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.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Regency author Vonnie Hughes is my guest

Hello Vonnie. Thank you for accepting my invitation to talk about your latest book.

Could you tell us something about the subjet?

DANGEROUS HOMECOMING was originally titled COMING HOME. It is a Regency historical and was aimed at the British market, but I have since discovered that the majority of my readers are American. Under the circumstances, when my U.K. publisher closed down, I retitled the novel, made some alterations and self-published it. The audio rights to the original are with another British publisher.
What led you to write about this theme?

Most of all I like the theme of redemption. The only fairy tales that called to me were ones where the hero or heroine attained redemption after struggling through great adversity and they were redeemed by the strength of their character(s).

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

It entailed the usual heavy research which is essential when writing in the historical genre. But as I come from the Antipodes and did not have information at my fingertips such as a British writer would, I had to make doubly sure that my facts were correct.

And what was the most enjoyable part?

Doing the editing! I love editing; writing the story not so much. But as you edit it all falls together and you can think, “I like this book.”

What motivated you to write about this period?

The Peninsular Wars are a favourite setting for me. After reading Georgette Heyer in my teens, I subsequently married a man with an antique arms collection which included various swords, duelling pistols and shotguns from the Regency era. Recently we travelled to Spain and saw a couple of the 1809-1812 battlefields for ourselves. 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Our family owns many history books and that is where I start. Sure, there are great references online, but you have to remember that much of the information online is uploaded by people with an axe to grind. Whatever I read online I then verify from library books or more importantly, personal diaries.

How do you choose names for your characters?

Now I must admit that with the contemporary romantic suspenses I write, deciding on names is much easier! I can even invent one or two if I like. But when you write historicals you must use era-appropriate names and it is surprising how narrow the field is. There are only so many derivatives of Elizabeth and Mary and Henry. It can be a real challenge to name characters appropriately, particularly if one is perhaps the villain or anti-hero and needs a darker name.

What elements do you consider make a character believable?

I am not sure. Some authors have a gift for making the most improbable characters sound authentic. I’m referring to writers such as Sandra Brown (contemporary suspense) and Amanda Quick (historical romance). I think the depth of a character’s emotions make them believable more than anything else. A lacklustre characterisation makes for a light-weight hero or heroine.  

If you could go somewhere for a few months to write, where in the world would you go?

Italy, Italy and did I say – Italy?

Which authors do you choose to read for pleasure?

I re-read Georgette Heyer – not just her historicals but also her detective fiction. Other authors I love to re-read are Mary Stewart and Beverly Barton. Authors still writing whose work I enjoy and learn from are Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner, Jayne Ann Krentz, Michael Connelly and J.D. Robb. Those are well-known writers. But I also number favourites among less known writers such as Maris Soule, K.M. Rockwood and Daniel Silva.  

What do you do when the inspiration falters?

Get angry with myself! I read and read and read and watch mindless T.V. And I people-watch. Eventually my faltering imagination fires up again.

 How do you make time for writing?

Lock out the world and put fingers on keys.

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

Oh, I hate, hate marketing. My blog site remains vacant for months at a time. But I belong to many online Yahoo groups and Facebook groups and I try to do a soft sell on those. I absolutely detest that “Hey, look at me!” stuff. Occasionally I get asked to do talks at one of the local libraries, and I quietly leave my personalised pens lying around on the shelves at bookshops or in libraries. I also belong to a lot of writing groups generally.

What projects are you working on at present?

Almost finished a romantic suspense (with the emphasis on suspense) for the Lobster Cove series at The Wild Rose Press. I also have a few bits and pieces of half written historicals and I’m going through them at the moment discarding some ideas and developing others.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Take your writing more seriously. You would have succeeded better if you’d not looked on it as a hobby but more of a career. Shove other distractions aside.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the book. Two Regency historicals (one named THE SECOND SON and a Regency novella called ENTANGLEMENT) took only four months each. But mainly my books take a good year to write.

Do you find Social media useful?

Useful? She grinds her teeth. Yes and no. It can waste your time, but it does help to get the word out there.

 Do you use elements from your day job in your plots?

Yes, definitely (in my contemporary suspenses I mean).

Thank you, Vonnie, for sharing your ideas and writing tips with us. Now let's look at the details of how to find your novel.

On April 2  I self-published a Regency re-release. It was originally called COMING HOME, but if you look at Amazon you will see that there is a plethora of books all with that name.  I altered some of the text to a more universal standard since the original publishers were British and upgraded the title to DANGEROUS HOMECOMING

It is available here:

They are both scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.