New romance book – Feisty by Julia Kent

I’ve just finished reading Julia Kent’s “Feisty”, a light-hearted romance story. And I really enjoyed it. I offered to help with a publicity campaign organised by Writer Marketing Services, hence this post as well as my customary Amazon review…

Five stars.

A lively, well-paced, an entertaining romance

Feisty-IG-ad-1I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading “Feisty”, but within the first few pages I was following Fiona into an all-too-realistic and plausible nightmare situation. But this provided a re-introduction to someone she’d made a point of hating since the age of twelve. Her story thereafter is entertaining, with a number of incidents worthy of a Hollywood romance movie, and she matures to realise she’s changed, he’s changed, and maybe he’s not so bad after all…

 

I enjoyed it so much that I scarcely noticed it was written in the present tense, which I often find difficult to get engaged by.

If you want an entertaining romance to lose yourself in, this might be right up your street.

Excerpt

My lungs have decided that the world is too dangerous to make a move, utter a sound, do anything. I’m frozen, the pulse inside me growing stronger as time ticks away. My own shut-down system is the barrier to oxygen. The disconnect between what my body needs and what my tattered psyche can handle is causing my overload to leak out in a really obvious way.

 “Fiona?” Josh says, shaking me gently, Michelle looking to him for certainty.

 And then suddenly, Josh is out of my sight, replaced by two clear, calm, green eyes, light brown hair, and hands that feel like anchors.

 “Feisty? Feis–Fiona?” Fletch corrects. The sudden pivot to using my proper name is jarring, given the fact that every atom in the world is buzzing inside my ears and nothing anyone does will help me to breathe.

 I make a strange sound. I know it’s strange because his eyebrows turn down in the middle, his facial muscles pushing them low enough to show concern.

 Concern for me.

 “Breathe,” he says slowly as he puts one hand on my diaphragm, fingers warm and firm.

 I make a sound to indicate that I am confused and the speech centers in my brain have shut down. Empathy floods me as I realize this is exactly what my student with severe apraxia, little Myles, must feel like when he loses his words under extreme stress. For years, I’ve said “use your words” to four-year-olds having anxiety fits.

 Never again.

 “Breathe, Fiona,” he murmurs, taking a deep breath to demonstrate, his belly expanding in a comical way, though I know his technique is strong. Hypnotic and commanding, his voice and body tell me what to do, guide me back from being lost in the woods to a cleared trail where I can find my footing, take a rest, and possibly feel safe again, knowing I can find my way home.

 I inhale, the insides of my nostrils cold, the air hitting my nasal passages a welcome assault, diaphragm spasming and sputtering back to life.

 “That’s my girl,” he whispers against the curl of my ear, his breath like coffee, his hard forearm muscles all I can see, the ripped cord of his strong lines drawing my gaze. “You just breathe. It’s over now. You did it. You saved them. It’s okay to breathe.” He inhales, then slowly exhales. “Let’s do this together now.”

 

Where can you find it?

Amazon (all countries): https://geni.us/AMZFeistyJK

Google Play: https://geni.us/FeistyGP

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2K2d5pF

BN/Nook: http://bit.ly/2Gqg769

Apple Books: https://geni.us/AppFeisty

BookBub: http://bit.ly/2qrOULi
Goodreads: https://geni.us/feistygr

 

Audiobook narrated by Erin Mallon:

 

Audible: https://geni.us/FeistyAud

Amazon Audio: https://geni.us/FeistyAMZAud

iTunes:  Coming Soon

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 19 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French and German, with more titles releasing in 2020 and beyond.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

 

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

 

The Devil’s In The Details…

I recently read an entertaining-enough adult romance story which provides a good example of the need to do some research, even in fiction.

No, I won’t name the book or author, as I don’t think that would be fair, but I did e-mail some constructive comments to the author.

Firstly, let me say I thought it was a perfectly reasonable adult romance, a variation on the “bad-start-to-happy-ever-after” theme. The main male character was British, the main female was American. They were both actors who met while working on a production in the UK, and a large proportion of the story took place in London. It had all the usual elements, a bad start on first meeting, then becoming friendlier, working through misunderstandings, nearly splitting up and then finding their happy ending. The steamy bits were nicely done, and came at a perfectly reasonable point in the development of their relationship.

But it struck me that the (American) author hadn’t thought about the setting. There were a number of things which made me think “not the Britain I know”, and these rather irritated me. As the saying goes, the devil’s in the details.

The American character was described using what sounded like a modern smart phone at the same time that the British character was using a “brick-like” one. No matter how tempting it might be to make a joke about “backward Brits”, we’ve always had much the same range of mobile phones as the US. And they’ve NEVER been “cellular phones” or “cell phones” in the UK, always “mobile phones”.

