NEWSFLASH!

His Majesty's Secret Passion is on sale now! Read an extract here , and find out more at


On Friday 13th March I appeared as part of a panel on the BBC Radio 4 Programme Feedback, putting questions to Sean O'Connor, editor of The Archers. Catch it here.

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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Birth Of A Book, Part Six—Writing, Reading and Rewriting...

By Antonio Litterio
In the first five parts of this series, I've covered finding ideas, character development, planning (or not)basic three-act structure and dirty drafts. If you've got your first, rough draft down on paper and you've managed to put it aside to mellow for a while, you'll be raring to go.

Now's the time to tie everything together. This is where the old line "write about what you know" can be both a blessing and a curse. Inside knowledge is perfect for adding details, and that's the problem. If you're a mechanic writing a thriller, you're the ideal person to give tantalising glimpses of the power of getaway cars, and the intimate luxury of limousines. Just make sure you only salt your work with facts, rather than pickle it in brine.   John Grisham gives enough detail in his legal thrillers such as The Firm to fill you in and keep you reading—he's careful not to make you feel you need a Bar exam to read his books.

What if your book is a personal memoir,  and you think you don't have technical expertise in any field? Think again. Everyone knows how it feels to be hungry, thirsty, disappointed or excited. You're an expert in being you. Put your own personal spin on your fictional characters. Deepen their conflicts by drawing on your experience of your own feelings, and the reactions you've seen in other people. Use all your senses to enliven your work. The sound and feel of fresh snow crunching under your feet, the sight of clouds rushing across a March landscape in fitful spring sunshine, the fragrance and taste of fresh baking...writing is a chance to indulge your creativity, so get thinking!

Make sure you do plenty of external research to get all your technical details correct. Don't feel you have to include everything you know, or find out—see the comment about John Grisham's books, above. Keep some things in reserve, complete with all references, so you can answer any questions put to you by your readers.  I used my memories of a recent holiday at a luxurious spa to spice up His Majesty's Secret Passion, then double-checked everything I could.  

http://bit.ly/1ujX5zc
From Amazon, with love: http://amzn.to/14udZUC
However brilliant you are, there'll always be someone out there who knows (or thinks they know) more than you do—even if it's only your mum. You owe it to your readers to get everything as near-perfect as you can. As well as checking specialist facts and figures, don't forget the little things. Unless you're writing about an alternative universe, don't say the date's 30th February, or give England tropical temperatures on Christmas Day. Stranger things have happened—but not many.

Once you've produced a detailed second draft, take the time (and the throat sweets) read it through aloud to yourself. I use this step to produce a timeline, too, if I haven't done one already. This makes sure everyone and everything hangs together. Make all the alterations and amendments your work needs, then repeat the reading and nit-picking as often as it takes to make your work perfect.

Then comes the moment when you find out whether your manuscript can survive in the wider world. If you have a friend you can trust to give you impartial advice, get them to read your work. A fresh pair of eyes will shine like searchlights through holes in your plot, and pick out the kind of typos and inconsistencies  we all miss when we're poring over our work. It needs distance to be able to spot these things. I type "form" instead of "from" and vice versa all the time. However careful I am about reading back and checking, my Beta reader almost always finds one that's slipped past me.

 If you think your friend will be either too kind or too harsh (it can happen!), employ a professional Beta reader. Word of mouth is the best recommendation, but there are plenty of ads in writing magazines, and online. Check them out thoroughly before you part with any money.

Once you've polished your book until it gleams, put it aside again for at least another week while you get on with the next important steps in the birth of a book: starting the next one and finding a market. Those topics are going to be the next parts parts in my Birth Of A Book series. To make sure you catch them, sign up to my blog clicking on the link above, or email me at christinahollis(at)hotmail.co.uk with the word "Blog" in the subject line, replacing the word "at" with @ in my address.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Archers: This Is The End, My Friend?

An everyday view of country life...
The Archers on BBC Radio 4 used to be like a big slice of chocolate cake at the end of a hard day. It was a harmless indulgence. A pick-me-up containing a few ingredients that might even do you some good (well, eggs and butter are off the verboten list now, aren't they?), if only psychologically.

Lately it's become cigarettes and absinthe—a deadly habit I just can't kick. How I wish I could, especially after the past few months when, as I predicted in my other blogs here about The Archers, it feels more like Eastenders on Am.

