Posts Tagged ‘adventure novel’



Yeah! We’ve hit 4000 visits to the blog!

That might be small potatoes to some people, but it makes me very happy. Thanks everyone!!!!

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Versatile Blogger AwardI want to extend my thanks to Medieval Otaku of Aquila et Infans for nominating Lady Blade Blog for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Be sure to check out their site as he and his partner in crime have interesting posts on writers and writing.

Here is a short list of the rules:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So here goes. Blogs that are interesting and informative and that tickle my fancy. My list of nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Growing Great Writers from the Ground Up
  2. We Didn’t Come Here for the Grass
  3. The Old Foodie
  4. Know San Jose
  5. Interesting Literature – Yeah, that
  6. Parmenion Books
  7. Indie Authors and Books
  8. Blood Red Pencil
  9. Novel Rocket
  10. English Historical Fiction Authors
  11. Passages to the Past
  12. Writer’s First Aid
  13. Ja Konrath Blog
  14. Book Banter
  15. YA Highway

Okay, seven things about me in no particular order…

1. I was a competitive sport fencer for over ten years. It’s been a number of years since I wielded my foil, but I always play around with the idea of going back to it. Some day. The fencing Maestro in Lady Blade is based on my own fencing Maestro, John DeCesare.

italy-22. My husband Tom and I spent part of our honeymoon in Tuscany, Italy and I fell in love with the landscape and the decor. Hence, not only did I set the beginning of Lady Blade in Tuscany, I redecorated our house in a sort of “Tuscany meets Napa Valley” style. Lots of warm colors and dark wood moldings. It may not be a Tuscan villa, but it’s our little bit of heaven. (Or it will be ours in 30 years when the mortgage is paid off.)

3. I am a belly-dancer. I especially love sword dancing. Which means, not only can I beat most people with a sword, I can dance with it balanced on my head afterwards. (or before, I’m not particular.)

Map of Silidor Valley on Kickstarter4. Tom and I recently did our first Kickstarter. It was a great success, we reached well over 200% of the funding we asked for. I have a degree in art and I drew a map of Silicon Valley done in Lord of the Rings style. You can see the Kickstarter here –  including a video of Tom and me talking about the project. (We both hate seeing ourselves on film!) The map is now on sale on our website, Urban Realms and on Amazon. Currently I’m working on a map of Columbus Ohio for one of our backers, and we’ve got a new Kickstarter in the works. I’m not saying what that is since I don’t want to jinx it.

newurbanrealms5. Tom and I recently started a business selling Dungeons and Dragons related art and stuff called Urban Realms. (I did all the web design as well as creating most of the products.) Tom’s been a gamer for close to 30 years. I’ve been gaming for about 15 years. Some of my favorite characters to play; Bruinhilda, a tough-as-nails female Dwarf, Sapphire, a stealthy human thief with a penchant for long thin blades, Felazeal, a gay bard with a flair for the dramatic, and The Wall, (based on the Tick) who’s dense, both mentally and physically and who’s battle cry is, “Evil doer, you face, the Wall!”

6. I love power tools. I do a lot of work on our house including designing and building built-in cabinets and seating, remodeling most of our bathroom, and re-plastering all the walls. I own and use on a semi-regular basis a table saw, router, saws-all, miter, circular and saber saws, drill press, dremel, orbital sander… Okay, you get the idea. My pet peeve; when I go to Home Depot with my husband and the guy in the tool coral insists on talking to Tom instead of me. (He’s more of a car guy.)

Quest of the Faes

Catherine’s first book

7. I was a glass artist for over 15 years. I worked mostly in fused glass, firing it my kiln. I had a line of jewelry, sun-catchers, and yard sculptures called The Goddess Collection based of 15 goddess from around the world. You can still see my artwork at Bella Lumina.com. I closed down my business to go back to writing. I wrote my first book when I was eighteen. It is available on Amazon as well. It’s called Quest of the Faes. (Okay, that’s sort of two things.)

Probably a lot more than you ever wanted to know, but them’s the rules. 🙂

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

She looks pretty warm...

She looks pretty warm…

Warm: rich, or well off.

