Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Taste of Avalon

What's a writer to do when she falls in love with the secondary characters in her novels? Write short stories about them, of course!

Anna Elliott is the author of the TWILIGHT OF AVALON trilogy (Touchstone), a series set in sixth century Britain that explores the celebrated romance between Trystan and Isolde. The first volume of the trilogy came out in 2009; the second volume, DARK MOON OF AVALON, will be published this September (I will be reviewing it mid-month). Anna created a character in TWILIGHT OF AVALON who completely captivated her; however, as the author worked on the second and third books, she could find no way to work this character, Dera, back into the story. Unable and willing to ignore Dera's tale, Anna wrote it up as a short story, which she is offering to readers free of charge:

In the shadow of King Arthur's Britain, a young mother will need all her courage to save the Queen's castle from the hands of a traitor...

Dera owes Britain's former High Queen Isolde her life. But as an army harlot, the life she leads is one of degradation and often desperate danger, with small hope for the future either for Dera or for her small son.

Through a Britain torn by war with Saxon invaders, Dera makes her way to Dinas Emrys, last stronghold of Britain's army, to beg Queen Isolde's help once more. Isolde offers Dera a new life, both for herself and for her child. But when Dera and Isolde uncover a treasonous plot, Dera must leave her little boy and undertake a dangerous mission, the outcome of which comes to her as a stunning, but wonderful, surprise.

And as she risks her life, Dera also draws nearer to Queen Isolde's most closely-guarded secret: one that Britain's courageous witch-queen may be hiding even from herself.

THE WITCH QUEEN'S SECRET features a minor character from TWILIGHT OF AVALON, but it's self-contained; you don't have to have read any of the trilogy to understand it. The story is available in various e-reader and printer compatible forms on Anna's website here. Or (because of Amazon policy), it's available for 99 cents on the Kindle store here.

From what I understand, Anna plans to make other stories about minor characters in the trilogy available to readers. What a clever way to keep her readers happy between books and to satisfy her own curiosity about her characters' lives!

Enjoy your reading, and be sure to check back here in September for a review and giveaway of DARK MOON OF AVALON.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Genoan Jewel

The Villa del Principe, a Genoan villa begun in 1529 by Andrea Doria, an admiral who fought at various times for both François I and Charles V, now houses a stunning collection of Renaissance art. Caravaggio's "Flight to Egypt" is the centerpiece of the collection, which includes paintings by Titian, Bronzino and del Piombo. The villa itself has been painstakingly restored to its sixteenth-century splendor. This article gives a brief history of Doria, the house, and the artwork within it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"Dieu aide toujours aux foux, aux amants et aux ivrognes."

"God always helps madmen, lovers and drunkards."

Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549), writer and queen
L'Heptaméron IV, 38 (1558)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"La vraie noblesse s'acquiert
en vivant, et non pas en naissant."

"True nobility is acquired through
living, and not by being born."

Guillaume Bouchet (1514-1594), French poet and printer
Les Serées (1584)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Castle Graveyard

A student of architectural history photographs "things that would go unnoticed in the streets of Paris" for his blog, Paris 2e. This post documents fragments of the chateau of Fontainebleau that were discarded during recent renovations and now litter a nearby field. The blogger asks a good question: what should be done with these authentic but unneeded pieces? Museums can take only so many, I suppose. Should they be sold to raise money for additional renovations? I know I would love to place some of that stonework in my garden!

Be sure to check out the beautiful and unusual photos of Paris 2e.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"Il faut perdre un veron
pour pescher un saumon."

"You have to lose a worm
to catch a salmon."

Henri II Estienne(1528-1598), French hellenist and printer
De la précellence de la langue françoyse (1579)