When the four of them arrived at the Renaissance Festival, they walked through the gated entrance. There was an eight-foot wooden fence that looked like it went all around the parameter of the festival. It reminded Char of a fortress that you’d find around a castle in England in the Middle Ages. Off immediately to the left was the entrance to the men’s bathroom and to the right was the entrance to the women’s bathroom.
Everyone spoke in the old English Elizabethan style. A wench dressed in an Elizabethan era costume had a toilet seat in her hand and a pitcher of water. She came up to Vincent, Jonathan, Rosie, and Char, poured the water through the toilet seat, and kept saying, “Privy? Privy?”
There was already a large crowd of people, and most were dressed in the clothing that was similar to what was worn during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Everyone was lined up, waiting on the parade that would have the queen and king opening the fair and welcoming the people. First out were the court jesters, followed by the centaurs, magicians, a hunchback, and jugglers. There was a man walking in the parade that stood at least thirty feet tall. He was standing on poles covered with brown felt or velvet material with feet that looked like huge dog paws. Next to come were the swordfighters, the wizard, and poets. After that came the jousting knights, and the king’s men dressed in chainmail armor. There were children running all around, dressed in medieval clothes. Then, finally, the King and Queen arrived, marking the end of the parade and the opening of the events.
Past the men’s bathroom on the left were adult games such as the Axe Throw, Star Throw, and the Knife Throw.
Rosie challenged Jonathan. “You probably couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn throwing that axe.”
Jonathan glanced at Vincent, who smiled and said, “Don’t look at me.”
Jonathan then looked back at Rosie and replied, “I may not be able to throw an axe, but I can throw a knife.” He walked up to the knife throwing booth and paid for seven turns. Everyone stood back and watched as Jonathan threw the knives, hitting six dead center out of seven, and winning a mid-sized stuffed animal.
Vincent and Char were walking along the rough terrain that was uneven and muddy, with tree roots sticking up above the ground. Another wench came up to Vincent. She had on an Elizabethan-style dress that was very low-cut in the front, showing her cleavage. She had glued two large styrofoam cups onto her breasts. Char grinned at Vincent as he looked at the wrench and murmured, “Hmm…”
“Ale, my lord?” she asked.
He shook his head no and looked over at Char with his eyebrows raised, a grin on his face.
Soon they came upon a centaur and a hunchbacked individual walking around, begging for alms.
They walked by the Drench A Wench and Soak A Bloke booths, and Jonathan challenged Vincent. “You used to have a good throwing arm, think you can ‘Soak a Bloke?’” he asked mischievously.
Vincent laid out some money for four balls. If he hit the target, it would drop the bloke into the dunk tank. Vincent threw the first ball and missed.
The bloke laughed and said, “Ye miss, ye miss, ye thro’ like a wench.”
He threw the second ball, and it hit the target on an angle but didn’t sink the bloke.
The bloke taunted Vincent, “Ye’re wench can throw better than ye.”
Vincent snorted and threw the third ball, again just missing the target.
The bloke said, “Let me have me wench show ye how it be done” and sent his wench out to show him a mock display of how to throw the ball.
Vincent’s grin turned wolfish, and he said, “Won’t miss this time.”
He dunked the bloke. Everyone around them started clapping, glad to see someone win at the game.
A group of jesters came up and around Char, Vincent, Rosie, and Jonathan and other people that were walking alongside of them. They had bright red-colored clothing and eccentric hats in a motley patterns. Some were doing acrobatics, some were juggling, and some were even telling jokes and stories.
One jester said, “Why do dwarves have such big nostrils? Because they have big fingers.”
Another jester said, “An ogre walks into a bar with flint and steel. The bartender lets him in, but says, ‘Don’t start anything.’”
Vincent and Char laughed at the bawdy and somewhat humorous jokes.
The four of them got to the jousting area at the back of the festival and saw that a game was due to start in a few minutes, so they sat down, the men on the outside and Rosie and Char sitting next to each other in the middle. The knights all came out and were introduced to the audience, and everyone whistled and put their hands up in the air, yelling or woo-hooing, including Char and Rosie.
After the jousting match was over and the knight was rewarded by the king, the four decided they were hungry. Vincent and Jonathan got roasted turkey legs, which were about ten inches long. Char and Rosie chose fish and chips with iced tea.
