel A. Rockefeller

 

Reblog: Should Authors Stop Their Characters At First Base?

Today’s reblog is a post by J. Boyce Gleason entitled “Should Authors Stop Their Characters at First Base.”

 

Here is Mr. Gleason’s post in full.  What do you think?  Let’s talk about sex in books!

————————————-

Why Not “Fade to Black?”

Authors make lots of choices. How much of the plot do we reveal? How soon do we reveal it? Should we follow one narrative point of view or many?

And then there is sex. How far do we let the characters go? Do we stop them at first base and fade to black? Second? Third? Is it necessary for the reader to watch them go all the way? How much detail is too much detail?

The choice I made was to be “all in.”

One of the reasons we read fiction is that it gives us the unique opportunity to delve inside a character’s persona. We see their thoughts and emotions. We know what drives them to make the choices they make. Like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, fiction allows us to pull aside the curtain to see what levers are being manipulated.

Sex (or the abstinence of sex) is an integral part of who we are. It shapes our personalities, our choices, our self-esteem. We may choose to keep the details private, but it shapes us nonetheless. Why should literature be any different?

The trick is to make sure you are writing it for the right purpose.

“If you are writing to titillate the reader – or yourself – you are writing for the wrong reason,” author Barbara Dimmick (In the Presence of Horses, Heart-Side Up) warns. “There are no generic sex scenes. Sex is so intimate that it changes with each partner. Couples create their own language for sex; they have their own signals for intimacy, their own rituals for foreplay. To be credible, a sex scene must reflect that level intimacy. It should give your readers insights into your characters, not into you.”

My first novel, Anvil of God, is a sweeping tale that chronicles the struggles that the family of Charles the Hammer (Charlemagne’s grandfather) face in the wake of his death. Based on a true story, it is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal. It offers readers far more than a sex. But the sex scenes in it, hit that high standard. They present a unique window into each character’s identity. For Trudi, sex is an act of independence; for Carloman it is a counterpoint to the rigidity of his religious beliefs, for Pippin an expression of joy and respite from the violence of his life. The scenes advance the story in a way no other scene could.

About the Author:
J. Boyce Gleason With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped history. He says he writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

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Do you agree with Mr. Gleason?  Post your remarks below!