Tag Archives: fiction

5 Stars from Readers’ Favorite

Authors love any good review. But when the review comes from a highly acclaimed service from which traditional publishers choose some of their next prospects, authors get really excited.

These higher review services can be hard to get into, but luckily I have an agent. Blue Harvest Creative offers free agent services when authors hire them for the full  book design package. In return, many of Blue Harvest Creative’s authors have gone on to win awards through these review services. BHC submitted both Minstrel and “Darrion” to Readers’ Favorite, and both won 5-star reviews! Minstrel has now been entered in 2014’s Readers’ Choice Awards. When I have the money for another entry, I’ll submit “Darrion” as well.

Readers’ Favorite’s review of Minstrel is here:

Minstrel Cover

Reviewed by Tania Staley for Readers’ Favorite

“An unlikely hero becomes the center of royal dispute and intrigue in Marissa Ame’s exciting tale, Minstrel. When Liam and his band of theatrical brothers arrive in the city of Cynegil, they have only the desire to make enough money to buy food and a place to lay their head. But when they see the signs that the city is in mourning they have a difficult decision to make. Do they ignore their empty bellies and move on in the hopes of finding sustenance someplace else, or do they disregard the rules against merriment in a time of mourning and entertain people? The needs of nourishment require them to go against the rules, and this decision lands them in the hands of the new king Riordan’s court. Riordan rules the country in excess, throwing parties and feasts, ignoring the emptying larders and purses of the country. Shamus, his twin brother, realizes that it is imperative that someone knows the truth of events and hires Liam to be his personal historian in order to record the happenings of Riordan’s reckless rule. But, can a simple minstrel right the wrongs of an entire kingdom? Will anyone listen to him if he tries? Find out in Marissa Ame’s Minstrel.

“It was with much excitement that I downloaded a copy of Minstrel to review. Having previously read Marissa Ames’s short story, Darrion, which is also a story of Tir Athair, I was expecting the same intrigue and excitement in Minstrel that I had come to associate with Ames’s writing. I was certainly not disappointed. The feudal society that Ames has created, the intrigues involved in the opposing twin royal brothers, and the unlikely heroism of the minstrel, Liam, are wonderfully thought out and beautifully crafted. Rather than the lofty idealism that surrounds many fantasy landscapes, there is a grit and grime that is just as enchanting in the city of Cynegil. The world the author has created lives and breathes amongst the pages of her book. I highly recommend Minstrel, and I can’t wait to read her next book, Vassal.”

And the 5-star review of “Darrion”:

Darrion cover

Reviewed by Tania Staley for Readers’ Favorite

“Marissa Ames’ high-fantasy short story, Darrion: A Story of Tir Athair, will have readers longing to read more. Darrion is the prequel to Ames’ larger work, Minstrel, and I dare anyone who reads this short story to not want to pick up a copy of Minstrel in order to find out what happens next. Lana believed her dreams had come true when Kellan, a gifted healer, pronounced his love for her, but there was trouble ahead for their romance. The realm of Tir Athair was at war, and Kellan had been called upon to use his powers. There were darker forces at work than either of them could have realized, however, and Kellan is soon being used as little more than a weapon. To make matters worse, Lana bears a child who is gifted as well, and under the kingdom’s new regime it is a law to relinquish her child to the king’s control. Can Lana escape the kingdom and save her child from the same fate as her husband?

“Darrion is a short story that gets me quite excited to see what else Marissa Ames has in store for readers. In just a few pages, Ames creates a rich and vibrant story full of emotion and intrigue. The author has created a romance that tugs at the heartstrings and, from this joining, a potential hero that readers will want to learn about. I can’t help but wonder what sort of future lies in wait for Darrion. I see a lot of potential in this series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Minstrel.”

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Lisa Shambrook: Beneath the Rainbow

On October 12, Lisa Shambrook will re-release her novel Beneath the Rainbow. She has a new cover, a new designing team, new online support group, and new works in progress! And she’s giving away a free paperback copy of Beneath the Rainbow. Enter by following this link.

I interviewed Lisa Shambrook today, and the answers I received got me excited for her future work.

Beneath the Rainbow announcement

-What inspired Beneath the Rainbow? It came right out of the blue! The first line hit me as I was walking through the park “Freya was seven-years-old when she got hit by the car, it was a 4×4 with a bull bar.” The line shocked me, and I had no idea how to write a book that began with the death of a child! At home I crafted the first chapter, and was completely drawn into the grief her family was suffering, and I imagined how it would appear to a child on the other side of Heaven.

