Thursday, 23 November 2017

A visit to Brighton, Prinny included in : - "The Rake's Challenge"

Do you know how there are those authors you buy no matter what? Those authors who you love and get so excited when I new book comes out. Well that is what Beth Elliott is to me! She is an amazing writer and a fantastic person! I even got to meet her on a trip to England and we had a lovely high tea together. If you have not read Beth, please do! Her books are reasonably priced, things I read over and over again, filled with new words for my vocabulary, and she has written one of my all time favorite heroes. His name is Greg, and yes, it's serious.  Rachel Joyce

I am deeply touched by this kind tribute from Rachel, herself an academic and writer and a keen fan of Regency England and stories thereof, as well as loving Wales, where she spent a year. 

             Rachel, I put a Welshman in this story [although in a very minor role].

                                            The Rake's Challenge by [Elliott, Beth]


Another day, another duel for Giles Maltravers, Earl of Longwood. London’s worst rake lives up to his scandalous reputation, but begins to find it’s all getting wearisome. When his father, the duke, orders him to reform and marry. Giles responds by driving out of town in search of fresh adventures. On his way he sees a young lady being molested by a couple of drunken young bloods, and rescues her.
Shaken by her narrow escape, Annabelle Lawrence reluctantly allows Giles to drive her to her destination. She declares she is setting off on a life of adventure and he recognises a kindred spirit. A month later, they meet again in Brighton. But the agreeable summer holiday nearly goes horribly wrong when the Prince Regent is the target of a sinister plot, involving Anna. Giles has to rescue her yet again. He comes to realise that looking after her makes life more worthwhile, but of course, the path of true love does not run smooth.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Inspiration: what sets the process in motion?

In her monthly column "The Ideas Store" in Writers' Forum, Paula Williams examines how fellow writers find inspiration. 

For the issue No 192, published on 14th October 2017, I was one of the three featured authors. 

Each one of us has a different method of finding that initial spark to set a story forming in the mind. Here is the way I get drawn into creating another story, as recounted by Paula.

Historical novelist Beth Elliott writes stories of adventure, intrigue and romance, set in the time of Napoleon. Her late husband was a Turkish poet and linguist, and Beth has lived in France, Turkey and England, so she has a great mix of backgrounds and experiences to weave into her stories. Her latest publication is Scandalous Lady, published by Endeavour Press in December 2016.

 'For me, inspiration for a story always begins with a picture, maybe from an advert in a magazine or even a fashion catalogue' she says. 'That’s where I saw Olivia with her red curls piled high and a provocative look - the rebel! And soon her opposite appeared, leaning over a railing, his huge dark eyes calm and steady, but from the little smile I could tell he liked to tease. It was definitely a tale of ice meets fire.
Somehow the whole setting and the plot appeared so quickly, so easily, it felt as if I was simply recording events, rather than creating them. Even the year came quickly: 1811, the year Lady Hester Stanhope spent in Istanbul -or Constantinople, as it was called then. This real-life socialite and adventurer would serve as a model for my Olivia. It was also the year the Turkish Sultan was negotiating with the Russian Tsar to end a long-running war, so my hero was a diplomat. He suspects Olivia of being a spy, and sparks soon fly between them.'


                                                               Scandalous Lady        

[Beth adds: Scandalous Lady is the first story in the series about the Montailhac family. The next story,  The Rake and His Honour, is also available from Endeavour Press ]

 PAULA WILLIAMS is a writer, speaker, workshop leader and tutor.

You can see her wide range of writing skills by following this link

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

"Over the hills and far away..."

Fans of the Sharpe TV series will perhaps hear an echo of the melody as they read that title. It kept sliding into my head during a recent visit to the wilds of north-east Portugal, in the Peneda-Geres National Park. The landscape of sharp [sorry] hills, winding roads and mighty rivers is breath-taking. 

                     View across the River Lima from the Roman bridge at Ponte da Lima

St Barbara's Garden in Braga

 and the main square with several sets of fountains

There are frequent festivals and feast days in Portugal. The picture above shows the square being prepared for the festival of Braga Branco, a 24 hour festival of dancing and music.


Dolmens at high altitude in the Serra Amarela. A suitable landscape to imagine a troop of British soldiers scouting for signs of the French army in an episode of Sharpe. As we didn't see any such thing, here's a couple of pictures to fill that missing link.

                  Richard Sharpe and his faithful sidekick, Sergeant Harper

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         All in all, plenty to set the imagination working on a new tale set in Portugal.

Friday, 8 September 2017

A magic carpet

My latest visit to Turkey involved stops in Istanbul, Bursa, Ankara and finally in Adana.

Image result for small map of turkey

The first activity was visiting family in the leafy suburbs of the Asian side of Istanbul. It is such a pleasant area, with parks full of flowering trees and shrubs, and hydrangeas in bloom spilling out over their garden walls into the streets. As always, the cats of Istanbul are peeping out from the bushes, hoping for treats.

A few days later I took the Sea-bus across the Sea of Marmara to the outskirts of Bursa. Even though it was mid May, the peaks of Uludag, the Turkish Mount Olympus were still covered in snow. 
 In the foothills, the vast olive groves were a delight. The olive trees were a mass of frothy green tops on gnarled trunks, with drifts of red poppies stretching out under them. The region is famous for its delicious olives, called Gemlik olives from the name of the nearby town.

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The next stop was Ankara for lots of warm hospitality and the pleasure of joining in a wedding celebration. The family breakfast was a remarkable feast each morning and a time to exchange anecdotes, jokes and news as we helped ourselves from the heaped dishes of fruit, olives, cheeses, conserves and pastries.

All too soon it was time to move on again, this time to Adana, where the weather at last relented and the sun made an appearance. Again I received a heart warming welcome from dear friends and family. 

