An Interview with Amy Evans

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to be a guest blogger in Sarah Cass’s blog, Sarah’s Story Lines. Each day has a different them, and I choose “Thursday Tell-All,” the character interview day.

I encourage you to visit her site, even make a comment there. Nothing is as supportive and encouraging to a blogger as comments (hint, hint).

Here is the interview from the blog (her post also includes and excerpt, bio, blurb . . . all the usual stuff. See if you like the excerpt I chose).

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Hi. This is Jane Austeen, and welcome to Proud but Not Prejudiced. Today I’m here with Amy Evans, an animated redhead in her early thirties. Amy is dressed rather unusually for our show in a full-length classic black gown. But I must say, Amy, that off-the-shoulder style and deep plunging back really show off your gorgeous tan. I take it you’ve spent a lot of time out in the sun lately?

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Ah, Guinevere.

Every story must have its heroes and its villains. A story with only good guys would be quite a yawner (and a world with only good girls would be a sorry place indeed).

I’ve not treated Guinevere kindly, I’m afraid. That didn’t exactly happen by design. When I was researching Morgan le Fay for Strange Bedfellows, I came across the following fact from an article on the literary tradition of Morgan.

Her enmity towards Guinevere has its origin in the Vulgate Lancelot, where Morgan is having an affair with Guiomar, Guinevere’s cousin, and Guinevere puts an end to it.

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Most authors I know would happily avoid the whole publicity thing. Write books, somehow they magically sell themselves.

Doesn’t work that way in the 21st century, unfortunately. Once you’ve “made it,” maybe. JK Rowling doesn’t have to flog her novels, and she does OK (she is the United Kingdom’s best-selling author since records began, with sales in excess of £238,000,000). But for the rest of us, not so much.

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Strange Bedfellows is Out!

I case you’ve been vacationing in Tanzania and missed it, Strange Bedfellows is out. Many/most of you read it when I was serializing it chapter by chapter, but it’s actually better when you read it like a regular book.
What does “read it like a regular book” mean? To me, that means you stay up late at least one night because you can’t put it down. Which wasn’t possible when you were only getting 1 chapter at a time. Tess frequently expressed her frustration at such an unnatural relationship with a book (others too, but she was the most vocal).

Strange Bedfellows #3 copyStrange Bedfellows available at Amazon

Thanks to all who got their reviews in early. For the rest of you, there’s still time. How about tomorrow?

And yes, I know I have to update my blog home page to have a cover link. Just don’t remember how to do that.

Also, Stella did a very cool interview in The Examiner. I love to do interviews. Gives me a chance to be a little witty, a little snarky–all favorite things of mine.

Examiner Interview

And more Sir Kay tomorrow. Life is good.

What’s Going On?

Today’s post will be an update of the things going on in the writing world of Rusty  Rhoad. As Jerry Lee Lewis would say, “There’s a Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”

FIRST: The Adventures of Sir Kay. I will begin posting chapters TOMORROW, and continue on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays until it’s done. The critical read and notes for rewrite are completed, as is the rewrite of Chapter 1. Tell all your friends.

Sir Kay will also be getting a real title soon. I think he’s due, don’t you? After bumbling along all these months on a makeshift title. My latest candidate (not the final choice, just my favorite so far) is: Kaffka, the almost-Holy Grail, and a Woman that Reads: The Quests of Sir Kay.

Strange Bedfellows #3 copySECOND: Strange Bedfellows has a release date: March 5th. Yikes! That’s next week! I’ve done a lot to get ready, but there’s still plenty more to do.

*** IF YOU HAVE READ STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, please post a review on Amazon shortly after it is released. Early reviews are important in how a book a touted, listed, etc.

I’ve ordered new business cards with both novels on them. Got word today they’ve shipped, so I should have them in time to hand out at the party this time. Party, crap. Add that to the list of things to do. Hey, if you get a book published, you should have a party. No excuses.

business cardTHIRD: I have made a decision that my next project will be to rework/update Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail. That novel has holy grail 1been sitting around far too long. I will be starting the critical read (the latest critical read–there have already been a half dozen) as soon as I press the “Publish” button for this blog.

FOURTH: Avalon, South Carolina (that is the final title, although the “South Carolina” will be in a smaller font) will be released this summer. Rick, Sabrina, and Chai are ready for their 15 minutes of fame.

FIFTH: Return from Avalon (and Points West) should be coming out in paperback within the next month. That means I can sign copies, make guest appearances, and all that stuff.

As part of the promotion package for Strange Bedfellows, Return from Avalon (and Points West) will be offered for free for 3 days next month. I’ll let you know, although all of you should already have a copy.

SIXTH: The combination of all those things means I’m going to have to get my web page up and running. I’ve have reserved for more than a year now, but didn’t think it would add anything of value until I had two books out. So that moves way up the priority list.

throw up in your mouthSEVENTH: I have finally accepted the fact that I’m going to have to have a presence on Twitter (pardon me while I go get some water; I just threw up in my mouth a little bit). I still don’t get it. But I had some working sessions on building a web presence with somebody who knew a whole lot more about it than I do and, yes, Twitter is the next step.