-Is any part of it based off of real-life experiences or people? Thankfully I’ve not suffered like Freya’s family, though we do have family experience of both cancer and unfulfilled dreams, which are strong themes within the book.

-Can you describe the process of writing your book? It was cathartic. It’s a difficult subject, but one that leaped into my head and heart, and refused to let go. This book flowed and told me what to write…the only time I’ve ever pantsed a book as I’m a planner at heart!

-Is this the first book you’ve ever written? What’s your previous experience with writing? I realised I could write books almost fourteen years ago and began with a children’s fantasy adventure trilogy. These books need rewriting and severe editing, but I still love them. I also have a half written dragon epic, and a sequel to ‘Beneath the Rainbow’.

-What challenges did you encounter when first writing and publishing the book? How have the challenges changed with the re-release? At first, I truly had no idea what I was doing! I wrote ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ with no thought for genre, or age, or marketing. I put it on Kindle then joined Twitter hoping to sell it…thankfully I didn’t pimp it, instead I discovered how social media worked and found a wonderful writing community. Now the book has been revised, reformatted, redesigned and rereleased. I finally have online support, confidence in my writing and a better understanding of the business!

-What plans do you have for future writing? ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is going through its first edit, hoping to release it at the end of next Summer. This November I’m planning the third book in the series tentatively titled ‘Beneath the Stormy Sky’.

-What advice would you give anyone who is considering writing a book? Flash Fiction! Flash writing has honed every writing skill I have and has made me a much better writer! Give it a go, short and sweet, and fun. Regarding the book itself, edit well…and lots, and lots! Get as much professional help as you can afford, and find a supportive writing community…they are priceless!

-What’s your writing environment like? I write on my laptop, on my lap, lol. I prefer silence, and often forget to drink or eat while I write! My favourite writing time is once I’ve done the school run, or late at night.

-How do you balance writing with family? I generally write when the family are at school or work, I need the peace!

-What support systems do you have for your writing endeavors? An online writing community…like I said, other writers know what you’re going through, take all advise that’s offered! Lastly, I could not do this without the support of my family. My husband encourages and respects my writing, and my children both read and critique my work, and I sometimes listen!

Beneath the Rainbow is available on Amazon.com, and it’s not expensive at all. U.S. customers click here, and U.K. customers click here!

Beneath the Rainbow cover

Beneath the Rainbow

“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”

Dreams define us, shape us and realise our potential…they make us who we are.

Freya won’t let death stand in her way.

When she dies Freya knows she needs to move on, but is caught within her mother’s grief and the discovery of terminally ill Old Thomas. Finding she can affect the lives of those beyond her heaven she fights to reach her mother and wants to help Thomas realise his final dream.

Meanwhile, her family finds her own list of goals and soon discovers that Thomas has a burning desire to ride a motorbike.

Freya intends to create a rainbow, the last item on her list, to reach her mother, but her pale arcs won’t achieve closure. She needs scarlet like remembrance poppies then sunset orange and sunflower yellow. She makes green like her willow and blue like daddy’s t-shirt. Finally conjuring indigo, the shade of deepening night and violet to match Purple Ted…

Beneath these colours will Freya reach her mother, wait for Old Thomas and be ready to move on?

Discover the importance of dreams and fulfilment in Freya’s heart-breaking and uplifting tale of grief, hope, triumph and joy.

Lisa Shambrook

Lisa Shambrook

Born and raised in vibrant Brighton, England, Lisa’s lyrical writing is emotional and imaginative. She concentrates on description and colour, and hopes her readers will easily visualise the narrative. Her first book ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.

A wife and mother, Lisa draws inspiration from family life, faith, memory and imagination. After having her first of three children, Lisa has lived in Carmarthen, West Wales, another town rich in legend and lore.

Lisa loves family time, walking the family’s excitable German Shepherd, beaches, scrap-booking, photography, art and last, but not least, writing…she says “There is nothing better than escaping and immersing yourself in a good story!” You can follow her blog at http://www.thelasykrystallos.blogspot.co.uk

To read another exciting interview about Lisa, visit LE Jamez’ blog.

Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire

tomb 3

Photos courtesy of http://www.paulramey.me

(Excerpt from book:)

“’As you see on that elegant tombstone over there, Margharet Fullman passed away on April 23, 1724.  She was only nineteen when she left this world.’

“The tall figure paused, letting the drama of it take root.  ‘Now you’ll remember,’ he pointed this flashlight back down the path ‘one Hadley Williamson, twenty-three years old, who passed away on the very same day as Margharet.  There is no documentation as of the circumstances of either’s demise.’

“Satisfied murmurs among his tour group let Edgar Wilde know he had them in the palm of his hand.  He loved a captive audience.

“‘Given the date, it could possibly be nothing more than simple, tragic coincidence- yellow fever, perhaps.  However, some have claimed that they were actually found by Margharet’s father- a certain Barnes Fullman- the night before their deaths, caught in a very passionate embrace.  Mr. Fullman was clearly a very important man in this town, yet to this day his existence is denied.  In fact, the name Barnes Fullman isn’t found in any of the official historical documents of this town.  Not even a tombstone to remember him by.’”

tomb 2

A precocious 15-year-old, Edgar Wilde knows he’s considered a freak by classmates, but it doesn’t bother him.  He’s already earning money by giving cemetery tours, and has a deep love of history and old books.  Edgar knows a good mystery when he sees one, and he knows something more exists to the Barnes Fullman legend than anybody in the Historical Society will admit.

edgar wilde

A first novel for both author Paul Ramey and his publisher Nine Muse Press, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire rolls them, full speed, into the fiction world.  Starting out with fast-paced intrigue, it doesn’t let go of the mystery.  Even at the very end, a little intrigue remains.

I bought this book a few days after it became available to the public, and started it a few weeks later.  Though details of my life interfered with the nonstop reading I would have loved, I still didn’t lose the story for the interruptions.  Narration and setting were succinct enough to plant them in my mind, and characters drew me in.  When I took the book up again, I jumped right back into Edgar Wilde’s world.

The characters are well done.  Edgar is so believable that I laughed out loud when he shied away from Sarah the Barista’s overt flirtation.  He acts like a nerdy 15-year-old boy would act, and Shelby is successfully portrayed as a not-yet-tainted teenage girl.  I can easily imagine Cora and Gertrude clucking like old hens over cups of coffee, and I’d love to have both Felicia and Aubry as aunts.  Corinthian would be a great friend, up until he put me on a rack.

So what’s the basic rundown of this book?

Rating: PG-13.  I sigh whenever I mark a book down because of a scattering of foul language or a short sexual scene.  But as I know many of my friends would want to be warned about even a single curse word, I also know they’re part of a large group of readers.  Though Edgar Wilde is appropriate in every other way for young teens, a bullying character drops a couple of F-bombs early on in the book.  They’re in context; they’re from an antagonist; the character gets chided for uttering them.  But they’re there.

Last year, a friend called me up seeking advice on two documentaries the school wanted to show her 6th grader.  She had to sign a permission form.  One was rated PG, the other PG-13.  I had seen both movies on several occasions, so I knew exactly why the one got the PG-13 label… somebody dropped a single F-bomb.  Children hear it all the time on the playground, repeat it to their friends, and hide it from their moms.  But, as widespread and commonplace as it may be, it still turns many readers away.

Would I recommend this book to my own children, ages 11 and 13?  Yes.  With warnings about the few cuss words.

Credibility rating: 99%.  As a mystery story, some truth has to be stretched.  I loved how Mr. Ramey delved into the superstitions and prejudice of colonial New England for his stories.  It already lends intrigue, and sets up many stories for the possibilities of mass hysteria among a fearful people.  Only one part of this book felt out of place, though.  (Spoiler Alert!)  At the end, where Corinthian took Shelby to the rack, it felt forced.  Edgar followed them down into the chamber, and boom!  She was on the rack.  That fast.  Also, this move seemed out of place for a man who had shown no other hints of sadism during the entire book.  That said… it’s the only part I can argue with.

Satisfaction rating: Yes, please.  From beginning to end, Edgar Wilde read smoothly and satisfied me.  But now I wonder… will we be seeing more of Edgar from Paul Ramey and NMP?

I invite Mr. Ramey to answer that for us, if he has a moment.

Want to read the book?  Here’s the link through Amazon!  If you have another e-reader other than Kindle, buy through Nine Muse Press itself.

If you go through Nine Muse Press’ link, you can download a sample chapter.

