Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Viking, a Highlander or a Pirate? What's your Fantasy?

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 I've been asked to share why I love romance novels. 

Here it is in a nutshell: Prince Charming has morning breath. And worse, he farts......a lot!

Now, I'm not knocking anyone's real life happily ever after with Sir Farts-A-Lot. He's a good man who brings us roses at the appropriate times (hopefully), steals kisses at unexpected moments and re-formats the hard drive on our computer when it goes wonky. And his version of doing battle for his lady fair might be more akin to charging an iron shopping cart through the dangerous labryrinth of Walmart on community grocery day, blazing a path through the crowds for you to follow rather then facing a dragon or an opposing knight in a jousting match, but hey, this is today's modern reality.

So, why do I write romance? The short answer: I grew up with Star Trek  and I dream of Jeannie, so entertaining fantasy was pretty much what drew me in from the start, be it movies or reading material. My first true romance was A Rose in Winter by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss I loved the historical setting of 18th century England, the dark, brooding, mysterious Lord Saxon and the plucky heroine Erienne, struggling to rise above her circumstances. She was doing pretty well on her own but she still needed a hero to give her a lift. A hero entered the scene and carried her (unwillingly) away to his castle and after lots of conflict, both internal and external, they found their happily ever after. That's the basic storyline of every romance. Doesn't matter if it's a Viking or a modern day hero who is a navy seal or a shape-shifter, he comes into the heroine's life and when he does, he make her life a little better--after they kill the zombies and save the world. Or perhaps more accurately--during the conflict love grows between them. It's not so much about being rescued by someone else as it is finding that one soul-mate who completes you and makes you happy.

Forget Calgon: Will Turner Jr, can 'Take me Away!'

For me--it's all about the fantasy element of the romance. Escapist Fantasy. Being swept away to another time, another place, with a handsome rogue closing in. My husband escapes the mundane pressures of this life by shooting Nazis or Zombies in his computer games.
I love escaping the mundane pressures of this life by reading about heroines attending fancy balls, wearing exquisite gowns and being courted by some handsome rake with Hessian boots and a set of dueling pistols in his closet. A Viking, a Highlander or a Pirate he may be, but if he's noble and charming, he's the right hero for me. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Romance: Shall I compare thee to a Summer's Day?

                      Image credit: field-of-sunflowers by geargodz / 123RF Stock Photo

Summer is winding to a close. Soon we'll all be sending kids off to school, planning fall football parties or plotting the fall craft show circuits. Soon the nights will get colder. The frost will come, and the flowers will go dormant. The leaves will fall. All the beauty surrounding us in this moment, the flowers, the warm, lazy days filled with sunshine will end.

My advice: Stop what you are doing today for a few brief moments. Just stop. Yes, today. Just take time to savor the wonders of the season before it is over. Have your own personal love affair--with Summer.

Image credit: fresh-raspberries by patrickrp / 123RF Stock Photo

We're all busy, too busy these days. Even vacations become hectic marathons. We have to get to the hotel by this time or lose the reservation.... we have to attend that wedding, family reunion, birthday party so we hurry through summer......hurry.....hurry......hurry.

Well, stop it, please? Give yourself a little time to embrace in the serene beauty of summertime.

White Admiral butterfly on Echineaca, by Lily Silver

Remember the scent of freshly cut hayfields. take time to listen to the sound of crickets chirping beneath the steps, songbirds singing before they migrate to other regions. Hear the wind rustling the trees. Cherish the sight of a butterfly flitting through the garden, alighting on flowers. Savor the taste of cool, tart lemonade, sweet hand picked berries and farm market produce. If you live near a beach, take one last trip to wade through the swirling waves and get wet, cool sand between your toes. Soak up the warm sunshine, and just breathe. That's right. Just breathe.  Relax, savor the last few days of August before the hectic return to school year schedules and obligations.

Image credit: young-girl-relaxing-on-beach by volare2004 / 123RF Stock Photo

 Shakespeare sums it up pretty well in Sonnet 18: Summer is fleeting. It's lovely, but it has an expiration date. So embrace Summer. Love it, cherish it. Store up memories of her sweetness until she returns again. Have a brief fling with the lovely Golden Goddess before she's gone. Whether you like the English Bard or not, take time to savor the wonder of summertime, quickly, today . . . before summer's lease expires . .

