Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Lost Colony

In a former life, I was a Social Studies teacher. Not a past life, just quite a few years ago -- right after I graduated from college. My favorite subject to teach was American History, and one of my favorite eras was the colonial time, from the settlement of this country until the American Revolution.

The first permanent European settlement was in St. Augustine, Florida (the state now, simply a colony of Spain then), founded in 1565. You might jump ahead to the story of the Puritans touching their toes on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts but you'd be missing a major historical event.

The first English settlement was at Roanoke in what is now North Carolina, 37 years before the Pilgrims landed in 1585. You might recall something you've heard or read about this colony, now referred to as the "lost colony of Roanoke". Settling a colony was hard work, and many of the first colonists to arrive from England were more interested in searching for adventure or wealth than trying to farm the land. There weren't enough trades people or farmers in this first venture to the New World. Food was scarce and relations with the native people tenuous.

Just when things were bleakest, Sir Francis Drake appeared and took some of the settlers back to England. But not all of them. 90 men, 17 women and 9 children remained behind.

(Images from Jamestown Virginia)

And when the ships returned from England with more supplies and settlers, there was no sign of the people they left behind. Just one word carved into a post: "Croatan".

Writers have been exploring this strange occurrence for many years, and there are many theories about what happened to the colonists. I have my own ideas, and I'll get to play with this in one of my upcoming books about the Glyndwr sisters, elemental witches who are escaping from England to the New World.

Whistle Down the Wind by Sibelle Stone

Escaping from the persecution of the European witch hunts, a powerful witch with the ability to control the wind joins forces with a handsome Cavalier on a mission to save the King of England and the colony of Virginia while a dangerous stranger hunts them both. Book One: Mystic Moon Series.

Author Bio

Sibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award winning historical romance author Deborah Schneider. Sibelle writes sexy steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with magic, mad scientists, dirigibles, automatons, and creatures that would scare the panties off Deborah. In her spare time Sibelle enjoys dressing up in Victorian ensembles, modding play guns into something that looks a bit more sinister and wearing hats.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Historical Gems and More Gems

Historical Gems and More Gems

Judy Ridgley

Funny how things evolve. When I started writing stories in ancient Rome, I dressed my heroines in elegant jewels, wearing silks, and colorful makeup.  And people asked in amazement, “They had this back then?” Oh yes, I assured. And they did.  

 The Roman domina rose each day to a luxurious bath and dawned brilliant colored silk stolas hemmed with golden embroidery. Our domina’s hair was drawn up with strings of jewels, tiaras, gold bands and bejeweled hairpins or had her hair hidden by a wig made of blonde Germanic hair.

Patrician women had a slave to guard her jewels and this slave could be killed or beaten if a piece went missing.  Of course, Plebeian women appeared gaudy like a street whore. But there was a practical reason for that. They had to wear all their jewelry so none could be stolen.  

Well, that is Rome’s stereotype anyway. And that’s why I’m editing Vows of Revenge that takes place in 295 BC when Pompeii was a simple port town and the valley beneath Vesuvius was but a territory to Rome. My heroine Aelia wore all sorts of jewels because my hero Lucianus wanted to buy her the world and did so with sapphires, emeralds, peridot, pearls, and rubies.
Ahh, it’s all so romantic. 

So, back to editing because i had forgotten that such gems and jewelry hadn’t come to Rome during the early Republic. (Don’t ya just love research?) According to Pliny the Elder and other resources, gems and such jewelry gracing Roman necks and ears—equaling the value of some estates—began to arrive in Rome after Sulla claimed the entire province of Italy during the middle to late Republic. 

Certainly, other countries wore lovely gems and jewels as the queens of Egypt and the modest Greece. Even the spartan Spartans wore gold jewelry, albeit plain.  But our early Romans were farmers. They preferred gold for practical reasons. It didn’t tarnish. Rome’s first wedding rings were iron. Diamonds were used for engraving and were never worn.   

Then, Rome began its empire, claiming the glorious ideas of those they conquered. Not unlike the Crusades, they brought this wealth home, profited, adorned, and flaunted their finds. And eventually, this fashion evolved into the well-known Roman stereotype that started the fashion industry that we still bask in today.

But that’s another story.

Judy Ridgley's first book will be coming out this summer Vows of Revenge (two time Historical Romance finalist  2011)  Set in...where else...Ancient Rome BC amid pirates, godfathers, and forbidden love. Visit her website  to see other books that will be out this year. Or visit her blog on Ancient Rome Julia Galeria Casca or her blog on Writers Riding. Writers Riding or her dreamin blog where dreams do come true Dreamin'
Or at twitter @JGCasca or FacebookJudy Ridgley  I would love to hear from you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music in the 1870s by Tara

There wasn’t much entertainment in the old west, or much time to enjoy it.  It wasn’t as if they could come in from a hard day’s work and plop on the sofa in front of the TV. What entertainment there was had to be made. Small wonder that singing and playing any kind of musical instrument was popular.

The cost of having a spinet, let alone a full size piano, shipped from the east to the west would have been prohibitive. That’s without taking in the logistics of actually moving the piece to some of the more remote homes. Smaller instruments, such as guitars and banjos, were always popular, mainly for the same reason they are today. While they can cost a lot, less expensive models can be had, and they are extremely portable.

Some popular songs of the 1870s include Far Above Cayuga’s Waters, The Old Chisholm Trail, Forty Years On, The Language of Flowers, There’s a Song in the Air, and the much recorded, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.”

