Not all book ideas spring full grown into an author’s mind. Indeed, most of the books I’ve written begin with a line or two of dialog, or perhaps just a situation. With The Herald’s Heart, the image that sprang to mind was that of a knight lost in a thick fog. A hideous wail fills the air, and for a moment a gap forms in the fog. A woman’s face fills the gap. She’s pale but beautiful and the knight wonders if she’s a phantom. So I had to ask myself who was the knight, who was the woman, what were they doing at that spot at that time, what events would follow, and why?
Over the years, I would work on this project then put it aside for books with actual deadlines and resume searching for The Herald’s Heart in between contracts. Before I found the real story that I was writing, the tale went through two other major iterations. My first drafts were titled, “Found in the Heart.” I knew without doubt the story was about finding what was true, i.e. ‘love’ in one’s heart. But the story did not stay that way for long.
As I explored my heroine’s character, I discovered she was a victim of identity theft. Proving one’s identity in the middle ages was very difficult. A person needed to produce witnesses and documents attesting to the truth of his or her claim that he or she truly was a certain person. Because the heroine’s family is murdered, and she is lost far from home, no one can witness her claim. So everyone doubts she is the woman she knows herself to be.
When all of that came to me, the story’s second iteration was born, “The Last Bride.” It’s a good title, and I may use it for a different book someday. But the entire reason for the murder of her family was to force her to become the bride of a local earl with a cruel reputation. He’d buried seven or more other wives.
Hence my heroine’s parents objected to the marriage proposed by their overlord the earl.
Then my hero pops into my head, completely lost in a fog. It allowed for a vaguely gothic opening to the story and was representative of his task in proving or disproving the heroine’s claim to be ‘the last bride’ of the cruel earl.
All of this combined to create a more complete picture of The Herald’s Heart in my mind, and thus the third and final iteration of the story was born. In truth, my hero herald had to find faith in his heart that the woman he was coming to love was not a liar, deceiver and potential murderess. Yes, murderess.
Remember that cruel Earl. Sometime after murdering her family, he met a gruesome death that could only have been murder. But who did it? It was writing the journey to discover the truth that rests in the heart that helped me and my heroine win The Herald’s Heart.
Excerpt: Find an excerpt from The Herald’s Hearthere.
The Herald’s Heart
Her identity was stolen. He thinks she’s a murderer. Will love help them discover the truth?
When he ceased serving as one of King Edward I’s heralds, Sir Talon Du Quereste imagined he would settle on a quiet little estate, marry a gently bred damsel, and raise a flock of children. The wife of his daydreams was a woman who could enhance his standing with his peers, and certainly not an overly adventurous, impulsive, argumentative woman of dubious background.
When her family is murdered, Lady Larkin Rosham lost more than everyone she loved—she lost her name, her identity and her voice. She’s finally recovered her ability to speak, but no one believes her claim to be Lady Larkin. She is determined to regain her name and her heritage, but Sir Talon Du Quereste guards the way to the proof she needs. She must discover how to get past him without risking her heart.
Award-winning author, Rue Allyn, learned storytelling at her grandfather’s knee. (Well, it was really more like on his knee—I was two.) She’s been weaving her own tales ever since. She has worked as an instructor, mother, sailor, clerk, sales associate, and painter, along with a variety of other types of employment. She has lived and traveled in places all over the globe from Keflavik Iceland (I did not care much for the long nights of winter.) and Fairbanks Alaska to Panama City and the streets of London, England to a large number of places in between. Now that her two sons have left the nest, Rue and her husband of more than four decades (Try living with the same person for more than forty years—that’s a true adventure) have retired and moved south. When not writing, enjoying the nearby beach or working jigsaw puzzles, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance.. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at Rue@RueAllyn.com. She can’t wait to hear from you.
