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The Witch

Wicket Witch of the WestMagic is integral to high fantasy and ‘the witch’ is central to the magic in many of these stories. The witch or sorceress wields her magic for good or ill and is often maligned. Popular culture is adorned with witches of all kinds, from the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz to one of my personal favourites, Polgara in David Eddings’ Belgariad series. Classically, the witch is hideous, with warts and whiskers. She might fly on a broom and make potions which can turn a man into a toad or make a princess sleep for a hundred years. Our fairy tales are full of nasty witches.

SorceressHowever in high fantasy, it is very common for a sorceress to be a force for good and also to be beautiful. Polgara could shift into the shape of an owl and was a powerful positive influence in the communities she worked in. The Aes sedai in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series were servants of all and devoted to various and distinct pursuits. Whether they were healing the sick, fighting wars, seeking justice and knowledge or mediating in kingdom disputes, they were virtuous- most of the time.

Hermione GrangerThis is one of the attractions of fantasy: that there is such variety. Your witch can be the most evil woman who has ever walked your world or she can be the saviour of that world. She can be the heroine or she can be the mentor, guiding the hero in his coming into power, as Polgara did for Belgarion and Moraine did for Rand in The Wheel of Time series.

Belatrix LestrangeIn Princess Avenger, I have a ‘classic’ witch, Hetty, who is Princess Alecia’s mentor. Alecia has no mother so Hetty fills this void and is always on hand to give sage advice or heal a wound if Alecia gets herself into hot water. She crops up again in The Lady’s Choice where a spell she casts at the behest of Squire Ramón causes a bucket load of trouble.  In The Lady’s Choice, Benae appears to be a normal woman, but she can speak mind to mind with her horse and she can delve and heal with her mind.

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resI guess it’s not surprising that much of magic is centred on healing. In my fantasy world, medicine was primitive and a magical cure could save a queen or send a valued soldier back to the battlefield. Many modern techniques and medicines are still regarded as magical.

But no matter how the magic is used, witches in fantasy stand apart. They may do good but they are regarded with suspicion because they aren’t understood. This makes them lonely and puts them at risk. They guard their privacy and often live in a community in disguise. Witches and sorceresses live their secret lives with the people but their influences can extend right to the throne and beyond.

No wonder I love fantasy!

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The Fantasy World

Kain JazaraOver the last two posts I’ve outlined the sword and the quest, two critical components of high fantasy and both very close to my heart. Today, my exploration will lead us into The Fantasy World.

Coastal Scene (123)- cliffsIn many fantasies, the world takes on the status of a character and many authors spend innumerable hours in what we writers call world-building. For some authors, the world will come first and they won’t start writing until all the rules and geography of the world is in place. Many readers love being taken out of their land and dropped into the middle of a different realm, one that can come to be as familiar to them as their everyday surroundings. If the author has done their job, the fantasy world makes sense to the reader and everything that occurs in the story follows the rules of that reality.

High fantasy worlds are antiquated, their technology roughly Middle Ages or pre industrial. Life is hard, people die young of diseases, wars are fought in hand to hand combat, ladies wear extravagant gowns and the men, breeches. Travel is by foot, horse or carriage and food is harvested by hand. The world may even have a map as most authors want to be able to visualise their worlds. Maps help the author to get distances and travel times right as well as directions. As a fantasy reader, I love maps as they help me to orient myself in that world.

RainforestThe most important aspect of high fantasy worlds which sets them apart from reality is magic. Magic can take many forms. It may come from witches and warlocks or from the forest itself. Dragons and other creatures can have magic powers. In Princess Avenger, the magic potions of Hetty the witch come up against the transformative talents of Vard the shape shifter. Benae, in The Lady’s Choice, had a magical talent for healing and also the gift of being able to speak mind to mind with her horse Flaire. Magic in fantasy stories is only limited by the imagination of the author. It is what takes a life a drudgery and pain and creates wonder and light and perhaps a triumph of good over evil.

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resSo, imagine the world of the Middle Ages, add magic and you have The Fantasy World. No wonder so many of us are captivated by this genre.

 

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The Quest

Arrow in full kitIn fantasy stories, there is usually a quest or an epic journey towards a goal. This often involves much travel and exposes the reader to exotic characters and locations. What sort of goal am I talking about? The journey is usually undertaken by a hero or heroine with the help of others. They may have to find a mythical sword or convey a magical ring of power through enemy territory in the hope of destroying it; all the while, keeping the object from falling into the hands of the evil lord, of course.