I don't have the heart to go through all the ways this programme has failed me, and a lot of other listeners, recently. If you want a taste of public opinion, read the comments on The Archers Facebook Page (beware trolls), The Archers Blog, and #thearchers on twitter. All this social media was set up by the BBC to create an interactive community, but they never seem to do any interacting themselves, or act to stem the rising tide (a fitting image) of complaints.

How I Spent My Last Sabbatical From The Archers...
The night of The Flood dragged out over every evening for a week was a perfect example of a great opportunity wasted. I was once caught up in a real-life flash flood that killed several people. The hell portrayed by The Archers was realistic—it was the execution that was all wrong. The drama should have been condensed into a one-hour special. As proof of this idea, it worked well as an omnibus, but as five (was it only five? It felt like five hundred) chunks of 13 minutes, it was an incoherent mess. Floods are a short burst of mindless terror, not a week of fancy sound effects.

The Archers team is very proud of their research among farmers and others caught up in last year's flooding. Unfortunately, that simply reveals another great flaw in this storyline. How many of the farmers they interviewed will ever be caught out by flood water again?  Despite this dry winter, every landowner I know in Somerset has kept one ear to weather forecasts, and has been even more scrupulous than usual about clearing out drainage systems. If the scriptwriters had let a few years elapse before using this story, complacency might have set in among real-life people living on flood plains, and it could have served as a useful reminder.

What sort of farmers don't take any notice of online weather warnings so thoughtfully put out for them by the BBC? Wait—I know! The sort of farmers who wanted to move an entire dairy enterprise to the other end of the country, and  invest shedloads of money they didn't have, in creating a brand-new dairy farm at a time when milk prices are on the floor. In other words, idiots. Who wants to listen to a drama about such unbelievable, unloveable characters?

Which brings me to my final rant. A member of the Mustardland online community of Archers listeners wrote a letter of complaint to the BBC. They received a form letter in reply, full of platitudes and basically saying The Archers was cutting edge drama with millions of faithful listeners. The inference was that this is how it's going to be from now on, so get used to it.

The sneering dismissal of anyone who dares shine a light into this growing gloom is bad enough. The fact that I, and several other people I know, received exactly the same letter—word for word apart from our names, and complaint reference numbers—makes it ten times worse.

The Archers is going to feature on Radio 4's Feedback programme this week. I'd like to think the programme will kick its usual habit of letting The Powers That Be tell all complainants they're wrong and the editor and scriptwriters are completely right, but I'm not holding my breath.

Those who live by social media may die by it. I really hope it doesn't kill off The Archers I once knew, and loved.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Birth Of A Book, Part Five—Getting Down And Dirty...

By Antonio Litterio
...it's time to get creative. If you've been following the first four parts of this series, you'll have a stash of ideas, and you'll know the importance of detailed characters, and a strong basic structure. To catch up on any of the parts you may have missed, here are the links: From Thinking To WritingFinding The Heart And Soul Of Your BookFind Your Writing Style and The Basic Three Act Structure For Creative Writing.

All (!) you have to do now is put the advice into action, so sit down and write. Nobody can put those words together for you, and that's the beauty of it. Your work is as individual as you are. The problem is, those words and ideas are no use to you, or anyone else, while they're inside your head. To get them noticed, put them down on paper, or up on screen.

I'm a great believer in the dirty draft. Once you've worked out the who, what, when, where and why of your major characters, live with them for a while. Don't start writing until they stop being characters, and become real people for you. Then imagine you've opened a vein—let the words flow fast. The important thing at this stage is to get something down. Editing your written work is about a million times easier than staring at a blank screen (and ten million times more productive), so start and don't stop when you run out of words. Stop when you still feel you could write all night. Then your story will be so desperate to be told, it'll keep your imagination on high alert until your next writing session.

Find out more here http://bit.ly/1ujX5zc
 here for UK- http://amzn.to/1DF99Dv
Once you've typed The End, you reach the hardest part of being a writer (since the last hardest part, and until you come to the next hardest part). That's when you put your work away for a while. It must be out of sight, and out of mind. If it's on a computer, save it to a flash drive, and email it to yourself as well, as insurance. Then go and do something completely different from writing. Hike a long distance path. Join a gym. Go on holiday. Do anything but touch your finished dirty draft. This break gives you and your work a chance to mellow after the ferocity of the writing process. A cooling off period puts your work, like a teenage affair, into perspective. Leave it for at least a week, but preferably much longer. If you use the time to plan, and begin writing, your next book the time will go much faster. A head start on your follow-up project is important if you want to make wiring your career.