4 stars. “A gem for lovers of the medieval – 4 stars. In The Herald’s Heart, Rue Allen has given us a medieval novel that is out of the ordinary, with an unusual plot, strongly drawn characters, and gothic overtones, including a mad anchoress and a haunting.” Author Jude Knight
4 stars. “Atmospheric and Fast Paced. . . . a strong, plucky heroine and a hero who has it all. He is loyal, responsible, honorable, strong, handsome—and just enough of a clueless male to frustrate the heroine. The secondary characters are well drawn as well. . . .” Author Caroline Warfield
5 stars. “What can I say about a book that has suspense, love and spice. I loved it. I sure hope we will be able to visit them again in another book.” Marina Leonard, Amazon.com
“Great storytelling on Ms. Allyn’s part makes the centuries fall away . . . as each page comes to life. . . . A suspenseful mystery or two to solve!…and did I mention very passionate romance?” Reviewer Dianne, Goodreads
People often ask me why I write and why in the medieval era. Before I was a writer, I was an avid reader. As a teenager, I remember reading two books a day, and becoming totally engrossed in each story. For me the stories offered an escape to where the good guys lost and life had happy endings. I also owe my drive to become an author to my gypsy ways. With my dad in the military during my youth, my life was one of constant moves; England, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska, and more. Once I graduated high school, I joined the Navy as an oceanographer/meteorologist, then continued traveling throughout my career and eventually retired. As I hung up my Chief’s uniform for the last time, I decided to give a shot at my dream, that of writing.
With thirty-four moves behind me, having lived and traveled from Europe to the Far East, with my easy acceptance of culture and having recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Spain, I naturally gravitated to writing in the medieval timeframe. The first three novels that I ever wrote, which are unpublished, were set in the Viking era. Then, I watched the movie Braveheart. Swept away by the Scots intensity, honor and determination to keep their freedom, I moved up from writing medieval romantic suspense in the 790’s to late 1200’s and early 1300’s.
One aspect of writing that caught me off guard was discovering that my stories are filled with suspense. I never planned on writing action-packed novels, but I find myself becoming bored with my story if it doesn’t keep me on the edge of my seat, so I allow my muse permission to create mayhem.
As I persevere in my writing career, I understand that crafting novels are a lot of hard work, but each book is built on a foundation of passion and belief of the story. As a writer it’s a unique path that I travel, but one that has taught me that with perseverance, dreams do come true.
What are the lessons you’ve found in life that has taught you most? What are your dreams?
A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.
Every day, I spend eight hours or more writing, receiving and sending e-mails, composing blogs, etc.
While working, there is no one to metaphorically hold my hand and encourage me. From my first draft onwards, I write to the best of my ability. By the time I have completed several drafts, revised and edited my work, I know it inside out, upside down and back to front. That is a serious problem because I am too familiar with the text to find grammatical errors and other mistakes.
Members of the online critique group I have joined offer constructive criticism, so do members of a writers’ group which meets every Monday evening except for bank holidays
On manuscript evenings, I read approximately 2,000 words from the romantic historical novel I am writing and receive helpful feedback. Someone might point out a weak spot in the plot, an awkward phrase, repetition or something unnecessary for which I am very grateful. I reciprocate by giving my suggestions to other members’ articles, flash fiction, poetry, extracts from their novels, etc.
Apart from being a novelist, I enjoy time spent with family and friends, cooking delicious vegetarian meals, free from meat, fish and eggs, organic gardening, reading historical fiction and non-fiction, embroidery, knitting and patchwork.
Regency Heroines Born on Different Days of the Week
I wrote Sunday’s Child before I decided to write a series set in the Regency era about ladies born on different days of the week inspired by this well-known nursery rhyme:
Monday’s Child is fair of face. Tuesday’s Child is full of grace. Wednesday’s Child is full of woe. Thursday’s Child has far to go Friday’s Child is loving and giving. Saturday’s Child works hard for a living. But the child that is born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe good and gay.
The first five novels, rich in historical detail, with happy ever after endings have been published by Books We Love, Inc.
It is unnecessary for each novel to be read in sequence. The heroines have their own unique stories which are not linked to a previous book the series, and themes which 21st century readers can identify with.
