Friday, March 21, 2014

A Summer Bewitchment by Lindsay Townsend. New Excerpt

In A Summer Bewitchment, my sequel to The Snow Bride, the witch Elfrida and disfigured knight Magnus are seeking desperately for kidnapped, missing girls. They wish to rescue all of them, whereas the nobility, represented by Lady Astrid and Tancred, are concerned with recovering only one.

That afternoon, while Lady Astrid dined in the great hall, Elfrida sought out the squire Baldwin. He had been with her and Magnus the previous winter, during their dangerous search for her sister Christina and the other missing brides. He knew she had magic.
A tall, slim young man who enjoyed his food, Baldwin listened closely to her request. Too courtly to pull a face, he nonetheless made his feelings clear.
“To ride with you now to Warren Bruer? Why, my lady?” He did not say them, but the words our lord will not like it also hovered on his lips.
“It is necessary. I sense my lord has need of me.” She did not want to say more or admit to the storm cloud that seemed to have coiled itself in the middle of her chest.
This is not my seething disappointment. It is Magnus’s, poor love.
“Our lord needs me, Pie,” she repeated, giving Baldwin the nickname she had made for him the previous winter.
“What of your guest?”
“Piers can attend her. Or if she wishes, Lady Astrid can ride on with Piers and join us. But we should leave now. The steward can give our excuses.”
Baldwin studied her a moment longer, drawing his brows together, then smiled, revealing the chipped tooth Elfrida found endearing.
“Do I try to protect you from my lord, or do you protect me from him, my lady?”
Relief flooded through Elfrida. “We ride and see.”
And pray we reach the place before whatever is troubling Magnus bursts like a pricked boil.

* * * *

Bundled in his cloak, with his saddle cloth as pallet and pillow, the girl slept, curled over like a fern frond. Magnus was glad to see her at peace but felt sick at heart. She had screamed herself hoarse when first spotting him, shrieked herself into utter helpless weariness before fleeing into sleep.
She was a redhead, too, which scraped his sense of shame even more rawly. He wanted to blame Tancred for cantering on ahead and hauling the girl to her feet to face him before any had troubled to tell her that he was maimed. He longed to rage at Mark, who had discovered her cowering in a thicket and done such a poor job of soothing her.
Most of all he wanted to be veiled like an eastern woman. Then he would not have inflicted his ruined, bestial looks on this terrified, confused lass.
Is she even one of the kidnapped girls? Tancred seems convinced of it, but we have no proof. We do not even have her name. How did she come here? Where did she escape from?
Questioning his second in command, he learned that Mark had come upon the girl without any warning, when the dogs had discovered her in the thicket and barked. The child would not or could not say how she had got there.
Magnus did what he could. He ordered Mark to set the hounds tracking again, using the girl’s scent. Tancred he sent off with another two of his men to the hamlets and villages, taking a lock of the girl’s red hair. He had made Tancred repeat to him what the girl looked like—small, slim, about fourteen, freckles, red hair, blue eyes—until he was certain the lad would remember.
Bad enough for the parents of these missing girls to have their hopes raised by a poor description. His men also knew what the lass looked like, and they would be tactful in speaking to the people.
Perhaps I should have kept Tancred with me, but he would keep jabbing the girl, wanting her to wake. The boy was anxious for his young kinswoman, well enough, but he seemed to think this harried, unconscious girl had no right to any finer feelings. “She is a peasant,” he answered, thrusting out his lower lip, when Magnus had warned him to go gently.
Was I ever such a thickheaded one as Tancred?
Giving orders, searching where the girl had first been found, those tasks he was glad to do. Returning to the stony roadway that skirted the little wood, Magnus spotted a new cartwheel groove in a seam of mud, but the cart or carriage had long vanished. Had she escaped from the cart? He could not tell.
Rising awkwardly from his crouch, Magnus turned on the road to check on his reluctant sleeper. The man guarding her nodded to him as she dozed still beneath the spreading branches of an oak tree. As he watched her, the flashing gilts of her hair pierced him. His heart ached and his missing foot hurt as he tried to recall what he should do next.
I am lost.
The worst of it was that he wanted Elfrida here. His caring, fighting warrior of magic was so much better than him at consoling the shy and suffering. He imagined her running along the road to meet him. Both would be united, striving, understanding each other, giving aid to one another.
He heard a drumming of hooves and guessed it was one of his men from the lack of shouts or challenges. Farther along the rutted road, into a faint shimmer of heat, pounded a gray horse with lanky Baldwin as rider.
“To me!” Magnus shouted, before he realized that his squire was galloping toward him anyway—and not just Baldwin.
Peeping from behind Baldwin’s back, her face clenched in concentration as she gripped the squire’s middle and clung on, was his Elfrida. Impossibly, she had known he needed her. She had known and come. She comes for me. Shame of his earlier fears concerning his wife, riding, and pregnancy scorched through him.
Magnus started, then began to run toward her. With every sprinting, skidding step, his heart expanded. She waved at him, her veil flapping like a sail, her long hair gleaming like flames, her mouth busy with an inevitable apology.
She smiles her love at me even as she calls sorry. She thinks I may be angry, the foolish, brave little wretch.
He caught her as Baldwin reined in and before she tumbled from the horse.
I am so very glad she is here but why has she come? What news is she bringing?

