Tag Archive | alpha males

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.

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.


Fantasy Creation

Mermaid 1(123)Wow, it’s been a while since I last blogged and I can only blame the fact that I’ve been held prisoner by the process of creating my next manuscript. Love Thy Enemy, the story of beautiful mermaid Merielle and her dashing sea captain Nikolas Cosara has been put aside, awaiting a publisher, and I’ve turned my attention to secondary characters from The Lady’s Choice: Ramón’s sister Lady Alique Zorba and the dark and dangerous army captain Kain Jazara.

Alique ZorbaThe two strike sparks off each other when they are brought together by Nikolas Cosara and then find themselves up against the burgeoning invasion by dark elves into the kingdom. Kain is faced with the daunting prospect of having all that he has known ripped from him and Alique must decide if she can accept the startling revelations from Kain’s past.

We are introduced to new characters who will inhabit coming books and one of these is Gwaethe, an elven princess. The cast of characters is ever expanding but many readers will want to know if we are ever to return to the love story of Alecia and Vard from Princess Avenger.

Kain JazaraLet me reveal that part two of their love story is already written and again awaiting a publisher. I hope to have some news on that before the end of the year. In the third part of the trilogy, I plan to draw together the stories that have gone before and Vard and Alecia will have the happily ever after they deserve.

I wish to finish this by thanking you all for your support. Please be assured that the kingdom lives on and new stories are being added with all your favourite characters. Who is your favourite so far?



Coastal Scene (123)- cliffsOver the last two week’s I’ve been editing my latest manuscript, working title Love Thy Enemy. As I worked this afternoon, the task was to search the word ‘need’ and replace it with synonyms if it popped up too much.

This is a fascinating exercise and I did discover I used the word a lot; which led me to ponder on ‘need’. Obviously my story is a story of need, of craving, of desiring something, or many things. This word conveys a strong urge, perhaps a necessity in the lives of the hero and heroine. Merielle desires to leave her former life and fulfil her destiny. She knows if she stays with her people, her spirit will die. That’s a pretty strong motivation for change.

Mermaid 1(123)When she meets the hero, he is searching for a lost brother. Nik’s ‘need’ to find his brother is all-consuming. Merielle becomes wrapped up in Nik’s search when he believes she can help him.

Pretty soon, sparks are ignited and a whole new bunch of ‘needs’ are clamouring to be met. Need is such a powerful world. It doesn’t imply there is an alternative; suggests no other option can be considered. The word suggests something that can’t be lived without, like air, or food, water and yes, love.

Needs (123)This is why I enjoy editing. It enables me to analyse my work with a certain amount of detachment and truly see the meaning of what I’ve written. The light bulb moment for me this afternoon: I can use the theme of ‘need’ when trying to encapsulate what this book is about. Love Thy Enemy is not about revenge, sorrow, guilt or even love. All these themes play a part but the over-riding subject of the book is need. How powerful is that?


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.

A Chat with Louise Reynolds

Louise ReynoldsToday I’m talking with Louise Reynolds whose latest book, Outback Bride, has just been released. Welcome Louise.
It’s lovely to be here, Bernadette.
Congratulations on your second release with Destiny Romance. Can you tell us a little about your book?
Outback BrideLegal star Lara Burke has worked hard to escape her country past and is finally on the way to being made a partner at her city law firm. At the worst possible time, her former flame Jake Forester arrives, bringing tragic news from home.
Forced to return to her family property, Jindaburra, Lara must confront her past at the home she loved and lost. But big-sky country and bittersweet memories are not all that await her at Jindaburra.
Readers are certainly seeking out rural romance stories. Many of these have the city meets country theme. What do you think intrigues readers?
For quite a while (and certainly post GFC), much of Western society has been returning to simpler values – recycling, up-cycling, sustainability, making do – and there’s a perception that life is simpler in the country. Having said that, our big cities have never offered such an amazing variety in cuisines and entertainment. It’s natural for people to be drawn to both and that creates a tension between both worlds that’s interesting to explore.