Sunday’s Child. Despite loss and past love, self-sacrifice, brutality and honour, Tarrant, who fought in the Napoleonic wars, and Georgianne, whose father and brothers died in battle, seek their happy ever after ending.
Theme. Tarrant, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, which had not been diagnosed in the early 19th century, struggles to overcome it.
Monday’s Child. Love, despair and renewed hope amid the gaiety and anxiety in Brussels before the Battle of Waterloo.
Theme. Helen, a talented artist, observes anxiety beneath the gaiety during the 100 days after Napoleon escaped from Elba. She captures the British ex-patriates mood on canvas and must deal with personal consequences after the Battle of Waterloo
Tuesday’s Child. Prejudice and pride demand Reverend Dominic Markham, an Earl’s younger son, marry a suitable lady, but he is spellbound by Harriet, whose birth is unequal to his.
Theme. Harriet is an impoverished widow, mother of a young son, the heir to a title. After she goes to live with her father-in- law she battles for control over her child.
Wednesday’s Child. Sensibility and sense are needed for Amelia Carstairs to accept her late grandmother’s choice of her guardian, the Earl of Saunton, to whom Amelia was previously betrothed.
Theme. Amelia inherits a fortune from her eccentric grandmother, whose loss she must come to terms with, but wealth cannot give her the happiness she craves.
Thursday’s Child. Impulsive Margaret needs common sense to check her thoughtless remarks which drive her towards Rochedale, a rake with a mysterious past.
Theme. By the end of the novel Margaret is a mature young lady capable of making a sensible decision to secure her happiness.
I am Rosemary Morris, an English, multi-published author of romantic historical fiction, one of my publisher’s ten best-selling novelists in 2017.
I was born in Kent. As a child, when I was not making up stories, my head was ‘always in a book.’
While working in a travel agency, I met my Hindu husband. He encouraged me to continue my education at Westminster College. In 1961, I and my husband, by then a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where I lived from 1961 until 1982. After an attempted coup d’état, four of my five children lived with me in an ashram in France.
Back in England, I wrote romantic historical fiction, joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Historical Novel Society, Watford Writers and on-line groups, and am now published by Books We Love Ltd.
Apart from writing, I enjoy classical Indian literature, reading fiction, historical non-fiction, visiting places of historical interest, vegetarian cooking, growing organic fruit, herbs and vegetables and creative crafts.
My eight foot by six-foot bookcase is so full that if I buy a new book I consider getting rid of one.
Time spent with my five children and their families, most of whom live near me, is precious.
Inspiration from History
There is a gigantic canvas for a historical novelist to choose from. My novels are set in the reign of Edward II, Charles II’s niece, Queen Anne Stuart, who reigned from 1702 to 1714, and the ever-popular Regency era.
I chose these periods because each of them affected the course of history. If Edward II had won the Battle of Bannockburn, it is feasible that he would have conquered Scotland and, perhaps, if the claim is true, he would not have been murdered. If the Duke of Marlborough had not won The War of Spanish Succession, and The Duke of Wellington had been defeated by Napoleon at The Battle of Waterloo, the history of Britain and that of Europe would be different. Defeat would also have had far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world.
The more I read about my chosen eras the more fascinated I become, and the more aware of the gulf between the past and present. Those who lived in the past shared our emotions, but their attitudes and way of life were in many ways very different to ours. One of the most striking examples was the social position of women and children in in bygone ages.
My characters are of their time, not men, women and children dressed in costume who behave like 21st century people.
Three of Rosemary’s Ten Published Novels
Research of my chosen eras sparks my imagination. The seeds of my novels are sown, and from them sprout the characters and events which will shape their lives. When I read about James II, I had an idea for my novel Tangled Love. James II, a Roman Catholic, who succeeded to the throne after the death of his popular brother Charles II. The peers of the realm disliked the man, his politics and his religion. Forced to flee the country, the peers were expected to swear an oath of allegiance to his older daughter, Mary and her husband, William of Orange who were Protestants. However, some of them were too honourable to do it while James lived.