A passing reference was made to “foggy London streets”. London hasn’t been notably foggy for decades. The Clean Air Act 1956 was a response to London’s “Great Smog” of 1952, and fog is now a rare weather event in Britain’s major cities. The popular idea of a foggy London in fiction probably dates back to the Sherlock Holmes stories, which were set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

At one point, the female character was looking at all the unfamiliar pound notes in her purse. We’ve not had pound notes since 1988. If you want to bemuse a contemporary character with unfamiliar British money, we have dual-colour £1 and £2 coins, and have had plastic £5 notes since 2016 and plastic £10 notes since 2017. These are a bit annoying, as they slide past each other very readily. You can see what our current coins and paper currency look like on-line.

Paper pound notes are still legal tender in Scotland and the Isle of Man, but these wouldn’t be recognised in England and Wales. As in the US, card payments are about as common as cash ones.

The script used the word “chippie” as a slang term for a young woman. For most Brits, that’s where we buy our take-away fish and chips, but it’s also used as an informal reference to a carpenter. Female bus conductors and ticket collectors were sometimes referred to as “clippies” in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and I suppose that could easily be mispronounced.

The characters referred to each other as “dear” in conversations. We don’t generally do that, outside some regional and/or social groups, and many Brits would actually find it pretty patronising. We have quite a range of regional accents and dialects across the UK, and these can be a minefield to British writers, let alone ones from other countries. Quite a lot of people in Britain are puzzled by dialogue from time to time when watching episodes of “Shetland” or “Vera”, TV drama shows where the characters have strong regional accents.

When the two main characters were making friends, he took her to a pub and bought her a pint of Guinness, his favourite tipple. Guinness is certainly a popular drink in Britain, but I thought it highly unlikely that a British man would buy an American woman a pint of it by default, even if it’s his drink of choice. Maybe a half-pint, but he’d be far more likely to offer her wine or lager. She might taste his, out of curiosity, and probably pull a face. Most pubs will offer a range of beers, lagers and ciders, often ranging from mass-produced brews to craft beers. Women typically drink half-pints, but plenty now drink pints, and, if they try to match the guys drink-for-drink, probably spend a fair proportion of their evening visiting the ladies loo before falling over.

See how I eased in some genuine British slang – “loo” for toilet? Sneaky, eh? It’s also commonly used in Australia and New Zealand, according to wikipedia.

The character also referred to Guinness being better direct from the brewery, which is widely accepted as a fact. But the brewery is in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, so not exactly convenient for anyone in London to pop out for a quick pint.

The male character was “throwing darts” in the pub with his mates. We “play darts”, not “throw darts”. Yes, we obviously throw the darts, but that’s the verb, not the expression for the game.

He stopped off at a “liqor store” for some alcoholic drinks. We don’t have retail outlets generically called “liqor stores” in the UK, and don’t usually refer to it as “liquor” in everyday English. We usually buy alcoholic drinks from supermarkets or “off-licences”, shops which sell alcohol for consumption off the premises. The term relates to our licencing law for alcoholic drinks. Some off-licences are essentially supermarkets for wine.

He also ordered some food to take away from a pub. It’s pretty unusual for pubs to do take-away food, especially in towns and cities with lots of fast-food outlets. They often make a better profit on the drinks customers have with food they eat in the pub than on the food itself. If he wanted to pre-order take-away food, he’d contact a particular outlet. In reality, I guess he’d be likely to use one of the popular app-based services to order food to be delivered to his home.

At one point, he drank rather too much in a pub in London and decided to drive home. Drink-driving is far less common than it used to be here, and is now something of a social no-no. His mates would almost certainly have tried to stop him, probably ordering a taxi for him. And the consequences of being caught would involve being arrested and detained at a police station, with court cases to follow. So, worth checking to see if there are difference outcomes under the legal system where you’ve set your story.

There are some differences between UK and US English which can trip up writers from both sides of the Atlantic. For example, Brits would not say they were pushing things “off of” or taking things from “inside of” something. We push things off, or take things out. Little details, yes, but silly mistakes can make a reader pause, mentally leaving the story for a second or two.

No, I’m not saying “don’t set a story somewhere you don’t know well”. Just be wary of inventing details which will bemuse people who do know the place well.

So, what can we do?

Research, that’s what!

Google really is the writer’s friend, so get stuck in and use it.

Social media is such an easy way for writers to ask friends in other countries for information, facts, advice and comments on your draft stories. Recruit a few as beta-readers and pay close attention to their feedback, especially about the “local” details. You could join an international constructive critiquing group for more private sharing of drafts and comments.

