Monthly Archives: June 2011

 

Thanks to the remarkably talented – and talented in so many different ways – RJ Scott, my website has a new look! Thank you, m’dear!

 

Take a look at RJ’s site for author interviews, blogs, news about her latest releases, and some rather gorgeous pictures… This woman can not only write the most engaging stories, she is also a pretty damn fine Web Designer as well!

 

 

… And How to Cope

If I was ever in any doubt that reviews are totally one person’s point of view, I only have to look at my Goodreads reviews. Across the board they range from glowing 5 Stars to a 1 Star [reviewer seems to have been disappointed that Fool's Errand wasn't footballer slash...], though 4 and 5 Stars predominate. Do the low Stars upset me? You bet they don’t. Mostly because they are outnumbered, and also because the reviewers usually have posted nothing to tell me where I failed as far as they were concerned.

 

One person’s fail is another’s win, so where does that leave the author?

 

Doing what she/he has always done: writing the story as it needs to be written, and not giving in to the temptation to tweak it out of its natural path.

 

We can’t please all of the people all of the time – to try to do so would be a compromise I, personally, am not prepared to make. If an author has any responsibility to her/his readers, it’s to create the best story possible while being true to themselves and their voice. Though I have to confess I have very little idea of what comprises an author’s voice…

 

Kokkinisto

Research can have some interesting results, and not just as fodder for the WiP. I’m currently three-quarters of the way through a short story for an anthology, and I needed a recipe for Cal Beaufontaine, trainee-chef, to try out.

 

For no other reason than one of my good friends is a Greek Cypriot and always feeds me wonderful Greek food whenever I visit, I decided on a Greek recipe. So of course I Googled. And found one that caught my fancy. Kokkinisto [RJ, if you read this blog, Do Not make bad jokes about the name *g*]. It’s basically a meat stew involving onions, tomatoes and red wine. Lots of red wine.

 

Now, I am not the cook in my extended family, my daughter-in-law is, and she is superb at it, which is one of the reasons why I am so overweight. But once in a while, I get the urge to have a go myself and this recipe did it for me. We already had most of the ingredients in the kitchen, and as Waitrose had some really lean brisket on their butchery section, I opted for beef rather than lamb. The end result was delicious!

 

We ate it with rice and salad, and though it didn’t look quite as classy as the pic, it tasted wonderful!

 

Click HERE for the recipe I used

The second book in The Fitzwarren Inheritance Trilogy is now out! RJ Scott’s gripping The Soildier’s Tale takes up the next challenge posed by Jonathan Curtess four hundred years ago.

Corporal Daniel Francis has returned to his childhood home in England to heal; the only one of his unit that survived a roadside bomb. His reasons for skipping medication are based on a stubborn refusal to become an addict, and he is overwhelmed with survivor’s guilt.

Doctor Sean Lester has joined his father’s surgery and when he is held at knife point by a patient high on drugs it is Daniel who leaps to his rescue-much to his horror.

When Sean nearly runs Daniel down in the dark he finds a man who needs help, and resolves to be the person to show Daniel that it is possible to live through guilt and find happiness.

Set against the backdrop of the Fitzwarren family curse, The Soldiers Tale is a story of one man’s fight to find his place in a new world outside of the Army.

Can’t wait to read more? Arriving on July 2nd 2011 is the thrilling conclusion to this trilogy, Sue Brown’s The Lord’s Tale

Click HERE to buy The Soldiers Tale

And HERE to preorder The Lord’s Tale

Who would believe it? Buffalo – okay, bison – and wapiti grazing in the depths of darkest Wiltshire. And it isn’t a zoo.

 

Some friends came to visit a little while ago, and one of the places they wanted to see was the Bush Bison Farm. Nick and Marilyn are members of the American Civil War Society, though mainly retired, and Nick has a longtime fascination with the Native American Plains tribes. Especially the Souix. As well as the animals, the Farm has a small museum of Lakota Souix artfefacts, including some beautiful beadwork. They also hold a Pow Wow every summer, featuring Native American crafts, music and dances.

 

So we drove through narrow country lanes that were sandwiched between high banks with hedges on top – typical rural England for those who don’t know – through chocolate-box-picture pretty villages, and found Bush Farm. It’s a working farm, and sells the bison meat at local Farmers’ Markets and online, but they also have a camping ground and a trail to walk around the various fields and woodland.