For some fascinating reading and links to songs of the era, check out the American Popular Music Page ( ). The page also includes links to 19th century sheet music.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Imagining Early Medieval Britain

L.G.C. Smith

Greetings, everyone. I’d like to introduce myself and tell you all a little bit about how history inspires the books I write. History was a big part of my upbringing. My dad is a civil engineer who probably should have been a history teacher. Instead, he made his kids his class, and he dragged us all over the Western US, stopping at every historical site for a lecture and discussion. I can remember visiting Custer Battlefield in Montana when I was four years old, and I can still see the wind blowing my dad’s khakis against his knees as he shielded his eyes and pointed down at the Little Big Horn to tell me where the Lakota and Cheyenne camps had been and where Reno’s troop had come through the hills. He cautioned me against underestimating people as Custer had the tribes. These are my South Dakota born and raised parents at Bear Butte.

As we moved around the West, living on or near several Indian Reservations, I was surrounded by stories of the past. The Old West was still part of living memory. My maternal grandfather, a South Dakota cattle rancher, told of his mother walking west from Ft. Pierre to the Black Hills at the end of her family’s journey from New Brunswick, Canada. That was in 1880, six years after Custer’s expedition discovered gold in the Black Hills, and four years after the Little Big Horn. My grandmother told of her parents, the son of a Cornish tin miner and the daughter of a Northumbrian lead miner, and how her father had been the Wells Fargo agent in Central City, Colorado. That sounded much more romantic than it probably was, but I liked hearing about what I thought of as frontier days.

When I wrote my first historical romance, I turned to the history of the west for inspiration, setting my early books in Dakota Territory in the 19th century. I’ll be republishing those books soon.

As I learned more about my family history and where my ancestors came from before they arrived in the US and Canada, I was drawn to Britain. I talked my parents and one of my sisters into joining me for a series of what I dubbed Gene Pool Tours to locate and visit the villages and parishes where our ancestors had lived.

It soon became apparent that I had massive holes to fill in my historical knowledge of Britain. Britain had been a Roman province? Yeah, okay, I must have known that at some point because I knew what Hadrian’s Wall was and who built it, but it was all pretty hazy. And yeah, I knew who the Anglo-Saxons were—they had dozens of kings with unpronounceable names who killed each other off so they could listen to songs about their mighty deeds in their timber mead halls. And then the Vikings started raiding and immigrating, and then there was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and then more Danes, and then the Normans (most of whom were also Danes and assorted Norskies), and then things became roughly more familiar.

When I stepped into the parish churchyard in Cornwall where I located my great-great-great grandparents’ graves, their joint headstone still standing in one of the oldest parts of the graveyard, I realized that I was related to most of the people buried there. I had to know more about them and the lands where they had lived for thousands of years. So began my serious foray into British history, and subsequently writing historical fiction set in Britain. This is the church door in that small Cornish village.

The idea that spawned my historical fantasy novella, Eve of All Hallows, came several years and Gene Pool Tours later. I was south of Chester on the Welsh border researching a possible early seventh century Anglo-Saxon monastic network that I believe was built on an older British network mentioned in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. I had a collection of evidence based on place names and stray textual mentions of an obscure Anglo-Saxon abbot, but I wanted to see the sites that had borne that abbot’s name since the early years of the English church. Harking back to those childhood days on the bluffs above the Little Big Horn, I believe landscapes tell us things if we look at them the right ways and with some history to inform our view.

Sometime around 615 AD, Æthelfrith, king of the nascent kingdom of Northumbria, took an army south to meet a combined force of British and Anglo-Saxon foes near Bangor-on-Dee. Bede tells that when the armies met, more than a thousand monks from the nearby monastery of Bannacornaburg, or Bangor Monachorum, surrounded the armies in a ring. They began to pray for the defeat of the Northumbrians. Bearing in mind that early medieval armies in Britain were often quite small, those monks might have outnumbered armed combatants. Æthelfrith’s answer to this potential threat was to order the unarmed and unprotected monks killed. Bede claimed that over a thousand monks died. It was a shocking massacre.

I walked through a quiet Welsh village, close to where that had happened and thought about what kind of man could order the deaths of so many unarmed monks and put his own sword toward that effort. From what I had learned about the kings and princes of the competing Anglo-Saxon and British kingdoms of the early seventh century, I didn’t think I would have liked them much. If they somehow landed in 21st century Britain, what would happen to them? If they didn’t find a way into the military or police work (and some of them were surely unstable enough to make that unlikely), they’d end up as criminals or terrorists.

That question started me down a long path that has included writing an as yet unpublished romantic thriller about time-traveling Anglo-Saxon warlord kings and modern-day British counterterrorism. Æthelfrith, of course, receives top billing as one of those time-travellers, but as I plotted the series, I needed to know more about his past. Early medieval history leaves plenty of room for imagination so I envisioned a life that took the real Æthelfrith as a starting point and freely embroidered the details.

Eve of All Hallows is one of those stories. In the last decade of the sixth century, Æthelfrith came to power in Bernicia, the northern part of the English County of Northumberland and southeastern Scotland. It was a time of change and conquest where ethnic and religious factions strove for control. I imagined Æthelfrith as an ambitious young man, not yet wed or with children, and with only a small kingdom. He hears a fireside tale about a British witch with the ability to grant a king unimaginable power . . . if he can find her, and if she so chooses.

