King Arthurs: Series History

So I believe the general consensus has been that everyone liked Endeavor–particularly the last scene of the book–which I am really thrilled about! That last scene was tough to write. Editor #1 (Jeri) and I were going back and forth, trying to the actions just right. (Thanks Jeri!) It was also tough for me to write the book in general because as Britt loosens up her hold on her knights, I have to loosen up my hold. It sounds a little weird, but I got teary eyed when Britt realizes she’s going to be riding off without Ywain.

So I thought today might be a good day to review the King Arthurs series–not the story itself, but it’s very existence and history.

Around the time I finished Robyn Hood Fight For Freedom, I came up with the idea for Britt and her story. Just as I did for King Arthurs, I completed a ton of research for Robyn Hood and I read a lot of traditional ballads in books and on the internet. It just so happened that a lot of those ballads would be sandwiched between King Arthur stories. I’ve always loved King Arthur, so I perused some of the older stories, and it made me realize just how progressive King Arthur’s court was for women. Because I’m a writer and tinkering is what I do, I started trying to come up with fictional reasons for it, and I thought how awesome it would be if a modern girl was sent back to rule in King Arthur’s place. I decided to make Britt American, mostly because I was really worried I would bungle the accent, and I knew nothing of what normal life is like for females in their early twenties in Britain.

I played around with the idea before bringing it to light way back in…I think it was in summer 2013. I listed several story ideas I was playing around with and let readers vote on which series interested them the most. King Arthurs won.

I worried people might take exception to Arthur's gender change. I am so glad no one has!

As King Arthur is traditionally portrayed by handsome guys, I was a little worried what the reaction would be to a sharp-mouthed female Arthur.

I released Enthroned and Enchanted pretty soon after, and then I wrote Beauty and the Beast, which became a great success and let me quit my day job and become a full time author. King Arthurs got pushed to the side during that time while I was trying to get the Timeless Fairy Tales structure into place. Embittered was the only King Arthurs book released in 2014, but I followed it up by releasing Embark, Enlighten, and Endeavor in 2015.

The series will have nine books total if you don’t include the three packs, and I’m determined to finish it in 2016.

Most parts of the series is drawn upon from the original legends. Surprisingly I didn’t have to bend many stories to make a female Arthur believable. The biggest changes I’ve made, really, are that Britt is still competent. I’ve said it before, but after Arthur marries Guinevere things go downhill fast. The stories stop following Arthur and shift their attention to his knights–not a bad thing. Meanwhile Arthur stays in Camelot and gets old and fat, not noticing when his best friend and wife have an affair. This is my biggest departure from Arthur lore. In the beginning stories–the originals, not mine–Merlin is really careful to watch Arthur. He has a vision about Arthur and knows he’s the guy who can unite Britain. I decided to forget the depressing stuff (Arthur turning incompetent) and to focus on that. Britt is a fairly accurate reflection of young Arthur–or what old Arthur should be.

I have bittersweet feelings for King Arthur books and movies, because while all of them start so well, very few finish with happy endings. (Even my most favorite Arthur Book: Sword of the Rightful King, hints that Guinevere will regret her marriage to Arthur and will go after Lancelot.) Everyone takes it for granted that they have to follow the depressing originals and watch King Arthur–and Camelot–decay. King Arthur was something of a childhood hero of mine, so in a way King Arthurs and Her Knights is me offering him a lifeline and a chance to redeem himself. Britt might be a different gender, but she is not going to bring shame upon Arthur’s name, and she is not going lose.

I hope you found that interesting, Champions! Thank you to those who were with me way back in 2013 and voted for King Arthurs, it’s been a blast to write. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again soon!

Endeavor: Legends

As usual, I based Endeavor–book six of King Arthurs and Her Knights–off a number of Arthurian ballads and lore. The tricky party about this book is that we enter into three different traditional stories, and technically none of them are finished.

The first legend is the story of Sir Galahad and how he obtained his white shield with the red cross. This particular story doesn’t have a name, but it is part of the Quest for the Holy Grail. When the quest starts Sir Galahad sets off with a few other knights, but he leaves Camelot without a shield. He rides to an abbey where a White Knight (who attacked other members of the round table for trying to steal the shield he protects) gives the shield to Galahad’s squire and tells the squire to give it to Galahad–because only he is worthy of it. I cut off the legend there, but it continues into the search for the Holy Grail–which I will explore in future King Arthurs books.