 "Shall I compare thee to a Summer's Day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate; 
Rough winds to shake the darling buds of May, 
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines, 
And often in his gold complexion dimm'd; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines, 
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,  
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death Brag thou wander'st in his shade, 
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st;
     So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, 
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."
                 William Shakespeare

Image credit: duskbabe / 123RF Stock Photo

Sunflowers, waves and warm, liquid golden sunsets. Take a moment to enjoy the Romance of Summer. 

Oconto Harbor at Sunset, Lily Silver, 2011

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fairy Magic; Have you met any of the Good People?

        Image credit: magical landscape-with-waterfalls by ateliersommerland / 123RF Stock Photo

0My most recent book release, Some Enchanted Waltz, is a story that takes place in 18th century Ireland. As part of my research for the book, I delved into Irish folklore and found some wonderful tales about Fairy Magic, along with various beliefs about Irish fairies of the time period. Here is the premise for the book. As you can see, it's ripe with potential for a love story between Fey women and Mortal Men. 
      “At certain seasons of the year, Fairy Queens make Great Efforts to carry off the fine stalwart young men of the country to the fairy palace in the cleft of the hills. Or they attempt to lure them to their dancing grounds, where the men are lulled into dreams by the sweet, subtle fairy music and forget home, kith and kindred, and never desire to return again to their own people. Even if the spell is broken and they are brought back by some strong incantation, they are never the same; for everyone knows by the dream look in their eyes that they have danced with the fairies on the hill, and been loved by one of the beautiful race, who, when they take a fancy to a handsome mortal lover, cast their spells over him with restless power.”

The Book of Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions
By Lady Wilde,  1896

In Some Enchanted Waltz, Lord Dillon rescues a woman from British soldiers. As an 18th century Irish lord, he is convinced Tara is a member of the Fey Race. Tara, a 21st century woman, scoffs at his assessment--but is he deluded--or has he recognized something in Tara that is very beautiful and unique? 
 In Irish folklore, there are stories of encounters with the Good People, The Other Folk or the Fairy Folk. I've read several accounts of people traveling along deserted roads at night and having met strange folk who took them to other realms, both in past centuries and even in the present one. Sometimes the mortals had trouble getting back to their realm, and had to do some very quick thinking to outwit their enchanted hosts. 

A very good book I recently found regarding encounters with the Fae Folk in Ireland is Meeting the Other Crowd; the fairy stories of hidden Ireland, [collected and edited by Edie Lenihan with Carolyn Eve Green]. In this book I read countless tales collected from interviews of people being contacted or abducted when walking home alone a road. 

Even today, in Ireland, it is bad luck to say anything derogatory about the Good People. In one such incident from Meeting the Other Crowd, two women were driving down a winding country road in their car one night, discussing the Fae. The driver scoffed at the idea, and within seconds of her derisive laughter, their car stalled, dead--nothing--nada. Now they were two women stranded alone on a dark, winding country road. After the woman profusely apologized to the other folk,  her car started again! This is recent account, from our century!  

                      Image credit: trail-in-the-misty-forest-at-dawn by nature78 / 123RF Stock Photo

So, what ever you do, don't talk ill of the Good People. They'll hear you, and you'll be sorry. In my house, we respect the Fae. If something is missing and we cannot find it, we say the fairy folk have borrowed it, and we ask them politely to return it when they are finished with it. And usually within the day, the item is recovered. Think what you will, but I do believe in fairies!

Now it's your turn. Have any stories to share, or a tidbit of folklore? I'm dying to hear your stories.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Serial Writing, Anyone? A Gift of a Free Novel

When I was younger, I remember radio shows featuring "A Chapter a Day" events where one chapter of a book was read aloud for about 15 minutes of air time. I loved those old serialized books .

In honor of the good ol' days, when it wasn't all about the almighty buck and how many people liked you on Facebook, I have decided to make one of my own novels free on  my website.     The entire Novel will be free, and there will be two to three new posts a week until the novel is finished. If you wish to follow along on this journey, then please click the link and add my website to your browser. I will post the newest post at the top of the page each time for your convenience.

