Thursday, January 28, 2010
Today when people get married we assume they did it because they’re in love, but things were different back in the Middle Ages. During that time most marriages were arranged by parents and were little more than business arrangements. Sometimes a man would get to pick his bride, but women almost never chose the groom. Of course, if you were a peasant you had a better chance of marrying for love because you didn’t have to worry about things like uniting with a wealthy, noble family and extending your families holdings and power. Even so, some peasant marriages were also arranged.
In the case of the nobility, marriages were arranged when the bride and groom were little more than children. Girls were often married by the time they were twelve and boys seventeen, but the groom was usually older than the bride, and some people were actually in their early twenties before they married. For men, it might be even later. On the whole this may seem a bit early, but they did it because women lived such short lives. They had to get married early so they could produce children. Of course producing children is one reason why women died so young. The groom also received a dowry or gift from the bride’s parents. This money was his to keep forever. Naturally the bigger the dowry, the more appealing the bride.
After a marriage was arranged a notice was placed on the church door. The church wanted to be sure that there was no impediment to the marriage. Actually, there were a lot of reasons for prohibiting a marriage. One was that the bride and groom were too closely related. Rape, adultery, or incest would also stop a marriage. People couldn’t be married by a man who had killed someone, nor could they be married during Lent or Advent.
Once you were married it was probably forever. Divorce is common today, but it wasn’t in the Middle Ages. During that time there were few acceptable reasons for divorce. One acceptable reason was if either the man or woman was not of legal age, 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Also, if the husband or wife had previously made a religious or monastic vow or were not Christian the marriage was dissolved. The last reason for divorce was if the woman, not the man, was incapable of sexual relations.
In the end, we can see that most nobles married virtual strangers. Some of the couples fell in love, but I imagine the best some of them could do was become friends. It might be interesting to note that if a wife irritated a husband, it was perfectly acceptable for him to beat her. Men were forbidden from killing or maiming the women, but that’s about all.
Drop back next week when we’ll talk about the wedding ceremony itself. People enjoyed weddings back then too.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Welcome to the blog! Wild Rose Press author Linda Poitevin graciously agreed to stop by and talk with us. Linda lives just outside Canada’s capital, Ottawa, with her husband, three daughters, and a varied collection of animals. In her spare time, she gardens (organically), cans and freezes the family’s winter fruit and vegetable supply, knits (basically), crochets (better), and starts way more projects than she ever finishes. (Fortunately that doesn’t hold true of her books!) She loves spending time with her family, having coffee with friends, walking by the river and watching thunderstorms…in about that order.
1. Linda, tell me about yourself. Anything you want the readers to know about your background - things that will make us feel like we’re getting to know you on a personal level.
Wow, that’s a big question! Where to even start? Let’s see, I’m happily married with three teen girls, I live just outside Canada’s capital city (Ottawa), I tend to start way more projects than I ever finish (happily that’s not true where my books are concerned!), and apparently I have trouble saying no to pets. Currently we have two cats, a rabbit, a bearded-dragon lizard, and a new puppy. I’m an avid gardener in the summer months and try to freeze and can most of our winter supply of fruits and vegetables; in the winter, I knit (not very well) and crochet (better), and love to curl up by the fireplace with a good book.
2. What genre do you write it? What drew you to write in that genre? If you mix genres talk about that too.
I started out writing romantic suspense, but my first two attempts lie mouldering in my desk drawer, I’m afraid. A Fairy Tale for Gwyn is a contemporary romance and my third completed manuscript. I do have several more ideas for contemporaries/suspense stories, but my latest manuscript is the first book of an urban fantasy series, so I think I’ll be focused on that genre for a while to come.
3. Tell me about your writing day.
Before or after the new puppy arrived? Sigh. Prior to puppy, I’d be up at 5:30 or 6:00 every morning of the week and at the computer between 6:30 and 7:00. I don’t have an office at home where I can close the door and block out the distractions, so I would spend 3-4 hours sitting in a local coffee shop with my laptop (they were wonderfully patient and understanding!). Since Charlie arrived, however, I’m on puppy-sitting duty in the morning, so I’m trying to figure out what will work best for me. I’ve allowed myself a leave-of-absence for a few weeks until life settles down a bit, and then I’m hoping I can begin leaving him on his own for the mornings.
4. When writing a new book how do you decide on the theme, genre or topic?
I’m afraid I don’t have that much say in the matter. Another sigh. My characters tend to tell the story rather than me, and I have no idea what the theme/topic will be until I’m well into the book. I may have an idea of the genre before I get started, but again, that’s their idea and not mine!