I’m going to try to get by on 5 hours a week on social media, but frankly, I’m not optimistic.

So there’s a lot going on. But writing is still my first priority (if you’re a writer, it damn well better be).

See you with Sir Kay, installment one tomorrow.

Jerry Lee Lewis2For your entertainment, here’s a video of Jerry Lee Lewis at age 22 (1957), perfoming Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Rusty’s World of King Arthur: When?

I talked a little bit on Tuesday about “where” Rusty’s realm of King Arthur is located (more about that later). An equally important factor is “when.”

The French Romance writers, notably including the 12th century Chrétien de Troyes, place Arthur and his knights in contemporary times. Thomas Malory, writing in the 15th century, follows that practice. Of course, we know for a fact that if King Arthur really did live, it couldn’t have been during these times. The history of the Middle Ages is too well known. We know every king of England and surrounding territories during that period, and Arthur is not one of them.

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) places Arthur in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. That tradition is much more popular with modern Arthurian writers, although using literary license to move it around a century or two is not uncommon. Geoffrey traces the legend back to a British king named Vortigern; there is reasonable historical evidence that Vortigern was a real person. According to Geoffrey, Vortigern invited the Saxon brothers Hengest and his brother Horsa to Britain and gave them land in exchange for their sister is marriage and fighting to defend his kingdom–an early historical case of hiring the fox to guard the hen house. Vortigern’s rule is thought to have begun around 455.

Vortigern also instigated the murder of one of King Constantine’s three sons, Constans (Constantine was apparently a rival for the position of high king, which didn’t really exist at the time). The other two sons, Ambrosius Aurelianus and Uther Pendragon, escaped to Brittany. They later returned to take vengeance on Vortigern. Ambrosius ruled as high king until his death, and was then succeeded by his brother Uther. And as we all know by know from my Arthurian quizzes, Uther was the father of Arthur.

So here, then, are some key dates from Rusty’s Arthurian Timeline.

457AD: Vortigern is killed, beginning the reign of Ambrosius and then Uther 9 years later (Uther would have been 28 when he became high king).

459: Igrane married Gorlois. In the next 3 years they have three daughters: Elaine, Morgause, and Morgan le Fay.

467: Sir Kay is born (there were no stars in the east to mark the event).

469: Arthur conceived; Uther marries Igrane 13 days later. 9 months after that, Arthur is secretly taken away by Merlin and left with Sir Kay’s father, Sir Ector, to foster.

475: Elaine and Morgause are married off because of Uther’s inability to keep his prick in his pants around his step daughters. Morgan is sent to a nunnery. 4 years later, she escapes and ends up in Fairie for 17 years (as told in Strange Bedfellows).

480: Merlin returns from the Middle East and begins the education of Arthur in the art of kingsmanship, and Sir Kay in mathematics (as told in The Adventures of Sir Kay). He is also carrying with him the Holy Grail (as told in Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail).

485: Uther dies; chaos reigns until . . .

487: Arthur draws the sword from the stone and begins his reign. It takes him 3 years to finally put down the warring kings who refuse to accept him and assume the role as well as the title of High King.

491: Arthur begins the Saxon Wars. This lasts until the Battle of Mount Baden in 498. The battle may have been a real battle; if so, the date 498 is accepted by some scholars as the best estimate of when it took place.

496: Morgan finally escapes Fairie and comes to live with the Lady of the Lake. 4 years later she finally makes it to Camelot. Within a year, a jealous Guinevere has engineered for her to be married to the brutal King Uriens (story told in Strange Bedfellows).

504: Nimue uses her necromancy skills to place the dying Merlin in suspended animation. George Foster sees the pregnant Nimue for the first time.

505: Monsignor Dagrezia, along with Fathers Gascon and Ignatius, introduce Christianity to the Court of Arthur. NOTE: this is very ahistorical–the Christianization of Britain didn’t begin until the 7th century. But religion plays a huge part in the Arthurian legend, so I applied some of that literary license.

508: The first Grail Quest begins, but is unsuccessful.

509: George successfully makes the permanent transition to Avalon and becomes Nimue’s mate.

512: The Adventures of Sir Kay begins.

516: JD is left on Avalon as a potential sacrifice for the following year.

516??: The Battle of Camlann, in which Arthur is critically wounded and Mordred is killed. But maybe not? Perhaps the sacrifice of JD puts this off for a while. Not likely, but I haven’t made the final decision yet.

A notable and commonplace activity of the Knights of the Round Table in all of the stories stories from Chrétien de Troyes to Malory is jousting. Jousting was a sport that began around the 11th century and flourished through the 16th century. But it could NOT have been a sport during Rusty’s Arthurian timeline. Why, you ask? Because the armor of the times simply wasn’t good enough. People would die regularly if you jousted in chain mail. Plate mail, followed by full plate armor, was still several centuries away. To keep the fun, I have invented an early forerunner of jousting for our knights. You should be reading about it a couple of weeks from now.

knight in plate armorKnights in plate armor–as well as their horses–were well protected against harm in the joust.


