Monday, July 11, 2011
More Than Words
The title of my post, more than words, is actually a serious topic when it comes to writing historical romance. You can not just toss in some historical words, a few historical details, to make it seem as though your story takes place in another era. You MUST do you research. Readers can tell when you've tossed in a few words here and there. They can tell the difference between a medieval restaurant and actually stepping back in time to sit at a medieval table--like forks, and Coca-Cola--or if you're me, the giant blue, liquor filled drink, please! <---All of these are not appropriate!
What I'm saying is, if you're writing a historical story, make it authentic. If the readers can take out your historical references and have a book that could be in any time period--you haven't done your homework, or research, or really your job. They need to be transported.
It's the language, the clothes, the setting, the morals, the manners, the people themselves, tid-bits of actual historical happenings that are taking place right then and there. Readers love historical romance not because they like the words tunic, aye, and war-horse, but because they LOVE history. They want to feel like they are there.
There is something inherently romantic about a historical setting. The gowns, the horses, the knights, the kings, and queens, ladies, carriages, castles. The language is poetic. Chivalry was not dead. The mind-set was different. Reading historicals in a sense is like time-travel. We don't want to show up with only a couple of our body parts, the rest of us languishing somewhere in space, we want to arrive whole, and enjoy it to the fullest.
Why do you read medievals? One commenter will win an ebook copy of A LADY'S CHARADE!
From across a field of battle, English knight, Alexander, Lord Hardwyck, spots the object of his desire—and his conquest, Scottish traitor Lady Chloe.
Her lies could be her undoing…
Abandoned across the border and disguised for her safety, Chloe realizes the man who besieged her home in Scotland has now become her savior in England. Her life in danger, she vows to keep her identity secret, lest she suffer his wrath, for he wants her dead.
Or love could claim them both and unravel two countries in the process…
Alexander suspects Chloe is not who she says she is and has declared war on the angelic vixen who's laid claim to his heart. A fierce battle of the minds it will be, for once the truth is revealed they will both have to choose between love and duty.
Excerpt from Chapter One…
South Hearth Castle
Border of Scotland and England
“Allure! My lady! Ralentir!”
Chloe laughed when she turned around on her speeding horse to spy her French maid. Poor Nicola clutched the hood of her headdress with one hand, her hands scrambling to maintain the reins of her horse, and her bottom bounced up and down at a rather humorous pace.
She conceded her old nurse and slowed her horse to a trot until Nicola could catch up.
“My lady, shame on you. You know better than to ride with such… such… imprudence!”
“Oui.” Chloe chose to concede once more. There was no point in arguing with the woman. Especially when she was sure Nicola would only have the last word.
But she just couldn’t help riding hell bent for leather! They’d been waiting on the coast of France for nearly a fortnight before the ship could safely take them across. Then an entire week had been spent cramped inside a small ship’s cabin, with the swaying and rocking of the vessel. She felt like the nearly three weeks past had been consumed by sitting still, and now that they’d reached Scotland she only wanted to be free. To feel the fresh, clean, crisp air wash over her skin as she rode at break neck speed toward home.
Nicola gave her a disapproving look, but nodded anyway, silvery blonde curls falling out of her headdress. Whether or not she believed Chloe’s apology was sincere, she was accepting of it, it seemed.
They were not alone of course. A dozen of her father’s guard surrounded her, none of them willing to contradict anything Chloe said. Why? She wasn’t sure. Mayhap because she’d been on the continent for so long, they knew not what to expect of her, or perhaps it was simply that they too wanted to reach home. And yet again, it could be that her father had told them not to argue with her. Whatever the reason, she was glad they’d let her have a bit of fun for however fleeting it was.
Chloe turned to the guardsmen who appeared to be in charge. “How much further?”
He looked about himself for a moment before turning back to her. “South Hearth is not much further, mayhap another day. Shall we make camp now, my lady?”
Chloe narrowed her eyes. “South Hearth?”
“Aye, my lady.”
“We are not going to Fergusson lands?”
“That we are, my lady.”
“But you said South Hearth. My family has not held South Hearth for…” She trailed off remembering the last time she’d been at the border holding. Jon had been alive then.
“Nigh on five years now, my lady, but his lordship, your father, has once again proven we Scots shall prevail.”
So, her father had taken siege of the castle again? A lot had happened since she’d been sent to serve the French queen five years ago, at the age of thirteen. She couldn’t say she was surprised, or really upset about it. In fact, she was a little elated. South Hearth was home. She’d grown up there. Hadrian’s Wall was her playground. But the fact remained, if her father had retaken the castle—someone would want it back.
“Let us make camp then.” Chloe tried not to giggle at the look of pure relief that crossed her nursemaid’s face. The woman’s rump must be burning.
The following morning they set out at a slower pace, just after sunrise. They broke their fast with pears and cheese as they rode, all of them eager to reach South Hearth walls. As the sun rose high in the sky, the turrets of the keep were visible over the crest of a hill.
Chloe broke out into a wide smile, and ignoring the protests of Nicola and her retainers, she prodded her horse into a canter down the road toward the gate. When she arrived, the guards not far behind her, and Nicola bouncing her way painfully down the hill, her smile faded. Guards circled the top of the battlements. The drawbridge was up, the portcullis down, and gate door closed tightly. They expected trouble.
Just as she’d thought. Someone would most definitely be coming to take back the castle. But when was the question.
Before she could open her mouth to order the men to open the way for her, they did so. Calls to her escort were tossed over the walls, and the men she traveled with answered back. As the gates opened, the sounds and smells of the city assaulted her senses. Loud clanking, banging, shouting. Smells of cooking, rubbish, and animals. It all mixed together, and she longed for the French chateau of Queen Isabeau with its pretty smells, and enchanting music.
They rode into town, up the rode past merchants, peasants, clergy and guild workers toward the keep stairs. South Hearth had seemed such a grand place when she was young. Now it only seemed a fort of sorts, not a home.
“My child!” A tall woman atop the steps to the keep came rushing forth.
Chloe recognized her mother immediately. “Maman!” She sped up her horse until she reached the bottom of the keep stairs and then ignoring the hands offered by the guards, leapt to the ground and into her mother’s arms.
It’d been two years since she’d last seen her mother. The Lady Fergusson, had stayed with her for her first few years in service to the French queen, her mother’s cousin, before returning to her husband in Scotland.
Chloe breathed in her mother’s scent, and tried to blink away the sting of tears in her eyes.
“Come, inside. You must be in need of a bath and something to eat.”
Chloe nodded. As they reached the tops of the steps, Nicola finally drew up to the courtyard, a harried looking knight beside her. The maid had probably given the man a good tongue lashing, only because Chloe herself wasn’t there to receive the punishment.
“It is so good to be home.”
“Oui, I am glad you finally arrived. We were beginning to worry. Your father and I expected you over a week ago.”
She threaded her arm through her mother’s as they made their way up the spiral staircase to the upper chambers. “There was a storm, and the sea was not safe. We had to wait nearly two weeks before boarding the ship.”
“Ah, I see. At least you have arrived safely. If you hadn’t come by tomorrow a search party was going to be sent out.”
Chloe gasped. “Did you not get my missive?”
“Missive?” They stopped walking and her mother turned toward her, her brows drawn together in concern.
“Oui, Maman. I sent a message to warn of our delay.”
“I received no such warning.”