I made a few changes to the original legend. I removed it from the Grail Cycle because Britt and her boys aren’t ready for that adventure yet, and I had Sir Mordred ride out with her instead of the other Grail companions. If I stuck to the legend Britt would have met Ywain there, but he was off starring in his own story which brings us to the next unfinished legend: Ywain, the Knight of the Lion.

Galahad's white shield with the red cross is something that can be found in ALL legends that touch him.

Galahad’s white shield with the red cross is something that can be found in almost all of his legends.

I constructed Ywain’s story to stay true to the original. One of Arthur’s knights is killed by a knight guarding a mythical fountain thingie. This obscure knight happens to be related to Ywain, who sets out to fight Esclados to avenge his cousin. As Britt’s Ywain did, the original Ywain also set off in secret. Why the cloak and dagger? Because in the original story King Arthur was interested in the fountain and decided he would take a large party of knights with him, and Ywain wanted to beat the knights before they arrived. So, off he goes! He encounters and wounds the knight, who flees to his castle as Ywain chases him. Ywain is captured in the castle gatehouse and is eventually taken prisoner while Esclados dies of his wounds. Esclados’s wife, Laudine, knows the fountain must be protected, and Ywain–with the help of Laudine’s servant, Lunete–wins her over and marries her. There’s a bit of scuffle when King Arthur and his knights arrive, but Ywain remains true to Arthur and everyone feasts for days.

Sounds like a happily ever after, right? Wrong! Ywain’s story continues, giving you a peek at his married life. I cut off where I did because you will see the rest of Ywain’s story in King Arthurs and Her Knights book seven.

Okay, so we’ve covered Galahad and Ywain, what story is left? It’s a piece of lore I think a lot of my readers will have a difficult time swallowing: the story of Vivien and Merlin. This story is just getting started, but I can summarize the beginning by saying that Vivien–a beautiful young girl who is gifted in black arts–shows up in Camelot with the intention of seducing Merlin so she can learn magic from him. Remember, in the old stories Merlin is pretty old, but he is out-of-this-world powerful, which is partially why Arthur’s kingdom is so great.

So there you have it, three legends, all of them technically unfinished–although Book Seven will see the completion of at least one of them. Thanks for reading, Champions, and a special thank you to everyone who has reviewed Endeavor–I appreciate it! I hope you have a lovely week!

A King Arthurs Short

Happy Thanksgiving, Champions! Today–November 26–is the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s become more of a food frenzy and a huge shopping day, but it used to be a day when Americans got together with their families and reflected on what they were thankful for.

As I will always be thankful for you, Champions, I wrote a little King Arthur drabble to celebrate the day. You can check out the PDF version HERE!

Thank you for reading, Champions–and I mean that sincerely. I love my job, and I feel incredibly blessed to have all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Endeavor has arrived!

The long awaited sixth book of King Arthurs and Her Knights is here! Endeavor is now available for purchase!

This book focuses on the aftermath of Britt’s big reveal, and I have high hopes that you Merlin/Britt shippers will be pleased with this one. Here’s the description:

Only a few weeks have passed since Britt—or, as most know her, King Arthur—was outed as a girl. Britt’s relationship with her knights is strained and precarious, Lancelot is mucking up everything from tournaments to questing, and Merlin starts to act strangely when a beautiful girl named Lady Vivien comes to Camelot.

Can Britt reclaim her knights’ loyalty? Will Merlin finally realize how much Britt means to him?

So? What do you think? I’m keeping my mouth zipped about the plot for a few days so I don’t give any spoilers away, so I can’t say much more. While I am not offering a review special for Endeavor (Editor #1 and I were working on this book until the last second, so I didn’t have time to write any extras) I would really appreciate if you would write an honest review for Goodreads or Amazon–or both! Also check back in a few days as I should have an American Thanksgiving gift for you. Thanks for reading, Champions. I hope you enjoy the new book!

Endeavor: Cover Reveal

Thank you to everyone who voted in last week’s poll that asked what kind of writing topics you would like to hear about. Writing the book won with 87 votes, and pre-writing came in a close second with 83! After that the gap widened by a lot, so coming in third was marketing with 33 votes. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind for future topics!

But if you’ve looked at the title of this post, that isn’t what you’re eagerly anticipating. Instead of prattling on, I’ll just cut to the chase:

Ta da! Coming November 24ish!

