Monday, September 26, 2011

Practical Torture for your Villain

It might not always be nice to have to torture your hero or sidekick or anyone else, but sometimes it has to be done. Torture has its uses as a plot device. A villain's choice to torture a character can save them from death and give your good guys a chance to come and save them.

When you have a really nasty villain, it would not be in character for him to just put a character away and forget them. That only leaves him the choice of killing the character or torturing him for information or just to get the hero/sidekick/anyone else to come faster. Thus, if you don't want to kill your character off (obviously, if it's your hero, this is not a good idea) then he might have to endure a little torment. Nothing too damaging if you want your hero to be able to fight the villain afterward; a good beating or maybe a little time on the rack do well.

This might be a little weird, but I suggest you do some research on historical torture devices and techniques. Just use your friend's computer or library card so you don't get flagged for it ;-). If you're going to pull off a believable torture scene, you have to make it sound real and keep the diabolical laughter to a minimum. Otherwise, it will not be taken seriously. Your hero, of course can have a bit of smart banter with the villain. It does not hurt to have a little humor in a torture scene as your readers will be worried and at the edge of their seats as it is.

You may not have to add a torture scene at all, or you may not want to. It's purely a plot choice. Sometimes, you don't have time for one, so don't add one if it's not right for the story.

Another thing to think about when adding a torture scene is what kind of technique to use for your villain. It he's an impatient man, something like a good old fashioned beating would be more normal. He might even do it himself unless he's the kind who do not like to get their hands dirty. If he's a cold-hearted scoundrel who likes to think of devious things to do, something a little more creative is acceptable.

As a note, this was mostly written from the perspective of historical fiction writing, and might not be true to other genres like fantasy or sci-fi. All things should apply, but if you have any questions or want my opinion on anything (yah right, you're saying, I'm sure you want to hear that!) don't be afraid to ask. I'm always open to questions and comments!

Slainte, Hazel

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Villains, Heroes and Grey Areas: What to Avoid

Grey areas are borderlines. Like when you have a villain who is sometimes good. There is nothing wrong with this at all, you just need to make sure you are doing it correctly so it does not seem out of character.

Example #1 (Evil Baddies): Your villain is a very evil, nasty, despicable scoundrel who enjoys people's pain. This is not the kind of person to give grey areas to. He cannot all of a sudden decide to be merciful or give to a children's charity or something unless there is reason behind it. Your readers will be left confused and wondering if they missed pages or something.

Example #2(Not so Evil Baddies): If you plan to have your villain turn out to be a good guy in the end, there are also things you need to avoid. He, in turn, cannot be ruthless and nasty and all of a sudden be good. You have to set up the fact that he might be a good guy through the book. He might give mercy to the hero, or if he does do something nasty, it might have been an accident or he did it to protect someone else. A good plot line with villains that turn good is to actually have two baddies. One, really evil and the other borderline so that in the end, the borderline baddie will join up with the hero and they might become really good friends. Grey villains might also come about because something happened to them to turn them bad even though, originally they were good people. My best example for this is to remember Darth Vader.

Example #3 (Grey Heroes): Sometimes your heroes have to be the bad guy to get a job done. They might have to fight dirty, be a little treacherous, or even have to torture someone. This, just like with your good baddies, all has to have reason though. As you can't have a villain be good for no reason, you can't have a hero go postal for no reason either. If he has to torture someone, it has to be for a good reason like maybe getting info out of a baddie to save a friend. He might have to fight dirty to last long enough, fighting a villain. Sometimes, your heroes are always borderline, and that is fine, as that might just be the kind of person they are. Having a borderline hero is not as jarring as a borderline villain.

Things to Avoid: Borderline villains can be all right in an adult novel, even though they are still not advisable, but you should never put borderline villains into a children's or young adult book. Don't add a borderline baddie to children's books because you're afraid to add violence. Most kids will not care as long as the villain gets his in the end. But you cannot condone things in a children's book by not giving the hero justice over a bad guy. Even if your bad guy is only accused of one crime, he still needs to be punished for it in the end. You cannot have his actions condoned. This, my friends, is a far worse example than any violence a bad guy might do in the story. Kids aren't going to love a villain if they know they can't get away with the things they do.