And be sure to check out Paul Ramey’s blog.

Next up?  Dead Sea Games: Adrift by J. Whitworth Hazzard

The Seal Island Trilogy

selkie

“Selkies?” My husband leaned over my shoulder and peered at the computer screen. “Isn’t that pretty much a were-seal?”

Without turning my head, I nodded to the tone of, “Yes, what’s your point?”

“Ooookay…”

“It works,” I said while trying to read at the same time. “She’s taken the concept and run with it. And it works.”

When I asked my husband to help me read and review books, he said he would do it as long as he didn’t have to read any romance. He likes fantasy, and he enjoys a little romantic resolution at the end. But if the author lists “romance” as the genre, he’s not interested.

I admit to a secret soft spot for romance. It’s a secret because I pretend to be a tough broad, and romance is famous for its sap. I can’t just read any romance, though. I don’t want a boring, contemporary setting. It has to have a fantasy element. It can’t be what everyone else is reading. It can’t be cliché.

What constitutes cliché? Vampires within a love story now count as cliché. Ms. Meyer took that last horse and rode it until it collapsed. Even if someone else wove a fabulous tale with some new gimmick, I’m not interested if vampires fall in love. Quickly becoming cliché are Greek gods, angels, and demons. As soon as a few more authors figure out how to write zombies as sympathetic characters, those join the list.

Common Seal, Glengarriff

What, exactly, is a selkie? In Irish mythology, a selkie is a seal that can shed its skin and walk on land as a human female. She’s powerful, similar to a siren. However, if a human male finds her pelt, she must obey him unless she can reclaim it. I had learned about selkies when I read a book about fairies as a preteen. I’d never seen the concept used in a story. So, when Sophie Moss offered The Selkie Spell as a free download for St. Patrick’s Day, she caught my attention.

Currently, Ms. Moss has two books available in the Seal Island Trilogy: The Selkie Spell and The Selkie Enchantress. Her third, The Selkie Sorceress, is due to release on April 25th. You can learn about these books on her blog.

In The Selkie Spell, American doctor Tara Moore arrives on a little Irish island as she runs from her abusive husband. She meets Dominic O’Sullivan and works in his pub. Events and details unravel about the island’s legend, and Tara has to face her husband in addition to answering the legend.

01_Selkie_Spell

The Selkie Enchantress starts about three months after the prequel ended, where Caitlin has fallen in love with Dominic’s brother, Liam. When a mysterious woman and her child arrive on the island, trapping Liam in a spell, Caitlin unravels a second legend of which she is a part. After fragments of her past return, Caitlin has more to fight for than just Liam.

02_Selkie_Enchantress

Alright, it’s review time.

I enjoyed these. They contained an appropriate amount of sap, for they are romance first and foremost. The sap did not run intolerably sweet, though, and the books avoided many pitfalls for which romance is criticized. First, she did not use a bullying, overbearing and abusive alpha males as protagonists. Both Dominic and Liam are strong and masculine, but they don’t push around their women. They don’t control them or demean them. The controlling men are antagonists, such as Tara’s ex-husband. The “saved by a man” motif isn’t an issue, for the women are the heroes in these books. They do the necessary saving. As far as the heroines’ demeanors, they have goals aside from falling in love. Their relationships do not define their lives, and though Caitlin has a little remorse for some of her actions, they don’t compromise themselves for the sake of their men.

Rating: Grownup. Really, this depends on what level of cursing and sex you consider tolerable. I say these are grownup because many of my friends, grownups included, want a squeaky clean story. Both of these books contain a few F-bombs and a few sex scenes. The cursing is minimal, though, and the sex doesn’t dominate the story. As the author is careful to make the scenes tasteful, she manages to stay a step above most sex scenes in today’s romance novels. Some readers were bothered by the violence in the first book, but I found it appropriate for character development without becoming graphic. So, if you want super soapy clean reading, you’ve been warned. If you’re fine with a few F-bombs and sex scenes, they won’t be an issue.

Credibility rating: Escapist. If you want a serious epic story with earth-shattering denouement, take a moment and read the genre: Irish Fairy Tale/Fantasy Romance. This is a fun read. It’s not going to define your life, and it’s not going to become the next movie blockbuster. Wait… I retract that. I never expected a vampire and a mopey girl to define the next level of teen entertainment, either. So you never know. Anyway… the storyline of The Selkie Spell was a lot more realistic, interweaving the fairytale into a very real problem of domestic violence. The Selkie Enchantress jumped right into fantasy. All antagonists were magical in some way. The main conflict itself existed on paper rather than emulating real life. Is this a problem? Again, read the genre. If you’re looking for a realistic romantic story, you’re in the wrong e-aisle.