You'll be glad to know writers and their drafts have a much better chance of long-term success than playground partnerships. You can alter and improve your first love in written form to your heart's content—you can't do that with real people!

Next time, I'll be talking about the process of reviewing and editing your work. Do you revise and edit as you go, or do you use the dirty draft method outlined above? There's a signed copy of my current release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, for a comment drawn at random after 9th March.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Guest Post: Merryn Allingham, Author of 'The Girl From Cobb Street'...

My guest, Merryn Allingham
Today I'm interviewing Merryn Allingham, who is the author of the Daisy's War series. Book One, The Girl From Cobb Street, is out now.

Thanks for dropping by, Merryn. Where did you get the idea for The Girl From Cobb Street?

It started with a marriage certificate – my parents’ - which I unearthed from a pile of papers at the back of a cupboard I was clearing. My mother travelled to India in April 1937 and was married in St John’s Afghan Church in what was then, Bombay. Even now India is exotic, hitting you in the face with its difference. But in the 1930s, the journey took three weeks at a time when most people rarely ventured far beyond their home. I tried to imagine how it must have been for a working class girl who had never been further from London than a day at the Southend seaside, to travel to what was an alien world, thousands of miles away, and marry a man she hadn’t seen for some time - six years in my mother’s case! And so my heroine, Daisy Driscoll, was born, facing the same hazards in her new life as my mother had - and then far more, with a deceitful and desperate husband who threatens her with disaster.

How long did it take you to write?

Much longer than I expected because one book turned into three. I think it took me around two years to write the whole of the Daisy’s War trilogy. I found I couldn’t leave my heroine at the end of The Girl from Cobb Street. I knew she was going to have more adventures, but I also knew that eventually she would reach a safe harbour. 

Who is your favourite character, and why?

It has to be Daisy. She was the character that pushed me into writing more books than I intended. She is such a mix of vulnerability and strength, someone who at the beginning of the trilogy is still being formed. Bad things happen to her, but she fights every inch of the way and by the end of the third book has become the person she was always meant to be.

Have you ever had any rejections in your writing life? How did you cope?

I’ve been very lucky in having every book I’ve written published but, of course, along the way there have been plenty of rejections. Sometimes it’s been a resounding ‘no’ and other times a  tantalising near miss. I think you have to remind yourself that it’s not you personally that’s being rejected, but your story. Either it doesn’t appeal to the person you sent it to or it doesn’t fit what they’re looking for at that time. Writers put so much of themselves into their work, though, that it can be difficult. 

What's the most useful piece of writing advice of your own you'd like to hand on?

Writing can be a lonely business, never more so when rejections start to flow in, but you have to continue to believe in yourself and keep writing. Determination and patience are essential. If you look at the biographies of many of today’s most popular novelists, they’ve often been writing for years. As Lee Child said, ‘It took me ten years to be an overnight success.' 

Who's had the most influence on your writing life?

I would have to say Georgette Heyer. When I began writing, I had a daunting background of academic research and teaching and hadn’t a clue how to begin writing popular fiction, although I knew I wanted to. Then one morning I woke up and the idea was there. I would start where I felt most comfortable - in the Regency with a book along the lines of Georgette Heyer, who I’ve read and reread a hundred times since my teenage years. And so I began writing as Isabelle Goddard and published six Regency romances before deciding to broaden my scope into mainstream women’s fiction. But GH definitely got me going. 

What's next for you?

I’m toying with writing another trilogy, three separate stories set in 1914, 1941 and 1965, but linked together by the same house and its various occupants. It sounds like quite a challenge and at the moment I’m not sure just how it will work. But it’s an idea that keeps buzzing through my mind and I know it won’t let go until I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. I even have a rough title for the three books: The Summerhayes Saga!


Good luck with The Summerhayes Saga—I'll look forward to interviewing you when it's finished! 

Here's an excerpt from The Girl from Cobb Street, to give us a taster of your latest release...


Nandni Mata was as beautiful as she had been days ago. Daisy stroked the shining black stone with gentle fingers,willing the goddess to come alive. It was foolish, but this statue was the only connection she had with her mother, this and a creased photograph. Lily must have bought the brooch in a shop or from a market stall, as Grayson had suggested, but what if the connection were closer than that? What if the brooch had come from here, from this very place? What if her mother had been here? It was a fantasy, she knew, and she traced the necklace once more with her fingers, smoothing the stone pendant over and over, trying to feel her mother’s presence. But she could not. All she could feel was the still, suffocating heat. 