There may be several books needed to finish the tale. In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, the quest was to destroy the dark lord for once and for all. Hero Rand had to come into his power to achieve this as did many of the other characters.

Benae prayingThe fantasy genre is the champion of the series and the reason for this is the quest. You don’t solve all of the world’s pressing concerns in one book, especially if your hero must grow into their power before they can achieve their goal. The momentum of the quest swings back and forwards between good and evil, keeping the reader on tenterhooks. At the close of each book, there will be an ending, but not THE ending.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverIn a fantasy romance, the hero and heroine will be on a quest to win true love, but both may also have secondary journeys. These often get in the way of the primary goal which is a happily ever after. In Princess Avenger, Vard and Alecia are drawn to each other, but Alecia’s vendetta and Vard’s need for a mentor threaten the achieving of their true love. The same could be said in The Lady’s Choice. Ramon’s quest to find Alecia, and Benae’s drive to marry a wealthy prince, make it almost impossible to achieve a future together.

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resAt the end of a long quest, when the reader has devoted hours to following the hero on their journey of growth and achievement, there is nothing more satisfying than the attainment of that goal whether it be peace on Earth or true love.

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Fantasy Swords

Knight with SwordOver the next few months, I thought I would outline some of the fantasy icons and in particular, high fantasy. This will give readers an idea of the influences in my writing.

One of my favourite fantasy icons is the sword. This weapon features in most high fantasy stories. Its importance as a weapon of this genre can’t be denied but its value goes much further than that. Proficiency with the sword is a given when you’re dealing with an alpha male hero. Usually this hero will be a blade master and the insignia on his sword may reflect this. An awareness of fighting a blade master casts fear into the heart of opponents. There also may be a learning of sword play as a hero grows into his power as Rand did in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

Kain JazaraSword play is romanticized as a dance in many fantasy stories. The opponents move around each other, using forms that may be named and creating a mesmerising spectacle for those watching and reading.  The sword of a blade master may be manufactured of special metals, imbued with magic that means the blade will never lose its edge and there may only be a limited number of that sword created. This enhances the value of such a weapon and the wielder becomes the stuff of legend.

Of course the sword may be unique and magical such as Excalibur, the mythical sword of King Arthur. His ability to draw it from the stone proclaimed his kingship although many say the sword in the stone and Excalibur were not one and the same. It doesn’t really matter and Excalibur played almost as large a role in those stories as King Arthur himself.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverThere are no special swords in my stories as yet but there are swordsmen, for whom the sword is merely an extension of the hand. My hero Vard from Princess Avenger is a supreme swordsman, able to best anyone in the kingdom. His proficiency with this weapon is in stark contrast to his struggle to master his shape shifting talents. His battle to control his animal transformations is the crux of why there must be more to tell between Vard and Alecia.

Ramón, my hero in The Lady’s Choice, has come into his mastery of the sword since Princess Avenger, determined to thwart Vard and rescue Alecia. Lady Benae has other plans when she meets Ramón, seeing in him a man of honour and courage who moves with the fluid grace of the master bladesman.

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resAnd so you see there is romanticism in the sword; in its beauty, its magic and even its power. Whether the sword is pulled from a stone, rises from a lake, is handed down from father to son or found in a dusty chest under a bed, each has a tale to tell and a part to play in high fantasy stories.

 

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Australia Day Romance

AustraliaDaybloghop2014This blog is all about romance, so when I agreed to be part of the Australia Day Book’d Out Blog Giveaway series, I needed to link the subject to romance. Sure, I could have written something unrelated to Australia Day OR just written on Australia Day without worrying about romance. I didn’t want to do either of those things.

Still, I had charged myself with a difficult task because what is romantic about Australia Day? Let’s see…

Man and BBQWhen I think of our national day I immediately think of food. We have some magnificent national dishes such as pavlova (I choose to believe it’s ours), the lamington, prawns and lamb on the BBQ, Anzac biscuits, pineapple on burgers, macadamias and damper. What could be more romantic than a man cooking a BBQ feast? Damper reminds us of the romantic days of the drover and the freedom of a life of moving cattle from one place to another on the back of a horse. Pavlova, pineapple and macadamias are all close to our hearts as national foods. Last of all, our own biscuit reminds us of the sacrifice of our young men for their country and the romanticism of a life given for others.