Ta da! Coming November 24ish!

Yes, it’s the cover reveal for Endeavor! Before I talk about it, I’ve had a lot of worried readers who have been concerned I’ve pushed the release date out, but I haven’t! You have just a bit over a week to wait for it! I plan to release it next week, Tuesday, November 24ish. (I say ish because Amazon’s upload times are a little imprecise if I don’t use the pre-order feature. It might appear late Monday night, or early Wednesday morning at the latest.) Okay, on to the cover!

The following is a bit spoiler-ish, but only for the first five pages of the book so I assume none of you will mind discussing it. This cover is so perfect for Endeavor, I can’t help but chuckle when I look at it. The story opens with a tournament, in which the winner of the tournament will be named the Best Knight of Britt’s court. The knight on the cover is one of  the two final contestants in this Britt-sponsored-Tournament, Mordred. The book picks up mere weeks after Enlighten, so everyone is still a little awkward after Britt’s reveal, but they are predictably stoked to have an opportunity to beat each others brains out.

Thanks again, Myrrhlynn, for another excellent cover! I’m particularly excited about this one as it is the first King Arthurs cover to feature a human! Thank you, also, for hanging in there King Arthur Champions! I’m hopeful you will really enjoy this book. Until next time, thanks for reading!

Fan Art!

Before we dive in, I just want to post a reminder that today–October 12–and tomorrow–October 13, are the last days you can enter the Lost Files of the MBRC ebook raffle. (Click here to enter!) I’ll be giving away ten copies instead of the originally planned five because of all the entries, so your chances of winning are better than you think.

Okay! Today I get to share a special treasure with you, Champions, that has me absolutely chuffed! A tremendously talented reader–who goes by the artistic name of Keepsake20–made a beautiful illustration of Merlin and Britt from King Arthurs and Her Knights. Check it out!

merlin_and_arthur_by_keepsake20-resized

I was going to put a smaller version in this post (This is still scaled down a bit) but then I thought NAH~~!

I’ve got to say, she really nailed them. She included Merlin’s obsession with wearing gray, and did a fabulous job with his face and hair, and I think she perfectly captured Britt’s willowy build and her feminine features that give her a little more of a fairy or elf-like look. Truthfully I had a bit of a moment when I saw the image. It is so incredible to see life breathed into these characters through an entirely different medium.

Keepsake20 sent a link of the image to me, but I highly suggest checking out her Deviant-Artist page. She has some amazing art, featuring everything from Disney Princesses to Harry Potter to superheroes!  (Here’s the link to the Merlin and Britt image if you want to see it in its original glory and splendor.) She’s given me permission to put this beauty on my website, so it will pop up sometime soon as I try to find a perfect place for it.

This does bring up a topic I don’t think I have directly addressed before. If you’ve created fan-art of something from my stories–or fan anything, really–and would like to share it, don’t be afraid to send me a link in an email or comment on the blog! My creativity funnels mostly into writing, but I love and appreciate other kinds of art, too. (And when I say “fan-art” I don’t just mean drawings or digital paintings; I’m including photography, poetry, anything you can think of!)

Thank you for reading, Champions, and thank you again to Keepsake20 for this beautiful image! I hope you all have a splendid day.

Available for Pre-Order: MBRC Anthology

Announcing a new story: The Lost Files of the MBRC: An MBRC Short Story Anthology! Available for pre-order today, with a release date of October 15, this anthology contains edited and updated versions of the two short stories I have available on this blog, as well as three brand new stories: A Magical Birthday, Release the Kraken, and The Marriage Trustee. In these stories, Morgan will revisit friends like Aysel, Asahi, Hunter, Madeline, Frey, Frank, The Beer Brothers, Krad, and Esmerelda. The anthology is almost the length of a King Arthurs book, so it’s priced at 99 cents.

Surprise!

I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to discuss this project, and it just about killed me when I decided not to announce it until it was available for pre-order, so today comes as a big relief to me.

It was so much fun getting back together with Morgan and the MBRC crew, but it did hit home the reminder than I can’t write another MBRC novel from Morgan’s point-of-view. Her cast of characters is too huge, and it would only grow if I continued her story. However, that doesn’t mean I’m finished with the MBRC world and characters, as you might notice when you read the new short stories. But enough about that!