Warm: to thrash, or beat; “I’ll Warm your jacket.”

(Looks like I’d rather be warm than warmed. Two very different meanings, but both make perfect sense. I love it!)

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I ran across an interesting article today talking about the evolution and current trends in historical fiction cover art.

As both a historical fiction writer and an artist with a degree in studio art, I’m afraid to admit how much time I spend pondering what the cover of my yet-to-be-published novel LADY BLADE should look like. Not that it monopolizes my thoughts, but if I’m out pruning the rosemary,  pulling weeds, or perhaps painting the bedroom walls and my mind wanders, that’s often where it goes.

I wonder how to capture the adventure and swashbuckling spirit of the book. I have this fantasy that it will be a painting of a long-haired girl in breeches and vest on a bluff with her back turned and a sword in her hand. She’s tense, ready for action, and she’s watching a tall ship in the bay beyond. That never happens in the book. But I love the look of tall ships. I can’t see their image without my heart stirring. I also love women with swords – and its hard to get the sense of a tall ship from the deck, you need distance.

I do know from the research I’ve done that authors seldom get much say in the cover art of their books from major publishers.  That seems odd to me. Who better to find an image that captures the essence of their work? That’s one definite advantage to self-publishing – creative control. On the other hand, I know that marketing is not my forte and like many writers I tend to be an introvert. I’d love to have an experienced and professional organization running my marketing scheme.

But I digress. Here is a taste of a very interesting article. Enjoy

The book and its cover: historical fiction cover art

by Bethany Latham

Pick up an old book, say an Edwardian-era printing. The cover may be plain, cloth-covered board or tooled leather with gilded type. Regardless, it’s a slate upon which are written only a few words: a title, perhaps an author. Otherwise, the publisher has offered no preconception of what should be inside, beckoned us with no images of what it thinks we wish to experience. The author’s words are allowed to speak for themselves.

Things have come a long, long way.

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Hello Friends,

English: Sibyl Marston holding a foil for fencing

English: Sibyl Marston holding a foil for fencing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw this today and had to share. It is an article about Miss Sanders who taught a woman’s self-defense class around the 1900’s.  They even have some nice pictures of her taking on a “villain” with her parasol.

Early on in my historical fiction novel LADY BLADE Francesca, who’s trained in fencing, takes on three rogues with only a wooden cane.  For all those naysayers who say it could never happen,  here you go.

Miss Sanderson and the womanly art of parasol self-defence

Personally, as a woman fencer for many years, I found my greatest asset in a mixed tournament was that men underestimated by abilities. It is a huge advantage that I exploited whenever I could. Not only because it helped me win, but it taught a lesson to those ready to dismiss women, and I savored that.

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LADY BLADE is my as-yet-unpublished historical adventure novel. This excerpt  from chapter three and takes place in Livorno, Italy in the early 1700s.


Francesca headed for the nearest ship, but when the sound of marching feet caught her ear, she spun. A company of infantrymen trooped down the main thoroughfare toward the docks. Her breath hissed out. She thought her knees might buckle, but she steadied herself and hurried in the opposite direction. Do not run. Don’t run. Don’t…

She twisted and turned randomly through the alleys as the purple clouds moved in. They weren’t after me. They can’t be. It’s too soon. But she had no way to be sure. Perhaps word had spread more quickly than she imagined. Tarrentino was rich and powerful. The search would be fierce. She kept going.

After an hour, the alley she followed dumped her out into an open square. Francesca stopped. In the center of the cobblestone square, workmen were erecting the rough timber outline of a gallows. Francesca’s mouth went dry. Her shoulders crumpled as she backed out of the square and turned and ran. It’s not for me. It’s not for me. Please God, let it not be for me.


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LADY BLADE is my as yet unpublished YA historical adventure novel. This excerpt is from Chapter Three. Francesca is the daughter of Italy’s most illustrious fencing Maestro and Achilles is her horse.

She had no idea how long she had been sitting there when she felt Achilles nuzzling her, urging her to get up. She knew he was tired and hungry. His insistence got her to her feet.