Watch British productions on TV or British films (movies in the US) for research purposes, and pay attention to the props, the locations, and the way the characters talk. It isn’t always accurate for the social class and/or setting, but it’s usually pretty reasonable. The British characters I see in quite a few US-made TV shows and movies aren’t good models, by the way. They often have an accent which isn’t like any I’ve ever heard spoken here.

You could read books written by British authors set in modern-day Britain. Then there are audiobooks  and audio dramas, such as those on Audible. Some of the British narrators and performers will give you a good idea of the variety of ways UK English is spoken.

Want to look around the real, modern-day Britain from the comfort of your own home? Just use Street View.

If an American was reading a story I’d written in which an American character didn’t ring true for them, or I described something “American” which struck them as incongruous or even plain wrong, I’d appreciate being told about it, ideally politely.

How else can I learn to write better?

One Of Those Things…

The three novellas I’ve finished so far were all published by Fireborn. Sadly, they’ve decided not to keep up the struggle and have returned the rights to me.

Yes, obviously I was a bit upset, but it’s one of those things.

I’ll always be incredibly grateful to Fireborn for helping me become a published author, and I learned so much while working with their editors and cover artists.

Through social media, I know many “part time” authors like myself, who have day jobs and write as and when we can in our spare time. And we all find it tough.

Well, I suspect a lot of the smaller publishers are probably run on much the same basis, a labour of love which swallows up spare time and energy, and hopefully at least break even.

So now, what am I going to do? I had a five-novella series in mind, three have been published, I’m revising my draft of the fourth and ignoring the temptation to plough ahead with the fifth. Looking back, the second novella follows on almost directly from the first, and even though each is stand-alone, the second completes a larger story arc. So potentially one novel rather than two novellas.

The third and fourth aren’t quite as strongly linked, but both revolve around incidents and events related to TV drama shows the characters are working on. As I’m revising number four, maybe I can merge three and four into a second novel?

Given Amazon’s policies on remuneration, and an apparent reluctance on the part of readers to pay a price which repays the months of work which goes into even a novella, republishing as novels might be worthwhile.

When I first posted about this on Facebook, another small published kindly reached out and suggested I submit the stories to them, as they’ll consider republishing. From my point of view, I’ve nothing to lose and it was very flattering. From theirs, they’ll have submissions which will probably require relatively further editing, which helps them quickly build up their catalogue.

Within a few days, I’d reviewed and made minor tweaks to my first novella and submitted it, floating the idea of merging the stories into two novels. When I get a spare few hours, I’ll review and submit the second. I’ll wait for feedback before tinkering with the novel idea, as I really do want to put more time into revising novella four.

Self-publishing is an option, and one I’ll seriously consider for some of my other ideas. I have three other draft novels in my laptop awaiting revision, and ideas for more.

Yes, I have at least two back-ups of everything.

I picked up a sneaky idea for keeping secure back-ups from a TV crime drama I watched. One of the characters secretly saved a document in his e-mail account, as a draft message. Nice and easy to find… so long as I remember having done it.

Just one more? Tempting…

Today’s blog features fellow writer Ria Restrepo, author of one of the stories in the recently-published anthology Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More. I’ve already read this and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The common theme of the stories is aphrodisiac chocolate.

n6jqSRFLThe book’s blurb reads as follows…

Taste the attraction. Again.

One hundred percent delicious with zero calories, let yourself be tempted by our chocolate-infused delights. These bite-size erotic treats are guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning tastes.

Best friends become more, beauty is tamed by the beast, a music festival turns erotic, strangers collide, shy lovers go wild, roommates break down barriers, and a chance encounter at a holiday party leads to sapphic delights.

Something for every taste.

Elevator shenanigans, mythic lovers, well-dressed hunks, hungry coworkers and birthday surprises, Chemical [se]X Volume 2 delivers the goods.

Are you ready for just one more?

Ria, can you tell us a bit more about this new anthology?

Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More is a decadent collection of erotica featuring some of the hottest writers in the genre. All the stories involve the common element of aphrodisiac chocolates produced by fictional scientists in a brilliant story written by Oleander Plume, which inspired the first volume of Chemical [se]X. I’m thrilled to have my story “Elevator Confidential” in this eclectic and enticing anthology.

Can you tell us anything about how the idea for this story came to you?

When Oleander Plume asked me to write a story for Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More, I was thrilled and immediately said, “Yes!” I had no idea what I was going to write. It was the first time I had to come up with something “made to order,” so to speak.

There were just a few parameters: it had to contain aphrodisiac chocolates, have clear consent, and preferably have something to do with Valentine’s Day, since they initially planned to release the book on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it took a little longer to put the anthology together, so the release date had to be pushed back.