Lindsay Townsend

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A new 'Christmas' excerpt frrom 'Flavia's Secret'

Here's a new excerpt from my historical romance, FLAVIA'S SECRET, set in Roman Britain in AD206. In it, the hero Marcus finally admits the truth about himself, and other things....

This scene takes place during the ancient Roman fesitval of the Saturnalia - the Roman 'Christmas'.

He released her hands, standing looking down at her, nervously scratching the blue-black stubble on his chin. ‘My mother is like you,’ he said finally. ‘A Celt. She was my father’s slave-housekeeper. He bought her to care for his sons, my half-brothers, when his first wife died. When she became pregnant with me, he married her.

‘So you see,’ he said harshly, ‘I am not a pure Roman. Nor a pure Celt. I am neither.’

‘You are both.’ Flavia took hold of his clenched fingers and rubbed and kissed them. She could feel the pain and tension in him, see the dark sense of shame staining his tanned, hawkish face. Marcus, whom she had once thought so Roman! She had already guessed as much about his heritage but now that Marcus had admitted it, this was another bond between them. Please let him see it, Flavia prayed.

‘No one who truly knows you will ever be anything less than proud and impressed,’ she said softly. ‘And we may be kin, your mother and I.’

Marcus straightened, staring over her head at some distant point, his blue eyes unseeing. ‘My father freed my mother by the terms of his marriage to her. But he was possessive. I always thought him so. He never gave her the choice. He didn't free her first, before he married her.’

He sighed, his tense strong body stiffening further. ‘I know my mother would have liked the choice. She told me so. I think she deserved to be given the choice, except my father was too afraid that he would lose her if he freed her first. I know my mother has always regretted that.’

He closed his eyes briefly, reopening them as Flavia said, ‘Go on, Marcus. Tell me the rest.’

‘That is all there it is.’ Marcus shook his head. ‘I am the half-breed son of a slave. A half-Roman who has never fitted in and who does not want to climb the Imperial ladder any more. I would like to stay here, in Aquae Sulis. Be a father to Hadrian, who reminds me so much of myself at the same age. Learn to farm Lady Valeria’s country estate and trade and continue to help the people here who look to me as their patron and protector.’

‘Then why not stay?’ Flavia whispered.

Her heart seemed to turn right over in her breast at the look of longing he gave her then.

‘Because I want more.’ He stared at her hands, holding one of his. ‘I want my free-woman scribe as my love and true companion. I love you, Flavia. I love you as I loved Drusilla and little Aurelia, with all my heart.’

He touched her face with his free hand. ‘I grew to love my wife and child, but you, little water-goddess, you enchanted me at once. Did you not see this? Each time we made love, I thought you would know.’

‘You never said,’ Flavia stammered, caught somewhere between wonder and jubilation.

‘I wanted you to be free first, to be used to being free. I didn't want my love to be a burden, an obligation. I was not sure if you felt the same way as I do—people say “I love you,” in the heat of passion. I hoped and trusted that it was more than the newness of love-making on your part, but I was not sure. Only a man like Lucius Maximus would be sure! And I wanted you to know who I was, and I wanted you to have the choice. I still do.’

Marcus knelt in the snow so that their faces were almost level and he had to look up to her. He moved his hand in hers so that her fingers rested on his palm, so that they touched but he was not grasping.

‘Will you do me the honor, the great honor of becoming my wife? Will you make me the happiest man of this Saturnalia and for all festivals to come? Will you marry me, Flavia? A half-Roman youngest son with a tiny estate in provincial Britannia and a young adopted son to care for and raise?’

‘Yes.’ Flavia cast her arms about him, hugging his head on her breast. ‘Yes to everything! Yes!’

Snow had begun falling again but Flavia and Marcus, locked in each other’s embrace, were aware of nothing outside of themselves.

‘I love you, Flavia, my little scribe who taught me that not all desk-people are to be mistrusted.’

‘Certainly not!’

‘I am so happy.’

‘So am I, Marcus. I love you.’

‘I love you,’ Marcus said again, kissing her and drawing her up with him as he rose to his feet, lifting her high in his arms. ‘I love you so much. When can we marry?’

‘My choice?’ Flavia asked, light-headed with delight.

‘Your choice.’

‘What about your family?’