As for teens; the reason they are so messed up is because vampires used to be the bad guys and now they are all of a sudden good. What can you really expect?

I hope this was a help to people, if anyone has any questions, or want to know my take on any particular thing, just let me know, I'll do my best to help :)

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Get the Facts Straight: Writing Believable Historical Novels

Did you all know that I got a bullet to the knee when I went to rescue George Washington from the Confederate Army when I got caught up fighting Hitler at Waterloo with William Wallace and Bonnie Prince Charlie at my back? No of course not, what did you really think?

The most important thing about writing historical novels is getting your facts straight. That doesn't mean you have to put all those facts into the actual book, for no one really likes to read a novel that sounds like a text book. But as long as YOU know the facts, it will make writing a lot easier and more effortless in the long run and people won't have to call you out on horrible mistakes.

The fun thing about historical novels is that you have a little leeway with what you do. Small inaccuracies can be explained in author's notes, and you can be sure there will be some, for somethings are never explained in history, thus causing you to have to come up with your own ideas. As long as you don't change major historical events to fit your story, no one is going to criticize you for small little tweakings. I for one, know how much research goes into a historical novel. There's a lot! But you'll find that it is much easier to write about something you know a lot about so research well before you write your book. That is the best advice I can give you on the subject.

It's fun to put your own characters into a historical novel and have them live what other people have lived, but it can also get out of hand if you don't know what to do with them. Say your character is at a famous battle like Waterloo. You can't have his change history and let Boney win (that's called an alternate history, and I will most likely address that in a later post) so you have to make sure you know what you're writing about. It never does to make stupid mistakes, (one of the worst is spelling and ethnic typos) and you will only feel like smacking your head for it later. Trust me, I've been there more than once.

You should always write what you know, but that is even more true for the historical novel. If you love the American Revolution and know the time period well, don't try to write a WWI novel just because you want to try it. Do lots of research first as it is very easy to tell when someone does not know about a subject. How can you tell? They try to spell out everything for the reader. They don't realize they are doing it, because in truth, they do it for themselves, but it is in no way advisable. No reader likes something spelled out for them. That doesn't mean you should make everything vague either. You'll find when you know a subject, you will be able to write about it with ease without too much description and obvious facts. Good historical novels let the story move and breath, they do not make it read like your high school text book.

So don't let Washington get captured by Hitler's Confederates at Waterloo. Get the facts straight and before you know it, you'll have one lovely historical novel to be proud of!

Slainte, Hazel

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hack and Slash or Dash Part II: The Villain

Well, I just wrote about finding out whether your hero was a hack and slash man or a dash man, and I hope that got you thinking about your characters, but you realize that the same applies to your villain? It does.

Hack and slash villains are the very nasty evil ones who no one likes and who enjoy brute force. I'll still talk about the previously mentioned centuries (17th 18th and 19th) so we won't get confused here. As with a hero, your villain can use a saber or some other hacking weapon. Cutlass if he's a pirate, privateer, or vicious navy man from the Napoleonic period.

And yes, villains can have dash too. These are the showman kinds of villains who are maybe a bit of a dandy or more highbred. Again, this can apply to pirates or highwayman (if your villain is a highwayman) because they are the kind of people who have dash. Sometimes, your villain might have more dash than a hero. In fact, (in the reasoning that opposites attract) It would work, in my suggestion, to pair a dashing hero with a hack and slash villain and a hack and slash hero with a dashing villain. It's well known that hack and slash men have little respect for dashing chaps. Even though dash does not make a man less of a man, a hack and slash person might not appreciate his devil-may-care attitude.

There's also a third thing I'm going to mention here that I didn't with the heroes, though if wished, it could apply to either, and I will be talking about this in a later post about hero and villain "grey areas" and what to steer clear of when you're doing that. Your villain may not be either hack and slash or dash, he might just be a cold vile person. In that case, he's a knife person, a torturer. This is how I portrayed my villain Jack Moore in my book Freedom Come All Ye. These villains are cold-blooded and ruthless, but they sometimes do not like to get their hands dirty. They will have lackeys to run around doing all the hard stuff while they wait and brood for the hero to fall into their clutches; then they'll take a turn and torture the hero a bit. These villains can usually be cowards where only their hate and anger drive them to do what they do. They're the types where, in the last fight, they might try to run or plead and when your too-good hero spares them, they try to stab him in the back. These are the nastiest lads, but they make the best of villains.

