Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, March 28, 2014

Video of the Week: Mary Tudor Song

Its been awhile, history lovers! Let's get our video on :)

Get ready readers! My book, MY LADY VIPER (Tales from the Tudor Court) releases in May 2014!!!

May, 1536.  The Queen is dead.  Long live the Queen.

When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner's axe on a cold spring morning, yet another Anne vows she will survive in the snakepit court of Henry VIII.  But at what cost?

Lady Anne Seymour knows her family hangs by a thread.  If her sister-in-law Jane Seymour cannot give the King a son, she will be executed or set aside, and her family with her.  Anne throws herself into the deadly and intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined at any price to see the new queen's marriage a success and the Seymour family elevated to supreme power.  But Anne's machinations will earn her a reputation as a viper, and she must decide if her family's rise is worth the loss of her own soul...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Why I Write What I Do

Typically I reserve this blog for historical articles and guest authors, but since my dear friend and historical author, Stephanie Dray posted a blog on her writing process and asked me to join her in sharing my own, I thought it would be fun for readers to see how it all works in my head by answering just a few questions!

1) What am I working on?

I am just coming out of deep edits/revisions for my upcoming Tudor historical fiction novel (non-romance) that is releasing May 1st! MY LADY VIPER, has immersed me in the court of Henry VIII and the life of Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset. I'll be going on a blog tour with this book starting May 5th! I'm excited to get this book out in the open. Its been such a thrill to write. Lots of ups and downs, angst, tragedy, emotion. Just amazing to me the amount of drama that actually took place in history.

After I finish up edits and send it off to the formatters for release, I'll begin working on my new Highland romance series, HIGHLAND WARS. This is going to be a huge project with lots of world-building, drama, and of course, heroes we fall in love with and heroines we'd love to be!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well for starters, with my historical fiction novels, I've chosen heroines who have yet to have their voices heard. Diving into their heads, I bring their world to life and work through what is known from them in history and give the reader an explanation for it. For example, Anne from MY LADY VIPER, is known as a viper, a cold woman, who people don't like so much. I've taken her side, and though I use creative license (after all its fiction!), I like to think that I've helped shed some light on why she was thought of this way, and I've redeemed her. The follow up to this book is PRISONER OF THE QUEEN, the story of Anne's daughter-in-law, Katherine Grey who also happens to be the sister of the 9 days queen, Jane Grey.

As far as my Highlander romances go, I focus a lot on the relationship between the hero and heroine, building on how two people who shouldn't be together, end up together. I love that after facing the odds, they can still surmount the insurmountable and find a way to be happy. I tend to add a lot of humor and realism to the books. Readers can connect with the characters, their problems and fall in love with them. I like to think I've created historical characters that modern readers can relate to. And of course, there is a lot of conflict and sizzling-hotness, too!

3) Why do I write what I do?

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. I'm obsessed with history. I could spend hours, days, weeks, immersed in research, episodes on the History Channel or wondering the halls of a museum or monument. I like to sit outside, in the middle of a forest or field, close my eyes, touch the earth and feel what it was like to live back in those days. Since time-travel has yet to be invented, I've taken it into my own hands--through writing. I live vicariously through my characters and I love every minute of it.

I write both historical fiction and historical romance. Historical fiction is wonderful because I can go back in time and create the world that a real historical figure lived in and see it form their perspective. The stories are often heavy, dark and yet, I find a way to make them persevere so that in the end, we are satisfied. With historical romance, though my secondary characters often are true historical figures, I like that I can make up people and put them in eras and events that I have fun researching, and also make them fall in love. I think a common theme you'll find in all of my books--literary and romance alike, is that my characters often triumph over adversity. My heroines are independent women striving to live in a world where women are often oppressed.

4) How does your writing process work?

This is a tough question! Because it works differently for each genre.

One thing both my historical fiction and romance have in common, is that I find the characters first. They and their conflicts come to mind, and then I start to research. I research where they lived, what they ate, what they wore, what events were happening at the time, etc... I build their world. I use note cards or a notebook and do a plot outline/scene breakdown (this can all be put together as my synopsis) Then I write.

When I write historical fiction, I write less words in a longer amount of time... So I get in about 1200-1500 words a day, about one scene, not one chapter. I write very detailed in this first draft. I like to really concentrate on getting all those details write, and building a believable world, dialogue that moves the story along, action. Once I've finished, I print it out, read through it and use plot-boarding to make sure all my characters/plot points make sense and complete themselves. Then I revise. Send chapters off to multiple readers and revise again. Print it out and read again (yes I recycle!), then its off for copy edits. And then I read it again :)

When I write historical romance, I write about 2500-7000 words a day. I write a fast draft--so when I get to the end, the word count is really on 1/2 of the finished product. I like to get all the key plot points written down, the bare bones of the story. Then I go back in and fill it in. Then I revise and send off to beta readers. Once I get crits back, I make those changes, print it out, and then revise edit again. Then its off to the editor!