Drawing on all the research I’ve done and everything I’ve learned about this fascinating yet shadowy period of British history, I’ve tried to make Æthelfrith’s world real for readers. Well, perhaps a little more than real, as there are mysteries afoot there that most of us don’t deal with now.

I’d love to hear from readers about the periods of history that interest you most, and why. Please leave a comment if you’d like to be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Eve of All Hallows.

L. G. C. Smith
A Secret Queen of Hidden Realms
She is a sorceress. A witch. Alone in the shadowed mountains she works forgotten magic to keep the land strong. Few remain who understand her sovereignty. Hers is a lonely life. One dark Samhain night she looks for one who might match her ability to bring harmony to the land and its people. If he will. His fate and the future of Britain lie in her hands.
An Enemy King
A young king of the Angles hears a fireside tale from his Welsh cousins. There is a witch who can grant him the power he yearns for most: To rule over all Britain. To gain it, he will have to prove himself worthy in unfamiliar ways. No sword or cunning will sway this witch. Can he learn the lessons she sets for him in time to earn his prize?
An Alliance to Assure the Future?
Not for hundreds of years has there has been a king with the potential to rule beside the Lady of the Isles. Strong and skillful, the young king tempts her when she tests his mettle. The Old Ways say that she can have him, or she can have his child. Which one will she choose?

Click here to buy Eve of All Hallows now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Layers of Regency Dress - Vivienne

I started reading Regencies in High School when I fell in love with Sense & Sensibility (the Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet version). I read Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey shortly after. Around my junior year, I also discovered Amanda Quick and devoured as many of her Regency romances as I could find.

One of the things I like about writing Regency and watching the lovely Austen-based films is the clothing. There was a move away from the elaborate, flamboyant excess of the 18th century toward simplicity and cleanliness. Gone were the brightly colored jacquard and damask silks and heavy powders and perfumes (to cover up the fact that no one bathed).

It was under the influence of Beau Brummel that simple, elegant men's suits became popular. Women moved away from the rigid structure and large dresses of the 17th and 18th centuries. The silhouette was softer and--comparatively speaking--the dresses were barely there.

But what went over and under the thin muslin gowns that were popular during this period?


(This is in order of being worn rather than alphabetical order.) *Note that all images link back to their original source.

Chemise - This was a basic white linen or cotton shift on top of which everything else was worn. (Think of the most basic short sleeved pull over white nightgown with no buttons)

Stays - Stays are basically a corset, but many times would be shorter than a traditional corset. I've seen some long ones and I've seen super short ones that are sort of like a bra. Essentially, the Regency version of a corset was designed to push up the breasts and flatten the front.

This image from Sense & Sensibility patterns shows a chemise and the short stays.

Busk - The busk is a little piece of wood that you stick down the front of your stays which helps keep the front of your dress straight under the bust. Obviously, you'd only have a busk if you wore longer stays.

You can see from this picture that there is a long white space in the middle, which is where the busk would go.

Drawers & Pantalettes - Ladies drawers were considered very risque because they were made to look like men's pants/underwear. Technically they came to fashion in 1806, but not everyone wore them (I think they were more common in the later Regency). Drawers were basically two short leg coverings and were tied around the waist with strings, leaving the necessary bits open for ease of using the privy/chamberpot. Pantalettes were drawers that were more decorative and designed to be seen, in case a lady should lift her skirt or stretch out her legs. Some women wore drawers instead of a petticoat.

This is a basic set of drawers.

Petticoat - Over the stays/corset, a lady would wear a petticoat. The petticoat is a long, basic white skirt. However, the importance of a petticoat cannot be overstated. Regency women liked dresses made of thin cotton muslin, which shows pretty much everything. If there wasn't a petticoat (or drawers) under the chemise and dress, your favorite Regency lady would look like a prostitute.

Stockings - Stockings were often white and made of silk, wool, or cotton. They were short (think knee-highs) and were tied off with garters just below or just above the knee. Some women might embroider their stockings.

Gown/Dress - There are different dresses for different times of day and different activities. So insert the appropriate dress here. Dresses might be made of cotton/muslin, silk, satin or velvet. White was one of the most popular colors of the period, though there were also patterned dresses. Remember that the muslin of the Regency was a thin, loosely woven fabric (think of something like chiffon or a lose batiste or thin, sheer cotton lingerie). Many gowns were low cut and designed to emphasize the bust.

Fichu - This might be worn over or under a Regency lady's gown for cool weather or for modesty. It is a triangular piece of fabric that might be tucked into the gown or worn over it as a shawl. Some were simple and sheer and looked a lot like a handkerchief, while others were frilly and elaborate. Most of the ones I've seen were white cotton or lace, but there are examples of printed fabrics and knitted fichus.

In this example, an 18th century lady has a fichu tucked into her dress.

Spencer - This a short jacket worn over a dress, usually made of a thicker material such as velvet or wool. It basically covers the bust and arms.

Here Elizabeth Bennet (played by Jennifer Ehle) is wearing a basic spencer as she walks with the dashing Mr. Wickham.

Pelisse - This was a long, fitted (in most cases) outer garment that was worn over a dress. Originally, it was a fur lined coat or cloak, but in the Regency, it might also be a thick silk long jacket that could be worn at a party. In the winter, this would be a woman's version of a greatcoat and would be made of a heavy fabric, such as wool or velvet, and lined with fur. In the summer, it might be a silk coat or it might be an over-garment that was worn as part of the dress.