Francesca looked around at a loss. She had left home that morning without money, food, or clothing, except what she wore. She shivered, despite the warm day. She sucked in a breath and took stock. Her clothing was a mess. She couldn’t see the white ruffles at her throat but she ran her hands over them and came away with a few leaves from the forest. Her tailored woolen coat, which hugged her body, was snagged and soiled here and there with dirt, or blood. The wide cuffs and lapels were missing a few silver buttons. She brushed herself off as best she could then ran her fingers through her dark, tangled hair. With no comb it would be impossible to remove all the knots. She twisted it into a bun and used a strand of hair to secure it in place. It would have to do.

She moved down the alley to the window of a darkened building and stared at her distorted reflection in the wavy glass. She didn’t look like a murderer. She looked no different from when she left home that morning. But now she was a wanted criminal.

She rubbed a smudge from her high cheekbone, and wiped away a line of blood from a scratch along her arched eyebrow. There was nothing she could do about the frightened look in her green eyes.

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LADY BLADE is my as yet unpublished YA historical adventure novel. This excerpt is from the ending of Chapter two. Francesca DiCesare is the daughter of Italy’s most illustrious fencing Maestro and Achilles is her horse.

Francesca turned Achilles right, away from the road. He shook his head and headed back toward home. Francesca knew he was tired and wanted his stable and his oats. She rubbed his neck, her voice quavering, “I know. Breakfast will have to wait.” She realized that she had no idea when, where, or how either of them would ever eat again, much less sleep or live. She started to curl into a ball, but stopped herself and straightened. Words floated to the surface of her mind. Fugitive. Criminal. Hunted. Hanged. They were terrifying words, but she refused to give in. She needed to think. What was she to do? Where was she to go? Was there nowhere safe?

Papa’s words came to her, To England, Cesca. Reverend Falk, Covington. He’ll take you to Billy. Billy will watch over you.

There was somewhere safe, if she could get there. She turned Achilles to the right and let him walk. She bent flat against her thigh, her cheek lying against Achilles’ neck, as much for his warmth, for she felt chilled to the bone, as to avoid the low branches. She let him pick his way through the thicket.

They emerged onto a field of knee-high wheat. And there it was. Her breath caught in her throat and a fresh wave of pain and longing swept through her chest. A half mile away, perched high on a hill, was home, Salle DiCesare, the world-famous fencing school where, until this morning, Papa taught young noblemen the art and science of the sword.

The villa’s tan stones and terracotta roof glowed in the morning sun. A stone wall wound gracefully around it like a ribbon of gold. She could just glimpse the fuchsia of the bougainvillea that covered the south wall of the main courtyard.

Achilles neighed and she patted his neck. She ached to gallop across the fields and rush through the main gate. She wanted to throw herself on her bed, close her eyes, and wait to wake up from this nightmare. But she couldn’t. The Salle’s iron gates were irrevocably closed to her.

Besides, she knew the soldiers would expect her to run home. She was only eighteen, and a girl, after all. They would expect her to be frightened and confused. She hoped they would spend hours searching the Salle for her, while she slipped away.

She could see things were working in her favor. The soldiers had regained the road and were galloping toward the Salle.

Francesca turned Achilles in the opposite direction, away from her friends, her family, from her world. It was just the two of them now. She and Achilles would head south across country until they met the road west to the port of Livorno and the sea.

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LADY BLADE is my as yet unpublished YA historical adventure novel. Francesca is the daughter of Italy’s most illustrious fencing Maestro. (And Achilles is her horse.) This excerpt is the beginning of chapter two.

Francesca and Achilles flew across the Tuscan countryside. Close behind them galloped the two blue-coated soldiers with pistols drawn.

The late morning sun blazed hot on Francesca’s skin, but the wind ripped the heat away. Tears blurred her eyes. She wiped them away with the back of her hand, shuddering at the blood on her palm.

The sound of hoof-beats behind her grew louder, closer. Seated sidesaddle, with her right leg bent in front of her, Francesca kicked her left heel into Achilles side. “Faster!” she urged. He surged forward beneath her. His arched neck stretched forward, his wide Hanoverian chest pumped, and his black coat shone blue in the sun.