I'll be talking more about villains later, so please check back. If you want to read more, go and visit Lynnann Richards' blog Character Chat as she has done a couple posts on writing villains as well.

Slainte, Hazel

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Belated Birthday

All right, everyone, this was supposed to be posted Friday the 16th, but I was unable to do so then, so it's going to have to be posted today instead. Here is a very happy, yet belated, birthday to one of my favorite historical heroes: Jack Churchill.

If you don't know him, you should. He was a hero of WWII and was known for playing the bagpipe, and going into battle with a claymore and a bow and arrows. He was also captured and held in a concentration camp, escaped and walked all the way back to where the Allies were only to find, much to his disappointment, that the war was practically over.

Read this really good article about Jack Churchill, you'll be just as amazed as I was when I first read it:

Everyone give Jack a very happy birthday and I shall be back with more posts soon!

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hack and Slash, or Dash?

When writing a swashbuckler, it is important to make sure your hero is using a weapon and a fighting style that suits his character. The time periods that swashbucklers are set in--16, 17 and even 18 hundreds--have a wide variety of weaponry you can choose from whereas in a medieval novel, a sword is pretty much a sword and what weapon people carried was determined by their social ranking. Swashbucklers however, give you a good choice to bristling cutlery, the only thing you must consider is weather your hero is a hack and slash man, or if he's just all dash.

Hack and slash types are those who run full-tilt into things without thought or poetic language. These characters despise the cliché for something more real. If your character is a hardened soldier of many campaigns, with lots of scars to show for it, he's most likely a hack and slash man. His weapon would be something like a saber, a backsword, or one that was sharpened on one side only, making it, generally, a cutting weapon. Or perhaps even a cutlass if your man is a navel hero as a lot of people seem to like to write about. That brings to mind a couple famous names in Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower. Hack and slash could also describe any Scots you might have in this time period. Never ones for dash, they always carried their basket-hilted broadswords which were hack and slash weapons.

Now on to dash. Dash is what you typically expect from a swashbuckler, while hack and slash is more what you would expect from more of an historical novel. My hero, Kilroy Allen from Ballad of the Highwayman has dash. The common weapon of characters with dash is the rapier. Thoughts of Errol Flynn come to mind, I suppose, and you think of the traditional swashbuckler. As this is what is expected of a swashbuckler, you can allow some clichés to come through like heroics, smart insults to the baddie during the final duel and such things as that that we really all love. Now the difference between the rapier and the saber as a weapon (getting technical now) is that while the saber is one sided and used for wide cuts and slashing, the rapier is more of a tightly used, thrusting weapon. Of course you can slash with a rapier just as you can stab with a saber, but the style is different. There is more footwork involved with a rapier, for dancing and fencing go hand in hand, while with a saber, you'll want to plant your feet more and take firmer steps when you do. More like while using a medieval broadsword, but not quite as hacky and slashy. For perfect examples of rapier combat (and rapier wit) go watch The Princess Bride.

Later, I will address this same question for your villains as well. Because there's nothing worse than a lame bad guy. Speaking of which, go take a look at Lynnann Richards' blog and read her article on not axing your villain too soon!

Slainte, Hazel

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Freedom Come All Ye (From Will's Point of View)

Good day, everyone, I'm William Wallace, a good few people might know me, but I was nothing like a certain actor on a certain movie (see I'm doing the same thing Hazel does) Actually, I'm me when I'm sixteen years of age. Hazel asked me to write a post today about how I felt about her new book about me entitled Freedom Come All Ye. It's a book about my first escapades that got me into the chronicles and also into an epic Blind Harry wrote about me called The Wallace. Hazel's book introduces a villain of her own making and she said that I am on NO CONDITION supposed to tell you if, or if he isn't, slightly named after someone. Nae, you're not getting anything more out of me, did you hear that, Jack? But anyway, my nemesis in this book is General Jack Moore, an Englishman in charge of Sir Henry Percy's garrison in Ayr where my uncle is the sheriff. You'd think that, getting into trouble like I do all the time, it would be a good thing to have your uncle be the sheriff, but no, not when the English are there to make up their own rules.