What, I asked myself, would become of the children of those who followed James II to France? Then I wrote Richelda Shaw’s story, a Jacobite’s daughter who went from riches to rags and rags to riches.
My second novel set in the early 18thcentury is Far Beyond Rubies. The inspiration for Juliana Kemp’s story came from a case in which a young woman fought her family for her rightful inheritance. The novel begins in 1706 when William, Baron Kemp, Juliana’s half-brother claims she and her young sister, Henrietta, are bastards. Juliana is determined to prove she is the rightful heiress to Riverside, a great estate.
The Captain and The Countess also takes place in England in 1706. The hero, young, Edward Howard, a captain in Queen Anne’s navy, was inspired by two paragraphs in a non-fiction book, about a young man. Although the air sizzles when widowed Kate, almost ten years his senior, victim of an abusive marriage meets him she has no intention of ever marrying again. But, when Edward, a talented artist, is he only one of her admirers who sees the heart-rending pain in the back of her eyes and is determined to help her.
All my tales of times past are rich in historical detail and contain no explicit sex.
When I began writing, I remember sending out my first partial, smiling, telling everyone the manuscript’s title, and that my book was going to sell. Then how, months later, I received a rejection letter. I was devastated. How could a publisher not want the book of my heart? And the rejection letter, Dear Author . . ., it could have been written to anyone!
Over the years I discovered that I had a deft skill for acquiring rejections. I remember one day my oldest son, who has now served a tour in the Marine Corps, carrying in a manila envelope saying, “Hey, Mom, you received another rejection.” 😊 Gotta love kids. After 100 rejections, I quit counting. I decided I knew how to acquire a rejection.
Throughout the years, regardless of the frustrations and doubt, I never gave up. Not only is it important to never give up, but I believe it’s essential for you to RECOGNIZE that with each passing year, you’re growing more knowledgeable in the craft, plus, you’re connecting with fellow authors and industry professionals, which is networking. Once you sell, your experience and contacts will prove invaluable. I never realized until looking back, the benefits of selling later in my writing career.
I feel passionate about this topic, because I wish someone would have sat me down and said, “That you write is well and good, but let’s say you sold, what’s your plan?” Plan? Why to write of course. It’s critical that after we sell that we keep on writing, but it’s also important to build a readership along with a list of reviewers. The hard reality is that unless you sell a book through a high visibility venue, few people will know who you are, much less buy your book. So, if you’re a new writer, don’t worry over about rejections, they’re a part of writer’s life, but plan for the day when you sell. Use your time accrued to your benefit, your success is no accident.
What is your exact goal? Define it. Plan not only make it, but make it a success. So, what can you do? My thoughts:
-If you have a website, great. If not, place it on top of your priority list. Let it reflect the target market you are writing for and will eventually sell to. If you’re going to blog, great, but stagnant blogs turn away readers.
-A Brand. What tag to do you feel is the essence of what you write, regardless of the line, era? My tag is, “Romance Edged With Danger.”
-Business Cards. Keep them professional. I have two different business cards, those I hand out to readers that have my website and e-mail, but not my home address and contact information. The other business card has all of my contact information, which I give to industry professionals.
-Bookmarks. I think bookmarks are one of the single best marketing tools a writer can have. I always say that if someone takes one and really doesn’t want it, odds are they’ll leave my bookmark somewhere – to be found by a reader who’ll scoop it up. Also, I send bookmarks to conferences, booksellers, venues that feature the type of book I write such as medieval gatherings, and anywhere I feel it’s beneficial.
-On-line social media pages.
-Conferences: Keep networking!
-Marketing. I’ll give you two bits of advice, choose what you LOVE DOING, and what’s within your budget.
After 9 1/2 years of writing, I sold. I found that in addition to writing an intense, multi-layer story, came the challenge of fitting in time for promotion. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. This is where preparing early in your career for success comes into play. Your well-planned foundation won’t add time onto your day, but it will give you a significant edge as you work hard to help your career take off.
