Character Interview: Crispus of Rome

Hello all! I am cooling my heels in the middle of a smallish rowboat–if this were an actual picture of us, we’d be the ones out beyond the sailing vessels, being trailed overhead by gulls. Only there’s three of us aboard, not two (no cameras back then, sorry).
We’re headed up the mighty Verani River. A rather large, rather smelly fisherman named Dirk sits behind me, working the oars. Crispus is in the bow of the boat, talking a furlong a minute, and occasionally helping out with an oar. 
We cast off from the jetty at Corwinder-by-the-Sea just before dawn. The day is mild, the water is clear and calm. A good thing, since I came away without my ginger. In case you’re wondering, I had a wonderful—though short—visit with a lovely lady at Corwinder. Young Will’s wife. If you’ve read A Gathering of Eagles, you’ll know her. If you haven’t, well, you will know her. We got along quite well.
Crispus is a Roman missionary, sent by the Apostle (tutor to Prince William) who had ministered in these parts for so many years. Crispus speaks a very proper English, as well as many other languages and dialects, including the ancient tongue. I found him very interesting for the first, oh, hour or so. After that, I have to confess—I zoned out. He does love to talk. 
He’s about five-foot-nine, of medium build—just a step past wiry. He must have an amazing metabolism, because he can sure put away the fodder. His black hair is short and quite curly. He has the Roman nose, dark eyes, and a dark complexion. All in all, quite a lovable character.
Me: What first brought you to the Haven at Verani Falls?
Crispus: I crossed the Verani in route to the kingdom of Coldthwaite on a ferryboat. The ferryman directed me to go in the opposite direction, because the haven was cursed. (He shoots me a toothy grin) So of course, I must go and find out for myself. Being a man of faith, I had no fear of the curse.
Me: Did you find it to be cursed or haunted by ghosts?
Crispus: Not at all. It was as quiet as a tomb, and actually reminded me of one. A burnt-out shell of a house was what I found there, along with an overgrown herb garden, and a couple of old outbuildings. 
Me: But wasn’t there something about the house that interested you?
Crispus: (His face lights up) Indeed. The runes. My first introduction to the Ancient Tongue. And the writing on the lintels I found buried beneath the ashes—Hebrew letters—unmistakable. (Rubs his hands together) Nothing excites me more. It was far north for the Hebrews so early in history. Why had they come there? My mind fairly reeled with questions.
Me: So how excited were you to meet the lady who had grown up in the Haven?
Crispus: Oh, quite. And the more I heard of the place, the more excited I became. It made me think of Jacob’s Ladder, where angels ascended and descended. Aye, the Haven held a portal of some kind. But what interested me most about the place, was the spirit of peace upon it. The same peacefulness I felt when I met Jael of Rogan for the first time. She carries it with her.
Here, he set off on a long, rather detailed lineage of the Rogan family. I dozed off at one point, but he didn’t seem to notice. He may be used to that. We passed by the village of Doler, and I perked up, because I knew the Haven was near at hand. And sure enough, there came the unmistakable sound of the great cascade, The Falls of Verani. I’m excited. 
See you next week! 

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Interview With Another Royal – Young Will

I had so much fun interviewing King William of Coldthwaite and his lovely wife, Jael. If you missed it, you can read it here. I was on my way out of the castle, when who should I run into—literally—Will Morgan. Yes! Young Will from The Lady of the Haven. He is as handsome as his uncle, the king. *Sigh*