The weather was warm and sunny, though showers were forecast, and it was a real pleasure to walk around the fields and woods, even without the picturesque beasts. And believe me, the beasts are amazing. The bison herd had half a dozen calves, though most of the youngsters were flat out in the sun. Dad was being coy behind a curve in the hedge, but eventually he came out and posed for us. He was magnificent. In great condition, as well. His ladies, though, looked like threadbare carpets, what with having nursing young and still shedding their winter coats.

 

Then we moved onto the field with the wapiti herd. They are beautiful animals, elegant and graceful. They, too, posed for us, though one of the harem seemed determined to stay between my camera and her guy. When she finally moved, I got a lovely picture of him just lounging around in the sun *g*.

 

There were other critters there – guanacos [relatives to the llama family]; rheas; a rare breed of pig, the Oxford Sandy & Black; prairie dogs [unbelieveably cute]; turkeys; a very friendly Shetland pony straight out of a Thelwell cartoon; pygmy goats; and racoons, who were nowhere in sight.

 

The museum, though very small, was fascinating and the beadwork on the few items of clothing was lovely.

 

All the animals looked to be in excellent condition and their fields/enclosures were huge, with trees and ponds for shade and wallowing.

 

Next year my friends are coming back for the Summer Pow Wow, and I’ll be joining them.

 

The Bush Bison Farm website is here.

The Psychic’s Tale can now be told! This first part of The Fitzwarren Inheritance is ready for purchase and download from Silver’s site today!

 

Excerpt:


Mark chose to try for lunch at the Red Lion, it being the oldest by several centuries, and more likely to have ghostly happenings that might be useful fodder for Waldron’s TV show. The structure was from the fifteenth century, while the other had a Georgian facade. Inside, the main saloon lived up to its promise of age. Black timbers stretched across the ceilings, patterned the pale yellow walls and framed the crooked windows. The only level line in the place was formed by the bar itself, a Victorian affair in rich mahogany. Even the massive stone mantel over the huge hearth had a slight angle. Though still summer-warm outside, a faint smell of wood smoke drifted over the scents of beer and furniture polish, and he could easily imagine logs burning in the wide grate during autumn and winter.

 

Mark leaned on the bar and inspected the menu, finally opting for chicken and chips, then retreated with his beer to a table by the window. At the next table along sat a man of about his own age, poring over large photographs spread across his table. His long black hair hung forward, partially screening his profile, and he hummed quietly to himself as he scribbled in a dog-eared shorthand notebook. Incurably curious, Mark craned his neck to see what the photos were, but could make nothing of them. They looked like something downloaded from Google Earth.

 

Then the man glanced around, and Mark found himself caught by silver eyes with a dark ring around the edge of their irises, eyes that crinkled at the corners and were set in a lean, deeply tanned face with a mischievous smile. That smile and the light in the man’s gaze sank deep into Mark’s consciousness and resonated through his blood. That the stranger had wide shoulders and powerful arms, both displayed well by his blue tee-shirt, was an added bonus. Not even the white logo Archaeologists do it in trenches dampened Mark’s interest. If they were in the bar of the Chartreuse Room, one of the gathering places for gays in Bristol, he would have done his damnedest to connect with him.

 

Click here for the buy link.

 

Starfall is released as a paperback today!

 

A Real Book! I love ebooks and desperately want a Kindle, but there’s something about holding a solid chunk of paper – complete with gorgeous cover – in my paws that cannot be beaten *g*.

 

Excerpt:


Ash took another quick look at the couple in the corner on his way to the door. The woman was watching him with unhidden interest. He knew most of the people he’d met here thought of him as handsome—and that had taken some getting used to, after years of his family and friends teasing him about his height, his heavy-set body, and coarse features. Then her companion looked up and for the first time since he’d landed on this planet, Ash’s shades provided no barrier. The man locked eyes with him and Ash swore under his breath. A slow fire began in his blood. Yes, there was no possibility he was imagining it. He had never experienced the sensation before but it was hard-wired into his psyche. Every Vyan knew what to expect when they met their true-bond. The connection was real and unless he was very careful, it would only strengthen from now on. At least, it would as far as he, Ash, was concerned. What the Douryan felt—if anything—was another matter entirely. Either way, it meant he was effectively shafted.