To celebrate the anthology, I’m holding another rafflecopter give away! Enter to get a chance to win one of five free ebook copies of The Lost Files of the MBRC! The raffle opens today, and it will close on October 13. The usual rules apply–you can only enter once, no purchase necessary, I’m not responsible if unfortunate circumstances like loss of internet keep you from entering, etc–and if you choose to pre-order a copy of the anthology and end up winning a free copy as well, I will gladly send your copy to a person of your choice.

Now sadly the Rafflecopter widget doesn’t work on wordpress. I can only provide a link, so here you go: a Rafflecopter giveaway
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So MBRC fans, give me a holler! Are you excited, or do you wish I would just leave the world alone? This is a bit of an experiment for me, so I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading, Champions, and good luck to all who enter the raffle!

Long Live the King!

Wow! For the King Arthur Popularity Poll, Britt Arthurs had a runaway win, consisting of 163 votes! Second came Merlin with 131 votes, and Kay trailing just behind him with 116 votes. Next came Sir Gawain (38 votes) Nymue (27 votes) and Morgan (26 votes). You can check out the rest of the results in the post below, but I’m thrilled that Britt is such a resounding favorite! (She got nearly 30% of the votes. You go girl!)

So far this month I’ve managed to close out a few projects and get a few edits live. I’ve also been able to catch up on some reading, so I thought I would share a few of the books I’ve found.

Jackaby: I got this gem at the local library, it’s a historical, paranormal, mystery. It might sound like an odd mash-up, but it’s absolutely delightful! It follows the heroine who is in desperate need of employment and ends up serving as the assistant for Jackaby–investigator of the paranormal.

If you are a fan of fantasy and Sherlock Holmes, this book is meant for you. Because I know it’s a concern for some of you, I need to say it can be bloody–although not to the levels of thriller-gore as it is a YA book. It’s got more blood and death than I usually read, but the characters are so brilliant and the dialogue is fun and snappy!

Frederica: I bought myself a Kindle Unlimited subscription, and I devoured a lot of Georgette Heyer’s books. This is a sweet historical novel with a touch of romance that is guaranteed to keep you laughing! The story follows our Frederica and her efforts to launch her younger sister into London society with the help of her reluctant-bachelor-guardian-who-isn’t-really-her-guardian.

I felt like the last fourth of the book dragged a little because there was less humor and a little more drama, but it was still a charming book with clean romance and a lot of laughter.

The Emperor’s Edge: Wow, just, wow. This book can be picked up for free on Amazon (it’s the first in the series) and it is an absolute treasure. The characters in the book are hysterical and unique, and the plot is gripping. This book follows Amaranthe, one of the few female enforcers (police) in her fantasy/steam-punk world. Through a series of unfortunate events, Amaranthe is marked for death by the commanding general–who also happens to be guilty of drugging and manipulating the young emperor. For the good of the country, Amaranthe must get the general cast out of favor, rescue the emperor, and hopefully restore her honor with the help of her unlikely, motley crew.

Like Jackaby, it had more blood than I usually go for–one of the main characters is an assassin, so you can imagine how much carnage he causes–but these characters! They do the funniest things and they have some of the best conversations! I don’t know if I can give the rest of the series my stamp of approval (I’m reading book two, and so far it hasn’t been as funny, its had a few crude lines as you see the motley crew without Amaranthe there to civilize them, and it is a little worse gore-wise, although the plot is just as inventive and dynamic) but book one is definitely worth the download. (Note, for you romance lovers King’s Edge has only the tiniest smidgen, so don’t enter into it expecting a love story. The author says the romance builds as the series progresses.)

So that’s what I’ve read recently. How about you guys?

King Arthurs Popularity Poll

I’m back on my work computer, so I can finally post the popularity poll for King Arthurs characters! Woohoo! This has been a long time in coming, but please vote for your favorite THREE King Arthurs characters. (I’m giving you three votes as I know Britt is a wildly popular character, but I want to know who else you like!)

Puss In Boots has gone through its first round with Editor #2. I finished my round of editing, and it’s been sent back to her for round two. Also, this week I’m finally getting a chance to go back over Cinderella, so it can be prepped for formatting for a paperback release. That’s about all I have the brain capacity for today–concentrating so intently on Cinderella really takes it out of me! Have a great week, Champions. I can’t wait to see who your favorites are!