Do you have country roots?
Not at all. In fact I’ve only started travelling in the outback in the last eight years but I love it.
What do you love most about Outback Bride?
I enjoyed creating Jindaburra, Lara’s childhood home. It’s her first love and is buried in her soul.
Destiny LogoWhat was the most difficult part of writing Outback Bride?
There’s a theme of family estrangement and that was difficult to write as, like many families, mine has had to deal with this.
Do you think it’s the similarities or the differences that form the strongest attraction between a hero and heroine?
Definitely the similarities. I’ve never been a huge believer in opposites attract.
How do you come up with your ideas?
For Outback Bride, I met a girl in an outback pub who was devastated that her brother would inherit the family property and her father had refused to consider her contribution and love for the property. That conversation stayed with me for a long time until the character of Lara was born. But generally there are strands from all over the place that come together to create a story.

What genre do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?
Definitely contemporary romance, city or country-based. I like romances that feature problems faced by modern women and I like my heroines if not strong at the outset, certainly resourceful. In rural romance I like to read Barbara Hannay. Otherwise, Jill Shalvis, Bella Andre, Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart.
Her Italian AristocratDo you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Think about why you are doing this. Make clear goals. Follow through.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing a contemporary romance that starts in the outback but moves to London then on to an old English manor house. I’m having a lot of fun with this one.
Thanks for introducing us to Outback Bride and to your writing life, Louise.
Thank you for having me, Bernadette. It’s been fun.
You can find Louise at:
Website: www.louisereynolds.com.au
Blog: http://louwrites.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseHReynolds
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseReynoldsauthorpage?ref=hl

Outback Bride can be purchased on Amazon , Kobo Books , Apple itunes and Destiny Romance

Queensland Vet Turns Romance Writer

By day, Queenslander Bernadette Rowley is a vet. By night she throws off her white coat and stethoscope and becomes a romance writer.

Bernadette and SlippersI had to laugh when my editor sent me this press release but it’s quite true. I have an alter ego and the two seem quite diametrically opposed. They’re not really, though the right side of my brain doesn’t get much of a workout in my job as a vet. Writing, however, requires both sides of the brain to be working in concert albeit not at the same time. The creative right brain is very much in control when I’m crafting a story draft whereas the left side comes to the fore when it’s time to edit.

When I was first introduced to my romance writing community, I was staggered to find that many romance writers were highly-functioning career women. I met bankers, teachers, lawyers and doctors, to name just a few occupations. Then I realized that romance writing (and reading) was therapy- an escape from the high stress of their daily grind. What could be more therapeutic than immersing oneself in a fantasy romance after a hard day dealing with illnesses and emergencies?

I’ve read almost exclusively fantasy since my teenage years so it was natural for me to choose the fantasy/paranormal genre when I ventured into romance writing. Because I’ve lived in the worlds of Tolkien, Eddings, Feist and Jordan for decades, it’s easy to ‘see’ my fantasy in line with these fabulous authors. I love creating my own fabulous world where I make the magic and anything is possible. But I’m not a slave to world-building. My creation is not so developed that it has character status. I give enough information to allow the reader to imagine the rest. No one wants to read through reams of elaborate descriptions. It just needs to make sense.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverWriting is one job where you very definitely learn a lot about yourself and even more so when you succeed in gaining publication. You get asked questions by editors and readers which really cause you to stop and think. I often get asked why I don’t write veterinary stories. My immediate reaction is always violent opposition. I have no interest in writing contemporary stories with a vet as main character. However, animals form an important part of my stories and worlds; only they’re not just boring cats and dogs (though who could say cats are boring!). My debut novel Princess Avenger is a fantasy romance about a forbidden love affair between a kick-ass princess and a shape-shifting army captain who is appointed her protector. The two are irresistibly drawn to each other amidst danger, deceit, palace intrigue and a plot to kill the princess’s father. What could be more natural than a vet who writes fantasy about a hero who can shift into three wild animal forms?