I had all this stewing in my mind for about a week. As is often the case, I was listening to rock music as I was working on something else and Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator” came on. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought, “Hot sex in an elevator!” The story quickly emerged from there.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?

To finish one of the mostly written manuscripts I have and get it published. At the top of the list is an erotic romance called “Bounty Girl” about a submissive bounty hunter. It may actually turn out to be a short series—of hopefully independent novels, because I really don’t like “cliff-hangers” myself.

Do you plan to branch out to different genres?

I’ve always had other ideas for novels in other genres—from psychological thrillers to mainstream fiction. I’m actually considering writing a semi-autobiographical New Adult novel for National Novel Writing Month this year, under my given name, and seeing what I can do with it.

How do you develop your ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

Characters just sort come to me. Something will spark an idea and then I’ll start asking all the “why” questions. A good example is my story “Eminent Domain,” which is coming out in The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 Volume 3 on May 24th. The story started with the first line, which basically states that the protagonist is done being a good girl.

Then I asked myself, “Okay, why is she done being a good girl? What happened to bring her to that point? What is she going to do about it?” As I answered these questions and more, her history emerged and her character developed.

And yes, there is some of me in all my characters, but there is quite a bit of me in Jackie from “Elevator Confidential.”

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Invisibility. I love the name “Invisigirl.” I mean, just think of the voyeuristic possibilities. You could go anywhere and do anything completely unseen. I know, peeping on people without their knowledge is terribly unethical and invasive. However, we’re just talking about a purely hypothetical fantasy scenario.

If you had some of these chocolates who would you give them to?

I definitely have someone in mind, but who is top secret. Next question.

Would you tell them about the possible consequences?

Absolutely. I wouldn’t ever give something to someone without their consent. In “Elevator Confidential,” Jackie doesn’t know about the aphrodisiac possibilities of the chocolates. But if she had, she definitely would have told Walden beforehand.

Would you eat one yourself?

That’s a very good question. I’ve never been into using chemical assistance for anything, except in serious medical situations under the express direction of a doctor. I’ve never used recreational drugs. I don’t even like drinking alcohol and haven’t in about twenty years. Although, one could argue that I’m a caffeine addict. That’s about my only vice in that department.

As for trying the aphrodisiac chocolates…under the right circumstances, I might try it at least once. However, I’ve never found I needed much help in getting my libido going, especially when properly inspired.

If yes, in what sort of situations?

In a controlled, private setting with the man I desire above all others.

Thanks for chatting to me Ria, and I hope this anthology finds lots of readers to enjoy it. Maybe share the blurb for your story and an excerpt?

uJVTNlf1 (2)Trapped in an elevator with her secret crush and some aphrodisiac chocolates, Jackie’s bad day turns delicious. Walden may be her father’s friend and business partner, but how much temptation can he endure before succumbing to both their forbidden desires? What happens between them is dirty, decadent, and strictly confidential.

 

 

 

Excerpt:

Even as hungry as she was, chocolates that fine were to be savored, not scarfed like M&M’s. She brought one of the tiny cocks to her mouth and filled her lungs with the enticing aroma. Unable to wait any longer, she sunk her teeth into the hard, outer shell—only to be surprised when filling spurted out. Giggling, she used her free hand to capture a runaway stream of sticky sweetness before it dripped off her chin and ruined her favorite red silk blouse.

Jackie admired the wicked brilliance of filling naughty chocolates with white cream. Before any more of it oozed out, she put the rest of the morsel in her mouth, but let it dissolve on her tongue. Her taste buds exploded with the flavor of bitter chocolate and a sweet, minty confection that had a trace of something else. She didn’t recognize the unknown ingredient, but it was definitely intriguing.

Humming with pleasure, she licked and sucked her messy fingers clean until every drop was consumed. “They’re delicious, but messy.”

When Jackie looked up at Walden, she froze at his heavy-lidded expression. If he looked hungry before, he looked positively ravenous now.

“You did that on purpose.”

She knew what he meant. As much as she’d love to take credit for teasing him, she was innocent in this instance. Still, Jackie was smart enough to seize an opportunity when she saw one.

 

My five-star review on Amazon and Goodreads:

An interesting and varied anthology, with the fourteen stories linked by one of more characters indulging in, and enjoying the consequences of, aphrodisiac chocolate.

A very potent aphrodisiac, too… This is very much an erotica anthology!

This is rather like a quality box of chocolates – you can dip in and enjoy each, but you’ll find one or more which make you feel ‘hmmmm… nice’.