I think the longest process is the revising, because there are so many ways to improve a story, and before sending it off into the world, you want it to be perfect!

I've decided to pose these same questions to a few of my writer friends! Check out Vonda Sinclair's post here! Check back for more links soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Renee Vincent's Irish Romance Giveaway!

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author, Renee Vincent! She writes amazing Irish historical romance! Today she's here to share a bit about her books with you all! And a hot deal!!! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter--Renee is giving away 5 books to 5 readers!

Thank you so much Eliza Knight and History Undressed for having me today. It’s such an immense pleasure to be here and share with your readers my great news.

As you all may know, Monday was the feast day of St. Patrick. But what you may not have realized about the world renowned holiday is that it’s also the release day of my Emerald Isle Trilogy BoxedSet! Pretty cool, huh?

What makes this boxed set even more special is that it contains three full-length historical romance novels for only 99 cents! And yes, it’s only offered at that price for a limited time, so in order to score this great deal, you’ll need to act fast.

To give you some background on the books, I’ll first start with where it all began: Ræliksen, book one of the trilogy.

This book is about a charismatic Viking chieftain and warrior, Dægan Ræliksen, who falls in love with an Irish princess, Mara. It’s no surprise that the Irish kings of the 10th century didn’t care for the invading Northmen who took over many of their ports. But historically, they also banded together to try to rid them from their shores once and for all. Mara’s father, the king of Connacht, was one of the thirteen kings who gave thought to joining this campaign. However, his daughter falls prey to another band of Vikings set on war with the Irish. Dægan must save her from these ruthless men, while trying to win her father’s favor. Therein, lies the major conflict for book one.

Book two, Mac Liam, is about an Irish hunter, Breandán Mac Liam, (whom we meet in the first book), and who is also in love with Mara, but from afar. She doesn’t know him as he’s just a common man. This book begins seven years after the ending of the first, and still the Irish hunter cannot rid the beautiful princess from his heart.

While the first two books are about two very different men who love the Connacht princess and the lengths they are willing to go to ensure her safety, the third book, The Fall of Rain, takes place in modern times when a Norse archeologist traces his Scandinavian roots back to Ireland. Not only does he unearth some very prominent artifacts from beneath his island cottage (that the reader will recognize from the first two books) but he’ll also come in contact with an American female tourist who’s on vacation. Through their encounters, she stirs up some pretty uncanny emotions for him—as if he’s known her once before.

In book three, I bring the characters (and even the reader) full circle in a very unique and heartwarming fashion. Each book of this unforgettable trilogy ends with a cliff-hanger and many unexpected plot twists that continue to tangle the web of this intricate love triangle. Only in the final book, will every unknown be ultimately revealed for the best “Happy Ever After” ending of all time.

It took three long years to research and write these books so dear to my heart and now they’re finally together in one boxed set. So without further ado, I present to you my blood, sweat, and tears—literally. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Writing of a Historical Novel by Barbara Longley

Welcome to History Undressed, guest author, Barbara Longley! She's here today to talk a bit about her writing process. Enjoy!

I thought readers might be interested to see what goes into writing historical fiction, so I’ve included a picture of some of my reference books. It took me a year of reading, note-taking, research and plotting before I typed a single word of TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER.

Have I taken liberties for the sake of the story? Yep. Like kilts. Experts say kilts as we know them were not popular until the eighteenth century. TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER is set in 1423/1424, but I included kilts anyway. To me, a Scottish historical without kilts is like toast without butter, or coffee without cream. It’s just not . . . complete. Have I manipulated historical events and facts here and there for the sake of the story? Yep. I write fiction.

However, the inspiration for the story, like the Feast of Reconciliation between the Comyn and MacKintosh clans, and their long-standing and brutal feud, are based upon well-documented historical events. Only, in the real version, a young woman was murdered by her own father (the Comyn laird), who suspected she revealed his nefarious plot to slay the MacKintosh during the feast. I just . . . changed the outcome a little.

That’s what I love about writing “fiction.” We get to make stuff up, change tragic outcomes, turn them into happily-ever-afters, and save lives that would otherwise have been lost.

A life hangs in the balance . . .