In addition, because my fantasy has a high fantasy setting, horses are integral to the everyday lives of the characters. So the animals I use in my fiction may not be the ones I see at work but are very much at the heart of it. In the next and related story, The Lady’s Choice, my heroine has a rather special connection to her horse and must use her special healing talents on him when his leg is broken. So I guess the reality of our ‘day jobs’ often resonates in our writing, in some way.

If you’re a writer, how does your ‘day job’ show up in your writing?

Princess Avenger and Arrow

arrow 1I’ve been watching the television series Arrow on Wednesday nights and thoroughly enjoying it. Reflecting on the delicious Oliver Queen today, it occurred to me that Oliver has much in common with my Princess Alecia in Princess Avenger. Yes, I know, it’s taken me weeks and weeks to realise this but what triggered the realisation was disguises.

Arrow 2When we see Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) we know he is the vigilante who stalks the city by night complete with hood and painted mask, trying to bring the city’s leaders to justice. But in the story, at least so far, the connection has not been made. No one expects that the hooded man with almost super-human physical skill might be the wealthy young playboy, Oliver.

Princess Avenger High Res CoverThis is what Alecia relies on in Princess Avenger. She meets Captain Vard Anton when she is disguised as a youth; hair tied back, no makeup, cap and hood in place and weapons slung about her. She has confronted a mercenary and come off second best. No princess would act as she does and so when Vard is assigned her protector and meets Alecia in her regal attire, he never guesses he has already seen her, rescued her, in the street earlier that day.

Our behaviour and what others want to see and also the context in which we view people all contribute to the ability to really see what is right in front of us. Vard knows Alecia seems familiar, naggingly so, but her  dress and makeup tricks and the context of the palace plus the fact that the lad seemingly has nothing in common with the princess all help to keep her secret.

Arrow in full kitDisguises aren’t the only common aspect between the princess and the playboy. Oliver has been traumatised by his family and events of the past. He has received a baptism of fire on the island, alone for five years, and has emerged a different person. He is physically stronger, scarred and has a need to right the wrongs of his father. He attempts to do so by forcing corrupt businessmen to make the right choice. He really tries not to kill.

Princess Alecia has been hurt by the loss of her mother and by the rejection of her father. Things are going wrong in the principality as her father, the prince, collects more and more taxes to maintain his luxurious lifestyle. Alecia appoints herself the protector of the people and stalks the streets at night, freeing prisoners wrongly persecuted and bringing death to murderers. Unlike Oliver Queen, she isn’t reluctant to kill the mercenaries she believes responsible for the death of a close friend. When she’s confronted with physical violence to her person, she realises that all her training in weapons was not enough to prepare her for confronting killers. Still she perseveres because eventually, her life takes such a turn for the worse that succeeding in her vendetta is all she lives for.

So, Oliver and Alecia are both damaged, vengeful people and they have both chosen the bow and arrow as their weapon;  privileged young people who choose a path of violence and direct action to right the wrongs of society. Oliver finds it difficult to be understood by others after his time on the island but I think Alecia would have understood him. A pity for Oliver that Alecia has found her true love in Vard Anton, a man who has his own demons to fight but who will always put her first.

Arrow and BlondeArrow and HuntressNow, I wonder who Oliver Queen will end up with?Arrow and First Love

Bernadette Talks

Destiny Promo PhotoI’ve been excited about the response to Dr Monique’s review of Princess Avenger. Her words really resonated with you, the reader, as proven by the number of views of Book Review-Princess Avenger. As an author, the most gratifying thing of all is connecting with your reader and hearing their impression of your words on the page. This passage of Monique’s says it all for me:Princess Avenger High Res Cover

I really enjoyed the book and became completely engrossed in the story.  I felt a connection with the characters and found myself being swept away with the emotion and passion pouring out of the pages.  I would read for chapters on end and forget where reality was, drawn into the life of the princess, feeling like I was right there next to her hiding in the dark alleyways.

I feel I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do with Princess Avenger: to entertain the reader and allow them the ultimate escape; to take them to a magical world and let their imagination do the rest. I thought you might like further insights into Princess Avenger and what writing means to me and so I’ve included the link to this Youtube video, recorded in August 2012. I hope you enjoy it.