I thought all the stories were well-written and found them engaging. Despite the common theme, they were varied and imaginative.

b_30F-gP (2)

Main landing page of Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More with all available buy links: bit.ly/ChemSexV2sis

Amazon US: bit.ly/ChemicalSex2e

Amazon UK: https://tinyurl.com/y2wwx54u

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/938990

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y4vmfu5u

chairsmall (614x640) (288x300) (144x150)Bio: Ria Restrepo may appear to be a mild-mannered bookworm who drinks too much coffee and spends most days tapping away on her computer. But beneath the quiet exterior lurks a filthy-minded sex kitten with a lurid and lascivious imagination. Writing erotica, romance, and all the shades in between, she truly enjoys entertaining readers with stories about strong women exploring and celebrating their desires—especially when they involve dominant men with a sensitive side. Her work has appeared in Spy Games: Thrilling Spy Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 1, Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More, and coming soon in The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 Volume 3.

Website: http://www.riarestrepo.com

Blog: http://riarestrepo.blogspot.com

Twitter: @RiaRestrepo  https://twitter.com/RiaRestrepo

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RiaRestrepoAuthorPage

Verily Setting Ye Scene, Forsooth…

I recently tried writing something new for me, a historical story. In fact, an early medieval story, set in the twelfth century.

In all my writing, I try hard to set the scene in my readers’ minds (yes, revealing my naked ambition by aspiring to multiple readers) by “painting” in what I hope is enough detail for their imaginations to fill in everything else they need to see the scene in their mind.

I blame being exposed to Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File at an impressionable age. But it’s a style I like for being economical and usually engaging.

But how can I imagine being there, watching my characters do their twelfth century … stuff?

Research? As a leisure-time writer with no access to academic libraries, opportunities for “proper” research are a bit restricted.

Yes, of course I used google for some things, but you need to have a good idea of what your real question is before you can figure out which hits are helpful answers.

Some answers are just pretty simple, of course, assuming we remember to ask ourselves “is this right?”

Not long ago, I read a novel set in the 1920’s, in which the main character produced a Glock pistol. A fine choice of weapon for self defence, I’m sure, but an implausible one… Glock wasn’t founded until 1963.

Want to set a scene in a fast-food restaurant in London in say 1970? McDonalds won’t open their first branch there for another four years.

Sometimes it’s kind of convenient to rely on other people’s research, particularly if you’re confident it’s reliable enough, and it looks pretty good.

I found a lot of helpful information in Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. He’s a professional academic historian as well as an historical fiction writer, so has access to the right resources, and can probably even read Latin and Middle English. He wrote this book to help readers see the past as real rather than as history, describing what you might see and experience as a visitor to the period. It gave me some insight into how people lived, what they ate and wore, and about their world. He’s since written two similar books, covering the Elizabethan and Restoration periods.

And of course Dr Mortimer isn’t the only writer whose work we can benefit from, if only for some ideas and scene-dressing.

A few examples? Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose paints a vivid picture of a 14th century Italian monastery. Edith Pargeter (aka Ellis Peters) set her well-known Brother Cadfael murder mysteries in early 12th century Shrewsbury, in western England. Sarah Woodbury’s Gareth and Gwen mysteries are set in 12th century Wales, when it was still a separate country from Norman-ruled England, and Dublin was a Viking city. Or there are the Stanton and Barling mysteries, by EM Powell, again set in the 12th century, where the two main characters were the nearest thing the English justice system had to detectives.

There are factual TV shows and series which can help us “see” the past a little more clearly as a real time and place, particularly the “re-enacting” ones. There were several excellent British TV series about agricultural life in the past – the Tudor Monastery Farm, the Victorian Farm, the Edwardian Farm and the Wartime Farm (ie 1939-1945). The “supersizers” series by Giles Coren and Sue Perkins were factual entertainment about the history of food, including the two of them trying out things from the period, like clothing and historically accurate meals. It’s worth remembering our ancestors ate a far wider range of animals, birds and fish than we do. That wasn’t because these were notably tasty, more of an “eat it or go hungry” choice. I’ve read that swan tastes pretty awful.

I’ve read plenty of books (or listened to the audiobooks) which conveyed the period nicely for me. The Sherlock Holmes stories, written between 1887 and 1927, mentioned telegrams, daily postal services, messenger services, the introduction of telephones, and using frequent train services. The unrestricted access to opium and cocaine is surprising to modern readers, but both were readily available at the time, when it’s been estimated that a quarter of doctors were addicted to opium.

Other books I’ve enjoyed which were set in the early 1950’s in Britain described a time of post-war austerity, limited private car ownership, commonplace use of trains with helpful station staff (including porters), and, in some areas, telephone calls still connected via operators who might just be listening in.

On the other hand, books actually written in earlier periods may not be that helpful, as the authors expected their readers to at least be familiar with the world the characters lived in (eg Fielding, Austen, Hardy or Dickens).