Arthurian Cycles

It took a while to decide what other sort of King Arthurs things I wanted to take a look at. In the end I decided to show you all where in the “Arthur Cycle” we are. Now I’ve bounced around the original legends and ballands quite a bit, and sometimes I stick more closely to the novel interpretations–King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles and The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle–but even the novels follow Arthur through various cycles. These cycles are called “The Matter of Britain” or, by those of use who are less scholarly, Arthurian Cycles. (Also, please take my notes here as a grain of sand. I’ve done a lot of research on Arthur, but for the sake of keeping things short, I am over simplifying things.)

There’s a few cycles that involve Welsh and Breton sources. These cycles so barely resemble our modern vision of Arthur, you would be hard pressed to recognize it. (There’s no round table, no Camelot, and none of the usual knights.) The first real cycle that has anything we would recognize, is a narrative written by Geoffrey of Monomouth. Geoffrey brought in Merlin and Uther Pendragon, and the strange circumstances of Arthur’s birth. After Uther dies Arthur inherits the throne at age 15, and sets out to unit England. Guinevere makes an appearance–although her name is slightly different–as does Mordred.

Next you have the traditional romances–which were predominantly written in the 12th and 13th century and usually by the French. These stories introduce the knights into the story. Actually, most of the stories focus on the knights, and Arthur is a background figure. In fact, he’s actually pretty useless. In Geoffrey’s account he’s a widely celebrated warrior. In the romances, Arthur is mild mannered and feeble. The French poet Chrétien de Troyes played a big role in this segment of Arthurian history, as he introduced Lancelot and crafted the Lancelot/Guinevere love affair. (Some say he was forced to write the affair against his will as it was much desired by his patron, and there is evidence in the stories that Troyes sincerely disliked Lancelot.)

This era sparked the creation of the Vulgate Cycle–or the Lancelot-Grail cycle. These stories focused on finding the Holy Grail and Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair. The Post-Vulgate Cycle was created later, and is basically the writers’ attempt to focus on the Holy Grail quest, instead of Lancelot and Guinevere. The culmination of these cycles is Le Morte d’Arthur was published in 1485. It’s probably one of the most widely recognized volumes of Arthurian literature in circulation today.

With the birth of the Renaissance, interest in King Arthur significantly died off until the 19th century, when the Gothic revival and Alfred Lord Tennyson sparked a rebirth of sorts. The code of ethics the knights followed became a major focus point instead of the French’s version of courtly love. The renewal of interest sparked another publishing of Le Morte d’Arthur, and new novels–like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court published 1889, and written by Mark Twain. The interest continued–The Once and Future King was published in 1958, and The Mists of Avalon in 1992. There are many, many more books written about King Arthur after the Gothic Revival, but I don’t have time to list them all here.

So…what about my story?

King Arthurs and her Knights books 1-3 focuses on Geoffrey’s account. I bring in the characters from the romances, but the focus is on Britt and her actions. Embark and Enlightened borrow more heavily from early stories in the Vulgate Cycle, although they retain Geoffrey’s focus on Arthur’s adventures being the most important actions of the kingdom. However, we’re about to dive deeper into the Vulgate cycle.

With the Knights of Camelot aware of Britt’s identity–and growing older–they’ll spend more time questing and conquering for Britt than they do kicking up their heels in Camelot. I refuse to put Britt in the back of the story–her role is a central one, even if Vulgate stories made Arthur into a tame kitten–and fortunately there’s plenty of content to play with. In the Vulgate cycle there is: Lancelot and Gunievere’s betrayal, feuds between knights, Merlin’s abandonment, the quest for the Holy Grail, the arrival of the famous knight Sir Galahad (whom I have already brought into the story with Enlightened) Tristen and Isolde’s love, the list goes on and on.

These are the stories that I generally don’t like because they all spell out a disastrous end for King Arthur. That being said I’ve got some fun plans for Endeavor and beyond. Still, this is your warning shot. Things are about to get really ugly. However, I’m asking you to trust me (because I have a proven antipathy for sad endings) and I’m asking you to trust Britt as a character.

Most importantly, I took the time to explain the cycles because it’s essential that you understand that in all of the legends, Arthur’s life is not filled with happy times like Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot. Arthur’s life is a romantic tragedy. While Britt isn’t going to take any of this sitting down, she’s got a rough road ahead of her.

Thanks for reading, Champions! Have a great week!