Jack has had something against me since I told him he couldn't just steal my fish that I had been catching all day. I did kindly offer some to him, but he was a greedy numpity and couldn't have that at all. So I fought him and gave him a lovely scar on his ugly mug and stole his sword. I later found that sword was my father's, so then I knew that it was Jack who had killed him. So you can probably see where that is going.

So then, my comrades, John Graham, Kerlie, Stephen Ireland and a few others started a resistance against the garrison in Ayr. And lots of stuff happens that you'll have to read the book to find out, most exciting of which, we get a camp lass who's name is Marion Braidfoot. And yes, we fall in love, that's the history after all.

Hazel asked me if there was anything I would have liked to have changed about the book. I wouldn't really have, but I have a few complaints. I would have probably liked to have been beat up and tortured less by Jack, but then "apparently" he wouldn't have seemed so evil. Then maybe I would have liked to have a little more romance between Marion and me. But Hazel's stories are always rated thusly: Romantic content: G Violence: R. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration, even considering she writes medieval pretty well. But then we're still not sure what she's going to do with her upcoming novel Freedom's Sword, another book about yours truly, now that she's "revising" it. She claims there will be "extended battle sequences" so I think we all know that that means. And frankly, I'm afraid to see what she'll do about Cressingham. If you don't know that story, go google it, or whatever you modern people do to look things up.

So, also, Hazel wanted me to remind you that tomorrow, Sept. 11, is the anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, one of our few great Scottish victories. And she would also like to apologize for not making any t-shirts to commemorate it for her Cafepress store. (Which you can find in the link list and go and get yourself a Team Wallace t-shirt. I assure you they are much more "awesome" than all those, ahem, other team t-shirts that are running around if you follow me.) And don't forget the river that the bridge crossed everyone! Because that is what won the day!

So, despite the fact that this is probably really garbled, so and find a copy of Hazel's new book Freedom Come All Ye. Despite some problems, I really enjoyed being a part of it. (No, I'm not paid to say that. We don't get paid until she does, so go buy one. Now!)

You can get one at:

Fare thee well, for now, my good comrades all,

Will Wallace

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ballad of the Highwayman Excerpt

Hello, everyone! I've decided to show you a special sneak-peak of my new novel Ballad of the Highwayman. My exciting news is that I just finished writing it last night so it will be out a lot sooner than I expected! I'm aiming at within the next couple months as I still have to edit and format it (ugh).

The scene: Sylvia, my heroine, has to go on a fox hunt to keep up appearances with her unwanted suitor, the infamous dandy, Giles Claybrook. But they find more than they are looking for in the woods...

Onward!” Giles cried as he spurred his horse on at the head of the band of his companions, trying his best to look like a gallant leader of an army. Dressed the way he was in his somewhat military-style riding outfit made Sylvia think he looked like an arrogant dandy commander. She wrinkled her nose and followed on at the canter the other horses had taken. Hector wanted to run, but she held him back. Riding side-saddle, she would never be able to stay on if he ran.

Giles sounded his bugle again and Sylvia thought with grim humor that even if Kilroy and Jeffcoat were still in the woods, they would hear them coming from miles away. Between the yapping of the dogs and the shouting of the young men, Sylvia wondered at the fact that they thought they would find anything. All the foxes must surely have ran away long ago. And if any of them wished to do any fowling, they would surely be out of luck. Sylvia herself knew she would have a headache by the end of the trip from the din alone. 

The dogs seemed to be on the scent of something. They barreled off through the underbrush, and the riders made their way after them, shouting out in excitement. Sylvia followed at the back, not wanting to get in the way if any of these idiots started shooting. She figured that she could handle a gun better than anyone here. Her father had taught her when she was only five years old.