Satisfaction rating: Salivating. For the third book. Arrgghh, come on April 25th! Until then, I’ll sample some other worthy indie works to keep me company.

03_Selkie_Sorceress

P.S… you can download her books here…
Selkie Spell
Selkie Enchantress

Happy Birthday, Sophie Moss!

The Circle of Books

Lately, I’ve come across a very beautiful thing. An author’s support ring. While seeking advice from other published authors charitable with advice, I learned something valuable: you get what you give. What goes around comes around. Pretty general cliché stuff, right? Nope, just a little truth that rings out in many settings.

You see, as indie authors quickly learn, putting your words into publication has become the easier part of the process. With enough money, the right software, the right publisher… you can successfully publish absolute drivel. Or a riveting, earth-shaking novel. Either way, nobody is going to even know you’re published unless you get your name out there. Even more… nobody is even going to care.

You need people to support you, who want to see you succeed. People who think you’re cool enough to recommend to others. People who will share around your Amazon link. People who can tell you where you’re messing up, and the best way to fix the problem so you can move on to greatness.

If I intended to publish for a group of 20 friends, I don’t need to go any further. If I intend to push my work out there, to test my limits, to learn and grow and play in the ranks of the many good authors out there, I need to do a little more work.

My author ring grows. It’s a warm, comfortable, welcoming place to be. They read my blog, and they respond. They offer valuable advice. They recommend books to read and review, which helps out either them or another in their ring. In addition to helping them, I’ve been highly entertained by some very worthy fiction.

And just today, Anna Meade from my author ring opened up Nine Muse Press, with that same intent.

It goes deeper, though…

Nine Muse Press also publishes!

This is where I clasp my hands in earnest anticipation… hope… daydreams… and admit I still have a lot of work to do. A lot of networking. A lot of giving before karma cycles about my way.

So far, Nine Muse Press has published one book, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire.

edgar wilde

Soon to come: Orison by Daniel Swensen. Hey… that book sounds familiar!

Orison

Is there any hands-clasping hope that NMP will publish Minstrel, or Heroes, or Legacy? I’m sure every other author in Ms. Meade’s author’s ring asked himself or herself the same question today, regarding their work.

I’m up for the challenge. Bring it on! Give me the books to read and review, the friendships to cultivate. Give me the constructive criticism I need to become greater. Someday, I’ll have paid my dues and will be ready for karma to come back my way.

Do you want to help out a newly published author? Visit NMP’s books page and download Edgar Wilde… it’s not expensive at all! I’m downloading it tonight.

A Fool of Ships

 ship 1

Hiding on Lord Bryant’s fief, Shamus considered fighting for the crown, or at least for the people of Cynegil. While the king entreated his sycophant nobles, the countryside weltered in drought. Riordan blamed his brother for all discord. Even Shamus’ attempts to save food had incited a riot within the peasantry. Now with a price on his head, the fugitive prince considered fighting for a people that did not want him. He also considered moving forward. When he had arrived at Bryant’s estate, he found farmers and craftsmen who had also grown weary of Riordan’s wasteful opulence, men who acknowledged where the true problem lay. They all wanted to move forward.

Riordan and most of the southern nobles had always considered Shamus’ work with the northern clans to be foolery. Years of work with the wildmen taught Shamus whom he could trust. When Liam arrived at the fief, hidden deep in the belly of the players’ wagon, Shamus shared his plan: take those farmers and craftsmen, and try to convince the Daoine Ban clans to let them settle.

Shamus had several hundred discontent yet able-bodied people to transport to a better land. He needed a ship. Not just any ship. He needed a chronologically accurate ship.

Somewhere between the Roman galleys and the Santa Maria, something happened. Well, actually, not much happened. Not much at all. As with artwork and architecture, not a lot of progression occurred in the medieval maritime world. When fantasy books and films depict ships, they tend to lean toward roomy and streamlined models like the Spanish galleons. Those were just more effective, more beautiful, more… impressive.

galleon

A medieval cog was not.

cog drawing medieval

If I’m going to write about ringmail instead of chainmail or plate armor, about costumes called houppelandes and cotehardies, I cannot use a galleon as a ship. I needed a cog.