5. What are your plans for the future?
Get my children launched into their respective lives, survive the puppy, do some traveling with my husband (Scotland is our first priority), and lots more writing. Ideally, I’d like to be producing one or two books a year.
6. What in your life (movies, books, people) has made a real lasting impression on you? Why?
I think people tend to make the most lasting impressions on me. My mother aspired to be a writer and gave up her dream for family – I think that made me all the more determined not to give up my own dream. My father worked hard all his life and always said he’d relax when he retired, but then he died at the age of 53 – that taught me to live in the moment.
7. Who are some of your favorite authors? Who has influenced your writing the most?
I don’t know that any one author has inspired me more than another. I love good, well-told stories, and I think the writers of those stories have collectively inspired me to be the best I can. My current favorite is Patricia Briggs with her Mercy Thompson series…I so love her world-building!
8. Have you ever started a book and then have it completely turn around and chance course? Tell us about it.
Every book I write changes course on me at least once! I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, and I often have no idea what my characters are going to say or do until the words appear on my computer screen (my husband finds this exceedingly weird!). For me, that’s half the fun of writing!
9. Where can we find out about you and your book (include your publisher’s website and your personal one).
A Fairy Tale for Gwyn can be purchased at The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com). You can find out more about me and my writing at my Website, www.lindapoitevin.com, or at my blog, www.darkangelauthor.blogspot.com. I’d love to have you visit me there!
10. Would you share an excerpt with us?
A Fairy Tale for Gwyn - Blurb -
Gwyn Jacobs doesn’t believe in happy-ever-after.
Ever since her ex-husband walked out four years ago, abandoning her with a toddler and infant twins, Gwyn has been mother, father, and bread-winner all rolled into one. Her own scarred heart and failed marriage aside, she is determined not to open up her children’s lives to the possibility of another heartbreak...until her very own fairy tale falls into her lap -- and the hero won’t take no for an answer!
“Gwyn, we need to talk.”
She tucked the hat into Maggie’s wicker basket on the closet shelf. She tried to take a deep breath, but it lodged in her chest, forming a painful lump that pressed against her breastbone. She stooped to collect Nicholas’ mittens.
Gareth shifted his weight against the door, and awareness of his proximity jolted through her. Her heart hammered against her ribcage.
“Did you hear me?” he asked quietly.
Her children’s voices floated down the hallway to her and Gwyn hesitated a moment, tuning in to the sound. Absorbing it. Letting it ground her. Then she steeled herself and turned to face Gareth, lifting her chin.
“I think we’ve already said everything that matters,” she said. Fierce pride stabbed through her at the resolute firmness she heard in her own voice. But when Gareth straightened up from the door, panic followed hot on pride’s heels.
“It matters that you saw me with Catherine today,” he
said. “And we haven’t talked about that yet.”
Catherine…it had somehow hurt less before she’d known the woman’s name. Gwyn stiffened her resolve.
“We don’t need to,” she said. “Who you take to a restaurant is your own business.”
“I didn’t take anyone to Au Coin de la Fôret except you, Gwyn. Catherine is my ex-wife. We had some business to discuss, and she suggested the place because it’s out of the way. The local paper has caught wind that I’m in town, and Catherine isn’t fond of the media.”
Gwyn forced herself through the flood of relief brought on by the words ex-wife. It didn’t change anything, she assured herself, because it still wasn’t any of her concern. And neither was that oblique reference to business. “You don’t have to tell me this, Gareth.”
“I wanted to explain.”
Gwyn turned to the closet and stuffed Nicholas’ mittens into the nearest basket, her labeling system forgotten. “Friends don’t need explanations.”
Silence followed her words.
“Friends,” Gareth repeated, his voice low. Gruff. “Is that what you want us to be?”
Gwyn couldn’t have forced a reply through her constricted throat if she’d tried, and so she contented herself with a nod, an affirmation of a lie. And then, her back still to Gareth, she closed her eyes and concentrated on not diving headlong into the closet in a desperate attempt to escape.
His voice dropped an impossible octave lower. “And what if I don’t want to be just friends, Gwynneth with two n’s? What if I want more?”
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I have a treat for you today. Author K.M. Daughters, who is really two lovely women Kathie and Pat, stopped by to talk about their new release Capturing Karma. This is the latest addition to their series on the Sullivan brothers. The series began with Against Doctors Orders, and if you leave a comment you'll be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of the book. (Against Doctors Orders)
In addition to the book, if you leave a comment you'll be entered in a random drawing for two sterling Chamilia “Sisters” charms and a Claddagh charm (fitting for a Sullivan Boy) that fit Pandora style bracelets.