She looked at the statue again and the goddess stared back. Her look was baleful. Daisy hadn’t noticed that before. A strong impulse to leave was flooding over her, for the temple hadn’t brought the peace she sought and she didn’t know why. It was as though the spirit of the place had withdrawn and left her exposed. Yes, she must definitely leave, and leave now. She backed quickly away and walked through the regiment of columns to the top of the temple steps. A sudden noise above her head made her look skywards and there, held in suspension, was a stone, a very large stone, hurtling through the blue, hurtling towards her. She stepped back into the shelter of two columns a second before a deafening crack shattered the stillness of the arena and a rock lay in splinters on the steps below.

Thanks for sharing with us, Merryn. Good luck with The Girl From Cobb Street! 

You can find out more about The Girl From Cobb Street here.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Guest Blog—Sydney St Claire: Snow And Her Huntsman


Sydney St Claire
Today, I'm welcoming Sydney St Claire to my blog. As well as telling us something about herself, Sydney is giving us a taste of her erotic romance, Snow And Her Huntsman. This is part of the Once Upon A Dom series. The theme is Fairy Tales Your Mother Never Read You, and it's another new title from The Wild Rose Press.

About Sydney...
Sydney St. Claire is the pseudonym of Susan Edwards, author of 14 Historical Native American/Western/Paranormal romances and the author of the popular “White” Series. 
Sydney takes her readers into the world of erotica romance where her characters come together in explosive passion as they solve life’s problems and find true love along with the best sex our hero and heroine have ever experienced. 
Sydney’s office is quite crowded with three dogs at her feet and five cats to keep her company while she writes. Three cats always insist on beds on her desk, barely leaving enough room for her monitor and keyboard. Life gets fun when all five insist on supervising…
A Little About Snow And Her Huntsman...
Rylee Kincaid’s business is about to go under. Lucky for her, she’s found an investor. Ready to sign papers, she learns her knight in shining armor is Hunter Finnegan, the man who once gave her multiple orgasms then crushed her young, tender heart. Her world comes crashing down as it becomes clear the rich businessman intends a hostile takeover and to cast her out. Then he agrees to discuss a new deal, but only if Rylee will play Snow to his Huntsman at a BDSM fairy tale event.

Hunter has never forgotten the weekend of kinky sex he shared with Rylee in college. Unfortunately, he had to let her go to keep peace in his family. Now he’s back to claim the only woman he’s ever loved. He’ll stop at nothing to make the black-haired, fair-skinned beauty hear the truth of what happened so long ago, even if he has to tie her up. And that’s exactly what he does. But as the Huntsman reawakens the submissive in Snow, Hunter isn’t so sure he can do the same to Rylee’s heart.
Available from http://bit.ly/17aXsY9
And here's a little taster...(PG13)


Rylee couldn’t believe what she’d done. She’d totally lost control, something she’d never done with another man but Hunter. Sex between her and her husband had never come close to the heat level between her and Hunter. Her hands dropped from his shoulders to his chest. Palms flat, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to push him away or bunch her fingers in his shirt and draw him even closer. God, what must he think of her? One kiss, and she’d gone up in flames, like a desperate and hungry woman. 
Which was true. But to show it and behave in such a manner horrified her. “I…” She didn’t know what to say. 
Hunter stepped away, she assumed to give her time to adjust her clothing. He picked up the invitation from the gray carpet. “My limo will pick you up at two on Thursday.” 
“Thursday?” Damn, her mind and body felt as though she were swimming through a thick gel. 
Handing her the invite, along with a large envelope he snagged off his desk, he held her gaze. “I’ll see you at Pleasure Manor. Your costumes will be delivered to your office this afternoon.” 
He tapped the envelope. “Instructions and rules. I suggest you go get your bloodwork done this afternoon. You’ll need to bring the results with you.” Hunter handed her the briefcase and her purse and hustled her to the door. 
Rylee blinked in confusion. Damn the man for being in complete control while she was a quivering mass of need. Her orgasm hadn’t eased her ache for this man. But she hated being manipulated, and he was a master. He’d lured her in with hopes and dreams of saving her business and probably used Glorie to make her mad enough that she’d confront him. Now, he’d had the nerve to use her own body against her. “Dammit, Hunter, I never said—” 
Hunter halted her with the single lift of his brow. “Your body spoke for you.” He lowered his head and kissed her hard, swallowing her protests. “Thursday. And don’t bother wearing panties.”
Wow—nobody ever read fairy tales like that to me! You can find out more about Sydney and her work here: 
Trailer:             http://youtu.be/ap0UHxLoFCA
Website:         http://sydneystclaire.com
                     http://susanedwards.com
Twitter:           https://twitter.com/Sydneystclaire
Blog:          http://sydneystclaire.wordpress.com