What about old TV shows and films, from the 1920’s on? These might show regular life in the US before air conditioning – wiping the back of your neck with a handkerchief in summer – everyone wearing hats and other period fashions, steam engines in widespread use on the railways, horses and steam traction engines being used on farms, manual typewriters, rotary dial telephones, telex machines, card index systems, hot metal newspaper printing…

Some modern shows and movies made a big effort to create realistic-looking settings, and I thought Versailles, The Musketeers, Taboo, and Poldark certainly gave the impression of being true to period. The 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Matthew Macfadeyn and Keira Knightly was a notable hatchet job of the book which had some fabulous background details about life for the rural “comfortably-off” around 1800.

Although it’s primarily fantasy, there’s a lot of historical accuracy in the Game of Thrones world. Not the dragons, obviously, but the background details of life in a castle and so on.

The TV series Britannia ran rings around historical accuracy and even plausibility. But what the heck, it’s only a story.

I watched Die Hard the other night (my go-to Christmas film), made in 1988 complete with women’s “big hair” styles, clumsy-looking computer systems, CB radios, but no mobile phones. Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman (1990) had a mobile phone, which looks hilariously clunky today, like two house bricks. Even Dirty Dancing had a wealth of background detail you could study – the idea of annual month-long stays at the same stuffy resort centre, the entertainment, fashions, and manners.

It’s probably wise to resist overdoing your scene-setting. While you might be tempted to include things in the narrative like books or albums popular at the time, unless these are subjects discussed by the characters, it might come across as “telling”. Perfect incidental visual details in a TV show or film, though.

We may be fortunate in Britain with our long history, as we have some great places to visit which can help our imaginations. Neolithic constructions, iron-age hill forts, Roman forts and buildings, assorted castles and historic houses, and some decent museums…

The Weald and Downland Museum has more than forty historic buildings representing a thousand years of history. Blists Hill Victorian Town, operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, recreates a Victorian town for visitors, complete with a cast of re-enactors. The Beamish Open-Air Museum lets you glimpse industrial life in the northeast of England during the 19th and 20th centuries. I know the US has something similar at Colonial Williamsburg.

A lot of historic buildings and sites in Britain run events where visitors can meet re-enactors and get a brief glimpse of a version of the past, such as a medieval camp, or a Victorian mill or kitchen.

And then there are jousting displays and re-enacted battles and skirmishes, typically Viking or English Civil War. There are groups of enthiasts who do Roman, Napoleonic, Victorian and WW1 or WW2 military displays.

How about the large-scale annual Battle of Hastings rematch? Somehow, the bloody Normans always win, but maybe one year…

One thing we can’t get from these museums are some of the grim realities of even our recent past, which can be invaluable for the historical fiction writer. Dreadful poverty. The feudal system. Insanitary living conditions. A monotonous and limited diet. Frequent poor years for farming, with not infrequent famines. Thousands of people affected by ergotism. Half of children dying before the age of twenty-one. Huge numbers dying and suffering from disease, with no health or dental care, aggravated by malnutrition. Lives ruled by superstition and religion. The acceptance that the rich and noble were more important simply by right of birth. An almost matter-of-fact indifference to cruelty and suffering. Crusades, literal witch-hunts, wars, revolts and uprisings. The high death toll on long sea-journeys from disease, including an expected 50% from scurvy.

Or how about a disaster story set during one of the many fires which destroyed or severely damaged largely-wooden medieval European cities and towns? London had three great fires (1135, 1212 and 1666) and twelve major ones (two in Roman times, then in 675, 798, 892, 1087, 1130, 1132, 1220, 1227, 1299 and 1633). Lots of other towns and cities had similar incidents: google “list of town and city fires” and feel relief for modern building codes and well-equipped professional firefighters.

The past has all sorts of “detail” things which can help or hinder a writer, too. These are often overlooked for convenience in fiction.

Clothing

Between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, various European countries and the Massachusetts Bay Colony in America had “sumptuary laws”, restricting people’s choice of clothing. And fashions changed in the past almost as rapidly as today.

Religion and religious practices

In England, until the fifteenth century reformation, fast days (or meat-free days) occupied almost half the year – including every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and all of Lent. Vegetables, or if you were lucky, fish. The selection of vegetables available was surprisingly limited, too. And don’t forget that people then were generally incredibly devout and very superstitious compared to us.

Language

As an example, for 200 years after the Norman Conquest of England, the general population spoke English, the ruling classes spoke Anglo-Norman and French, and very few of either group spoke the other’s language. Church services were conducted in Latin, of course. Legal cases could only be conducted in English from 1362, and the court switched to English by the end of the fourteenth century. By English I mean Middle English – check out Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” in the original text for a written form in the modern alphabet. And language use changed as fast in the past as it does today. There were also a wealth of local accents and dialects in all languages, some even more strikingly different from the norm than we have now.

