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Hanna Rhys Barnes
Hi Night Owls. Thanks so much for inviting me. Who would have thought this day would arrive so soon. Less than thirty days until the release of my first book, Widow’s Peak. As you can imagine, excitement abounds.
I’m a relative new comer to the romance field, both as a reader and a writer. The first romance that I ever read was Kinley MacGregor’s A Dark Champion. I fell so in love with the writing and the characters that over the next few months I read everything she had written. Disappointed, that there was nothing more to read at the time, I picked up a specially priced copy of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover. Well of course I fell in love with the writing and the characters and there were plenty of Dark Hunter novels for me to devour, but I also began to read others as well.
I read classic contemporary authors. I tried a few category authors, and some cozies. I read a few romantic comedies and even tried a few romantic suspense authors. But no matter what, I always wanted to come back to the historicals. Specifically, medieval historicals.
After only two years of reading, I said those classic words. “I can write this stuff.” So I launched off into my first romance novel. At least I thought it was a romance novel. Knowing nothing about the craft or the industry, I began to submit to contests and even a few editors. I was soundly rejected. Good thing I have rhino-skin.
Many of the contest judges kept telling me that my book wasn’t a historical romance, but more a historical novel. “What are they talking about?” I thought to myself. Fortunately, one of the editors that I submitted to was kind enough to actually show me where I went wrong. She suggested I join an organization like RWA. So I did. My RWA chapter taught me how to write romance, so I went back and rewrote one entire manuscript.
I tentatively submitted my baby again, bracing for the worst. But one day, as I was sitting in the dentist chair, I got the call. Someone liked my novel and wanted to buy it! After much hard work the time has come. I am about to harvest the fruits of my labors.
Widow’s Peak is truly the book of my heart. My first born. Though Laine and Amye were not the first characters to ask me to tell their story, they are the ones that spoke most powerfully. They touched my heart. I hope they will come to mean as much to you as they do to me. Here’s an excerpt:
Morning sun streamed in through the open windows as Amye sat next to the young man’s bed, silently reading her book of poetry. The small volume was the last gift Thomas gave her before leaving for Outremer. He must have spent a fortune to have a cleric copy the poems and bind the pages together in the leather cover. The parchment corners were worn smooth from the many times she had read through it. Amye did not know all of the men who penned the words, but they ardently expressed the love that she and Thomas had shared.
In the few moments he was conscious, the young stranger seemed to be in some pain. She had worried when he became fevered in his sleep, but now his deep full breaths told her he rested comfortably. He was quite handsome, almost angelic looking. The two-day growth of beard covering his swarthy face matched the dark curly hair that fell just to his shoulders.
She had ordered him brought to a guest room where she and Sela had washed his body, and then Amye dressed his wounds with healing ointments. It was then she noticed the tattoo.
A crescent moon, the mark of the Saracens.
The same mark Sir Edward had carried when he brought her Thomas’ ring. Only this moon surrounded a symbol she had never seen before. A scripted letter M with an arrow at the end. What were the two men doing in that tree?
It had been obvious to her from the first he was no knight. His body was well muscled but lean, rather than bulky. And unlike a knight, his hands were smooth with only small calluses on the fingertips. The belongings on the horse they found confirmed him as a troubadour.
Though they had never really met, she remembered seeing him at summer court one year. His bags held a book of songs and some scraps of parchment on which had been penned some verses of lyric poetry. Also, a beautiful psaltery carefully wrapped in a black velvet sack. The finely made stringed instrument must have cost a king’s ransom. The clothing he carried was of the highest fashion. He must have been on his way to one of the courts to the south. Entertainers of his quality hardly ever stopped this far north.
“My Lady, where am I?” The quiet, deep voice startled her from her musings, and she looked into stunning green eyes. She’d not noticed the vibrancy of their color before. But as he peered straight at her, Amye’s heart began to pound so hard she thought it might leap from her chest. She took a deep breath as she stood and the beating slowed.
“You are awake. This bodes well.” She put down the book and moved toward the bed. “I am Lady Amye de Barnard. You fell from my tree and were brought to the castle so I might tend your injury.”
“I thank you, my Lady Barnard, for your aid. I am Alain de la Vierre. Most call me Laine.”
“Yes, I know.”
The troubadour looked at her askance.
Amye walked over to the bedside table and held up his book of songs. “I beg your pardon, but I had to search your things. I could not have a thief or a rogue loose in my home. I have charges to consider.”
“And how, my lady, can you tell I am not a rogue?” He arched a brow to emphasize his question.
“A rogue would not write in such a civilized manner. That aside, I have seen you at King Henry’s court. You are a very fine court troubadour. You must sing for us when you recover.” Amye felt a heated blush rise to her cheeks as a smile spread across his face.
“At your leisure, my lady.” He tried to sit up but with a slight touch, she pushed him back against the pillow.
“Stay. You are still too weak. You have been unconscious for more than two days. I worried your injury might be too great for you to recover.” A sharp breath as he grasped at his side made Amye fold back the bed cover to check the cause of his discomfort.
“Your wound was quite severe, so I thought it best to close it. I need to see to your stitches.”
Surprise crossed his face. Though obviously still in pain, he smiled. “It seems I was most fortunate to fall from your tree and not some other.”
Amye picked up a cup from the bedside table and held it to his lips. “Drink. This should help ease the pain.”
He drank until she pulled it away. “My lady, does the king know you have such a fine brew wife. He would surely steal her away. I have never tasted such a fine ale in all my years. This house does boast a most delicious drink.”
“Thank you.” She helped him sit up so she could unwrap the binding. “You lost a bit of blood and though I could find no broken bones, there might be a more severe internal injury.” She removed the sticky brown moss she used to draw the bad humors from wounds and inspected the neat row of stitching underneath. Careful not to separate the newly healing wound, Amye pressed two fingers to the surrounding skin. It was cool to the touch, not hot as it had been when she had first stitched it closed. “‘Tis healing nicely. I think we might do without the poultice now.” She covered the wound with a clean cloth and rewound the binding around his chest.
“Are you hungry?” She helped him lie back, and he let out a deep breath once he rested on the bed. “I shall send for some gruel. I think you could stomach that now.”
“My lady, might I meet your lord to thank him for saving my life?”
“Master de la Vierre, there is no lord at Edensmouth. My husband died in Outremer, eight years ago.”
Hanna Rhys Barnes is one of those people with an evenly balanced right and left brain. She has a BA in English, but recently finished her final year as a high school math teacher. She loves to cook and was a pastry chef in a former life.
A member of RWA’s national organization and of several local chapters, she currently lives and works in Portland, OR, but occasionally visits her retirement ranchette outside of Kingman, AZ
Hanna’s Debut Novel, Widow’s Peak, is due to be released September 23, 2009 from The Wild Rose Press. She is currently working on Book 2 in the series, Kissed By A Rose.