A Golden Scotland

With the release of my novel The Marriage Alliance happening on Tuesday, August 15, I think this is the time to share some historical facts of my romance novel’s setting. The Marriage Alliance is set in 1256 Scotland. This era is a time when all seemed bright for the nation. No one knew that darkness would swoop in and cast the nation in a war.

In 1249, seven-year-old Alexander’s father died. Many sons lost their parents however, this boy was not another farmer. He was the Prince of Scotland. In July, Alexander sat upon the Stone of Scone and became the King of Scots. Some historians consider this period in Scottish history as the Golden Age. There was relative peace in the nation (though it was the Middle Ages so it wasn’t exactly peaceful) and the throne was secure.

At this time, England and Scotland enjoyed a close bond because of the relationships between the nobles of both nations. Many Scottish nobles possessed estates in England including the King of Scotland. To keep this ties knotted, Alexander married the daughter of the English king, Henry III. In December 1251, Alexander traveled to York to be knighted and celebrate his marriage to Margaret.

Henry III asked Alexander to do homage. But the young king understood the politics at play and replied, “I had come to marry not to answer so difficult a question.” Thankfully, this young king had loyal nobles in his government so he was able to reach his majority without a grab for his crown. The king had plans to grab some land–some islands off the coast of Scotland.

Alexander became the leader of a nation that was smaller than the Scotland we now know. At this time, the Hebrides, Shetland, and Orkney islands fell under Norwegian rule. To fulfill his father’s dream, Alexander first tried diplomacy to win the isles yet that failed. So in October 1263, the Battle of Largs happened.

The Battle of Largs is not considered a proper battle, more a series of skirmishes that occurred on the beaches of Largs.  The King of Norway and his fleet sailed to the western coast of Scotland. The Scots were helped by a gale that crushed the Norwegian fleet. The King of Norway failed to secure the isles and soon sickened and died. After this, the Hebrides became part of Scotland.

By 1275, the Queen of Scotland Margaret and sister to Edward I of England (also known as Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots) died. Margaret was much loved and has a religious following in the nation. Now a widow, Alexander had no reason to marry again. He had three children, an heir, spare, and a daughter who was married. Soon, death came for them all. David, the youngest son, died first then his daughter died in childbirth though her daughter (known in history as Maid of Norway) survived. Then on the 17 January 1284, his heir and namesake perished.

With all three children lost, the king had to marry again. He was still a young man so the nobles were not worried that more children would one day come.  He married Yolande, Comtesse de Montford, daughter of Robert, Comte de Dreux.

Five months after their marriage, the king was in Edinburgh to meet with his council. While he was in the royal burgh, the weather took a turn for the worst. That did not stop the king from setting out to the royal castle named Kinghorn located in Fife.

Though the storm was a northerly gale with heavy snow and led to a very dark night. He was able to sail across the Firth of Forth. The men in his party begged him to stay the night instead of continuing in his travels. He continued onward.

In the darkness, somehow the King of Scotland fell to his death. His body was found at the foot of the hill the next morn. The spot is now called the King’s Crag. He was 36 years old.

His wife was pregnant but she soon miscarried and the Maid of Norway died on the crossing to Scotland. The Wars of Independence would soon rage.  If Alexander had rested his head instead jumped into his saddle then Scottish and world history would have changed.

A Book By Any Other Name Still Needs A Title

A book title is as important as a child’s name. It must encapsulate the story as well as be catchy so our readers will hopefully remember it when it comes time to slap some money down for it.

When I needed to name my Scottish romance—The Marriage Alliance—I was lucky. The title came to me at once. The Marriage Alliance is about a marriage of convenience. So, my title did all that was required for a title. It hints to the reader the story and the genre. I think it’s also easy to remember too.

What do you think? Does my title work?


How Does She Do it All…Writing Style? A MFRWAuthor Tells You How She Deals.

Since I started pursuing my writing as a career, I’ve heard many authors talk about the challenges of writing and family. See, I don’t have that problem. I have no husband or children. I have a lovebird. My time to write is all my own. 

My family has always supported my desire to be an author. My mother brought me books, notebooks and never bothered me when I was writing. In fact, she encouraged me, telling me to go and write when I complained that I was bored.

But wait a minute–Don’t think that I am sitting at my computer all day long, pounding out stories and doing whatever I want whenever I want. That isn’t my life. You see I deal with chronic illness–Lupus and Fibromyalgia, to be exact. My body rebels against what I want it  to do. Either I’m too tired or stiff or I just feel beat up, tossed about and thrown to the wolves to be gnawed on. A thought pops into my head then explodes into nothing before I can capture it. My hands and fingers feel like they are wrapped in tape and can’t bend.

So, what does this have to do with family surviving your writing? I’m sure you heard that term life-work balance. I learned that that concept is utter crap. Life is about priorities. Maybe your child is ill with a raging a fever. You focus on that. Perhaps, your husband has vacation time. You focus on that. Maybe your elderly parent is ill. You focus on that. Having your family survive your writing is about priorities. You do what you can when you can.

Having your family survive your writing is about priorities. You do what you can when you can. If you make your writing one of your priorities, respect your writing time (even if it’s for 15 minutes) then your family will too.

But that isn’t the only thing you can do to have your family survive your writing–the next thing is to ask for help. Share what you wish to accomplish with your loved ones, let them know you need help. Remember that isn’t a weakness.

My advice–make a list of all your responsibilities and another list of what you wish to accomplish. For a week, jot down how long each task takes you. At the end of the week, determine where your time went, what was a waste and what could others do to help. Then use that time for writing.

Because you are not a writer if you don’t write. And I want you to write.

 

Guilty Pleasures

I love romance novels. I would rather buy a romance (more like dozens) than shoes. And I have the closet crammed with paperbacks to prove it. That’s why I laugh when I hear that some women hide their novels behind anything so long as the world doesn’t see the bare-chested hero and the heroine with her unraveling corset. Not I, I proudly display the covers. Some are mass-marketed works of art. Eloisa James’ covers are visual delights and Sourcebooks reissues of Georgette Heyer’s novels are works of art from a time long ago.

Yesterday, I was in a bookstore, searching for a romance to purchase (I decided on The Bridegroom by Linda Lael Miller), an employee came over to help a female customer. She curled her lips and said, “oh this is the section with the Fabio covers.” Not able to stop myself I told her that Fabio hadn’t graced the covers in years. She gave me an embarrassed smile and hurried away.

I doubt the woman ever read a romance novel. And she’s the one missing out on some great tales. In full disclosure, I have a 80s romance with Fabio and his long golden locks predominantly featured.

I’m never ashamed to hold my novel before all. One wouldn’t hide a James Patterson novel or a Philippa Gregory book even one of those juicy biographies about some silly scandal.

So my fellow romance lovers, proudly display your novels, whether they’re frothy hues of a Regency or the dark Gothic style of a paranormal.