This pelisse from 1811 is lined with fur.

This is an example of an indoor pelisse that would be made of a lighter fabric.

Reticule - A reticule is a small purse. It might be a simple satin bag or it might be embroidered and decorated. Many examples have drawstrings.

Here is an example of an embroidered reticule.

These are the basic items of a Regency lady's costume. I did not include cloaks (most of us know what a basic cloak looks like) and riding habits (which are special dresses designed for riding a horse). And of course, no lady's costume would be complete without hats, gloves, and shoes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Come a' ye Reivers

My home town

This is my first post on History Ink, so I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Margery Scott. I was born in a small town in Scotland that dates back to the 12th century. My family dates even further back than that. I played hide and seek in abbey ruins and believed everyone had a nearby castle. How could I grow up in that environment and not have a keen interest in history?

Scotland has a long and turbulent past, but I'm particularly interested in the time of the Border reivers.

For centuries, Scotland and England were bitter enemies, and families living on the Scotland/England border were caught in the midst of constant warfare. In the path of raiding armies heading both north and south, their settlements were repeatedly burned down, their crops destroyed and their residents murdered.

Reivers at Kilnockie Tower
When those raiding armies left nothing but destruction in their wake, reiving began as a means of survival. I probably shouldn't admit it but yes, my ancestors were Border reivers, or more accurately, cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. Eventually, reiving became a respected profession among the border people. Not only those who were left destitute took part, but even noblemen and March wardens (who were supposed to uphold the law) participated when the opportunity arose.

Under cover of darkness, they crept across the border and stole whatever they could, usually cattle. As reiving became more common and widespread, the crimes became more severe. Kidnapping and murder became common occurrences.

Many of the reivers died in these raids too, while their families waited in vain for their return. This led to the first usage of the word "bereaved" in the English language.

Since family and clan loyalty took precedence over allegiance to their flag, rievers often raided each other, too, with a real or imaged slight sparking a war between two clans that could last for generations. For instance, my family had a running feud with the Kerr clan for many years.
Most raids took part between August and February, when nights were longer and there was less chance of detection and capture.

When James VI of Scotland became James I of England, he was determined to unify the two countries. The term "the Borders" was banned. Rievers who were caught were executed (some of my ancestors unfortunately met this fate), and the border people were no longer allowed to own horses valuing more than 50 schillings. Reiving families were stripped of their land and possessions. Many clans dispersed and moved away, eventually settling in other lands.

Stories of the Border reivers were handed down from generation to generation. Songs and ballads told of bravery and great acts of loyalty. They also told of blackmail, treachery and corruption.

The first verse of one of these ballads begins with a call to go reiving:

O who will up an' ride wi' me:
Come a’ ye reivers bold!
Then let us off to Cumberland
To herry byre an' fold.
We winna leave a horn or hoof
On a' the English side,
Then come, my bonny reivers,
Come, let us mount an' ride.

There is so much more for me to learn about the Border reivers, and one day I plan to write a series of books about my ancestors who lived through this violent time in Scottish history. Right now, my attention is firmly entrenched in the American Wild West - a completely different time and place. Wait ... outlaws, violence, people trying to survive in an untamed land. Hmm, not as much of a stretch as it seems at first glance.

My two western historical romances, Emma's Wish and Wild Wyoming Wind are available now on Amazon.

For more information on me and my books, please come visit me on my website and follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, March 16, 2012


Chalices have been used through out history as holy cups for religious ceremonies or to symbolize the ultimate spiritual goal one strives to achieve. The name comes from the Greek word kalyx. In Roman times, the chalice was more of a drinking bowl known as a calix and was frequently used at banquets.

One of the most famous chalices is the Holy Grail -- the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper.

Chalices are sacred vessels in Christianity and are blessed.

The style of chalices have changed over the years, starting with drinking vessels resembling large bowls. Many of these had handles. One of the most famous of this design is the Medieval chalice known as the Ardagh Chalice of Ireland. In later years the style of the chalice was downsized. It took the form of a cup attached to a stem, a design we're familiar with today.

As for the individual designs, chalices have been made from wood, clay, pewter, silver and gold, and have been decorated with everything from jewels, ornate scroll work, enamel and even religious icons.

In the Roman Catholic church, chalices are often given as gifts to priests to mark special occasions. But Christianity is not the only religion to use these sacred cups. The chalice is also used in Wicca, representing the feminine aspect. It is used ceremoniously in rites.

In my book, Shadows of the Soul, a paranormal romance featuring angels and demon slayers, my hero and heroine are on a quest to find a sacred chalice that bears the antidote to a supernatural disease. I've always been in awe of tales of the Holy Grail and Arthur's Knights. While my novel is not Medieval, but rather contemporary, I was fascinated by the whole aspect of a sacred quest to find a magical cup. That led me to think of the outcome - where would my characters find the chalice? What would they discover in the magical cup? What would they resolve once they reached their goal?

Are you fascinated by mystical relics and quests?

Post your comments today and be entered to win a swag package including signed bookmarks, trading card and more.

*Chalice images from wikipedia and newadvent

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Medieval? by Anna Markland

Hello to everyone,
As this is my first post to the new blog, I thought I’d introduce myself and answer some questions readers have asked me.
Why did I choose to write medieval romance?  I am very interested in family tree research and over the course of the last few years I've written mostly family histories. Any fiction I wrote was contemporary, but I was working full time and didn’t think to publish any of it.