‘My parents and half-brothers can visit us here. As for their approval of you—’ Marcus looked grim for a moment. ‘They had better.’ His face cleared. ‘But they will adore you, as I do. I know they will.’

‘Then soon, please.’ Flavia felt herself blushing as she wondered if she sounded too eager. ‘I would like Julia Sura to be at our wedding, and Pompey. Hadrian, of course, and the others. It can be a double celebration!’

‘Your freedom and your marriage?’ Marcus asked quizzically, but Flavia was too happy to care about his teasing.

‘Our marriage and Hadrian’s adoption as our son,’ she answered promptly. She loved the boy and knew Marcus felt the same.

‘The first of our many children, eh?’

Flavia nodded, thinking of dark-haired sons and daughters with blue eyes exactly like their father. ‘I hope that is soon, too,’ she said.

Marcus chuckled and set her back lightly on the horse, grasping the reins to lead the stallion through the streets. He glanced up at her, sitting eagerly forward, her blonde hair threatening to escape its plaits as ever and her lips and cheeks glowing against the whiteness of the snow. He thought of a daughter with her coloring, as fair as little Aurelia had been, and felt no pain, only a flood of happy memories that he would share, and a rising excitement.

‘I think our lad Hadrian will have more sisters and brothers to play with,’ he said, giving Flavia’s left foot a playful tug. ‘And as you say, soon.’

‘You are sure?’

‘Very sure, little Briton! Trust me.’

I do, Flavia thought. Free, proud and happy, she and her husband-to-be turned into another street and joined a throng of merry-makers celebrating the Saturnalia in the snowy, lively city of Aquae Sulis. Their home.

You can read more about Flavia's Secret here:

Best wishes, Lindsay
Lindsay Townsend, historical romance,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Knight's Enchantment' published today

My historical romance, A Knight's Enchantment, is released today by Kensington Zebra. This is my third knight novel, the other two being A Knight's Vow and A Knight's Captive. They take place in different time periods and different places, but all have knights as their heroes.

For me the appeal of a knight isn't his shining armour or his wealth. It isn't even the knightly code which he would be supposed to follow: too often in the middle ages, such ideas of courtesy and honour applied only to the nobility and no one else. But a knight as a protector - now that appeals.

My heroines, too, are great rescuers. In A Knight's Enchantment, Joanna is striving to free her father from captivity and throughout the novel she 'rescues' the hero Hugh, prompting him to reconsider many part of his life and his relations with his family.

Their early encounters are fraught, as neither is sure they can trust the other and Hugh especially makes wrong-headed assumptions about Joanna. He has his own powerful reasons for seizing her, but his self-justifications are flawed. Later he realises and admits this and they join forces.

You can find more details, the 4-star Romantic Times review and an excerpt here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Down to the wire

For me anyway.

There are four weeks and three days left of school. What that means is, essentially, my writing will come to a grinding halt. Kids will be running through the house. I'll have to find things for them to do. Unfortunately, my desk is in the front room area right at the front door. (I'd kill to have an office again, out of the main path of traffic.)

I know we're looking into swim lessons, but that's a very short span, and I have to go with him. Camp's not possible.

How am I going to keep my sanity? How am I going to get anything done? It's not looking too good at the moment, but I'll manage. Maybe I'll just start writing at night again.

Any suggestions?

Diana Castilleja

Unbound Trust || Coming Soon!

Crowning A Warrior King || Print
Aiza Clan Shifter Combo 1&2 || Print
The Eternal Kiss || Print

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RT nomination for 'A Knight's Captive'

I'm delighted to say that A Knight's Captive was chosen among the select band of nominees for the Best Historical Novel category in the Romantic Times 2009 Reviewers' Choice Awards this month. I'm tickled pink to have been shortlisted, and congratulations to Tessa Dare, who won.

The list of all the nominees and winners is here.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Magic Moments

We all have 'magic moments' in our lives - those times when time itself seems to stand still and we are truly overwhelmed with joy: when we find our soul mate and recognise each other, when a child is born, when our love returns safely from a long journey. The happy exchange of flowers and other gifts, chosen with care and thought. Or that first loving kiss - and then others, and more.

Life is made complete by such moments.

Story and myth also has magic moments. Here are some of my favourites from well-known fairy stories and myths.

When the prince finds the glass slipper in Cinderella.

When Beauty tells the Beast she loves him and he is transformed.

When Gerda rescues Kai in the Snow Queen.

When Penelope tricks Odysseus into revealing who he is - by tricking him into describing their very unusal bed - and reunites with him at the end of The Odyssey.

Here are my magic moments - what are yours?


Coming on June 1: 'A Knight's Enchantment' (Kensington Zebra, $5.99)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's a party!

April 1st, but it's not April Fool's!