“There’s the fox!” one of Giles friends cried, pointing ahead of them. “A red one!”

Giles blew his trumpet again and they headed off after the hounds again. The next minute, the dogs seemed to change their course and headed back onto the path.

“Where the devil are they going?” Richard asked in his drawling voice.

“The fox didn’t go over there!” said the man who had seen it before.

“Come on, there might be something else they found!” Giles said, blowing his bugle again and changing into the direction the dogs took.

They found them all gathered at the foot of a tree, jumping up on it and yapping fit to burst. The hunters and Sylvia turned their gaze upward and found a curious sight.

“Call your dogs off or I’ll shoot.”

Roster Scarcliff sat in the crook of the tree, one leg dangling nonchalantly and the other pulled up. He slouched against the trunk, one elbow resting on his drawn up knee while he clutched a half-eaten apple in his hand. His other hand held a pistol that was propped against the opposite arm, pointed lazily at Giles who was still in the lead.

“Stand and deliver,” Roster said almost mockingly and took the last bite of his apple, tossing the core so that it hit Richard in the side of the face, making him cry out in indignation.

“I say, sirrah!” Giles spat angrily, placing one hand on his hip and staring up at the highwayman. “What is a man dressed in somewhat gentlemanly clothes doing sitting in a tree?”

Roster shrugged but grinned with amusement. “Seemed like a good place to finish my breakfast especially with all the dogs around. But did you not hear me? Stand and deliver, I said.”

“Devil take me if I do!” Giles spat, but his defiant cry only met with the cocking of Roster’s pistol.

“My good sir,” he said, nodding his head. “If you please. Call off your dogs.”

Giles was speechless for a moment then he whistled to his dogs and they came away from the tree and settled on their haunches, waiting further orders. Roster leapt down with a fluid movement and doffed the hat from his head, bowing low so that the plume touched the ground.

“Now gentlemen, if you would all be so kind as to place all valuables into my hat, I will soon be on my way and leave you to your hunt.”

“I will not!” Giles said, but Roster’s sword was out now and the point was pricking the underside of the young man’s chin. 

“I am a dangerous criminal, my friend,” Roster told him with a twinkle in his brown eye that was both amused and mischievous. “Now, if you would be so kind.”

Giles swallowed hard and the tip of Roster’s blade moved slightly on his throat. “Very well,” he spat and slowly reached into his pocket and drew out his gold pocket watch, placing it in the hat Roster held out to him. 

“Come now, you have more than that,” Roster chided, pressing the sword tip harder.

Giles haughtily relinquished all he had on him of any worth, his pocket watch, what money he had in his pocket and his rings.

“I’ll get those back one day, thief,” he spat, his face reddening with anger.

“Oh, thief is a term almost medieval, we are called the romantic highwaymen now days,” Roster told him with a dashing smile as he went to his next victim. He was amused to see Richard with the quirt mark on his cheek and laughed at him.

“Have a brush with a brach this morning, man? Or was it the good lady’s quirt?”

“How dare you!” Richard spat at him raising his hand as if to slap Roster across the face, but the highwayman took his wrist and twisted painfully.

“That’s not a good idea,” he told him coldly. “Now hand over the valuables.”

“Who do you think you are to make so bold anyway!” Richard asked coldly as he angrily threw his belongings into Roster’s hat.

“Ah yes, I did not introduce myself because I thought that surely you would know me as the notorious highwayman, Shotbolt.” He said with a dashing grin and bowed again. “At your service.”

“I’ve never heard of you,” Giles told him haughtily.

“Never?!” Roster sputtered, stopping mid-bow. “Well who the deuce have you heard about then?”

“The Emerald Sword,” Giles said, looking meaningfully into the highwayman’s eyes. “Tell me, is it true that he is that traitor Allen’s son?”

Roster shrugged. “I do not betray my own with names, my friend,” he said and turned around, not giving Giles another chance to ask a question. He turned to Sylvia then and nodded his head to her.

“Will you rob me as well, Mr. Shotbolt?” she asked him, holding her head high. Wary, but ready, not sure what to think of this man who was always tangling with Kilroy.

