My guest author today is Barbara Bettis. Barbara writes stories set in medieval times, one of my favorites. She is also a former health insurance claims adjuster, a former journalist, and a former journalism teacher. Barbara Bettis plans never to be a “former” author. Currently, she supports her writing habit as an adjunct English instructor at a community college near her home in Missouri.
(Barbara) Hi Lynda. Thanks for hosting me today. I’m in the midst of a Birthday Month Celebration that features my latest medieval THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX for only 99 cents!! You know, I got so wrapped up in the writing prompt below, that I think I’ve gotten an idea for my next medieval, Macsen’s story. Thanks for that!:
(Lynda) You're so welcome. My first published story, Payback in Wayback, was a result of a writing prompt given in a writing group I was attending at the time. I think writers often overlook the power of these spontaneous exercises. Enough about me, let's jump into your interview...
(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I be doing lots of research?
(Barbara) You absolutely would be doing research! But it’s difficult to find much really specific information about 12th Century England. There is a good deal written based on historical events, but personalities are more difficult to pin down. And day-to-day activities, while seeming to be easy to ascertain, are not so simple because of the lack of actual
(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What character was the most difficult to write, and why?
(Barbara) The most difficult character in this last book was the villain. He was a mean, vicious murderer who hid behind a façade of urbanity and lordly graciousness. I’ve heard speakers say that everyone is a hero in his or her own ‘story.’ Allowing the villain such a layered, subtle existence is difficult.
(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I love doing book signings, personal appearances, etc.?
(Barbara) I love doing signings and meeting readers. I do enjoy talking with people about their reading, what they like, about books in general. In the ‘old’ days when authors did publicity tours, stopping at various bookstores for appearances. Now only very well-known authors get that kind of exposure. But how fun that must have been. Occasionally we still have big-name authors at the local Barnes and Noble, signings that bring fans to wait in lines for hours. But that isn’t often, and it’s usually non-fiction authors.
(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?
(Barbara) I used to have hobbies. What happened? Now I don’t seem to find time to do anything except write, read, and attend to my job duties (grading essays.) I can’t sew a straight line. I knot my embroidery thread. My mind wanders into plotting and I drop knitting stitches. I have a black thumb.
So it’s a good thing my hobbies are travel, reading, spending time with friends, taking in an occasional movie and theatrical performance. But best of all, my grandchildren. I love spending time with them, even as they slip into teen-dom where it’s not always as fun to hang out with Grandmother as it once was. Speaking of travel, several years ago I was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland and England. One of the places we visited in Scotland was Newbattle Abbey, a beautiful structure built on the site of a medieval Cistercian abbey. It’s just south of Edinburgh.
(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Using one of the following prompts, how would the first 2-4 paragraphs read?
(Barbara) Oh, this was such a fun challenge, Lynda. As I said, I think this has triggered the idea for another story. Many readers who wrote me about The Heart of the Phoenix have said they’d love to see Macsen’s story. So here goes. The sentence prompt, one of the options you presented:
"I'd roll in mud before I'd let you kiss me.”
“I’d roll in mud before I’d let you kiss me.” Lady Aveline backed away from the intractable figure looming from the back of a huge grey gelding. The knight looked grim as he leaned forward to brace his arms on the saddle’s pommel.
She’d heard Rively Castle’s new captain of the guard, this Sir Macsen, was a fearsome warrior. She hadn’t imagined he’d also be a compelling giant of a man. A man whose eyes she could undoubtedly meet without bending her head. It was the one thing she’d ever received from her wandering father—her inches. Curse him.
“Did I offer to kiss you?” he rumbled.
No, he hadn’t. The blasted words had slipped out as if from someone else’s mouth. She had not been thinking of his finely formed lips.
“If you don’t come along right now, you’ll get your wish for a bout in the mud. There’s a storm blowing up right enough. Lady Evie sent me to fetch you. It’s a far walk back to her solar, so give me your hand and sit up behind me.” He extended his sword-callused fingers as imperiously as any lord.
The miserable man needn’t sound as good as he looked, blast it. Aveline drew up to her considerable height and crossed her arms over her chest. A mistake, judging by the way Sir Macsen’s glance followed the movement.
As if he’d signaled the sky, thunder broke overhead. So much for a solitary walk on a summer day. Infusing her sigh with all the disdain she could muster, she held out her hand, placed her foot on his, and swung up.
When she’d settled in place, he glanced over his shoulder. “And when I do kiss you, sweet lady,” he murmured in that disturbing voice, “it won’t be mud you’ll want to roll in.”
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