About the Book: The Gypsy's Curse is a book I began writing in 2010. It is nearly completed, but not quite. That's the beauty of it. Having readers tune in every week for a new excerpt is a motivation for me to finish the book.  The story takes place in England during the Romantic Period of art and literature, about the same time as the Regency Period. It also takes place in the romantic Lake District area of England. Zara, a gypsy, has been cast out of her tribe as it is believed she bears the 'Devil's Mark'. She is half gypsy and half Gadje blood. She is taken in by a kind old widow and lives with her on her small farm. When the widow is murdered, Zara is the suspect, and she must flee for her life. She finds refuge in an old manor house that has been closed up for a few years. The owner is a widower racked by guilt over his wife's violent death. He is a werewolf, and believes he killed her. While Zara is hiding in the house, he decides to return to the place to confront his demons. At first he doesn't realize the woman appearing to him at night is a real person. He believes it's a ghost . . .

To get you started, here is the first excerpt of "The Gypsy's Curse" Copyright Lily Silver 2012   Prologue
The sheriff marched resolutely to the center of town, hammer in hand, and the decree tucked under his arm. He stopped at the billet post, dug into his coat pocket, and produced two thick nails. He slipped them into his mouth, the blunt ends in, sharp points hanging out, and pressed the decree against the wood board. The sound of his hammering echoed about the village square as he posted the warrant given him by the local magistrate.
Wanted for questioning regarding recent murder in Lexford Woods:  Young woman of gypsy blood described as short, slim, with dark hair and bright green eyes, of approximately a score in age. The gypsy is known to frequent these parts with a local caravan, but has recently been traveling alone. Distinguishing features include a scar on the left side of her face, above the eye, and a fresh wound to the hand. The woman is armed, and considered a prime suspect in the murder at the farm of  Widow Kendall and her visiting nephew, one Jasper Leeds of Hampsell Place.
        Once finished, he marched straight toward The Griffin’s Lair for a shot of whiskey. It might be an hour shy of noon, but he sorely needed a shot of courage after the grisly scene he’d been called to this morning at Widow Kendall’s farm. The bodies of the poor souls were still swimming before his eyes, the jagged wounds, the slashed flesh and the horrified open eyes.
        Worse for it, the stench of their gore stuck in his nostrils. Even with a sound washing with plenty of lye soap, he doubted he’d be able to escape that putrid smell of human innards split wide open like a gutted deer for weeks to come.
        Wanted for questioning!  Ha, that was a bunch of rancid tripe on the part of the magistrate. All that fancy talk of evidence, motive and guilt verses innocence was fine and good for a man like Magistrate Collins, who sat behind a desk all day and didn’t have to hunt down a vicious killer himself. When face to face with evil a man didn’t argue with the devil, he took action and saved the lives of those who depended upon him.
         If he caught the little whore she’d wish she’d never been born. Question her about what, for pity’s sake? Why she’d mutilated two God fearing souls in the middle of the night.  He shook his head. The world had worked just fine without these intelligent blokes always throwing a cog in the works and bringing everything to a dead halt with their grand talk of rights and habitual corpses! Oh, she’d hang for sure when they found the bitch. He’d hang her on sight and send a message to all her kind to stay away, for good.
 Chapter One
The Lake District, England, 1816
         The Devil’s Mark! That was their excuse. That was the reason she’d been thrust out into the world of the Gadje, coldly cast out of her tribe and exiled from the family she’d known and loved.
          Zara trudged on through the woods. She pulled the woolen shawl tight about her shoulders, and pushed on. Her progress was slow as she was walking into the wind. She was tired and hungry. She’d spent last night in a cave, without a fire, lest the townspeople see the flame and discover her hiding place. The cave had been damp and cold. She finished the last of the bread and cheese she’d taken from the Widow’s kitchen before setting out on her long trek to parts unknown.
         It was late autumn. Snow would soon be dusting the woods. The small streams and creek beds would freeze over. The rivers would remain a source of water throughout the winter, but most rivers were surrounded by towns and farmsteads. As a child of nature, she knew she must find shelter soon or she might die from exposure to the harsh winter nights. Lothar taught her how to track animals and trap game from the time she was able to walk. Her uncle had unwittingly given her the tools to survive without being dependent on another. Thank the fates for Lothar and his practical, pragmatic nature. He gave her knowledge to the woods and the creatures that inhabited it that most girls of her tribe would envy. He took her with him on his forays into the bush to trap dinner, when other girls were kept close to the fire to learn other skills from their mother’s knees. But winter’s harsh pall left even the best trappers in her tribe with empty pouches when they returned to camp. That was why the caravan traveled south for the winter months.
