Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Excerpt from Knight of Rapture – NJRW 2015 Golden Leaf Finalist

BadgeSunday morning calls from friends are always nice. My husband and I were on our way to a friend’s barbeque when Nancy Herkness called and told me my book, KNIGHT OF RAPTURE, finaled in the NJRW 2015 Golden Leaf contest for Paranormal Romance. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. I was so excited, and an hour away, I texted my friends. (Paul was driving.) Wine was poured and waiting when we walked in. The people at the party are my critique partners, the people who (along with my editor Mallory Braus) swooned over the good parts and helped my make the not-so-good-parts great.

This story was long in coming. It’s a follow-up story to KNIGHT OF RUNES, which finaled in the same contest in 2011. I love Lord Arik and his Rebeka. They have an undying love. They struggle to be with each other and continually demonstrate they are for each other. Even our villain is story-worthy. Could KNIGHT OF REDEMPTION be far behind?

I’ve included the back cover copy and an excerpt from KNIGHT OF RAPTURE for you. I hope you enjoy it.

Knight of Rapture Final Cover RACasie 400x600He crossed the centuries to find her…

For months Lord Arik has been trying to find the right combination of runes to create the precise spell to rescue his wife, Rebeka, but the druid knight will soon discover that reaching her four hundred years in the future is only the beginning of his quest. He arrives in the 21st century to find her memory of him erased, his legacy on the brink of destruction, and traces of dark magick at every turn.

A threat has followed…

Bran, the dark druid, is more determined than ever to get his revenge. His evil has spread across the centuries. Arik will lose all. Time is his weapon, and he’s made sure his plan leaves no one dear to Arik, in past or present, safe from the destruction.

But their enemy has overlooked the strongest magick of all…

Professor Rebeka Tyler is dealing with more than just a faulty memory. Ownership of Fayne Manor, her home, has been called into question. Convenient accidents begin happening putting those she cares for in the line of fire. And then there’s the unexpected arrival of a strange man dressed like he belonged in a medieval fair—a man who somehow is always around when needed, and always on her mind. She doesn’t know who to trust. But one thing is certain. Her family line and manor have survived for over eleven centuries. She won’t let them fall, not on her watch… in any century.

“A thrillilng and emotionally evocative tale filled with adventure, love and hope. Casie’s weaved an exciting medieval fantasy romance that I can’t get enough of.”   …Eliza Knight, USA Today bestselling author

Excerpt:

GLBadgeFinalist_2015She took another step and past the stone marker.

The air chilled and the sky turned an array of colors. Everything around her began to swirl. She realized her mistake too late. The portal, she was in the portal.

Arik. Close to him now, she reached for him but her hand passed through the form. She examined her hand turning it over then spotted the shadow of the man.

An illusion?

The shadow turned towards her. She watched as the wind washed over his face and it changed. “Bran,” she whispered in disbelief. Her head swiveled while she searched for something, anything to grab on to. The portal had one use and she had no intention of leaving.

Get out, her brain shouted.

His lips twisted into a cynical sneer. He tilted his head in jaunty satisfaction, snapped his fingers and vanished.

“No,” she yelled. “Arik,” she closed her eyes and screamed in her head trying to mind touch him while the wind tore at her.

“Beka,” he boomed.

Her eyes snapped open. She shielded them from the dust and debris and stared at Arik on the other side of the opening. He stood at the high plateau, miles away. His hands were braced on the opening’s edges, which were nothing more than solid streams of whirling wind. He struggled to keep the portal from closing.

“Come.” His voice didn’t allow for any argument.

The wind whipped at her, pushed her back. She tried again. “I can’t. The wind. Keeps. Pushing. Me. Away.” She shoved her staff in front of her and anchored it in the ground. Against the gusting wind, pulled herself towards him.

“A little more, Beka.” He gripped the edge of the portal with one hand and stretched the other out to her. She shoved her hand towards him as far as she could. The tips of their fingers brushed. In a burst of effort he caught the top of her hand, a precarious hold. With a tight grasp she wrapped her fingers around his thumb.

Safe, she wasn’t far now.

She concentrated on his face. The corners of his mouth turned up as he pulled her towards safety. The wind grew stronger buffeting around them then changed its path.

Before she could brace herself for the new direction, the gust blasted them. Without a firm grip, her hand began to slip. She pushed through the building panic. His smile slipped. The expression on his face turned to determination. Again her hand slipped until he held her by her fingertips.

He held them fast—crushing them but that didn’t matter. He had to hold on to her. Every muscle strained. Inch by inch he brought her closer to him. She tried to help him the best way she could. Anchored to the edge of the portal, Arik encouraged her on. But his alternatives were limited. The closer she got to him, the stronger the gale blew. Just a little closer, that’s all she needed for Arik to grab her and get her out of the portal.

The wind exploded from another direction.

The blasting gale pushed her staff away from the opening, across the dirt, cutting an ugly scar in the ground and dragging her away with her staff.

Away from Arik.