After they ate their lunches, they were surrounded by magicians and dancers and fairies. They strolled on over to the artisans and looked at the jewelry, pottery, candles, and other art work that was made to resembled the era they were enraptured in.
As they continued to walk through the festival, they happened upon the pavilion where the seats were cement and it sloped downward in a half-circle toward a center stage. They sat down and watched two plays, one a comedy and one a Shakespearean play.
After the Shakespearean play, they walked by the human-powered swings and other rides that were human powered.
Jon asked, “Do you want to try the swing?”
Rosie and Char eyeballed the ride and looked at each other. Both shook their heads and said “no” simultaneously.
They wandered upon a small group that was trying to extract information from another individual who had a young pet pig on a leash. They finally started to give up and began to walk away when suddenly a wizard standing in the group said, “I bet the pig could tell us what we need to know.” Someone from the small group then said, “Yeah, I bet the barbarian could talk to it also, they have the same intelligence.”
Vincent looked at Char with a bemused expression on his face and rolled his eyes. Char started to chuckle as they walked away.
By 4:00 PM, they had covered the whole area of the Renaissance Festival and were ready to leave. On the way home they decided to stop at Armadillo Steak House for dinner, and Vincent pulled into the parking lot.
This interview is with the main character of Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that retells Arthurian legend from Guinevere’s point of view, beginning when she is 11 and going through her fifth decade of life. It takes place in late fifth century Britain. Daughter of Destiny focuses on Guinevere’s early life before she marries King Arthur.
Please introduce yourself for those who haven’t met you in your author’s other books.
My name is Guinevere. I am the daughter of King Leodgrance of Gwynedd and Corinna, his wife. I have the gift of the Sight, but I don’t yet know how to control it. My gift is different from others, in that I can’t see the future, but rather things that are happening now, but at a great distance. I never planned to become a priestess – I wanted to be a warrior queen – but my parents believe going to Avalon and studying their ways will help me control my visions.
Tell us about your family. How did your upbringing influence who you are today?
My mother is royalty in the Votadini tribe in what you would call southern Scotland. She is a warrior and has been teaching me how to fight since I was old enough to feed myself. I love my mother very much. She has always encouraged me to be strong and speak my mind, qualities common to the women of her tribe, and so I do. It quite often gets me into trouble!
My father is my hero. He is the king of our lands, which are in what you would call northern Wales. He is descendant from the Romans who lived on our isle until about seventy five years ago. As such, he believes in order and conformity to rules, but he does often indulge my mother’s native ways, which are not the norm for his people.
I had brothers and sisters, twelve in total, but they all died either before or at birth or in childhood. I only remember a few of them. Being my parent’s only living child means I am used to getting what I want and can be very self-centered at times.
What made you want your author to tell your story?
I have been misrepresented and mis-remembered throughout history. All most people know about me is that I was married to King Arthur and had an affair with my champion, Lancelot. But I was so much more than that. I had a childhood, a first love, friends and plans for my future before I married Arthur, and I lived a long life after he was killed in the battle of Camlann – and no, the monks did not get it right. I did not end my days in a convent; I was a champion for my people, much like Boudicca before me. These are all things I want people to know, to experience with me, so that I will be properly remembered and can take my place next to my famous husband, rather than living in his shadow.
I chose my author because she was already thinking about the hidden parts of my life, about who I really was, so I knew she would be open to hearing my voice. We’re nearly done telling my story now, and I’m proud of what she has accomplished for us both.
In addition to chronicling your life, your story is a love story. What was your first thought when you met the hero?
That he was very attractive! (I was 14, what do you expect me to think?) I don’t want to mention his name for fear of ruining and interesting part of my story, but I will say that no one has ever considered that he and I may have been in love before. It will come as quite a surprise to those who think Lancelot was my childhood love (as other stories would have you believe) or that Arthur and I were childhood sweethearts.
Why did you fall for him/her?
I met this man in Avalon – he was studying with the Druids – and had the chance to get to know him while we studied the stars and tried to divine the will of the gods. What attracted me to him beyond his looks was the poetic nature of his soul. Unlike so many our men, who are concerned with their physical prowess and skills in battle, he dared to ask the bigger questions of life. I came to know him as a kind, gentle, intelligent, loving man.