Now for that interview.
1. Tell me about yourself. Anything you want the listeners to know about your background - things that will make us feel like they’re getting to know you.
Author K.M. Daughters equals double life experiences and personal histories for two diverse women with surprisingly similar thinking styles. We’re wives, mothers, and, in Kathie’s case, a grandmother.
Pat was a single parent to her two girls for five years and after remarrying, to the love of her life, became stepmother to a son. Kathie is married to her teenage sweetheart and has two sons and three grandchildren – and she’s the younger sister – child bride !
Pat has a degree in Spanish and Sociology from Douglass College. Her work experience includes customer service, management, and communications positions for various corporations. She founded three relocation-related small businesses in the late 90’s and currently is the President of that enterprise. Kathie’s work experience includes accounting, finance, and retail business ownership/management. She currently runs a real estate appraisal management firm and serves as its Chief Financial Officer.
Our day jobs are demanding, but we still manage to budget writing time around our current bread-on-the-table careers and family. We dream about the day when writing IS a full-time career. Won’t that be marvelous?
2. How long does it take you to write a book? How many books do you produce in a year?
We produce two to three books a year from inception to fully edited and ready for production.
3. What is the hardest part of writing?
Line editing and proof reading is the most laborious.
4. What is the easiest part of writing?
Our read-through after a completed initial draft.
5. How much of yourself are in your books? Your personality and personal experiences?
Our characters don’t resemble us at all. Team writing yields K.M. Daughters’ unique voice – neither Pat nor Kathie. Football and baseball fan preferences tend to filter through in our books, as does our addiction to Starbucks, and Lou Malnati’s (Chicago deep dish) pizza. Note to our children: your parents cannot be “found” in any sex scenes we have written…or will write. It’s safe to read our books in their entirety.
6. What prompted you to submit your first book?
A sense of heavenly direction. JEWEL OF THE ADRIATIC, our first submission, is an inspirational romance (The Wild Rose Press, now published by the separate subsidiary, White Rose Publishing Company) that was “given” to us in an adoration chapel. Pat read a notice of a call for submissions issued by the publisher. The novel features Marian apparitions, and roses are associated with these supernatural occurrences. It seemed meant. In retrospect it was meant.
7. Do TV, Films, and Radio influence your writing? If so, how?
Regardless of sub-genre, our romances are contemporary, and we do reference radio music and films occasionally in our narratives. An example, from BEYOND THE CODE OF CONDUCT, a bit of irony surrounding the TV showing of the movie, Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Our heroine was tempted to play the Mrs. Smith role at the time.
8. Could you tell us about your path to publication, any sprints or stumbles?
Actually, JEWEL OF THE ADRIATIC, our first published work, was rejected by The Wild Rose Press. Sr. Editor, Nicola Martinez, specified why – the story didn’t “grab her” in the first chapter. We assumed that if ever rejected, we’d accept the situation gracefully, and submit elsewhere. But we weren’t ready to give up on The Wild Rose Press. We revised the manuscript, and totally out of character, asked for Nicola’s permission to resubmit. Graciously, she agreed, and yippee! She offered us a contract on January 26, 2008. Around noon. Five hours later, Joelle Walker, our treasured Crimson Rose Editor (The Sullivan Boys series) offered us a contract for AGAINST DOCTORS ORDERS. What an insanely, glorious day!
9. Do you have any hot news or contests?
Hot news! The Wild Rose Press just contracted our fourth Sullivan Boys book, ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND LAW.
10. Please include links to your public email, website, blogs, My Space etc.
We love visitors at http://www.kmdaughters.com. You’ll find us http://www.Facebook.com/kmdaughters, http://www.Twitter.com/kmdaughters
11. Could you please share a blurb and excerpt with us?
Veterinarian Matty Connors’ visions lead her to homicide detective Brian Sullivan once again despite her resolve to remain anonymous the past four years. Her official work with the police in California resulted in the brutal murder of her fiancé, and since, a recurrent nightmare she barely survives. Brian, the reputed ladies man of the Sullivan family, has yet to give his heart to a woman until Matty lays claim to it. His black-and-white approach to solving crimes doesn’t jibe with Matty’s spooky pronouncements or her reputation for alleged infallibility. A wild goose chase searching for a murder weapon casts doubt on Matty’s “truths” and threatens their smoldering romance. Is Brian her nightmare slayer and ultimate truth? When the puzzle pieces fall in place for Brian, will it be too late to save Matty?