So of course I had to ask him a few questions. He walked me to the landing—you can only get to Coldthwaite via boat this time of year. Or in this case, Dragonship. I’m also a close friend of Benabi’s. If you’re ever in the Mediterranean, you absolutely must visit Milos (pronounced mee-los btw).
Back to the subject: Young Will/Will Morgan.
Even with a slight limp from his injury in the first book, he is dashing. He’s not quite as tall as the king and is slighter of build. His dark hair is tied back, and he keeps his mustache and beard neatly trimmed. He has a wonderful smile, and he smiles often.
So after I bumped into him (the lighting in ancient castles is atrocious!), I introduced myself. He was dumbstruck. Happily, that was short-lived, or this would’ve been a mini interview. He bowed over my hand and kissed it. Oh shivers!
Me: So, now that you’re all grown up, you’re known as Will Morgan, but many of my readers would recognize you as “Young Will.” Were you glad to put that name behind you?
Will: The name and the person, Lady Betty. I’ve no wish to be that young man again. Always last and left behind, daily struggling with my own weakness.
Me: But your patience and perseverance paid off, I believe.
Will: I wish I could say twas true, my lady. I murmured and complained enough to challenge the Hebrews on their desert trek. It was mercy, more like, and being in the right place at the right time.
Me: That’s certainly true of your first meeting with the Lady of the Haven.
Will: Aye, tis true. (He chuckles)–Eh … she had us all fooled, she did. I thought for certain it was a young lad I was dealing with. She looked like a street urchin. I was that surprised when I found out there was a female under all that filth. And a lady at that.
Me: We’d made the landing by now. I craned my neck to see the top of the sails, unfurled for a last check before we set off. The emblem of the dragon spitting fire always impressed me. In an age of handcrafting, these beautiful silk sails tended to be spot-on. Each identical to the others. Will noticed the direction of my gaze.
Will: Impressive, aren’t they? And fast, too.
He steps aboard then turns about, and before I could follow him down, takes my breath away (literally) by clutching me about the waist and hoisting me aboard. No easy feat, I promise you. I clamp my hand over my lips to suppress a giggle.
Me: Thank you, kind sir.
Will: (Bows) Tis I, who am in your debt, madam.
We were just in time it seemed. A few moments later, a couple of burly men weighed anchor and the ship began to move. Beneath the place where we stood, men wrestled with oars, turning about. I peered over the side to witness the fruits of their labor. When I glanced back up, I found Will in the bow, one hand shielding his eyes, the other upraised, saluting someone who stood on the upper terrace of Coldthwaite castle. There, a long white scarf unfurled. Lady Jael, no doubt. I moved to his side.
Me: At one time, I believe you had quite a crush on that lady.
Will: (Turns about to gaze at me, a slight frown creasing his handsome brow) Crush? Like killing a bug?
Me: (I laugh) Not quite. I should have said, you were at one time, enamored of your aunt. Before she was your aunt, of course.
Will: (Blushes) Aye, my lady, you alone would know that. Idolized her, somewhat, I did. She saved my life. (Smacks his thigh) And my leg.
Me: I smile and gaze upriver. Our destination: Corwinder-by-the-Sea, a place of rugged beauty; Will’s home.
Are you happy to be going home?
Will: Always. Happiness abides there for me. And I’ve a brand new crop of raw recruits to train. So yes, my lady, I am happy. (The smile returns, lending credence to his words).
We stand side-by-side in the bow. The freshening wind off the river is invigorating. For a moment, I’m tempted to reenact the scene between Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Winslet, but it is only a fleeting thought. I wouldn’t want to do anything to alienate the dear lady who waits for him in Corwinder. I won’t mention her name. That’d be a spoiler for those of you who haven’t read A Gathering of Eagles.
I’m planning to stay a couple of days in Corwinder, then I’m off again, this time in a much smaller vessel. Headed to the Falls of Verani, along with a certain Roman missionary, the only non-Rogan who knows the location of the disappearing trail. Well, except for me, of course.

Image Credit: Galleon Sail Ship Clip Art from (by papapishu)

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Announcing the Winners of the Door Prizes!

To all of you who took the time to enter the giveaway and help me celebrate my book launch,  Thank you so much!

The winner of the first prize

The Audible Version of The Message Bible

Allison Owens

The winner of the second prize

The Coffee Mug & Starbucks Gift Card & Goodies

Linda Yezak

The winner of the third prize 

Lavender Dreams

Sherrie Mabrey

Again, thanks, all of you for taking the time to enter. 
You’re the best kind of friends. Please stay in touch. 
There are more good things in the works throughout the year. 

Lavender Dreams

On Friday, May 2, my launch party begins with a Rafflecopter giveaway, right here on this website. I have titled it “Lavender Dreams,” for several reasons–none of them important.

What am I launching? The Second Edition of The Lady of the Haven, and a few days later, the Second Edition of A Gathering of Eagles. They are being released by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press. Debi Warford is responsible for the beautiful new covers and Gregg Bridgeman redesigned the interiors. I am very proud of the final product.

Scroll down for a look at the not too shabby door prizes. I hope you will return during the next two weeks and take a few moments to enter your name in the Rafflecopter entry form. There are several ways to gain entries. In the meantime, check out the prizes.

The Message Bible, Audible Version
Reader: Kelly Ryan Dolan

Hand decorated coffee mug, $5 Starbucks card, and 2 biscottis.
Lavender foam bath by Aura Cacia, lavender-scented candle and a beautiful jar/candle holder.
Thanks so much for stopping by! 
Watch for details of the contest here or on my Facebook author page

Interview With a Dream

And now, my interview with the King, William du Frain, of Coldthwaite:

Me: Welcome to my blog, Your Majesty.