“Though some might, I do not make a habit of robbing beautiful women,” Roster told her with his most charming smile and took her hand to kiss it, looking into her eyes meaningfully.

Sylvia smiled back at him and took her hand delicately from his.

“Do not let him charm you, dear Sylvia!” Giles commanded her. “His kind always try that, and the next moment, you’ll not have a pence left on you!”

“You should know by now, Mr Claybrook, that I do not let anyone charm me,” she said with dignity but turned back to Roster. “If you have all you came for, Mr. Shotbolt, I would suggest you leave. It would be best for all of us.”

“Well spoken, miss,” Roster told her, bowing again and putting his hat back on after he had transferred all the valuables into a small sack hidden under his coattail. He turned back to Giles. “It has been a pleasure, gentlemen,” he said mockingly. “Lady,” he nodded once more to Sylvia and then leapt over a bush and made his way through the woods with nearly silent steps.

“Well, our hunting day was ruined!” Giles spat angrily. “Who knows how many other rogues there are out here, and without anything to give them now, we shall all be dead before noon!”

“My stepfather has invited you to the mansion,” Sylvia told them, forcing the words from her lips with a smile, no less. But she was interested in the fact that Giles cared that the Emerald Sword might be Kilroy Allen. Perhaps she could find out more.

“Ah, dear Sylvia, you have saved the day!” Giles said with a smile on his face. “Let us off then back to your home and have some tea!”

Sylvia rode just behind Giles, but her eyes scanned the woods. She had no fear of Roster Scarcliff, but she had thought of something. And she wondered, as she put this new idea into action in her mind weather it would actually work.

Hope you enjoyed it! I'll be back soon with another post.

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pepys' Advice Column

Amazing! I can't believe I have actually gotten write-ins already! Here they are:

Dear Mr. Pepys,

I have been looking and looking for a really big ostrich plume for my hat and have been unable to find one. I have had to result in feather extensions and I am afraid they will fall apart during a party or a duel and it will be incredibly embarrassing! What should I do?

~Featherless Frenchman

Dear Featherless Frenchman,

I do not think feather extensions are truly that embarrassing and if done right will not fall apart. I know a lot of people who use them when there are feather shortages and see nothing wrong with them. If you are worried about them, get them done by a professional who knows what he's doing; they should hold up until you can find a really nice plume for your hat.


Dear Mr. Pepys,

Tell me, do highwaymen go to a "gallows party" with their hats on?

Feathered-Hat Hattie

Dear Feathered-Hat Hattie,

It all depends on who's "gallows party" it is. In the 1600s, it is considered sloppy to go anywhere in public without a hat on. If it is one of your comrades, then you should show respect by taking your hat off when he is hung. However, I asked one of my highwayman friends about your question, and he told me that it is custom to decorate your hat as much as possible for the occasion. A highwayman's hat is an important part of his costume and it's a sign of respect to your comrade to dress your hat up for his hanging. However, if the condemned is an enemy, you do not have to follow the same rules. Just do what you feel like!


Thank you to those who wrote in, I am excited to see more soon!

Sincerely, Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys' Advice Column

One of the characters in my book Ballad of the Highwayman is the famous London diarist, Samuel Pepys. He's one of several historical people I put into the book along with my own characters and he is enjoying his time interacting with them and being able to be a part of Kilroy Allen's story.

Samuel Pepys has decided to start an advice column for my blog where you may write in with any questions or if you seek advice on anything.

(The Real Rules)

This is purely for fun, and I encourage funny write-ins. If you want to know something about a particular part of history, or if you can think of a funny problem someone in history might have, that is also acceptable. I will be posting an example within the next couple days to show you want I mean. Anything insulting or rude will immediately be discarded and the highwaymen will do their best to run you through, you are warned. All write-ins must be anonymous such as the typical advice column names like "Lazy Highwayman" or "Distressed Dandy" you get the picture. If you want to send something in, please send it to my email with "Pepys' Advice Column" as the subject. It will then be posted with Pepys' answer in an upcoming blog post. Again, this is purely for fun and should not be taken seriously because we are very rarely serious on this blog.

I encourage highly that you write in because Pepys is very excited to get his column started. There is no specific time to do this, just whenever you want. Go and think of something now!