Today is the one year anniversary for one of my publishers PURPLE SWORD PUBLICATIONS! I'm very proud to be a part of this publisher, and all the hard work they put into providing excellent stories--and all the hard work they put me through to give them those stories!!

Well, in celebration, PSP is doing a giveaway! You heard it, a new Sony E-Reader! Click the link to learn the rules, there's only a few and they're very simple!


As usual, no purchase necessary. Share this with your friends! Help us celebrate our first milestone, and be a part of the celebration!



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Excited people

by Maggie Toussaint

Don't you just love standing next to someone who's quivering with excitement? I got a virtual dose of it during the recent announcements of Golden Heart and Rita finalists. I had not entered and yet I got to experience the euphoria first hand. It was energizing!

Other exciting people give off great vibes too: charismatic politicians, evangelists, birthday boys/girls, anniversary couples, college graduates, award winners, entertainment stars, well, the list goes on and on.

In teaching my yoga class, I've noticed the positive effect of good vibes. It gives veracity to that old saw, everybody loves a winner, because in truth, they enjoy basking in the glow. And I'm not just talking about the glow of success. There's more to it than that, but since this is primarily a writer's blog, I'm going to keep it simple.

Believe in yourself.

Allow yourself to be excited about your work. That positivity will go a long way towards influencing others to your point of view. Cloak yourself in the glow of success.

Maggie Toussaint
MUDDY WATERS and ON THE NICKEL under contract

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things that make you stop and go

by Maggie Toussaint

Do you remember the kid's game called RED LIGHT? One person is IT and he/she stands some distance away from a pack of children. IT turns his/her back to the pack, counts to 10 aloud and says the word "red light". At this, everyone must freeze. If IT catches you moving, you become IT. (Of course, the goal is to tag IT)

Life and writing are a series of stops and gos, and all of these interruptions and stolen moments come at a moment's notice and often without invitation. So how is a person to feel they are making any sort of progress?

I further categorized my thoughts on this into things that shut down or nourish your body, mind, and soul. Here are mybreakouts:
Body stops: illness, too much to do, too little to do, visiting relatives, hunger
Body gos: good nutrition, exercise, anticipation, family, comfortable shoes, music

Mind stops: scary movies, frigid cold, illness, information overload, heavy fragrances
Mind gos: yoga, brain teasers, relaxing music, games, game shows, lively discussion with friends

Soul stops: people who are rude or mean, having to be around people who don't respect me, too much time in a hospital, excessive fluorescent lights, repetitive dullness in the environment
Soul gos: singing, being outdoors, being creative, meditating, worshiping

Interestingly, I found that music makes me feel better in every aspect and that negativity was draining on every level. I'm not sure one can draw a relevant conclusion from a sample set of one, but it seems to me that knowing your stops and gos can help you understand your highs and lows. It can also give you an idea of how to recharge quicker when life throws curve balls at you.

Using the actions of the kid's game of Red Light, I also had the thought that turning around 180 degrees in both perceptions and perspective can be the difference between stopping and going.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on stops and gos.

Maggie Toussaint
mystery and romance author
ON THE NICKEL and MUDDY WATERS under contract

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Seriously, folks

by Maggie Toussaint

Some days, no matter what you have planned, life takes a serious U-turn. That's happened in my life on several levels. I'm a person who doesn't surprise well, very goal-oriented and a completer of tasks. So when the unexpected happens and my pre-ordained schedule derails, it often takes my breath away.

First, the home front. Termites. Ugh. We found them in the fall, had our house treated, and waited the required 3 months to repair the door frame. Imagine our surprise when the damage extended up and down the studs to the left of the door as well as the right. The plate over the footer crumbled like sand at the touch. Termite trails were all through the drywall as well. Yuck. Now I've got carpenters and ladders and cold air in my house, banging and talking, and fixing, which is all good but annoying too.

Second, every time we think we are making headway with an elderly relative in a physical rehab facility, there seems to be a setback. This takes a physical, emotional, and spiritual toll. It also is toxic to my muse.

Third, some changes in books are needed. The general wisdom is that book one of a mystery series should be book two. Which is fine for book two, but lots of surgery in book one. I'll keep a copy of the "classic" version of book one, but I'll need lots of creativity juice for alterations. Another book needs CPR too. This one doesn't require a major overhaul, just a suspenseful tweak here and there. I can do it. I just need to wrap my head around it and get going.

Fourth, with all the rehashing going on, my WIP has to go on the shelf. I've done this before and I know I can pick it back up, but it is still a change in plan. And I really like my WIP, so there's some feet dragging going on, some mental whining.

Coping with change, for me at least, is a bit like the seven-step grieving process. You go through them all and you come out on the other end stronger, more grounded, more able to shelter life's storms. Life is, after all, about change.

We adapt and grow. Or we don't. It's up to us.

Maggie Toussaint
author of mystery and romance

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