Can’t get enough Merlin

Merlin stories abound. Seriously! I did a quick bit of research to see if I could find out just about how many Merlin stories there were and just listed on Wikipedia I found 32 movies, 11 video games, 7 musicals, 87 tv shows and many, many books and short stories.

So who is this wizard who enthralls us so?

Well, according to various legends, he was a Welsh boy who went by the name Emrys or Ambrosius (in Latin). His mother was an ordinary woman; his father an incubus (which is how he gets his powers) or a demon. He might have also been the son of  king in Southern Wales (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth. The paradox about Merlin is that even though he was the son of a demon or the devil, he was also a servant of God.

With loads of political intrigue (brothers fighting each other for the throne; a divided country needing unification) the tales of Merlin and his great prophecies abound. He worked tirelessly to see the Great Britain united—eventually under the reign of King Arthur, who Merlin taught and then brought to power.

The wonderful thing about Merlin is the scope for story within the mythology. Today, I’d like to tell you about one such story – Rolf’s Quest, one of the short stories in the new anthology (in which I’ve got a story as well) Love Least Expected.rolf'squest E-01

The anthology is filled with wonderful stories which span all of romance from historical to contemporary, paranormal and non. But this is the one which, I have to say, I love the most.

It tells the tale of a young man (Rolf) who is a descendent of Merlin. In this version of the tale, Merlin has been trapped into a tree by a spurned lover. Cursing him, she determined that Merlin would live in the tree until a descendent of his was able to have a woman fall in love him (the descendent, not Merlin) without the aid of magic. Enter Rolf.

He’s been trained to be a great magician. One day he spies the beautiful Melissa on her way to London to meet the king, Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her father has arranged a marriage for her that can only proceed with the blessing of the royal pair. Rolf knows that Melissa is the woman he is destined to marry and becomes determined to make her fall in love with him and thus break the spell holding his esteemed ancestor prisoner.

The story takes you through the medieval king’s court, the beautiful romance between Henry and Eleanor, parents trying to do the right thing and a nasty villain. The characters are beautifully developed despite the shortness of the story, and by the end when (I don’t think I’m giving anything away here) Melissa does fall in love with Rolf, you begin to wonder whether freeing Merlin is such a good idea after all. But that is a story Aubrey Wynne, the author, will be telling us some time in the future. I can’t wait!!New Cover

To pre-order your copy of Love Least Expected and/or find out more about the stories in it and authors who wrote them click here. And to see the gorgeous book trailer created by Kris Calvert just click here.

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An anthology is born

New CoverLast October I finally succumbed to peer pressure. For years now I’ve been hearing from writer friends about the Romantic Times Convention. Years ago it was just known as the place where people got dressed up and met the male models who graced the covers of romance novels. It was a reader con. Being a writer of sweet Regency romances, I really didn’t think I’d fit in.

Then I started self-publishing, and not just my sweet Regencies. I published a (for me) hot Regency-set paranormal romance, and I was planning on releasing a Medieval fantasy series which were also hotter than what I’d been writing earlier. With the self-publishing, I needed to spread my reach to more readers and I wasn’t entirely sure how to do that.

That’s when I remembered this conference all my friends had talked about. And, they said, there were now more talks geared towards writers as well. So, I gave in and signed up to attend RT the following May.

It was a time to remember! Oh, my, goodness! The lines! The people! The booze on Bourbon Street (because it just so happened to be in New Orleans this past year)! And the books! There were books floating around everywhere. Yes, there were some great talks, and I was even invited to sit in on a panel on self-publishing, which was loads of fun!

I threw myself into the convention 100%, toting around and giving away free copies of my just-released Medieval fantasy series to just about anybody who stopped to talk to me.  I went from a quiet, lonely writer holed up in her writing space to a chatting, laughing, out-going creature who I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever met before. But I had fun!

The convention goes out with a bang—a huge book signing/sale. Of course, I’d signed up too late to get a seat on the floor with all the other self-pubbed authors, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from attending. I went to play fan-girl and to support my friends who had managed to get in. But, as with everything else that week, there was a huge, long line just to get into the signing.

To pass the time, I turned around and started chatting with the two nice women behind me. They were friends who’d come from Texas to the convention and, it turned out, also writers. Kishan Paul and Valerie Twombly were two of the nicest people I’d met the whole conference. We happily exchanged social media info and tweeted to each other. On-line, they introduced me to another friend of theirs, Aubrey Wynne, who happens to like reading the kind of books I write (she became a fantastic fan of my writing and my blog, as well as a friend).

Over the summer, they contacted me to ask if I might be interested in joining with them in putting together an anthology of short stories about love in odd places. I thought the idea was fantastic, so I happily hopped in. I dropped the book was writing (which I’m still trying to finish up, argh!) and spent some time writing a short story prequel to one of my favorite books I’d written, An Exotic Heir.

The hero of the Regency romance is an Anglo-Indian who has been passed over for a promotion one too many times. He decides to get revenge by making his boss’s daughter fall in love with him. That works out great until he realizes that he has fallen in love with her as well. It’s a story of revenge and discrimination set in Calcutta. So what could be more fun and interesting than the write the story of how this hero’s mother, a good Indian girl from a wealthy family, met and fell in love with an Englishman?

The topic fit in nicely with the theme of the anthology (under—and sometimes in—a mango tree in 18th century Calcutta isn’t your usual setting for a romance) and was so much fun to write since I happened to be in that very city at the time. Now, as we finalize the book and get everything set for its release, I can’t help but be grateful that I decided to bow to peer pressure and to make the most of my time at RT.

Some day I’ll actually meet these fantastic women again face-to-face (sadly not at RT next May as I’ve got conflicting responsibilities), but soon I hope because they are the nicest, warmest, and hardest working people I’ve had the honor to know—aside from being great writers.

For now our anthology, Love Least Expected is available for pre-order. To find out where its available and more about the stories in the book and all of the authors who wrote them click here.