© 2015 Ruth A. Casie

Druid Knight Story 3spread Twitter

Where you can find KNIGHT OF RAPTURE:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CtC7ad

Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/1EN0Hhk

BN: http://bit.ly/1McK4oC

KOBO: http://bit.ly/1NaqW7Q

iBook:  http://apple.co/1M5o92x

Researching How Manuscripts Are Made

One of the tools a writer uses for authenticity in their story is research. Whether it’s how to disassemble and clean a Glock, which poisons are quick killing and leave no trace or what women wore in the 14th century it all takes research. The better you know your facts, the more authentic your story. As a result you become somewhat of an authority on the topic. The added benefit is you are now the go to person when you play trivia and can play a mean game of scrabble.

manuscript 3Writing historical fantasy, even though it’s made up, still requires a level of authenticity. Several of my stories are based on people who are responsible for research. Whether it’s my heroine, Rebeka, the renowned history professor in my Druid Knight Tales or Cari, the exception art appraiser in my upcoming series, River of Time, my stories require research.

My latest release, Knight of Rapture, required an understanding of old manuscripts. While I researched several sites I came across an online class offered by Stanford University. I had a smattering of knowledge about manuscripts but this class explained the making of manuscripts, interpreting manuscripts, working with manuscripts and transcribing them. . It’s been several years…hmmm… decades since I was in school but the lure of finding out the details was too much to pass up. I took the plunge.

What is a manuscript is and how is it made? Manuscript means, literally, handwritten from manus and to write from scriba. Another word for is chirography. Basically, anything that is handwritten using any implement from a quill to a modern biro (pen) is a manuscript.

There are hundreds of thousands surviving today from circa 500 to 1500 CE. Medieval manuscripts can be found in repositories throughout the world.

PapyrusThe early papyrus manuscripts were made from the pulp of reeds found along the Nile River in Egypt through southern Sudan. This medium or substrate (the surface scribes used to make their books and scrolls) was used before animal skins were processed and stretched to create parchment and vellum. Papyrus parallels the use of parchment and vellum until about 800 CE. After this time the use of papyrus rapidly declines.

quires stacked into manuscriptVellum is made from cow skins while parchment comes from sheep. Goat and deer skins are also used. To prepare the animal skins they are dipped in lime for a number of days to clean it of any animal material. It’s then rinsed thoroughly and pinned to a frame to dry. Once the skin is dry it is sanded until it is smooth. Finally, it’s cut into a page or bifolium. These are folded into gatherings or quires. Several quires are stacked together to form the traditional medieval manuscript.

The class goes into details on how papyrus, parchment and vellum are made. It also discusses the early rag paper technology. We are not only learning about how the manuscripts were produced we’re also learning how to transcribe manuscripts. While the details on making the substrates (I’m proud I can use that word in a sentence) it is how the manuscripts are transcribed and interpreted that attracted me to the course.

Understanding how the manuscript is produced gave me some good technical pieces for my story. I can think of other aspects of chirography that I can use in the stories. Perhaps a study of inscribing techniques will help my heroines.

Medieval Music With a Passion

Carmina_Burana_001I really enjoy the Carmina Burana, a 1937 classical composition by Carl Orff. You may not realize it but it’s one of the best-known 20th century pieces. You’ve heard excerpts of the music selling everything from cars to aftershave. And the lingering images after the commercial are powerful.

The music is based on a collection of songs, poems, and plays found in a medieval Germany manuscript found in a Bavarian Benedictine monastery in 1803. The collection was filled with more than 1,000 songs and poems in a wide variety of styles and subject matter. They included religious poems, political satires, drinking songs, and serious and bawdy love songs. All the material appeared to be written by wandering poets (traveling students and monks) at about the same time.

Six plays, all in Latin, were also included in the collection. Two of the plays are the only complete texts of medieval Passion dramas known to exist today.

The Carmina Burana is the largest and greatest collection of nonspiritual lyrics from the Middle Ages. The wealth of information gleaned has added to our understanding of the Medieval goliards (wandering poets), and has demonstrated that secular music thrived in medieval times.

In 1937, the German composer Carl Orff wrote the secular cantata “Carmina Burana,” which was based on the medieval poems. He did not use the original melodies but the opening movement, O Fortuna, is well known. It was the background music for John Boorman’s Excalibur.

Carmina Burana O Fortuna with translated lyrics

Truly a Feminist!

Rest assured, dear friend, that many noteworthy and great sciences and arts have been discovered through the understanding and subtlety of women…  The Book of the City of Ladies by Christina de Pizan

Christine de Pizan and Son

Christine de Pizan and Son

Born in the late 1364 Christina de Pizan is the first woman known female author who made a living by writing. Truly a feminist, she penned love ballads, books supporting and extolling the powers and virtues of women, and a work about Joan of Arc. She was a widow who supported her three children and her mother all by writing about women.

Christine de Pizan was born in Venice in 1364 and moved to Paris in 1368 where she lived with her father, the astrologer to Charles V. She grew up in the French court and in 1379 married Charles V notary and secretary, Etienne du Castel.  The death of Charles V in 1380 her father lost his appointment and soon died. Christine and her husband took on the responsibility of her mother as was customary at that time. In 1389 Etienne passed away leaving her with three children, her mother and no protector.