         A deer had come across her path at dawn, when she was filling her cask with water at the icy stream, but Zara had no weapon with which to bring down such a fortuitous bounty presented to her from the wood spirit. She had no gun and no bow and arrow. Just a knife, a large hunting knife Lothar had given her when she was ten years old. Even if she had such weapons, she didn’t think she would have been able to fell the gentle eyed doe. Like her, the animal was alone in a world full of hunters, alone and without hale companions or the protection of a great horned mate.
         She stopped for a moment to recover her breath and examine her hand. Her fingers were numb from the cold. The bandage was stiff, almost frozen to the scored flesh. At least the cold weather had offered her some assistance. The outer bandage was dried from the cold; there would be no fresh flowing blood to give the hunter’s hounds a trail to follow.
         As if in protest to her hard won peace of mind, deep baying echoed the distance behind her. Zara smashed her lips together and hurried up the steep hill, as uncertain of her destination as she was of her present bearings. She returned to the woods two nights past, after awakening in the farm house to find the widow and her reprehensible nephew dead beside her. She had no memory of what happened. She’d awakened on the floor of the parlor just before dawn, with Lothar’s knife in her dominate hand, and the painful gash splitting the palm of her other hand.
        Zara knew she’d be blamed for the murders, regardless of the mysterious circumstances, simply because of her origin. A gypsy, even a half blood gypsy was always blamed for any misfortune that fell on the people nearby. If a pig or goat went missing, a horse took ill or a barn burnt to the ground, it was always the gypsies, so the Gadje claimed.
       Some villages were better than others, more accepting of their visits. They were tolerated and allowed to trade with the town for a week or driven on without even being allowed to rest their horses by angry Gadje men with guns. Each time they set up camp in a new place, the men of her band made wagers amongst themselves as to how long it would be before the Gadje showed up with guns and pitchforks, demanding that they move on to the next town. It was her misfortune to be banished when her tribe was traveling through a hostile region instead of a more tolerant one.
       As she crested the rise of the steep hill, Zara leaned against a stark, majestic oak to recover. There was a sharp stitch in her side. The silver steam of her rapid breath wreathed about her in the cold air. She was so tired. Her chest ached and she feared she might be courting the dreaded lung sickness after spending two nights out in the cold, damp November woods with no fire and no shelter. She’d walked hard for days, trying to put as much distance between herself and the Kendall Farm as she could. She didn’t dare stop to rest until she found a shelter, as she feared if she stopped too long, she would not have the will to get back up and keep going. An abandoned barn or cottage would see her through until spring. By then, perhaps the locals would have forgotten she had resided with the Widow Kendall for a time and she would no longer be hunted like an animal by the people of the town. In the spring, when the snow melted, she’d head south and try to find a caravan traveling northern to take her in. It seemed a good plan, to her fevered mind, and she scanned the valley below for a possible refuge.
       The landscape below was very beautiful. In spring and summer, it would be a veritable paradise. It would be a wonderful place for the caravan to make camp, and perhaps stay for longer than a week or two. A picturesque lake was banked by tall willow trees. The lake skirted a fenced in pasture. A deep longing burgeoned forth unbidden. This would be a delightful place to live, in a small cottage near the lake, nestled between the two hills, a cozy place---Zara gasped. She covered her mouth and made the sign with her dominant hand to ward off the evil eye. She was alone, but still, it wasn’t good to let her Gadje blood rise to the fore. And settling in one place, setting down roots was foreign to her mother’s people, it was his father’s influence, his taint in her blood that made her yearn for such wanton things.
       She turned her mind back to the task before her, finding shelter before nightfall. There had to be a farm nearby or some estate, if there was grazing land below. She studied the beguiling landscape. Not one building. She squinted, and placed her hand over her eyes. Perhaps, just past that stand of trees on the opposite end of the valley . . .?
      The sun was lowering in the sky. It would be dark within hours.
The Gypsy's Curse: copyright Lily Silver 2012

To continue the story, click the link here to go to my website;  and if the free reads page does not come up immediately click on that tab.
There are five posts up at present.