So far my travels had been by boat, car and train, but one afternoon in Adana a very special carpet made an appearance. It was made by the great-grandmother of our hostess. She had woven a Turkish samovar as part of the design. The colours were absolutely fresh and vibrant and when it was spread on the floor,it did seem we could have flown off on it. However, nobody dared to put a foot on such a precious heirloom.

 I spent a pleasant afternoon talking to the Turkish-American Ladies English Reading Group in Adana. The members had read my story, Scandalous Lady, and invited me to explain why I chose to set the tale in Constantinople in the year 1811.

We had an interesting discussion on what fires a writer's imagination and how a story develops from things seen, from memories and how the plot can change due to the characters taking over the story. And, as always when a group of ladies gets together in a Turkish home, the event ends with a splendid feast. The kind hospitality of everyone on this occasion made it truly an afternoon to remember with pleasure.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

My hero is a caveman

my hero is actually a caveman. Poor Arnaut.

When he first appears in the story, he walks out from the depths of a cavern. He’s hiding there for a very special reason [ *see older post about The Heavenly Horse]. The local people are familiar with the many ancient caverns in the region and use them from time to time for shelter. In this case, Louise and her local guide take refuge from a fierce storm and to escape a pair of Napoleon’s secret agents.
Arnaut is not at all pleased to see them invading his hideout  and Louise would rather be anywhere than enclosed in the dark and eerie bowels of the earth.
Entry Gallery
Photo: Heinrich Wendel (© The Wendel Collection, Neanderthal Museum]
She is oppressed by being shut in this warren of rough and uneven areas, with unexpected columns of rock jutting up from the ground or dipping down from above to bump against her head. When at last Arnaut leads her back to the entrance, she’s overjoyed to see the blue sky and green hills.

Louise sets off to complete her mission. As she rides away, she wonders what Arnaut has done for him to be living in such a bleak place. But Louise comes from London and everything about the Pyrenees is strange to her at this point in the story.
The endless steep mountains and deep valleys…..

The small, sure-footed Merens horses
The mysterious Lake of Bethmale    
but she’ll learn…………..
                        …and my Caveman? Acually, he’s very charming.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The very nicest rake in France and England

For charm - and kindness, Arnaut has no equal.

The Paperback edition of  The Rake And His Honour  is now available at this link

In the window embrasure near the door of the boudoir, Arnaut was waiting. He turned to watch her approach, his smile growing wider as she came near. It was like being a fish on a hook. In spite of all her warnings to herself, she could not resist those gleaming almond eyes, that charming smile. You must not, her mind screamed, but her heart screamed back, Just this once.... Fool, fool! her mind warned even as she quickened her step.
‘Alone at last,’ he breathed, seizing her hand and turning it over to press a kiss on her wrist. The last shreds of her common sense vanished at the sensations this caused. To hide her hurried breathing, she made a show of turning him towards the window. Taking his right hand, she examined it thoroughly. The puckered scars were paling but still very obvious. She shook her head sadly. ‘I fear you will carry these marks always.’
His mouth curved in a grin. ‘No matter, it still works properly.’ He reached the scarred hand up to stroke her hair. ‘See?’ His face softened as his dark eyes dropped from hers to focus on her mouth. He glanced quickly up again then slipped his free hand to the back of her neck, drawing her closer. The fragrance of his cologne added to the sensory pleasure of his touch and the caressing murmur of his voice. She was lost. Her breathing quickened and a quiver ran through her. She clutched at the lapel of his jacket.
He angled his head. His lips were about to touch hers when there came the pounding of feet on the stairs.

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Heavenly Horse

Heavenly Horse

Akhal-Teke horses are well-known for speed and endurance, intelligence, and for the distinctive metallic sheen of their coat. Natives of Turkmenistan, the bloom on the coat acts as camouflage in the shimmering desert heat. Prized for their beauty as well as their strength and skill, they are known as the Heavenly Horses. These horses are thought to be one of the oldest existing breeds in the world.
No wonder Arnaut de Montailhac is so proud of his Akhal-Teke, Zephyre. [in Scandalous Lady ]
… Olivia was still fascinated by the shimmering golden horse.
‘Mademoiselle,’ said the newcomer, ‘I am delighted to meet you at last. And I agree with you,’ he waved a hand expressively, ‘ My horse is the most beautiful creature you ever saw, n’est-ce pas?’
She was obliged to laugh. ‘Monsieur. Truly, he took my breath away. I have never seen such a proud animal and his coat is extraordinary – like metal.’
He wheeled round to ride beside her as they turned back towards the city. ‘This is Zephyre. He is an Akhal-Teke, a horse from the deserts of Turkmenistan,’ he explained as she shook her head in puzzlement. ‘He is fleet and strong, hey, my Zephyre?’ He leaned forward to pat the animal’s neck and the stallion tossed his head proudly.
The gentleman had a pronounced French accent but he spoke English without any hesitation. Olivia studied him from under her lashes as they rode on. She had noticed that Richard merely exchanged a nod with this gentleman. So they had met before. When? Why had he appeared now? She felt darkly suspicious but what could happen? They were merely riding back home after all. Soon she would be shut up inside four walls for another day of heartache. Her throat closed up as the misery surged up again. Don’t think ahead, enjoy the rest of this ride. At least for the moment she could admire this superb new horse.
She studied at the shining golden stallion as he trotted gracefully along. At once, her companion smiled and nodded. ‘I see you truly appreciate him. But these horses only accept one master.’
‘How splendid,’ she said wistfully, ‘He moves so beautifully.’
That was enough encouragement. The gentleman launched into a list of all Zephyre’s qualities. By the time he finally stopped for breath, Olivia had caught some of his enthusiasm. She managed a smile.