An Excerpt From Capturing Karma:
“Hi,” he said, a single syllable that touched off a concussion of illogical pleasure inside her.
“Hi, Brian,” she responded, tamping down the temptation to hug him hello. “How’s the new baby doing?”
“Great, thanks. How’s that bump on your head?”
Matilda touched an edge of one of the butterfly strips over her eyebrow. “Turning every color of the rainbow, but it’s fine.”
He swiveled his head toward the throaty bark of the wolfhound in the corner of the room, then scanned the other occupants in the lounge: primate, feline, porcine, wolfish and human. “Steve told me you’re a great vet. Looks like you’re pretty swamped here.”
“Shamus and I split the patient load,” she said.
“And Shamus is?”
“My brother. He came for me at the hospital yesterday?”
Brian’s eyes bored into her, a sexy smile twitched the corner of his lips. “Good.”
“And ‘good’ means?”
“The big guy isn’t competition. That’s good.”
“Ah. So we’re clear. What competition would that be?”
The sexy smile twitched again. “For but a smile from sweet Matty,” he lilted in an Irish brogue.
Squelching an impulse to grin, she molded her face serious and parroted a brogue, “Ah but woe to the knave who plies smiles with an untrue heart.”
She grinned now. “What can I do for you, Brian? Did you get an estimate to repair your car?”
“It’s about that letter you brought me. It’s related to a case. We need your help.”
Of course. “I gave you the letter. You know as much as I do. “Her heart hammered, nothing to do with the pulse acceleration from earlier flirtation. I can’t go further with this case. No matter what I have to stay anonymous.
Ladies, thanks for stopping by. I wish you much success in your writing careers.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
This week I promised we’d look at some of the rules of courtly love. Yes, there were rules. In 1174 Andreas Capellanus, a member of the clergy who served Marie of Champagne wrote The Art of Courtly Love which is basically a manual telling everyone what was correct and what wasn’t. The following rules come from The Art of Courtly Love.
I.Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
II.He who is not jealous cannot love.
III.No one can be bound by a double love.
IV.It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
V.That which a lover takes against his will of his beloved has no relish.
VI.Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity.
VII.When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
VIII.No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
IX.No one can love unless he is impelled by the persuasion of love.
X.Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
XI.It is not proper to love any woman whom one should be ashamed to seek to marry.
XII.A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
XIII.When made public love rarely endures.
XIV.The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
XV.Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
XVI.When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates
XVII.A new love puts to flight an old one.
XVIII.Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
XIX.If love diminishes it quickly fails and rarely revives.
XX.A man in love is always apprehensive.
XXI.Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
XXII.Jealousy, and therefore love, are increased when one suspects his beloved.
XXIII.He whom the thought of love vexes, eats and sleeps very little.
XXIV.Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
XXV.A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
XXVI.Love can deny nothing to love.
XXVII.A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
XXVIII.A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
XXIX.A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
XXX.A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
XXXI.Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.
Speaking from a modern day viewpoint, some of these sound a bit silly, but many of them ring true, don’t they? Have our idea about love changed much since Capellanus’ time? What do you think?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
During the Middle Ages, the nobles of Europe practiced the art of courtly love which is an ideal form of spiritual love that eventually mixed with the code of chivalry. It began in France in Aquitaine and soon spread throughout Europe. Courtly love allowed a knight or courtier to completely devote himself to a noblewoman and lay all of his achievements at her feet. Courtly love became fashionable probably because of the way marriages were made during the Middle Ages. The nobility seldom married for love. They married to enrich themselves and their families or maybe for political reasons.
It was okay for married people to play at courtly love provided they remembered the rules. Courtly love was supposed to be a pure, ideal form of love. There wasn’t anything physical about it. It was romance personified. Of course, some people forgot that and got into trouble. Remember Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot? They're a good example of courtly love gone amok.
Imagine yourself at a medieval tournament. A knight in shining armor riding a beautiful white charger dashes over to the box where you are sitting and begs a token from you before he goes into the joust. You pull a handkerchief from your pocket or perhaps a scarf and allow the wind to carry it his way. He catches it, and his eyes never leave yours as he kisses the scarf and tucks it into armor. He wins the joust and returns to lay his trophies at your feet while you shower him with rose petals.
Or imagine perhaps that your beloved one spent his time composing lovely ballads in your honor. The entire castle might end up singing of your beauty, wit, grace, and charm.
Heck, yeah, I’d play that game. Check back next week, and I’ll share some of the rules with you.