For anyone who isn’t so familiar with medieval terminology, I’m writing a milieu with the equivalent of 13th Century Europe. Yes, it’s fantasy. Yes, I have artistic license to stretch things a bit. But only a moderate amount of stretching can occur before a story becomes contrived. If I’m going to use a galleon, why don’t I just have my soldiers fighting in riveted ringmail, pulling their flintlock pistols from their holsters? If I want to adhere to the right milieu and avoid anachronism, I have to use the right wardrobe, the right armor and weapons… the right ships.

Santa-Maria

Before galleons of the 16th and 17th centuries, Europe had carracks and caravels. Columbus’ Santa Maria has been described as either a carrack or a caravel. That takes us from the 1700s, down to 1492. I still needed to go back a few centuries.

knarr

What about a viking knarr? This fits the right time period, but not the right purpose. First of all, Shamus fled from a civilization comparable to medieval Italy or Spain. He fled to a civilization comparable to that of northern Britain or Scandinavia. Second, a fugitive prince, with only a modest agricultural landowner as his benefactor, had nowhere to find a warship. The king had warships. Nobles with vineyards had cargo ships. In addition to transporting people, Shamus also had to transport livestock, seed, and enough food to support his settlers during the pending winter. He knew what land he traveled to; he knew he needed ample supplies.

A descendant of the Norse knarr, the medieval cog was a very unimpressive craft. Slow, heavy, and flat-bottomed, it was functional. And it was small. I had hoped to write about Shamus’ settlers, several hundred people who could start a promising settlement in the northern lands. Some would die in the harsh winter, some of illness or accidents. Several hundred people could travel on a galleon.

Several dozen people could travel on a cog.

Hoping to allow a few more settlers than two or three dozen, I researched further. I found this link:

http://www.startedsailing.com/cogs-and-other-12th-century-sailing-vessels.html

Again and again, the author of this site trounces writers’ hopes of transporting large loads of people and cargo over long distances. It was not done. They could transport people via a galley-type warship with no deck. Or they could transport goods over short distances with a cog. Up to about four dozen passengers could fit on a cog, but they likely slept on deck because of crowded conditions and a horrendous smell in the hold. They slept under the stars, in the weather. According to the author of this site, they were used to it.

cog

This picture from Wikipedia shows a recreation of a cog. A single-masted ship propelled by a rudder, it had little room for anything. Judging from the size of this ship, Shamus could transport a few sheep and some chickens. He had to leave the cattle behind.

excavated cog

This picture, an actual cog from ca. 1380, reinforces the lack of space. The precise dimensions of the Bremen cog were 24m long, 8m in the beam, and just over 4m on the sides… a cargo space of about 130 tons.

In addition to small hold space and little deck space, most of these ships had no enclosed captain’s cabins. They had no kitchens. For the most part, those happened later. Some of the warships had “castles,” raised areas from which the sailors could shoot arrows.

plantagenet ship

This picture of a medieval warship with the heraldic symbol of the Plantagenets depicts fore and aft castles so high they would have destabilized the ship.

A comfortable cabin to hold meetings, as seen in the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, did not happen this early. This was a bit of a problem during Shamus’ journey. He nearly had mutiny from overcrowded settlers, all seasick, with some small children and two pregnant women. They survived it. However, during the last journey in Minstrel, Liam had to bring back about the same number of people. He also needed a place to secure Maira, who suffered massive internal injuries and could not recline in a hammock or on deck in the storm. A bit of deus ex machina might allow a nicer, more evolved ship to appear in Kylemore’s harbor right when they needed it. After working so hard to research the correct ship, though, I’m not going to give in to a sudden, convenient solution. Maira had to travel in the shelter of a forecastle, or perhaps a hollow built from casks and barrels. Nothing would be comfortable.

The inconvenience of such a small and primitive ship did provide additional conflict where I needed it though. During the last chapter, I had some fabulous elements: Maira battled aggressive injuries from her punishment for defying the king. A royal warship followed them north to Shamus’ new settlement. Liam and Tristan battled wills against each other while they both grappled to keep the captain from turning the ship around and surrendering them to the crown. A violent storm nearly capsized them.

And… a putrid, overcrowded ship made things even rosier for everyone.

ship final