As the speed increased, so did the pull of Francesca’s cloak at her throat, choking her with each stride. She risked a panicked glance behind her, but saw only her dark hair tangling in the wind and her scarlet cloak waving like a matador’s cape. She tugged at the tie. The cloak billowed away.

Francesca tried to clear her head, to think, to plan. But only one thought would come, Papa’s dead, Papa’s dead, over and over with the beating of hooves. A strangled cry escaped from her and she shook her head, trying to concentrate.

She had headed home on instinct, but what would happen when she got there? Would the soldiers shoot those who tried to help her? In her mind she saw Papa’s pupils, boys and young men, closing ranks around her. She knew Burkhard would do something heroic and foolish and get himself killed. She imagined the soldiers shooting, iron balls ripping through muscle and sinew, shattering bone. She saw Signora Bianchi, her governess, lying dead in a pile of gangly limbs. Pain, like cold steel, spiked through her chest stopping her breath as she realized she couldn’t go home, ever. Doing so would put her family and friends in danger, implicate them in her crime.

Achilles’ iron horseshoes clattered loudly across a stone bridge that arched over the sleepy Arno River. She heard the pounding hooves of the soldiers’ horses’ just seconds behind. Pain turned to icy fear. They’re gaining. She urged Achilles on, faster.

She was northwest of Cascina, nearing home. She raced up the dirt road, winding into the foothills. Gnarled grapevines blurred past to her left. Pockets of woodland flew by, dark against pale grass. Soon she would see her home perched on a hill to her right. But before that point there was a hedge… A plan suddenly occurred to her.

She heard a pistol fire behind her and felt a tug at a loose strand of hair. Francesca’s heart skipped a beat and fear bunched in her stomach. She yanked the reins to the right, heading Achilles into a field of dark dirt.

Twenty yards ahead Francesca saw the hedge. A tight tangle of holly wound around the border of the field. Behind it lay a dark patch of woods. She urged Achilles on. She and Achilles knew this area well. They’d jumped this hedge last year for fun, but it had grown at least a foot since then. They streaked forward.

As they approached, Francesca felt Achilles shorten his stride. She bent over her right thigh which lay along Achilles’ back and wrapped her knee tightly around the pommel of her sidesaddle. She gathered handfuls of his mane along with the reins. She braced herself. The hedge was nearly six feet tall. Achilles gathered, and sprang. For a moment, airborne, Francesca felt her body rise. She pulled herself down hard into the saddle to keep from being thrown. Then they crashed down on the far side, Francesca’s chest slamming against her thigh and her face into Achilles’ mane. Seconds later they were into the dark woods, leaves and branches slapping at her face and catching at her skirts.

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LADY BLADE is my as yet unpublished YA historical adventure novel. This excerpt is also from Chapter One, as Francesca, her two brothers and her father reach the place appointed for her father’s duel.

The Church of the Madonna dell’Acqua’s bell tower loomed out of the mist. Its usual cheery red-gold color seemed dark and ominous in the diffused light.

“We’re here,” the maestro said. His voice sounded unnaturally loud and close.

Francesca felt the foreboding rush back over her, heavy and cold. She shivered as she and her family dismounted and let the horses loose to crop grass in the swirling mist among scattered tombstones. As they headed behind the church, Francesca took Papa’s arm. It felt reassuringly solid and her fingers tightened around it. She looked up at him. “Papa…,” she said, hearing the worry in her own voice.

The maestro patted her hand cheerfully. “Not to worry, my Cesca. This will be quick. Then we can visit your mother.”

Francesca nodded and forced a smile. There was no point in worrying him. He was probably right. He always was.

Francesca’s mother was buried in the cemetery where the horses now wandered. Francesca had never known her mother; she had died the day Francesca was born. Usually Francesca felt close to her here, as if something of her spirit remained in the russet stones of the church, the swelling green hills, and the soft murmur of the Arno River nearby. Today she felt none of that calming presence.

When they rounded the church, Francesca saw Tarrentino, the maestro’s opponent, standing in the open, amid thinning fog. A powdered wig perched atop his head and a sneer curled his mouth. He wore an elaborate waistcoat of golden silk along with a blue velvet coat and breeches – as if finery could impart skill with a sword.

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