When I found myself with more time on my hands, I decided to take advantage of the changes sweeping the publishing industry and write novels.When I’m reading, my favourite genre is historical romance. Though I enjoy a good Regency, I’m more drawn to medieval.

In my genealogical pursuits I had done a great deal of research on the area of England where I was born. I stumbled across a story of a young noblewoman who had been exiled with her father. His crime was the blinding and mutilation of another baron during an argument over a piece of land.

On further investigation I learned that the woman turned out to be a very unpleasant person herself. But the seed was planted in my mind and I wondered what life would have been like for a young noblewoman cast out of her castle home and forced to wander with her irascible father. This was the initial beginning for Conquering Passion—except I made my heroine lovable!

I have traced my own family back to the late Middle Ages, but it has always been my ambition to go as far back as the Norman Conquest. So I decided to start my stories at that point in history!  I became completely immersed in the details of the Conquest. It amazed me how little I knew about the period even though it had such a profound influence on the history of England—land of my birth! My interest in ancestry and roots is what led me in the direction I’ve gone with my fiction writing. My stories follow the lives of the members of one family through successive generations.
My novels have also given me the opportunity to write about several of the Kings of England, from Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror in Books One and Three, William Rufus in Book Two, and Henry I in Book Four.
For some strange reason known only to my subconscious mind, I didn’t write the books in chronological order! So if you prefer to read a series in that order you should read Book Three before Book Two!

I also tackle issues in my books which have resonance in our modern world. Books One and Three deal with post traumatic stress, and Book Four details the long term effects of solitary confinement. Book Two deals with the issues of illegitimacy and religious hatreds. It's difficult to write romance set in the Middle Ages without describing the pitiful rights women had.Their often dire plight at the hands of the men who held sway over their lives features in all my books.

The books in my Montbryce Legacy series have proven popular, and the first three are now available on Amazon in digital and paperback formats. Book One, Conquering Passion is the longest, and the most popular, but readers who’ve read it are then buying Books Two and Three, which is of course delightful. I’m glad they are as fond of the Montbryce family as I am. Readers have told me they are particularly taken with Hugh de Montbryce in If Love Dares Enough. He’s a virgin hero, and there aren’t too many of those in medieval romance!

I have just published the Kindle edition of the fourth book in my trilogy! Yes, The Montbryce Legacy is now an obsession! This book is entitled Passion in the Blood, and paperbacks will be available from in about three weeks. It’s the story of the two legitimate sons of Ram de Montbryce, the hero of Conquering Passion.

BTW, today (Mar. 14th) is the first day Passion in the Blood is FREE on Amazon-for a limited time

I’m also writing a novella to kick off another series, Sons of Rhodri. The Rebel Chieftain, will tell the story of Rhodri ap Owain, a Welsh rebel who first appears in Conquering Passion. Another project I’m working on is the creation of a downloadable Family Tree for the Montbryce Family.

I’m often asked how I came up with the titles of my books. Because my first book was about the Norman Conquest of England I wanted the title to reflect that. Also it’s a love story, so somehow, Conquering Passion evolved. I liked it because of the double entendre.

The title of Book Two was for a long time based on a quote from Shakespeare. But I had to change it from Kindle Fire With Snow—guess why? It’s now entitled A Man of Value, based on a quote from Einstein. It seemed appropriate because the hero is a man who discovers he is the epitome of everything he has always despised, and only love eventually leads him to see he is still a man of value.

If Love Dares Enough comes from a quote from Lord Byron. I chose it because the hero risks everything the family holds dear for the woman he loves.

Passion in the Blood came about because I wanted to continue the notion that the second generation has inherited “the Montbryce curse”—they are unlike most noblemen in that they are in love with the women they eventually marry!

In conclusion, I want to thank my readers for taking the Montbryce family to their hearts. Be reassured there will be lots more stories coming. As I mentioned, Rhodri ap Owain’s family has spawned a new series, Sons of Rhodri, and Caedmon FitzRambaud’s family will begin another one later this year. Caedmon’s daughter, Blythe FitzRambaud will be the first heroine in that series. Her adventures will take the readers to medieval Germany and introduce them to Heinrich, Holy Roman Emperor. This will be a bit of a departure for me because my stories to date have revolved around the lives and loves of the men of the family.

Readers are welcome to visit my Facebook Fan Page, Anna Markland Novels, and my website, where they’ll find a link to my blog. I’m also a Goodreads author. My digital books are for sale in all the usual places, except Passion in the Blood which is exclusive to Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be ordered on my website, and you can enter to win one of 5 signed copies of A Man of Value on Goodreads until March 17th.

One lucky commenter on this blog will win a copy of any one of my books-yourchoice.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Brief History of Saint Patrick's Day

Ever wonder about the history of Saint Patrick's Day? No, it's not just a day for drinking and being merry. There's much that's happened that's completely evolved and Americanized this long-celebrated holiday.

Many people think that Saint Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland. it was recounted for hundreds of years that Patrick stood on a hill called Croagh Patrick with only a wooden staff in his hand and banished all the snakes from the land. There were never any snakes in Ireland at all. Snakes were used as a metaphor for banishing Pagan beliefs in Ireland, which was replaced two hundred years after Patrick's mission with Christianity. Otherwise, there's not much known about Ireland's patron saint.