 

Ash found he’d come to a halt, transfixed. The smolder abruptly flared toward a conflagration and his flesh was stirring, hardening. No. With another curse he strode for the door, letting it slam shut behind him.

 

Click here for the buy link.

 

Stokesay Castle from the south

There are places that just demand a story. When RJ Scott tossed the premise of what would become the Fitzwarren Inheritance Trilogy to me, Stokesay Castle sprang immediately to mind, and it became Westford Castle, the erstwhile home of the Fitzwarren family. With a few alterations necessary to the story. Westford has a porch to the door of the Great Hall, and second tower where Stokesay has later rooms built onto the north end of the range. Strictly speaking, Stokesay isn’t a castle, but an early medieval fortifed manor house. The huge windown in the Great Hall make it virtually undefendable.

 

Stokesay Castle from beyond the boundary

The Fitzwarrens live in the 17th century gatehouse to the castle, and theirs is larger that Stokesay’s, but probably just as ramshackle. On my latest visit to Stokesay this May, the Gatehouse was closed under the Health and Safety Act, and even though I begged, they wouldn’t let me in to explore *g*. The photos on this page are my own – for more, official, photos click on the link http://www.castlewales.com/stokesay.html.

 

I borrowed some of Stokesay’s history as well as its appearance. and I’m quoting Wikipedia in full because not only does the entry agree with the English Heritage Guidebook, the surviving structures are minor miracles in themselves, given the turbulent history that beset the whole area.

 

The Gatehouse, Stokesay Castle

… “From the Norman Conquest until 1241, the area was held by the Lacy family, a powerful dynasty with lands in the Welsh Marches. On the death of the last male heir, Walter de Lacy, it was left to the husbands of his two granddaughters to divide the family estates. The manor of Stokesay went to John de Verdon. He went on crusade, leaving his property in the hands of a tenant. This tenant sold the manor in 1281 to Laurence of Ludlow. The main construction of Stokesay Castle was undertaken by Laurence of Ludlow, based in Shrewsbury, the richest local wool

merchant of his generation.

 

Door to the Great Hall

Extensive tree-ring dating of structural timbers shows that virtually all of the present structure was completed before 1291, the date of Edward I’s license to fortify the place, which stands in the Welsh Marches, the western borderland of the Norman domain at that time. The oldest parts of the building are the lower two storeys of the north tower, begun about 1240. The great slate-roofed hall, thirty-four feet high, with four cross-gables, was added in the 1280s and is a very rare survival, having been virtually untouched since; there is no fireplace, just the central open octagonal hearth. The roof’s double collar-beams and curved collar braces rest on masonry corbels in the walling, an early example of innovation in roofing larger buildings. The original wooden staircase round two sides of the walls, giving access to the north tower, also remains to this day. The solar, an upper living room in the cross-wing, which gave a more private space in which to withdraw from the company in the hall, is accessible from an exterior timber stair sheltered by its own roof and contains Elizabethan oak panelling and a sumptuous fireplace. The South Tower has no direct access from any other structure: its use was purely defensive. The castle’s most unusual feature is a timber-framed residence built onto the outside of the walls. The Elizabethan gatehouse, added in the 16th century, is also half-timbered and is decorated with carvings.

 

During King Charles I reign it came into the ownership of the Craven family and was used as a supply base for the King’s forces in the area, based in strength at nearby Ludlow Castle in the early stages of the English Civil War.

 

A skirmish took place at the castle during the English Civil War, in which Stokesay was handed over to the Parliamentarians after a short siege without a pitched battle (in which it surely would have been severely damaged).

 

Stokesay was lived in as a farmhouse and barn until the early 19th century. In 1869 it was purchased by John Derby Allcroft, a Worcester glove manufacturer and Member of Parliament, who recognising the value of the building’s history and architectural features set about restoring and maintaining it while he also had Stokesay Court built nearby. Since 1992 the monument has been in the care of English Heritage.”

 

 

Finally, meet Tink. He doesn’t live at Stokesay, but is a frequent attendee and when he isn’t seducing picnickers, or snoozing,  has been known to escort visitors around the castle.

This is a wonderful site to visit – it has a small tearoom, a gift shop, and civilized toilets *g*. If you are ever in that part of Shropshire, UK, take the chance to go there. You won’t be disappointed.

PS. I did ask the staff there, but no one knows of any ghostly happenings at Stokesay — unlike Westford Castle!

 

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