As I look back, I’m thankful I didn’t sell early on in my career. After 9 1/2 years of writing I thought I was ready for the challenges after I sold; in essence, I was clueless. The years accrued before I sold gave me time to strengthen my writing, meet industry professionals, and to make friends who were a not only a bedrock in the enormous transition of becoming published, but who are truly a blessing in my life. So, next time you receive a rejection letter, set it aside, and focus on building your career. Last, always believe in yourself! I wish each and every one of you every success!
Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author www.dianacosby.com
Hello, everyone! Thank you for having me as a guest, Delilah, and thank you for stopping by!
I’d like to talk about genre switching and how I decide what to write. I loved reading medievals, and eventually decided to write one. An idea for the first scene popped into my head (see excerpt below). Figuring out why the heroine was riding a horse, who would see and what happened next led to my becoming a pantser, meaning I write from the seat of my pants rather than plotting first.
After purchasing many research books on 15th century England, sticking with that time period made sense. So I wrote three more. One, actually the second book I wrote, still remains “under the bed,” as they say. I love the story, but I wrote it via multiple characters’ points of view, while most books focus on the hero and heroine. I haven’t quite figured out how to tell the story with two points of view….
After a version of my first book, AT HIS COMMAND, won Romance Writers of America® national Golden Heart® award, I had high hopes of publishing it with Harlequin. Unfortunately, after two years and two requests for revisions, they said no. So I self-published that and three other medievals. The most recent, MY ONCE AND FUTURE LOVE, adds paranormal and Arthurian elements. Too many, or does the amount of genre blending you’ll accept depend on the story? I started a second in what I hope will be the Unsung Knights of the Round Table series.
Meanwhile, Kathryn LeVeque invited me to write a novella for her Kindle world. She assigned me the story of her hero’s best friend’s parents, which meant the setting had to be around 1200AD….much earlier than my familiar period. A lot changed in more than two hundred years! I ended up in France, because I wanted to incorporate an actual event, the siege of Chateau Galliard…where people were trapped outside in winter between the French camp and the English-held chateau.
When I get an idea, I want to see where it goes. So I’ve also written two humorous women’s fiction books and a time travel to Elizabethan England, all of which I plan to release this year. Do you follow authors you like if they genre hop, or do you prefer they stick to one time period? Anyone who comments will be entered to win an e-book of AT HIS COMMAND, in which the king commands her to marry a lord, but she’s falling for the knight sent to protect her from undesirable suitors.
Sir Nicholas Grey’s scout leaned forward in his saddle, holding up two fingers to let the others know two horses approached. Nicholas heard only the slight jangling of harnesses blended with wind rattling through the trees, but relied on his scout’s uncanny ability to hear what no one else could.
He and his eight men sat alert, deep enough in the forest to avoid being seen while maintaining a clear view of the road through leafless branches. Nine armed men could frighten travelers. ‘Twas best to let them pass.
Each man watched, each horse sinking deeper into chilling mire as a mud-covered, black palfrey plodded over the rise in the road, its long mane whipping in the frigid winds.
“No rider,” Martin, the scout, murmured.
“Look again,” Nicholas replied. At first he too had thought the horse was riderless. Now he could see a woman collapsed on the animal’s back. Her dark hair draped down its flank, mingling with the horse’s mane. The palfrey placed each step as if trying not to jostle its burden.
Another horse, this one a brown rouncey ridden by a thin, balding man, galloped after the palfrey. A look of triumph brightened the man’s face as he spotted the horse ahead of him. He bent forward, extending his hand. Fingers like talons grasped the woman’s tangled hair.
“Mine!” he cried.
MY ONCE AND FUTURE LOVE
Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father, Merlin, from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers. Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she’s not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her and her lands.
Morgan stumbles upon Annora’s cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, respect and undeniable desire spark. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who won’t discuss his past. When he tells her he’s a Knight of the Round Table, she fears he’s the lunatic. Secrets, danger and destiny thwart the power of love.
Ruth Kaufman is the author of MY ONCE AND FUTURE LOVE and the Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy, AT HIS COMMAND, FOLLOW YOUR HEART and THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT. Accolades include 2016 Booksellers’ Best Historical and Best First Book award winner and Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner.