MitchWho are our Aussie heroes? Hugh Jackman comes to mind and men and women alike have admired Hugh for his looks and myriad talents but many of us look for our heroes on the sporting field. Chief amongst sporting heroes this Australia Day is Mitch Johnson complete with his moustache, conquering the English on the cricket field. And the mo is so reminiscent of the cricket heroes who have gone before him: Lilley, Merv, Boon and the like. The romance of being a hero, of being admired by an entire country cannot be overlooked.

So many of us will reflect on our history this Australia Day and there is romance in the adventure of arriving in a foreign land and forging a new life. Our forefathers accomplished this and many new immigrants continue to discover the delights and challenges of modern Australia.

Man from Snowy RiverOne of our classic films The Man from Snowy River was based on a poem by the same name, written by the great Banjo Patterson, and showcased the Aussie bush and country life. Our many successful rural romance authors use the same themes today.

RainforestAustralia is a beautiful country full of romantic escapes from coastal scenes to desert landscapes and secluded rainforest hideaways. It is an ancient land which has its own prehistoric history and indigenous people. So much of this country can touch our hearts, get under our skin and stay with us wherever we travel. I’m from the Sunshine Coast and whenever I see one of the Glasshouse Mountains they engender a nostalgia that for me is akin to romance.

So, maybe I’m drawing a long bow on some of these but, being a fantasy writer, the long bow is a weapon I am familiar with and I choose to use it on this occasion.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverDo you think there is romance in Australia Day? Leave a comment and the person with the most convincing argument for or against will win a paperback copy of my book Princess Avenger– entries restricted to Australian residents.  Entries close at midnight on January 28th and the winner will be announced here on February 2nd.

Please support the other writers involved in this Australia Day Book’d Out Giveaway Blog Hop for your chance to win more prizes and discover amazing authors.

Book’d   Out Australian   Women Writers Challenge Blog
Helene   Young 1girl2manybooks
Juliet   Madison – Humorous & Heartwarming Fiction Lily   Malone – romance writer
Nicole   Hurley-Moore Kendall   Talbot Blog
Creative   Conversations Jenn J   McLeod
When I   Was a Kid  Annie   Seaton
 Carpe   Librum  Karen   Wyld: Yarn Weaver
 Booklover   Book Reviews  Booksaremyfavouriteandbest
 Tien’s   Blurb  BernadetteRowley
 A   Reader’s Heaven  Jennifer   Scoullar
 Eleni’s   Taverna  The   Never Ending Bookshelf
 Write   and Read with Dale  Phillipa   Fioretti
 Suzi   Love  Journeys   with Noelle
 The   Sweet Escape  Sarah   Belle – Romagic Comedy
 Marisa   Wikramanayake  Biest   Books
 Pieces   of Whimsy  The   Eclectic Reader
 Elise   K. Ackers, The Write Frequency  Carol   @ reading,writing and riesling
 Elisabeth   Storrs  My   Word
 Kathryn’s   Inbox  Maureen   Helen on Writing and Ageing
 The   Incredible Rambling Elimy  Loretta   Hill
 Kate   Forsyth’s Blog  Tea   in the Treetops
 Rachael   Johns  Things   Made From Letters
 Musings   by Wink  Margarette   Lyn Sharp
 Sarah   Foster  Matthew   S Wilson
 Write   Note Reviews  Jennifer   Collin
 Sherryl   Caulfield  Literary   Exploration
Lisa   Walker  Wendy   Orr
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2013 – My Blog in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Interview with Ms Destiny

Destiny LogoToday I’m reposting this interview with Ms Destiny which was undertaken just before the release of my latest book, The Lady’s Choice. I hope you enjoy it.

Over a lazy, late afternoon drink I recently caught up with Bernadette Rowley, author of The Lady’s Choice, to talk about bad boys, hidden passions and romance.

Bernadette, I’m wowed by your new book. It’s an enthralling mix of lust, palace life, plotting princesses and swashbuckling swordsmen – have you always been a fantasy fan?

I’ve been a fantasy fan since my aunt introduced me to the genre when I was about fourteen. She gave me The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and since then it’s been one fantasy saga after another for me.