She turned to her writing as a means of support. Her first writings were ballads written in memory of her husband. Love poems were in fashion at the time so she continued to write them.

In 1396, the earl of Salisbury took Christine’s fifteen year old son, Jean, into his house. While her son was with the earl, Christine started to study the Latin poets and composed roughly fifteen important works, mainly prose between 1399 and 1405.

When the earl passed away in 1400, Jean moved to Philip of Burgundy. Christine wrote about Charles V and his court. Her work included historical and philosophical threads. Jean introduced her to his benefactor and she continued her writing.

In 1405 she wrote her own biography and attracted the attention of Henry IV who asked her to make his court her home. Galeazzo Visconti of Milan also sent her an invitation for residence. She France was her home. She preferred to stay those who favored her, Charles VI, the dukes of Berry and Burgundy, the duchess of Bourbon and others.

La Cite des dames

La Cite des dames

A champion of women, her 1405 work, Dit de la rose, describes members of the order of the rose who vow to defend the honor of women.  Epitre au dieu d’amour, written in 1399, was a defense of women against satirist Jean de Meun. It was the precursor to a long dispute between Jean de Monteuil and Gonthier Col. Christine two books in 1407, La Cite des dames and Le Livre des trois vertus.  During the French civil wars she wrote a Lamentation and Livre de la paix but after the fall of Agincourt she retired to a convent. In 1429 she came out of retirement and wrote a song in honor of Joan of Arc. She died quietly as the age of 66.

Her Cite des dames has many interesting portraits of contemporary life. Her Livre des trois vertus provides details of domestic life in 15th century France that doesn’t appear in any other historical works.

Dangerous Love

“In truth, he bore nothing of the name Christian; he was, as everyone knows, an ardent lover of women, and therefore unstable in all his actions.” — a Limousin monk, early 12th century

That was what they wrote about William IX of Aquitaine (1071 – 1126), “the first troubador.” If he had spent more time concentrating on his military endeavors (the First Crusade) he might have been a more successful campaigner in the army of God, so it was said. He certainly spent a good deal of time writing songs about love:

William IX of Aquitaine watch those hands!

William IX of Aquitaine
watch those hands!

Great the joy that I take in love,

A joy where I can take my ease,

And then in joy turn as I please,

Once more with the best I move,

For I am honored, she’s above

The best that man can hear or see.

Woman. She will only get you into trouble. Particularly if her name is Dangerous.

Dangereuse de l’Isle Bouchard (1079 – 1151), also known as “Dangerosa” or “The Difficult” was the Viscountess of Chatellerault. She was married to Viscount Aimery and had borne him several children, of whom two daughters survived. William was travelling through the country, as troubadours are want to do, and the fateful meeting between “ram and ewe” occurred:

For she is whiter than ivory,

So there can be no other for me.

If there’s no help for this, and swiftly,

And my fine lady love me, goddamn,

I’ll die, by the head of Saint Gregory,

If she’ll not kiss me, wherever I am!

He knew he shouldn’t have her. He was married and so was she. Open adultery was being more vigorously prosecuted under Gregorian reforms. He ought not to risk the church’s wrath. 

"La Dangereuse" rendered the picture of Victorian innocence

“La Dangereuse” as imagined by some Victorian romantic

 Still…

For her I shiver and tremble,

Since with her I so in love am;

Never did any her resemble,

In beauty, since Eve knew Adam.

Thanks to the enthusiastic writings of medieval church chroniclers, we learn that William threw caution (and damnation) to the wind, giving in to his desire. He “abducted” Dangereuse, carrying her away from her husband. Not to some hidden lover’s bower, mind you. No, he installed her in plain view, in his castle in Poitiers. An entire tower, the Marborgeonne, was given over to her use. He even had the likeness of Dangereuse put on his shield, William of Malmsbury recorded in disgust.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

William of Malmsbury goes on to relate, this time in satisfaction, that the Duke of Aquitaine was excommunicated by none other than the papal legate himself. The duke’s response went something like this: “you’ll need a comb for your bald head before I repudiate my viscountess.” The church tried again to make the besotted lover see some sense, sending his own bishop of Poitiers to reconfirm the punishment. William drew his sword on the bishop, who responded by challenging his duke to strike him down.

William put away his sword with a quip: “If you are bound for heaven, expect no help from me.”

Ah, love.

Later, William’s legitimate son married Dangereuse’s legitimate daughter. Their granddaughter inherited the whole–Eleanor of Aquitaine.

“For the love of God, can’t we love each other just a little! That’s where peace begins.” — Lion in Winter

 Sources:

Susanna Niiranen’s excellent article “I know how to be a whore and a thief,” as printed in Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age (2012)

“The wives of the ‘first troubadour’, Duke William IX of Aquitaine”. Journal of Medieval History, Volume 19, Issue 4, 1993,pp. 307-325 by Ruth Harvey, professor at Royal Holloway, University of London (a wonderful place for the undergraduate study of English history).