While the buy links for Snow And Her Huntsman are:
Wild Rose KINDLE           Nook         KOBO             IBOOKS

And Sydney is celebrating the release with a new contest. Prizes include a roomy  "Fairy Tales Your Mother Never Read You" tote bag, 4 GB Flash Drive, Key Ring Light, Notepad & Pen, Mug and assorted other goodies. Find out more here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/09f02d866/

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Birth Of A Book, Part Four: The Basic Three Act Structure For Creative Writing


By Antonio Litterio
Is your story running out of control? Is your character development less of an arc, and more of a ramble? Save time and keep your plot on track, no matter how many threads it has, by finding out how to apply the Three-Act Structure to your work. 
  
I started out as a pantster—writing novels free-form, with no overall plan. A dramatic scene would come to me. I’d think about it until I’d developed characters and a plot. Then I’d write the first three chapters, followed by the last one, to make sure every loose end was tied up. After that, I’d go back and fill in all the gaps. That worked well, but what sounds like a fast process turned out to be slow in the end. Making things up as I went along meant lots of re-writing and refining. Sometimes I’d have to discard days of work when it didn’t fit with the revised storyline. Often the finished manuscript and my original synopsis might have been talking about different books, with only names and places in common. 
I needed to get organised. The 2014 RNA conference put me onto Scrivener. You can find out more about that here.

Once I got the hang of using this package, I could see the Three Act Structure (which has been used for centuries to create novels, plays and other works) fits in perfectly. The Introduction, Action and Conclusion model provides a skeleton you can build on and articulate, by breaking the action down into small segments. 

I haven’t turned into a dedicated planner overnight, plotting every move my characters make right down to the last cough and sneeze, but it’s definitely easier for me to keep my first draft on track these days. In turn, this saves a lot of time, which I devote to polishing my full manuscript. 

On sale now at http://bit.ly/1C0CxOU and
here in the UK
I’ve created a template on Scrivener which includes divisions within the basic Three Act Structure. Most are self-explanatory. You don’t need to write scenes for all the headings—in fact, it would be a very bad idea to follow this template down to the smallest detail. In trying to fill every box, you’d end up producing the literary version of a painting-by-numbers, rather than your very own Mona Lisa. 

As you write, you’ll find some sections will merge. The order will change, and the lines between some will  blur. You might want to skip some altogether, or change the order within the acts. Do whatever suits you, within the basic story arc of scene setting, followed by action and rounded off by conclusion.

Here are the basic headings I work with:

ACT ONE—This introduces your story world and characters, and sets up all the drama to come. 
Scene setting: The trick is to drip feed information about the who, where and when of your story. Don’t drop it in lumps. Personally, I like to start with a bang, such as the “shark attack” in His Majesty’s Secret Passion.
Inciting Incident: A stranger comes to town is a classic opening. You could also use an accident, a letter, or a misunderstanding.
And So…For every action there’s a reaction, as Isaac Newton said. Keep that in mind as you move forward, heaping up troubles and questions for your characters to confront.
What happens then? Don’t forget to add variety to the ups and downs in your story. Give your reader time to catch their breath, and reflect on what’s been happening.
Pressure Builds: Once you’ve got your characters up a tree, throw rocks at them. 
Force: As you make things worse for them, they are forced to take more action
Plot Twist/Revelation We know where we are, and who we’re dealing with. Or do we? Throw in another development to increase problems for your hero.
George M. Hill Company, Via Wikimedia
ACT TWO—Action stations! This act should make up the bulk of your story, powering it along with increasing drama, and working on the tension.
All Change: This is the point where Alice has gone through the looking glass, and Dorothy isn’t in Kansas any more. There’s no way back. They’ve got to create a new  existence, and fresh ways of thinking.
Learning: Your characters get to know their new world.
Back And Forward: Draw contrasts between their old life, and the new rules they are learning.
Tension Builds: Foreshadow future disasters. In The Lord Of The Rings, Gandalf rages at Pippin for doing something as simple as dropping a stone down a well. We're told that’s not a good thing to do in a place like the Mines of Moria, but we don’t know why. Yet…
Breathing Space: The contrast of action and peace. Your readers and heroes can all take a rest, but just when they least expect it—
Bang! More trouble arrives, and it’s big.
Action Your hero throws themselves into the situation. This is a fight to the death, either physical, mental, or both. It takes all their resources and ingenuity to cope.
Reapplication: This is it: hero must make one last huge effort, and dedicate themselves to getting the ultimate prize of true love, treasure or whatever else you’ve dangled in front of them. This means death—or glory!
ACT THREE—This is the climax and conclusion of your book. Everything has been building towards this point. 
More Trouble/Another Crisis: Things are getting worse and worse.
The Black Moment The point when a romance seems doomed, all projects are heading for disaster and there is (apparently) no way out.
Hidden Powers The hero delves even deeper inside themselves to draw on resources they didn’t know they had.
Last Big Push toward reconciliation, or the final battle.
And Finally… It’s all over.
Look Around: Characters take stock of their new story world, relationships and their changed understanding of themselves.
Climax: the big reconciliation, or reveal.
Resolution: This is the place to give your characters their Happy Ever After moment, or let them announce their determination to stride forward into Book Two of a series. At least give them a satisfying conclusion.