This religious holiday is celebrated on March 17, on Saint Patrick's feast day and the aniversery of his death. The holiday's been celebrated in Ireland for over a thousand years. It takes place during the Catholic season of Lent. On Saint Patty's Day in Ireland, folks traditionally would attend church in the morning and party during the afternoon. Dancing, eating meat and drinking and being merry were usually frowned upon during Lent, but these restrictions were waved during this very special holiday. :) They ate Irish bacon and cabbage. corned beef wasn't consumed until the early twentieth century on New York City's lower east side. The Irish learned of this less expensive substitute from the Jewish immigrants. How cool is that? Indeed, St. Patrick's Day has truly been Americanized.

This holiday, along with millions of Irish immigrants over the years has found it's way to the United States. During the nineteenth century, famine and poverty brought many of the Irish to the US. Though the first St. Patty's Day parade was held much earlier in 1762 in New York City, when Irish soldiers serving in the British army marched through the city.

There are more Irish Americans in the US than Irish in Ireland, 34.7 million Irish Americans, which is more than seven times the population of Ireland. The largest concentration of Irish Americans live in Boston and New York City.

Ever wonder why on this day we drink green beer, or why Lake Michigan in Chicago runs green, when in fact, Saint Patrick's color was actually blue? Ireland is known as the "Emerald Isle," because of the landscape. Also in Ireland, the shamrock was associated with more a political slant and uprising in the eighteenth century by the Catholic Nationalists as well as to explain the Trinity in Christianity. Shamrocks would be placed in the lapels as a way to express pride in ones nation. However in the United States, green was originally worn as a way to identify oneself as Irish.

St. Patty's Day isn't just celebrated in the UNited States and in Ireland, but in Japan and other locales around the world as well. After all, who doesn't like a party? :)

So my friends, here's a toast from me to you come Saturday. :)
May your blessings outnmuber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
And my absolute favorite:
May you be in heaven one half hour before the devil knows you're dead.


Abbey’s Bio…
Abbey MacInnis is a published author of Contemporary Western romance. Along with Contemporary, she writes Historical, Paranormal and erotic romance. Whether she’s being swept off her feet by a Medieval knight, regency rake, or cowboy or cop, her heroes are always strong men who’ll love their women unconditionally.
On most days, Abbey can be found at her computer, penning her latest tale. A tale where love, respect, and passion combine to create a satisfying and happy ending. She invites you to step in to the pages of her romances, to leave your worries behind and get swept up in her world.
Check out my latest release:
His Fifth Avenue Thief
Two years prior, Irishman Aaron O’Connel took his life from rags to riches. Chance and wits have kept him alive in 1850’S New York City. But no amount of money or success can bring his love Cathlene back from the dead. When a thief sneaks her way into his mansion, the last woman he expects to find absconding with his belongings is his long lost wife.
Abandoned on New York’s shores, a widowed, penniless, and ruined Cathlene O'Connel was left to fend for herself in an unfamiliar world. Fear and circumstance drove her to a life of thieving in order to survive, but her heart risks the biggest danger of all when Aaron hands her a scandalous proposition: A son in exchange for her freedom.
Now that he has her back, Aaron doesn't intend to let Cathlene slip between his fingers. He'll do whatever it takes to regain her trust and love. But when an enemy from Cathlene's past resurfaces, Aaron not only faces battling for Cathlene's heart, but also her life.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Knights Templar and the Ark of the Covenant from Tarah Scott

I was recently asked if the legend of Colin Morrison and his enchantment in Castle Morrison found in my book Labyrinth was based on real history. I couldn’t have been more flattered as this Scottish legend was completely of my own making. But, of course, I drew upon mythology and history to create a believable make-believe legend. One element I used in Labyrinth that I hadn’t previously used in any of my books was the Knights Templars. There is a great deal of myth surrounding this order of knights, and loads of fiction has been written involving them.

In Labyrinth, my villainess was on a hunt for the legendary treasure the Templars supposedly left behind when they were arrested. Talk about a treasure hunter’s dream!

One of the most famous movies surrounding the legend of the Templars guarding the Ark of the Covenant is Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark. But does anyone know how the Ark of the Covenant came to be associated with the Templars?

First, for those who may not be familiar with the Templar history, a quick overview.

It is generally accepted that, for the first nine years of their existence, the Templars consisted of nine members. Within two decades of the victory of the First Crusade (1095-1099) a group of knights led by Hugues de Payens offered themselves to the Patriarch of Jerusalem to serve as a military force.

Over the years, the Templars rose from their humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of the Crusading Orders.

(1268-1314) King Philip IV of France, who was already heavily in debt to the Knights Templar, requested a further loan. The Knights Templar refused his request. King Philip IV subsequently ordered the arrest of all Knight Templars in France. The order to arrest the Templars was sent out several weeks before the date possibly giving the Templars time to hide their wealth. On 11 October, two days before the arrest of many Templar Knights, it is recorded in French Masonic history that Templar ships left La Rochelle, heading to Scotland.

On Friday the 13th, in October 1307, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and 60 of his senior knights were arrested in Paris. They were charged with heresy and accused of homosexual acts. Admissions of guilt were extracted due to the use of torture. Pope Clement V initiated enquiries into the order and thousands of Knights Templar were arrested across Europe. The Medieval order of the Knights Templar become extinct in 1312 when the order is dissolved by the Council of Vienne. Anyone found sheltering a Templar was under threat of excommunication. Much of the Templar property outside of France was transferred by the Pope to the Knights Hospitallers, and many surviving Templars were also accepted into the Hospitallers.