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resYour writing suggests that some intense passions lurk beneath your neat, elegant exterior?

I’m passionate about many things including following your dreams and more than that, being allowed to dream. Intense? Yes, I am that, certainly. I guess my heroines reflect that quality that I have – go after what you want.

Ramon is simply divine … who were you thinking of when you created him? Who would play him in a film?

When I created Ramón initially, he was just a secondary character in Princess Avenger, my first book. But I quickly realised he needed his own stage. I see him as every woman’s best friend, the perfect man; the man you can count on who will put your needs before his always; and he has unforgettable good looks and impeccable grooming.

I would nominate Liam Hemsworth. He has gorgeous blond looks, amazing blue eyes, is the right height and has a great body.

Your hero is a character with a strong sense of what’s right – I prefer someone a bit naughty – you?

I prefer someone naughty and probably dark-haired as well. There’s definitely something within my nature that is drawn to the ‘bad boy’ so it was quite a challenge to see if I could write a sexy beta male.

Your heroine, Lady Benae, has to choose between passion and duty – have you been torn like that?

I’m not too good at duty and would go with passion any day. I think we are all torn between what we ‘should’ do and what we truly wish to do. I try to make decisions that make me happy because you only get one shot at life.

Cruelty and power play a part in your plot – did you find this challenging to write?

I don’t find power and cruelty difficult to write. It seems to be quite as natural for me as writing about love and loyalty. I believe we all have two opposing natures that hopefully are in balance. Fantasy holds much darkness as well as uplifting themes so I’ve had a steady diet of these contrasting values in my reading.

Unless there’s a yacht and a millionaire involved, I’m not very outdoorsy, but I so adored Benae’s horse, Flaire, I can imagine myself galloping off into the sunset, astride some magnificent steed. Clearly you adore horses?

I’ve always loved horses and rode, bred and trained them in my teens and twenties. They’re magnificent creatures and so rewarding to work with.

Benae and her maid are more like sisters than mistress and servant – are you a believer in having good female friends or are they superfluous if you have the attentions of a gorgeous man?

I find I need contact with my close female friends on a regular basis but my husband is my best friend. I’ve always found girlfriends wonderful for sharing your difficulties and bringing problems back into perspective. A problem shared is a problem halved they say.

We know you are a vet and have a family, tell us something else about yourself that will shock or surprise us?

I love being on stage. Before moving to Townsville in 2006, I was part of a ladies barbershop quartet and chorus and just adored singing for a crowd. It was one of the most amazing and fulfilling periods of my life.


Princess Avenger High Res CoverYou write great romance – what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done in real life?

I’m still doing the most romantic thing I’ve ever done and that’s being part of a loving and supportive marriage. I’ve been married to Michael for coming up 26 years and we’re now entering the phase where children are moving out. We’ve faced some really difficult times, but we’re still best friends and I can’t imagine life without him.

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Talking with Ms Destiny

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resLast week, my interview with Ms Destiny appeared on the Destiny Romance Blog . It was a far ranging discussion where I talk about my reading and writing inspirations and answer some probing questions about myself and about my new book, The Lady’s Choice.

It’s fascinating to examine what parts of your inner world end up in your stories and the perception readers have of you from the outside looking in.

I hope you enjoy this insight into my writing life.

Princess Avenger High Res Cover                          Destiny Logo

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Talking Personally

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resLast week on the Destiny romance blog I talked about the inspiration for one of my characters. Flaire is no ordinary character as he is the heroine Benae’s stallion. I’d love it if you’d click on the Destiny blog and get the low down on my horsey connection.

The relationship between man and beast can be truly special.

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Release Day Today- The Lady’s Choice

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resWhen I was writing Princess Avenger, Alecia’s confidant, Squire Ramón Zorba kept trying to steal her scenes. He was gorgeous and his clothing immaculate. He kept demanding I describe his amazing blue eyes and the tight breeches, tunic and flowing capes that drew the eye of many a kingdom maiden. But he failed to impress Alecia and Captain Vard Anton always came out on top.

Vard won Alecia’s heart but I knew Ramón needed his story told. Princess Alecia told Ramón that one day he would find a woman who would love him completely and that he should forget her and keep looking for that special lady.