Actually, language raises another question – dialogue. How closely do we follow what we think the speech styles would be in that period? It might sound perfect to someone from that time, but seems at best flowery and roundabout to us. How “realistic” does it need to be in order to convey a sense of the period? At the time, it was everyday language, after all.

Inevitably, there are a few books available to help those keen to write historical fiction.

Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders caught my attention when I perused Amazon, if only for the title. Historical Fiction Writing – A Practical Guide and Tool-Kit by Myfanwy Cook and Bernard Knight looks like a useful book, based on popular workshops Myfanwy has run. She’s a successful writer herself.

As with all other aspects of writing, there are no hard rules, only conventions. Even spelling’s just a convention, after all.

Readers who enjoy lots of historical fiction may well have expectations, so it’s probably worth becoming familiar with the genre or sub-genre you’re writing in.

Unless you’re writing an alternative history or steampunk, if you include significant factual details, do check them as best you can.

Other than that, well, have fun developing your ideas and writing your stories.

Oh, and do keep an eye open for intriguing historical discoveries. Spotting a mention of medieval underpants in a story might not actually be something to snigger about…

Oh, by the way, the comments I had back on my story from some of my collaborative critiquing group certainly left me feeling I’d got the “feel” right, which was rather nice to know. I’ve got some revisions to do, then I’ll see if I can get the story published.

Multiorgasmic! No, not a boast, but a new anthology…

I’ve just finished reading the enjoyable new release from Lucy Felthouse, Multi-Orgasmic Volume 2, an anthology of short erotic stories. And I’m more than happy to support her marketing release blitz with this blog post, to help other potential readers find out about it.

My own review on Amazon (I gave it five stars)…

This book is a collection of nineteen entertaining and very saucy short stories. With stories of only a few hundred words, there’s little scope for character development or a complex plot, and if you’re eager for that, there are plenty of other excellent books. But this is an ideal anthology for dipping into for a quick read, and every story will probably leave you feeling happy for the characters. And maybe just a teeny bit envious!

 

multi-orgasmic-vol2-lucyfelthouse-FINALIf you’re a fan of erotic short stories, then get your hands on this collection from the pen of award-winning erotica author Lucy Felthouse.

From famous movie stars to sexy farmers, holiday flings to seducing delivery drivers, and even unusual household items being used as bondage, this book has variety galore. It’s sure to get you hot under the collar and eager to turn just one more page.

Enjoy nineteen titillating tales, over 54,000 words of naughtiness packed into one steamy read.

 

Please note: many of the stories in this book have been previously published in anthologies, as standalones, and online, but three are brand new and never seen before!

Buy links

Amazon: http://mybook.to/MOV2

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/multi-orgasmic-vol-2-lucy-felthouse/1129829792?ean=2940155871637

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/multi-orgasmic-vol-2-a-collection-of-short-stories/id1441592585?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/multi-orgasmic-vol-2

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/905453?ref=cw1985

*****

Excerpt:

“Yvette!” Jack snapped. “Are you even listening to what I’m saying?”

“Yes, Sir!” I’d only missed a bit. Maybe a couple of words. And it wasn’t my fault.

“So what’s the problem? Are you uncomfortable? Would you like a cushion?”

“No, Sir. I’m fine, thank you. It’s just…” As another noise filtered in through the double glazing, I was unable to stop my gaze slipping in that direction.

“What—?” Jack strode past me, all stompy and masterful.

I allowed myself a shiver of pleasure at his demeanour. He was sexy when he was grumpy, though naturally I didn’t enjoy it when he was grumpy with me.

He peered out the window to see what had distracted me. “Neighbour is mowing his lawn, that’s all. Can’t very well go around there and complain about that, can I?” he muttered.

Jack stepped back in front of me. “The window is closed, Yvette. I can’t really do any more than that.” He shrugged.

“It’s okay, Sir. He’ll be done soon. I can ignore it. It’s not that loud.” Ever since he’d given me that look and ordered me into the bedroom, my pussy had ached, and I had yearned for his orders, to do his bidding. To please him. I certainly didn’t want to displease him by allowing the next-door-bloody-neighbour’s garden maintenance to get in the way of our scene, but it’d be tough to remain entirely focused with that racket going on.

“Hmm. All right, then. Let’s continue. So, where were we?”

I hoped like hell that was a rhetorical question, because I’d been distracted enough by the noise outside that I hadn’t, in fact, heard all of what he’d said. I bowed my head and waited, mentally keeping my fingers crossed that Jack would answer his own question. Luckily for me, he did.