Now let’s back up to the 1180s.

Below Jebel Madhbah, to the north, lies a valley called Wadi Musa – Arabic for the “Valley of Moses”. For years this valley was an important trade route through the Shara Mountains and by Roman times the splendid city of Petra had been built here. In the twelfth century, Crusaders from European countries such as France and England conquered Jerusalem and set up a Christian kingdom in what is now Israel. In order to protect Christian interests in the region, the Knights Templar, briefly occupied the ruined city of Petra and built a series of forts to protect the trading route that ran through the Wadi Musa.

According to the Arab chronicler Numairi, who wrote around AD 1300, these knights discovered a sealed cave at Jebel Madhbah where they found “treasures of pure gold, precious stones and a golden chest.”

There was no specific reference to the Ark of the Covenant, but the knights claimed that these were holy relics that had belonged to the ancient Israelites. Numairi describes the chest as being made from paneled gold with two winged figures on the lid which he describes as being similar to ancient statues that still survived in his native Egypt. Unfortunately, he does not give the dimensions of the chest, which may have been any size. If it was large, however, it does sound very similar to the Ark. In fact, according to the Bible the Ark was made shortly after the Israelites had left Egypt and, as they had been enslaved there for generations, their craftsmen may well have been influenced by Egyptian art.

Now tell me that doesn't look like every picture or movie you've seen about the Covenant of the Ark.

I'll be giving away a Kindle copy of the erotic time travel/paranormal romance Labyrinth.

Yes, magic exists. Not the backwater voodoo witches practice where Mississippi Deputy Sheriff Margot Saulnier grew up. But the age-old black magic a woman weaves around a man that draws him under her spell. The kind Margot’s best friend used to kill her husband…and get away with it.

Margot chases her friend to Scotland, determined to prove her guilty of murder. No one will stop Margot. Not the SAS agent sent to watch her…and not the Scottish lord legend says murders his lovers when they cannot free him from the spell that has imprisoned him in Castle Morrison for three hundred years.

He’s just a legend.
And magick doesn’t exist.


Award winning published author Tarah Scott cut her teeth on authors such as Georgette Heyer, Zane Grey, and Amanda Quick. Her favorite book is A Tale of Two Cities, with Gone With the Wind as a close second. She writes classical romance, suspense, horror and mainstream.

Born in New Mexico, Tarah grew up in the Southwest. Fifteen years ago, she relocated to Westchester County, New York, where she and her daughter reside in a lakeside community. Don’t be fooled by what sounds like a quiet life. The city that never sleeps is only an hour away, and this Texas girl and her New York bred daughter wouldn’t have it any other way.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The History Of Men's Underwear: A Brief Discussion

A Brief Discussion by Jennifer Jakes

Remember that commercial with Michael Jordon? I'm sure that wasn't the first time the boxer vs brief question was asked, but it did make the question popular.
Me, I'm a rebel. I prefer boxer briefs on my hubby. You get the best of both worlds. They're tight enough to be sexy -- because I hate that baggy boxer look -- and yet, they don't make me think of panties -- as briefs do -- when I look at them.
And because my hubby has really sexy legs and I like the way they look in boxer briefs . . . but I digress.

The first men's underwear was probably the Loincloth, a simple strip of material or leather. A loincloth was also used to describe material pulled between the legs and fastened like a diaper. Not a good look for anyone :(  Greek and Roman men reportedly wore Loincloth.

During the Middle Ages, Loincloth was replaced by loose trouser like pants called Braies. Braies were a step-in design and laced at the waist and mid-calf. Wealthy men also wore Chausses. 

By Renaissance, Braies became shorter to accommodate longer styles of Chausses -- and chausses gave way to hose. But since neither Braies nor chausses were meant to be worn beneath they weren't technically underwear.

      Codpieces came into fashion when doublets (coats) became shorter and the hose alone would have left a man’s privates exposed. They were the height of fashion from the 1540s to 1590s, becoming more decorative and padded rather than just a practical covering. Braies were replaced by cotton, silk or linen Drawers which were worn for years and years and years. And years. I couldn't find much information on how much -- if any -- the basic design changed.

However, in the mid 1800's mass production of underwear began and people started to buy their drawers instead of making them at home. The Unionsuit also became popular in the mid 1800's – 1868 actually -- and had the drop seat in the back.

In 1874, the Jock Strap came along to provide support for the bicycle jockeys riding upon cobblestone streets.

The first underwear print ad ran in the Saturday Evening Post in 1911, an oil painting, not a picture. That would have been indecent! In WWI soldiers were issued button front shorts - though they were often still worn with a union suit. (Which by the way became 2 pieces in 1910 - what we call long-johns).

By 1935 Coopers Inc. sold the world's first men's briefs, the design dubbed Jockey since it provided the support once only offered by a jock strap. 30,000 pairs of new Jockeys sold within the first 3 months of introduction. In the 1950's manufacturers began to make men's underwear from colored and/or printed material. In the 1970's and 1980's advertisers began appealing to the sexual side of selling, foregoing the long time ad practice of comfort and durability. Speaking of comfort - or lack thereof - the thong became popular in the 1990's.

So there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know - and maybe some things you didn't want to know - about men's underwear;)

Thanks for visiting today! I'll be giving away 1 copy of my erotic romance novella, 
TWICE IN A LIFETIME, to a commentator. 