A king held for ransom, a country under thumb, clans at one another’s throats. Malcolm of clan MacKintosh has enough to worry about without finding a mysterious lass sleeping on the side of his road. He tries to help her—in his overbearing, arrogant way—and winds up flat on his back. God’s blood, who is this woman . . . and why does she captivate him so?

And only she can tip the scales.

The fortune-teller said something about saving a life, then zapped Alethia Goodsky back to fifteenth-century Scotland—a land bristling with broadswords and intrigue. Alethia is no damsel in distress, though, even if brawny, blue-eyed Malcolm has sworn to protect her. With her wits and special abilities, she races to solve the gypsy’s mystery and protect those she’s come to love. The stakes climb higher and enemies close in, forcing Alethia to choose between finding her way home . . . and staying true to her Highlander.

As a child, Barbara Longley moved frequently, learning early on how to entertain herself with stories. Adulthood didn’t tame her peripatetic ways: she has lived on an Appalachian commune, taught on an Indian reservation, and traveled the country from coast to coast. After having children of her own, she decided to try staying put, choosing Minnesota as her home. By day, she puts her master’s degree in special education to use teaching elementary school. By night, she explores all things mythical, paranormal, and newsworthy, channeling what she learns into her writing.

Visit Barbara at...

Her website: www.barbaralongley.com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shipping and the New World by Irina Shapiro

After reviewing the book, THE HANDS OF TIME by Irina Shapiro, I asked her to write up a guest post for History Undressed on shipping and the New World during the 17th century Enjoy!

Shipping and the New World

by Irina Shapiro

A handful of brave souls traversing the Atlantic in rickety wooden ships in search of a place where they could escape religious persecution is how most of us picture the first colonists to settle in the New World.  We envision Pilgrims in Massachusetts Bay Colony sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner, ready to overcome tremendous hardship and sow the seeds of freedom that would eventually become the United States. 
However, the reality was not quite so romantic.  Just like today, most ventures were driven by profit, and the colonies were initially established with just that in mind.  After centuries of supporting a population, and the more recent wars with Spain, England was in dire need of natural resources, especially timber.   King James I was well informed of the commercial potential of what is now Virginia and the Carolinas from Walter Raleigh’s previous visits to the area in late sixteenth century, and wasn’t to be outdone by the Spanish who’d controlled the southeastern part of North America for decades, then known as Spanish Florida.   The French and Dutch also had a presence in the area, and colonized parts of North America ranging from the south to what is now parts of Canada.
In April 1606,  James I granted a charter to the Virginia Company, which consisted of the join stock London Company and Plymouth Company, giving them permission to establish settlements along the coast of North America with the express purpose of shipping materials back to England.   Although in later years tobacco became the primary export of Virginia, the initial interest of the British was in timber needed to build ships for the Navy.   The heavily wooded coast was the perfect place to establish a foothold for this purpose.   The investors of the Virginia Company also hoped to trade in precious metals, spices, and animal skins traded from the Natives, who they saw as savages with no claim to the land they’d lived on for generations.
Ships left the colonies loaded with raw materials bound for England and returned with much-needed supplies for the colonists.  However, it wasn’t long before the ships bound for America began to arrive with a different type of cargo.   Ships from England brought loads of indentured servants, some of whom had sold themselves out of dire financial need and some who’d been convicted of a crime and sentenced to seven years of servitude.   The indentured servants were treated marginally better than the black slaves who were brought to the colonies and sold at slave auctions, usually held right at the dock.    Both the indentured servants and the African slaves were an integral part of the survival of the colonies as they toiled in the fields and the forests, lining the pockets of their owners and providing the supplies so eagerly awaited in the England. 

For England and the American Colonies shipping was a lifeline that flowed both ways, and continued to do so until the Revolutionary War.   Today, we pride ourselves on our global community and business acumen, but centuries ago, Europeans had pioneered and colonized new lands, and took trade to a whole new level using only stars for navigation and wooden ships for transport.  A handful of brave souls indeed.

About The Hands of Time

Publication Date: December 7, 2011
Merlin Press

When a young American woman vanishes without a trace from a quaint fishing village on the coast of England only one person knows the truth, but he remains silent, allowing the authorities to search for her in vain, safe in the knowledge that she will never be found.  As Valerie’s bereft sister returns home alone, she struggles to understand what happened and come to terms with her terrible loss when she suddenly stumbles upon a clue that might finally shed some light on her sister’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Valerie Crane finds herself transported to the year 1605. Terrified and confused she turns for help to the Whitfield brothers, who take her in and offer her a home despite their misgivings about her origins. Both Alexander and Finlay Whitfield fall in love with the mysterious woman who shows up on their doorstep, creating a love triangle that threatens to consume them all.  Valerie must make her choice, deciding between the brother who will lead her down the path of destruction or one who will give her the love she couldn’t find in her own time.