“Come here, take out my cock, and suck it.”

“Yes, Sir!” I almost got carpet burns on my knees as I eagerly shuffled forward. I reached out and undid his zipper. Slipping my right hand through the gap, I manoeuvred until my fingers closed around his shaft—which was rigid, red hot, and irresistible.

Carefully, I popped his cock out through the opening in his boxers and trousers, where it stood proudly, looking just as irresistible as it felt. All purple and swollen; raring to go. Licking my lips, I pumped my fist up and down his length a couple of times, before closing my mouth around his glans. Immediately, the delicious musky, salty taste of him hit my taste buds and I hummed happily and prepared to start sinking further onto him.

Just then, a high-pitched roaring sound reached my ears.

Jack picked up on my flinch. Stepping back—and slipping his dick out of my mouth in the process—he exclaimed, “Oh, for heaven’s sake! It’s really distracting you, isn’t it?”

I sat back on my heels and pouted. “I’m sorry, Sir! I can’t not hear. If I could switch my ears off, trust me, I would.”

Jack’s expression softened. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s not your fault. It’s just… kinda ruining what we’ve got going on here.”

I bit my lip. “Yeah, I know. But what are we supposed to do about it?”

*****

About Lucy

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

ABC Destiny

I’m posting this to help fellow author Val Portelli publicise her recently republished novella ABC Destiny.

ABC Destiny by [Portelli, Val]

It’s the story of six characters and how their lives become entwined by destiny with unexpected results. After being deserted by her lover when she falls pregnant, Delphine loses the baby and goes to work for an unsavoury character with a villainous reputation. Many years later, she is reflecting on what might have been when fate reveals the connection between her, the three girls and the two men who were involved in her past.

The three girls (the A, B and C in the title) were from very different backgrounds; Abigail from a comfortable, middle-class home, Beatrice manipulated the system in an endeavour to escape a life of poverty, and Cecelia had a pampered upbringing where her every wish was indulged by doting parents.

The chapters are told in the voices of the individual protagonists.

To give you a flavour, here’s an extract to let you know a little about Beatrice.

I’m called Bea.

Don’t know why you want to know about me. Everything in my life is crap.

Yeah, life’s a bitch.

My mum brung me up as a single parent. Was gonna say the taboo F word but don’t know if that would be allowed.

No idea who my father was, but I’ve had plenty of so-called uncles for as long as I can remember. Think Mum is trying to regain her lost youth and goes for anything in trousers what makes her feel good.

Some of them were okay, but most treated me as a nuisance getting in the way of their sex life, which was the only thing they were interested in. The rest looked on me as fair game despite my age.

I grew up quick and learnt to defend myself from groping hands by a quick kick in the B…, which was the only language they understood.

When I tried to tell Mum, she thought it was just jealousy or teenage hormones, so I learnt to look after myself. I was on my own.

If you want to know anything about how to get through the social form filling or how to get a pay-out from the system, ask me. I’m an expert.

If things get hairy, all you have to do is move to a different address and by the time they’ve caught up with your past record you’ve moved on again.

Playing the game. You have to take advantage when you can, just to make life worth living.

If you want something special and haven’t got the cash, well the shops are full. If you get caught you go into the poor little me routine and most of the time the courts accept it.

As I said life’s a bitch but you learn to fight it, however and wherever you can.

Most of my mates let the hormones take over and ended up at the social with squalling kids, nowhere to live and a boyfriend who had done a runner as soon as he found out she was pregnant.

The boys wanted the fun but not the responsibility. At least I learnt from their mistakes.

By the time I was fourteen I was at the local family planning clinic and insisting I be put on the pill. Mum had to give her consent as I was underage. Either she understood or just wasn’t interested enough to care either way.

At least I could have some fun without the risks, even if the boys did call me a slag.

 

It’s available in e-book and paperback forms on the Amazon UK and Amazon US sites, where you’ll see a number of enthusiastic reviews, all but one giving the story five stars.

Val says her pen name ‘Voinks’ started as a joke then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published. Although unique it was not memorable, so her books have been published under a mixture of both names.

Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known UK women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy. The rainbow saving her sanity was completing and seeing her first full length novel published. This was followed by a second traditionally-published book before entering the world of self-publishing.

In between writing her longest novel to date (over 100,000 words), and another shorter work to be published next year, she produces weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site. She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’

She says reviews are always welcome… they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

There are links to her three other published books, and an anthology including one of her stories, on her Amazon UK and Amazon US author pages. All these have a lot of five-star reviews, too.

Her social media links: 

Facebook  – www.facebook.com/Voinks.writer.author

Blogs:

https://Voinks.Wordpress.com

www.QuirkyUnicornBooks.wordpress.com