Be Careful What You Wish For. . .
No-nonsense stuntwoman Isabella Douglas will do anything to stop an unwanted divorce and reclaim the happy life she had, even allow her old friend to concoct a magical spell to turn back time. But when the spell goes awry, Izzy finds herself trapped aboard a 1768 Caribbean pirate ship with a captain who’s a dead ringer for her sexy as sin husband, Ian. Convinced he’s playing a cruel joke, she’s furious – until she realizes he doesn’t know her or believe they’re married.
Captain Ian Douglas does not have time to deal with an insane woman who claims to be his wife; he has to save his kidnapped sister. But as Izzy haunts his dreams and fills him with erotic memories he can’t explain, he’s forced to admit he feels more than lust.
Trapped in a vicious cycle of past mirroring present, Izzy knows they only have days to find Ian’s sister and prevent disaster from striking a second time. If she doesn’t, their marriage will be destroyed again – along with the man she loves.

Jennifer Jakes is the multi award winning author of RAFE'S REDEMPTION, voted Best Romance 2011 and TWICE IN A LIFETIME. She is currently working on a historical romance set in 1898 during the Yukon Gold Rush. You can learn more about Jennifer at

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fiction: An Art Form That Has Transcended Time by Eliza Knight

Welcome readers to History Ink! We are a group of historical authors, excited to bring you the joys of history and romance!

Since the dawn of time, storytellers have roamed the earth, bringing tales of love, joy, sadness, strife and more to eagerly awaiting ears. I thought it fitting for the very first post on History Ink, to talk a little bit about where we historical authors come from.

Fictional writers of today are not the first to come up with genres. Fiction writing has been around for hundreds of years—Le Morte D’Arthur is a published work (of tragic romantic tales!) regarding King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table, by Sir Thomas Malory written in 1485. It opens with this:

IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.

But even before Le Morte D’Arthur, there was Beowulf—a heroic epic poem—written somewhere between the 8th and 11th century, and The Canterbury Talesa collection of frame tales with religious and political undertones—by Chaucer, written in the late 14th century.

And then there were those who devoted their lives to writing tales and performing them aloud (not sure I could do this, but I’d be happy to have one of my stories made into a movie!). In the Middle Ages (until around the 15th century) troubadours were popular storytellers, often paid by a patron to entertain their household, court or village. They wrote in Occitan verse.

While troubadours sang or chanted their poetic tales of courtly love and chivalry, they also had varying genres… many in fact. They even followed rules of composition, just like we do today.  A note here, most minstrels and jongleurs performed tales written by troubadours, whereas a troubadour often wrote and performed his own work. Troubadours did not only perform for their patrons. They often entered contests! Just like many writers today have their work judged, troubadours did as well.

A few troubadour genres were:

·       Alba —the song of parting lovers as dawn approaches
·      Cantos, originally vers— a love song
·       Dansa— a song designed for dancing
·       Enuig— a poem expressing complaints
·       Gap— a boasting song, sometimes presented as a challenge
·       Maldit— a song complaining about a lady's behavior and character
·       Planh— a funeral lament
·       Sonnet (sonet)— Occitan verse with a specific rhyming pattern

The earliest recorded work (career from 1086-1126) of a troubadour is that of the William IX Duke of Aquitaine (Eleanor of Aquitaine was his granddaughter). Many of his works related to the crusades, of which he fought in, but he also wrote of sex, love, women.

A couple of verses from William IX’s work, click the titles to read them in whole… If you’d like to read more (there are 11 total), click here.

Comrades, I shall write a fitting poem,
one with more folly than sense,
all laden with love, joy and youth.

And let he be called a knave, who doesn't understand it,
or learn it, for that matter, by heart:
people who like poetry hardly part from love.

You shall hear how much I fucked them:
a hundred and eighty-eight times,
so much that they almost broke my equipment
and my tool;
and I can't describe the aching, so much I was taken.

Since I feel like singing,
I'll write a verse I grieve over:
I shall never be a vassal anymore
in Poitiers nor in Limoges

For now I shall be exiled:
in a dreadful fright, in great peril,
in war, shall I leave my son,
and his neighbours shall turn on him.

If you’re interested in reading more medieval troubadour works click here.

I am fascinated with period works. I love to read them, dissect them, and if I can, use them within my works to add flavor and realism. If I could travel back in time, I would love to meet the authors of some of these famous works that have transcended hundreds, even a thousand years.

Thanks for visiting with us today! I’m happy to give one commenter a signed paperback copy of my medieval romance, A LADY’S CHARADE. (Winner drawn the evening of 3/6/12)


From across a field of battle, English knight, Alexander, Lord Hardwyck, spots the object of his desire—and his conquest, Scottish traitor Lady Chloe.

Her lies could be her undoing…

Abandoned across the border and disguised for her safety, Chloe realizes the man who besieged her home in Scotland has now become her savior in England. Her life in danger, she vows to keep her identity secret, lest she suffer his wrath, for he wants her dead.

Or love could claim them both and unravel two countries in the process…

Alexander suspects Chloe is not who she says she is and has declared war on the angelic vixen who's laid claim to his heart. A fierce battle of the minds it will be, for once the truth is revealed they will both have to choose between love and duty.

Available now in print and ebook from:

A LADY’S CHARADE has been on the Apple I-Books Top 100 Historical Romance Novels list since its release, and has received rave reviews.

Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at or her historical blog, History Undressed, which was recently mentioned in a feature article in The Wall Street Journal.