An actor and speaker with an M.S. and J.D, Ruth has had roles in independent feature films, web series, pilots, national TV commercials and hundreds of voiceover projects. She enjoys chocolate peanut butter milkshakes and singing in a symphony chorus.
Hope you don’t mind my using the last day of the month as a wrap-up of what’s been and what’s comin’!
What a month! And September doesn’t look to be any easier.
First, because it’s foremost in my mind… Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and prayers for the 7-year-old. Mid-September, she goes back for a third surgery—this one to remove cement spacers from the “sleeve” the doctors installed where her tibia used to be and to insert her own bone material into the sleeve. They will try to regrow that bone. Sounds like science fiction, I know. We hope this will be the last surgery. Ever. Her recovery over the next two years will be hard enough.
In addition, I’ll be starting up a new Rose’s Plotting Bootcamp on the 5th! Yay! When I teach those courses, I get regenerated. If you’re interested in the class, you can check it out here: Rose’s Plotting Bootcamp
Below, I have reminders of new stories you can pick up now and sexy, tempting covers for what’s coming in September!
Thanks again for your support—especially for your emails and Facebook messages! You really do add happiness to my days!
A Glance Back At August
Tamed by the Knight
A woman desperate to escape her marriage bed wages a “war of the bath” against her handsome, brutish husband…
Carter Vance, Jr. stands at the fork in the road. Wounded in action, the Navy SEAL has a decision to make: whether to find work with a spec ops unit, or return to his family ranch in Texas and repair his fractured relationship with his dying father and the woman he wronged. Complicating the decision is his reignited attraction to Melanie Schaeffer and his confusion over his feelings for his dead brother’s little girl, whom Melanie has raised since his brother’s and her sister’s deaths by a terrorist’s bomb.
With proportions that would make Xena weep, Jacqueline Frazier despairs of ever finding a lover she can’t intimidate. Until the day she ignores a warning regarding use of a family heirloom, and finds herself swept off her feet by a knight in not so shining armor, back to the twelfth century. Forced to accept the protection of an overbearing, beast of a man, Rufus of Rathburn, Jacq struggles to find her place in the past while seeking a way back to the future. In the meantime, she aids Rufus’s war cause with a little 21st century ingenuity, shaking up the warlord with lessons in bomb-making, guerilla tactics, and the joys of sex.
At first unwilling, and ungrateful, Rufus begins to see merit in Jacq’s odd ways. Through Jacq’s eccentricities and willfulness, Rufus learns she is a woman to be reckoned with, as well as a lusty handful in bed. Will his admiration of her cunning, strength and uninhibited sexuality grow into a love that breaks the barriers of time? And will their love be strong enough for Jacq to plot a different future in the past?
Melanie Bradshaw is driven to desperation by her torrid dreams. When she finally acts on her desires, things go horribly wrong and she witnesses the murder of an overly amorous lounge lizard–whose body disintegrates before her eyes.
Detective Moses Brown isn’t thrilled to get another “full-moon case”…until he meets the delectable Melanie, who took a walk on the wild side straight into vampire territory. Moses doesn’t know why vamps are interested in her, but until he can find out, he’s going to stick to her like glue, doing his best to ignore their instant attraction.
But pretty little Melanie has designs on his body. Her hunger for sex is voracious, even downright insatiable. As the mystery surrounding her begins to unravel, keeping her safe–hell, keeping himself safe from her–presents some interesting complications…
Do these covers titillate? Before We Kiss is already up for pre-order and will release on the 23rd.With His Rockband will be out as soon as I finish it! And that sexy cover pretty much inspired the story. I promise to get to The End soon!
Thanks for keeping this a #1 bestseller!
Just a quick note! Thanks to everyone for keeping this at the top for almost two months!
An Amazon #1 bestselling short story!
When Sara’s stepbrother surprises her with an early return from a mission, he brings two of his Navy SEAL teammates along…