What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
My mother would tell you my biggest strengths are my intelligence and willingness to speak my mind. But I think it is my resilience. I’ve been through a lot in my life, have had to take on roles I never expected and did not want, have suffered much heartache and grief, and have seen more death than one person should, but somehow I’ve managed to persevere. Perhaps you can attribute that to the faith I learned in Avalon.
I am aware that I can be very selfish and judgmental, two things I had to work on my entire life. Galen, who you will meet in this book, says I ask too many accusatory questions. Sometimes I think he’s right. Isolde, who you will also meet in this book, thinks I am naïve.
What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
There were many throughout my life, but for the purposes of this part of the story, I would say being thrust into roles I never anticipated and did not want. I had to learn to cede control of my life over to the gods, trusting that they would not lead me wrong.
If your story was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
My author believes Jessica Brown Finley (of Downton Abbey, Labyrinth, and Winter’s Tale) would be perfect to portray me. I tend to agree. She looks like me and is a strong woman.
Nicole Evelina is St. Louis historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was recently published and has been short-listed for the Chaucer Award in Early Historical Fiction.
She has three additional books coming out in 2016:
She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.
She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.
Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
She spent 15 years researching Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain and the various peoples, cultures and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome. Other historical interests include the Middle Ages and women who made their mark on history. She’s also a frequent visitor to Chicago, where Been Searching for You takes place.
Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
Historical Fiction/Romantic Comedy
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr: Nicole Evelina
Member: Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America (PRO), Women's Fiction Writers Association, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, Independent Book Publishers Association, Historical Fiction Writers of America, Broad Universe, Mythopoeic Society, St. Louis Writer's Guild
The only thing standing between her and disaster is a man she can’t trust …
As far as Dinah Pittman is concerned, men can’t be trusted. Especially cops. Her own father was a cop and a convicted felon who stole a small fortune before dying in prison. The best part? No one knows where the money is…and someone is willing to kill off everyone who knows anything about it.
And Dinah is next.
Rafe Morales left the Dallas police force to settle down to a simpler life in the small Texas town of El Royo. Instead, he finds himself protecting an infuriating, tough-as-nails, oh-so-sexy victim—and driving himself crazy with a thoroughly unprofessional desire.
But as the body count rises, Rafe and Dinah must find a way to trust each other…before they both end up dead.
Scene from the book:
The front door rebounded and clipped Rafe’s shoulder. He kicked it closed with his boot before raking his flashlight beam across the unlit entryway. The hall was clear. His heart thumping against ribs, he burst into the living room. His light hit the figure of a woman, and his feet froze. He tilted the beam up and framed Dinah Pittman’s expressionless face.
Most girls would have screamed or hid when he kicked in the door. Not this one. She had balls, he’d give her that.
Her forearm lifted to shield her eyes from the light. “Who are you? What do you want?” She sounded tired. “I already told Teke, I don’t know where the money is.”
Rafe lowered the flashlight and rolled his shoulder to loosen a tight muscle. There were about two dozen abandoned bungalows in this part of town. When he saw a candle flickering in the window, he’d expected a confrontation with teenagers or maybe a squatter.
He stepped into the candlelight. “Officer Morales, ma’am. Got something against electricity?” As soon as the words were out, he regretted them. The pink flyers. She’d needed money to turn on the lights.
Her mouth tightened. “Get out.” Turning to a small table by the window, she gathered up scattered cards, probably her tarot cards. Had she found customers already?
He studied her as he summoned up an appropriate apology. She wore cut-offs and a white T-shirt. His eyes swept down her slim legs to her bare feet and red toenails before he could stop himself. Why were pain-in-the-ass women always hot?
“I didn’t mean to upset you—”
“Don’t flatter yourself.”
“That’s tough to do with you around.”
Her hand stilled for a moment, then returned to its task. “You could have knocked.”
“Sometimes we get squatters in these abandoned houses. They’re more likely to be discouraged by a show of force.”
“I could have been a mass murderer. Aren’t you supposed to call for backup?” She glanced down at his flashlight. “If I was a bad guy with a gun, you’d be dead, Officer Morales.”