About the Author

Irina Shapiro was born in Moscow, Russia, where she lived until she was eleven.  In 1982 her family emigrated to the United States and settled in New York.  Due to her love of reading, Irina was able to pick up English very quickly, and was an honor student throughout her school career.

After graduating from Bernard M. Baruch College in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, Irina worked in advertising for two years before shifting her focus to Import/Export.  She worked her way up to the position of Import Manager in a large textile house before leaving the work force in 2007 to focus on her autistic son.

It wasn’t until Irina had been at home for some time that she began to write.  Eventually the characters began to take on a life of their own and have conversations in her head, and once she started writing her musings down the stories came easily enough.  Irina incorporated her love of history and travel into her writing to create a rich and detailed background for the characters.  Since then Irina has written eight novels.  She is currently working on book five of The Hands of Time Series.

Irina Shapiro lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

For more information, please visit www.irinashapiro.com.  You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Historical Review: The Debt of Tamar

I had the pleasure of reading Nicole Dweck's debut novel, The Debt of Tamar, and it blew me away.

About the Book

Publication Date: February 4, 2013
Devon House Press
Paperback; 332p
ISBN-10: 061558361X

Amazon Rating: 4.8 stars / 20 reviews
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 stars / 18 reviews

During the second half of the 16th century, a wealthy widow by the name of Doña Antonia Nissim is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew. The punishment? Death by burning. Enter Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman "Schindler," and the most celebrated sultan in all of Turkish history. With the help of the Sultan, the widow and her children manage their escape to Istanbul. Life is seemingly idyllic for the family in their new home, that is, until the Sultan's son meets and falls in love with Tamar, Doña Antonia's beautiful and free-spirited granddaughter. A quiet love affair ensues until one day, the girl vanishes.

Over four centuries later, thirty-two year old Selim Osman, a playboy prince with a thriving real estate empire, is suddenly diagnosed with a life-theatening condition. Abandoning the mother of his unborn child, he vanishes from Istanbul without an explanation. In a Manhattan hospital, he meets Hannah, a talented artist and the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor. As their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, readers are taken back to Nazi-occupied Paris, and to a sea-side village in the Holy Land where a world of secrets is illuminated.

Theirs is a love that has been dormant for centuries, spanning continents, generations, oceans, and religions. Bound by a debt that has lingered through time, they must right the wrongs of the past if they're ever to break the shackles of their future.

My Review

The Debt of Tamar is an emotionally riveting tale that spans several centuries and connects dozens of people together, linking them back in time. It was fascinating how chains of events exploded on each other, from the 16th century until present day. I was literally floored.

Ms. Dweck, writes beautifully, with vivid and evocative descriptions. Her words flow with such talent that I was surprised this was her debut. 

I read this book in one day, only putting it down to take a deep breath, and walk away for a moment. The Debt of Tamar, will challenge you, it will rock you to the core, and you'll come back for more.

The story opens with Jose and Reyna, both raised by Doña Antonia, and they are fleeing Portugal where they've lived all their lives. Having been raised Catholic, they find out that they are actually Jewish, and the Inquisition is murdering Jews daily. With the help of the Sultan, they flee to Istanbul where they are free to be who they were meant to be. But on the way, Jose and Reyna fall in love. And so begins a chain of events that will forever change, curse and torment the characters in the book.

Jose and Reyna birth a single child, Tamar--and it is her debt (actually her family's debt) to the Sultan who falls in love with her that unleashes madness and misfortune on both their lines. The only way to break the curse is for Tamar and Murat to come together again in some other life.

We watch as Tamar and Murat's lines cross, tragically, centuries from their lifetime. How those who come in contact with them are affected and how a centuries old curse is finally laid to rest--the debt is paid.

The Debt of Tamar, is fast-paced, wonderfully written, and will leave you emotionally rocked. Definitely worth a read, whether you like historical or not. Its a beautiful blend of eras and how our past, and the past of our ancestors, truly define who we are. Tissue warning! You will probably cry.

Well, done, Ms. Dweck! I look forward to reading more works from you in the future!

About the Author

Nicole Dweck is a writer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country.

The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was a two-time finalist in the UK's Cinnamon Press Novel Award Competition. It has also received an honorable award mention in the category of Mainstream/Literary Fiction from Writers Digest and was the highest rated book for two weeks running on the Harper Collin's "Authonomy" website.

Nicole lives in New York City with her husband and son. 

Connect with Nicole on Goodreads.

Visit more sites hosting Ms. Dweck! Link to Tour Page: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thedebtoftamartour