King William of Coldthwaite’s dark hair is pulled back, tied at the nape of his neck. He’s dressed in an indigo tunic cinched at the waist with an intricately carved leather belt. Highly polished black leather boots end just below the knee of his sueded leather britches. He wears no crown, but a rather large sapphire glints from its gold band on his right pinky. He exudes strength, eyes sparkle with life, and the smile … be still my heart … 

King: I am honored to be here, Lady Owens.
Me: You don’t really have to call me … Nevermind. I kind of like being addressed as “Lady” and wow, he’s handsome! Ahem. How would you describe your Queen, sir?
King: (Smiles) Jael–beautiful in every way–God’s gift to me. She … is as strong as any warrior I’ve fought beside. Though not in the physical strength, of course. I quite depend upon her, you see.
Me: She is famous in the Kingdom of Coldthwaite (pronounced Cold-thrate, by the way) and beyond for reasons that defy explanation.
King: (Dazzling smile) Thank you for pronouncing the name of our fair kingdom correctly. But then, I suppose you are an authority (glances over his shoulder). My queen would not like me to talk about it, even with you, Lady. But her gifts are quite unique, yes. There was one time … I was deliberating what my next step would be in battle. I feared for our lives and thought I may never see her face again. When suddenly there she was, kneeling before me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was so real, I reached out to touch her, but there was only emptiness. I could see her, and she spoke to me, but she was actually miles and miles away. She told me exactly what I needed to hear.
Me: Were you relieved, when you realized she was not actually there?
King: (Nods) Aye, indeed I was. I had no desire for her to be in such a dangerous situation. And of course, later on, when I heard what happened to her­­—well, you remember it, I know. A frown creases his forehead. His gaze sweeps the room then returns to my face, accompanied by a knowing smile. He gives me a wink. I have a confession. I worship the very ground she walks on.
Lady Jael: Blasphemy! You take that back!

I nearly jump out of my chair at her sudden appearance in our midst. Even knowing her capabilities as well as I do, I am not prepared for this. But what fun! Can I get her to talk to me?
The portraits I’ve seen of her do not do her justice. In person, she is lovely. She turns her azure eyes on me and suddenly, I want to slink away. But she gives me a very polite curtsey then a most gracious smile.
Lady Jael: It is you, isn’t it?
Me: I … I don’t know … er …
King: Yes, my love, it is she. Allow me to introduce Lady Betty, our beloved author.
A servant moves quickly to provide a chair for Lady Jael. She nods her thanks to him, and perches on the edge of the seat. After he withdraws, she gathers my hands in hers.
Lady Jael: Dearest Lady, thank you so much for hearing my call, and telling my story.
Me: Oh, I’m honored to do it. I just hope I’ve done your story justice.
Lady Jael: Glances at King. Oh, you have. We love what you’ve done for us.
Me: I would like to ask a question, if you don’t mind.
Lady Jael: Of course. Ask anything you wish.
Me: What does it feel like to disappear? Lady Jael arches her brows.Oops, I know what that means.
Lady Jael: “Except that.”
When the king has a sudden fit of coughing, I turn to look. Just as I thought. He’s laughing. I turn my attention back to Lady Jael. I am determined not to mess up this opportunity.
Me: I beg your pardon, Lady Jael. I meant no disrespect. She gives a gracious nod.
Me, again: What are you willing to share about your life? Something your readers don’t know about you. She’s still holding my hands. She lets them go and relaxes in her chair, a faraway look in her eyes.
Lady Jael: I remember my mother.
Me: Do you? I never knew that.
Lady Jael: I was only a few summers when she died, but I remember. She was lovely, with black hair and eyes like sapphires. She was a healer, too. It’s how she met my da. But she didn’t heal him, she worked her healing on his da, my grandpere.
Me: I see. That’s really interesting. Even the King seemed surprised. He sat forward in his chair.
Lady Jael: And there’s one other thing … I was not the firstborn.
My mouth drops open. This is something I never suspected.
King: I never knew this. Why have you never said anything?
Lady Jael: He was taken, before I was born.
King & Me: (simultaneously): Taken?
Me: You mean he died.
Her gaze pierces my soul. “He was taken. This is all I know.”

Well, this calls for some research. And maybe, just maybe … another story …