There are lots of possible variations on this basic layout, but this one has worked well for me. It’s the way I kept Sara and Leo heading for their happy ever after in His Majesty’s Secret Passion, despite all their troubles, and reversals on the way. 

Do you plan, or write freestyle? How do you fancy working in a different way?


There’s a signed copy of His Majesty’s Secret Passion on offer for a comment picked at random after 16th February.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Guest Post: Angela Hayes—If love isn't worth fighting for, what is?

Angela Hayes
Today, I'm welcoming novelist Angela Hayes to my blog. As well as telling us a bit about herself, Angela is offering a taste of her new paranormal romance, Love's Battle, part of the True Blue trilogy.

Angela's Biography:
A married mother of two, I split my time between bringing characters to life by computer, and yarn to life with needle and hook. You can find me at www.authorangelahayes.blogspot.com and follow me on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/imahayes  and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/imahayes

LOVE’S BATTLE—the blurb
Love Howard has more than a knack for matchmaking. Born from a forbidden passion and a twelve-hundred-year-old promise, she and her sisters can literally see true love. And while Love has no problem bringing other couples together, her own romantic life could use a little help.

Danton DeAngelo has always been well grounded in reality. So it throws him for no small loop when the woman he’s fallen for believes that she’s been reincarnated eleven times and can actually see true love.

Now Danton is faced with the biggest decision of his life. Accept Love for who she really is, or walk away from her forever.

AN EXCERPT FROM LOVE’S BATTLE, by ANGELA HAYES

The hand Love pressed to her brow was visibly shaking. “There’s something I need to tell you. I just need you to keep an open mind.”
“What is it? Are you sick?” Danton asked.
“No, I’m not sick.” Her voice trembled on a forced laugh. “It’s something else. Something I‘ve been trying to prepare you for. This would be so much easier if you believed in magic. If you could believe that what I’m about to tell you is the honest truth.”
Turning, Love opened the iron chest, the hinges groaning with the effort as specks of rust littered the floor. From its depths she pulled out a clear plastic bag that she held tight to her chest, eyes closed, before handing it to a confused Danton.
“This is my tartan, my plaid. Before it faded and was dinner for the moths, it was once patterned in checks of green, gray, and brown. The purple and white stripes that ran through the hem identified the wearer as part of the royal family.” Love tapped the plastic, her finger pointing out where each color should be. “It was a gift from my father. The first and only time my sister’s and I met him, he was on his deathbed, we were eighteen. A week later our mother died in the same moment he drew his last breath.” Needing the extra air Love drew a breath of her own. “That day was the thirteenth of February, eight-hundred and fifty-eight AD. My father was Cinaed mac Alpin, crowned king of the Picts and Gaels. He was Scotland’s first king.”
“Eight- hundred and fifty-eight?” That couldn’t be right, she was only twenty-five. “Don’t you mean Nineteen-eighty-seven?”
“No. I was born for the first time in Scotland during the middle of the ninth century.” 

What a hook, Angela! And that's a great cover, too. For more of Love's Battle, here are the links:


And you can find Angela at http://www.manicreaders.com/AngelaHayes/ www.amazon.com/author/angelahayes and https://www.goodreads.com/author_angelahayes.

Thanks for sharing with us, Angela, and good luck with Love's Battle!