Well, Ramón ignored that advice and convinced himself of a future with Alecia. She would come to her senses and he and the princess would live happily ever after. I wasn’t as sure as Ramón was and so I went looking for a woman who could rival Alecia; who might love Squire Ramón Zorba and be worthy of him.

Destiny LogoThe Lady’s Choice has been released today by Destiny Romance and this is Ramón’s story. I hope you enjoy catching up with familiar characters from Princess Avenger and meeting the new people who inhabit this book. And, of course, there’s a brand new heroine, Lady Benae Branasar. Enjoy!

To buy The Lady’s Choice, click on the links:

Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and Google Play

Princess Avenger High Res CoverPrincess Avenger available on the same pages.

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The Lady’s Choice- Pre-Order

The Lady's Choice Cover- high resThese are exciting times and never more exciting than awaiting the ‘birth’ of a new book. I learned this morning that ‘The Lady’s Choice’ is now available for pre-order. How wonderful is it to be able to be amongst the first to read a new book?

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my readers for your support over the last year since the release of my debut novel, Princess Avenger. It has been an absorbing and magnificent experience.

For any wishing to pre-order The Lady’s Choice, here are the links:

Amazon itunes , Kobo and Google Play.

Of course, The Lady’s Choice already has it’s own page on Goodreads. For those readers who haven’t already discovered Goodreads, head on over and join in the fun. It’s a great way to keep track of the books you’ve read and compile your ‘to be read’ list, not to mention sharing your reading experience with other readers. Not a bad way to discover new authors and new books as well.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverDestiny LogoI’m fast approaching 5000 visitors to this blog since its inception and I have loyal readers to thank for that, too. I really enjoy sharing my thoughts, life and achievements with you. Please continue to share this blog in whatever way you can.

My official release date for The Lady’s Choice is the 14th October 2013. I hope you enjoy it. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing with you interviews and blogs where you’ll get to learn more about what makes me tick and how my stories are born.

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My Next Book

My how time flies! It’s been a month since my last blog and I’d like to tell you what I’ve been up to.

Benae prayingFirst of all, I’ve been doing the final edits on my next book, The Lady’s Choice. It’s scheduled for release in October and I’ve approved the beautiful cover. I hope to show you all really soon.

It’s fabulous working with the Penguin Australia editors. I love the process of editing because I learn so much. It’s like watching a cocoon hatch into a beautiful butterfly, seeing the finished story emerge at the end.

Here’s the blurb:

Lady Benae Branasar will sacrifice her ‘happily ever after’ for an arranged marriage with a powerful prince who will save her estates and her people. Or so she imagines. But can she turn her back on her feelings for the prince’s squire, Ramón Zorba? Ramon is a man Benae could easily love but he is obsessed with the prince’s daughter and at first tries hard to ignore the beautiful and fiery Benae. As they are drawn inexorably together, Benae and Ramón must choose between keeping their personal vows and being true to each other.

In The Lady’s Choice, you’ll get to know the delectable squire from Princess Avenger, Ramón Zorba. He’s a wonderful beta hero and needless to say, Benae can’t resist him. Get ready for more danger and palace intrigue as the hero and heroine negotiate their way to each other.

Florence Bay 2Along with a couple of hectic weeks working on The Lady’s Choice, I had mum to stay for two weeks. She had to put up with me beavering away on my edits for the first week and then we hit the tourist spots, including the Museum of Tropical North Queensland, Reef HQ and Magnetic Island. We had numerous coffees and even had time to check out a local boutique.

PIC_0944I think Reef HQ was the highlight of her week, though getting stuck trying to return from Florence Bay on Magnetic Island was quite exciting as well. Some of the roads on the island leave a lot to be desired. I’d have photos only I was too busy throwing rocks into craters in order to get the car up the hill. Thanks to the kind woman in the four wheel drive who advised us we had to ‘straddle’ the holes. Yeah, right! My advice? Don’t try to drive to Florence Bay unless you have a four wheel drive.

Anyway, life has settled down again and I’m back to working on my next fantasy romance, Love Thy Enemy- about a third of the way through. The story is based near Wildecoast, the king’s seat in the Kingdom of Thorius- the land of my previous two books. The hero is a gorgeous blonde sailing captain with dreadlocks who runs across the heroine washed up on the beach after a storm. You’ll have to watch this space for more details.

For my next post, I hope to share with you the cover of The Lady’s Choice. Until then…