Cover Art Saga

I hesitated to write this blog at all. Once you hear how great my publisher is, well, everybody will want one.

I love Soul Mate Publishing.  They may not be the biggest, but they have to be the easiest to work with.

Remember back on January 14th when I got my new cover? I liked it a lot, and so did you. Here’s the email I sent back.

I absolutely love it, Debby. Is this the same artist as before? Her vision is spectacular, as well as translating a weak concept into a strong cover.

 I have one request and one suggestion/consideration.

 REQUEST:  The love potion is in too big a container (a ‘flask’ instead of a vial). There should only be enough for a single use. It’s distilled down, so it should look thick.  Here’s my vision of a vial, although I’m definitely not hard core about this (think the neck adds more interest than just a straight glass vial).  I like the cork a lot, so it could go in the vial.

SUGGESTION/CONSIDERATION: The author’s name is so high as to appear mildly unbalanced. I would lower it another half inch. But that may wash out the “D” without making significant changes to the color scheme. Can’t tell if the outline will carry it or not. Bottom line: if it can’t be done without altering the overall look, don’t do it. It’s not that big a deal to me.

Along with the email I sent a simple image of a straight-sided glass vial.

The reply back included a new cover with the author’s name (that would be my name; sorry for the 3rd person) lowered. And also with the line, “She couldn’t find a vial but I think this works very well to convey your theme.”

To which I answered:

Like the name location. Not quite ready to give up on the vial yet.  Any small bottle of any sort and description would be OK, comparatively. Where does she look? Can I help?

I guess in a pinch we could shrink down the flask to maybe half its size. Turn the name tag sideways if necessary.

By now, I’m wondering if I’m being a prima donna pain in the ass. But back comes a URL for a graphics site, along with:

This is where she gets the pictures. If you can’t find something you like better, I’ll suggest the alternative.

I get to look and suggest what I like? Um, I think I can do that.

So I go to this site and there’s about a billion images available. A search on “Old Bottle” offers 11,085 choices. A feast of choices, and so I indulge. After a half hour, I realize that 1) I’m never going to be able to look at everything, and 2) this isn’t going to be done on the spot. So I send off this note, along with a couple of the really cool options that I’ve found.

depositphotos_11235869-Old-sealed-bottle-of-white-wineOoh. Ooh.  So many delicious choices.

I’m going to assume she can’t fill the bottle and so it needs to come with liquid.  And that she can modify an existing blank label. If these aren’t true, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll have some favorite choices to you by Monday morning if that suits your timetable.

I didn’t expect a reply back–Debby is a very busy person and I’ve already soaked up more of her time than my little rat killing deserves. But I get one back later that night (another late night for Debby, I’m thinking).

I’m so glad you found some! I think she can make those changes but she takes a while to reply to I’m going to say just pass along your favorites to me so I can let her know.

Carte blanche, sounds like to me. You know me: I spent a solid hour (probably an hour and a half, but who’s counting?) searching for the perfect bottle. In the end I send back 7 choices (4 shown below), with the pros and cons of each. Just your usual Rusty overkill. They’re waiting in her in-box on Monday morning, as promised.

4 bottlesOK, here’s my suggestions. Any of these work for me. Want to make sure that the artist has choices that she feels coordinate well with the look of the cover.  Hopefully I’ve given enough information so that they’re easy to find.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute. Have a great week.

Debby fires back:

I sent your suggestions along to Ramona. You did find a lot! I’m sure she was thinking about a beaker not a vial so this will help her create the cover you want.

Ramona agrees with my favorite of the 7 choices, does her magic, and back comes Rev 3, which is proudly on display below. All I can answer back is:

Perfect, Debby. Thanks for the extra effort making it happen. Assume you’re passing along to Ramona how pleased I am.

You people are such a delight to work with. Appreciate you all.

Strange Bedfellows #3 copy

New Cover Art!

Once again, the cover artist at Soul Mate Publishing has outdone herself. Just got the first cover art draft for Strange Bedfellows, and not unexpectedly, I’m absolutely delighted.

I asked Debby (Founder and Senior Editor) if the cover artist was the same as for Return from Avalon (and Points West), but she is typically busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest and hasn’t answered yet.

So without further ado, here it is.

Strange Bedfellows CoverMy only comment back, besides how much I love it, was:

The love potion is in too big a container (a ‘flask’ instead of a ‘vial’). There should only be enough for a single use. It’s distilled down, so it should look thick.  Here’s my vision of a vial, although I’m definitely not hard core about this (think the neck adds more interest than just a straight glass vial).  I like the cork a lot, so it could go in the vial.

Definitely my fault. I indicated “bottle of love potion” as one of the key objects in the book. Here’s the image I included in the email.

vial Strange Bedfellows is due out in March. We’re well along in the editing process, so I don’t expect any hitches there.

ON AN UNRELATED TOPIC: If you haven’t checked out the 3-author interview series that Stella is writing for the Examiner, you need to. The interview format has become more interactive, more snarky, and more fun. This week we’re writing a fiction vignette with the 3 (or maybe 4?) of us alternating paragraphs. That’ll be out this coming Sunday.

Examiner Article 1-12-14