She’d read him right. He’d tried to pull out his service revolver when he broke down the door, but—predictably—his hand had turned to Jell-O. After two years, he still couldn’t get past the night in Dallas when his beautiful, daring Sam’s luck ran out, and he’d avenged her but failed to live up to his own lofty ideals. So he relied on the element of surprise and big fists.
Gathering up the cards, she set them in a neat stack. “As you can see, I am not a squatter.” Her gaze flickered to his flashlight, then back up to his face. “There’s an empty house about two blocks down if you’re determined to rescue one.”
The corner of his mouth inched up. She’d be a handful…for the right man, which sure as hell wasn’t him. Not anymore. “Thanks for the tip.”
About Mari Manning
Let’s start with the fun stuff. I love small towns, mysteries, quiet men, laughter, old-fashioned spaghetti dinners. I love boots and shopping and jokes and Hershey’s dark chocolate and white wine. I love lots of things. But my first love is reading.
I love to read. Just about anything, but it has to be well-written. I go through periods where I am into historical novels or romance or mystery or history or biography. I never know when my desires will suddenly change.
Now for the writer-ish, official stuff: Mari Manning is the author of several contemporary romances and three romantic suspense novels set in the Texas Hill Country. Stranger at My Door is the first in her A Murder in Teas series. The second, Stranger in My House will be published by Entangled later this year. The third book in the series is Stranger in My Bed. Currently Mari is working on a series of cozy mysteries.
She and her husband live in Chicago.
Buy links to all the major electronic sites are here:
Can two former lovers set aside their differences and work together to bring a criminal to justice?
Five years ago, Sami Parker's life was changed forever when she was injured in a bombing incident which left another young woman dead—a woman who happened to be the fiancée of Sheriff Makeeta Robertson, Sami's former lover. Initially, Sami was a suspect in the crime, but the sheriff was forced to release her due to a lack of evidence. The town, convinced that she got away with murder, turned against her.
At last an arrest has been made and the sheriff needs Sami's help to get a conviction, but can she trust him? Although wary and cautious, she wants to see this man brought to justice and wants to clear her own name once and for all. But the awakening feelings she has for Makeeta bring yet another problem. Then there's the secret she's kept for the last five years—one she may not be able to keep any longer, and one that may change the outcome of the trial.
Please introduce yourself for those who haven’t met you in your author’s other books.
Sami Parker, I’m a best selling author.
Makeeta Robertson, I’m the Sheriff of Big Horn County
Tell us about your family.
Sami: My grandmother is dead, and I don’t know where my mother is or who my father is. I was taken in by Stephanie Powers and I stayed with her until she died.
Makeeta: I was born and raised by good parents. We lived on the reservation and life there was not easy.
How did your upbringing influence who you are today?
Sami: Stephanie taught me a lot. Not selling my body for money, helping other people, work ethics, and dignity when facing death. I got through the past five years because of the strength she instilled in me.
Makeeta: Although my parents lived on the reservation and after many years, have become successful living there, I did not want to live on the reservation or raise a family there. So I followed my grandfather’s steps, and left the reservation and joined first joined the military, then I worked for the Sheriff department. My parents wanted me to marry within the tribe, and if the bombing hadn’t happened, I would have done so. But after everything happened, I decided that I would live my life as I chose and not be influence by others.
What was your first thought when you met the hero/heroine?
Sami: We met at the hospital where I worked. He was collecting records for an investigation he was working on. I was immediately attracted to him.
Makeeta: Sami was this perky young woman who bent over backwards to help me get information that I was looking for when I was conducting an investigation. After I concluded my investigation, I had to ask her out. I was smitten.
Why did you choose your occupation?
Sami: I was chased out of Milne City because everyone thought I had something to do with the bombing at the pharmacy. So I took classes and became a mystery writer. I love to write, and during the preceding five years, I would escape from my lonely life into the life of my character.
Makeeta: I was in the military and when I came out, I decided to go into law enforcement. Later I ran for Sheriff and won.
What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
Sami: Coming face to face with Makeeta again, and facing the town people, to testify against the person responsible for the bombing incident.
Makeeta: Accepting the fact that I needed to do what I wanted to do, not what others wanted me to do. Sami and I both paid a heavy price for the choices I made.
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