Slainte, Hazel

Monday, September 5, 2011

Books of Note: Cherished Preserver

Well, first of all, I'm going to tell you that on this blog I will be posting little things about some of my favorite books, some of them, like this one, by authors I know! They will all be under the "Books of Note" category.

Today's Book of Note is Cherished Preserver by Lynnann Richards. It's a little bit of everything. Romance, adventure, mystery, historical and has plain good humor in it. Her books, like mine are written in the style of the old fashioned adventure/romance novel that is sad going out of style (see my last post).

Anyway, in this book, the heroine is Sarah Scott, a young woman who's trying to make her way into the geology profession at a time it was hard for women to make there way anywhere (1910). Sarah, however is not trying to prove anything, she's not one of those sufferable suffragettes, she's just a daughter of two geologists who wants to follow in her parent's footsteps. So her professor, Joseph Ross (there goes another Scottish name) lets her help him keep the students in line when they go to Egypt for the excavation season.

Little does Sarah know, that there is a man from her parents past out for revenge, the one-eyed German! Not to mention his disgustingly evil lackey. Sarah has to evade all the assassination attempts all the while getting saved by her "dark defender" we-don't-know-who. OOH!

This is one really good book, and anyone who liked Indiana Jones and such-like would really enjoy this story. My favorite part: Howard Carter. Because how can you not love Howard Carter? And yes, he is in this book, so between him and all the stuff that happens, this is a really incredible book.

If you wish to read more about Cherished Preserver or get a copy for yourself, go visit

You can also visit her blog over at Character Chat.

I'll be back soon with more on Ballad of the Highwayman or something. Whatever I can get those lazy characters to write.

Slainte, Hazel

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ballad of the Highwayman and the Quickly Vanishing Swashbuckler

My new book--which I'm planning to bring out by Christmas!--is called Ballad of the Highwayman. It's a book set in the 1600s, during the reign of Charles II. One of my characters will be on soon to tell you more about the actual story, but today, I am going to tell you a little bit about my reasons behind writing it, besides the fact that I love to write this kind of story.

For anyone who has seen the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, (a smack in the face to those people who thought Braveheart was inaccurate) you know that the traditional swashbuckler is fast going out of style if it has not already flown out the window and crashed. What was wrong with Errol Flynn? You can't even have pirates anymore without them having "magical powers"; nor can you have a pirate movie without plot lines surrounding annoying women who can't make up their mind (not to name names, of course.) It's like Twilight tried to be a swashbuckler and died in it's sleep. (Did I just say that out loud? o_0) Anyway, you get my point. Plot lines like that are fine with vampires if you like that kind of thing, but pirates shouldn't have to endure that. It's cruel.

There was nothing wrong with actors like Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone and Robert Taylor who played in the good old-fashioned swashbucklers. Pirates and Highwaymen have always been in style, and I think that the majority of people still like them traditional. Mixing genres like that is never a good idea. Like if someone decided to mix western with sci-fi (again, not to name names ;) Or if someone decided to mess up the super hero movies. I mean, come on, do you want to see Captain America fall in love with a vampire? I don't.

So that brings us up nicely to why I wrote this book. As I saw fit to add more Scottish books to the world, I also saw it fit to bring back the traditional adventure/romance/swashbuckler (all wonderful genres together) Something like Dumas or Rafael Sabatini. Their books were very popular in their day. No magic, just plain old men. What is wrong with men who can use a sword because they have trained all their lives? Like everyone's favorite Spaniard bent on revenge from The Princess Bride (Another shining example of a good swashbuckler). I mean, come on. Even Tolkien, the greatest fantasy writer of all time, let his characters fight! If he didn't:

Aragorn: What do you mean I can't use my sword? What kind of book is this anyway?

Tolkien: Sorry, it's a fantasy.

Aragorn: Well, I quit!

This is how you loose characters, my dear writers/authors!

And yes, this is officially a rant, there will most likely be more on this blog, so get used to it! But I mean no disrespect to anyone/thing I "almost" mentioned, if that is what you like. I am only lamenting the loss of the traditional swashbuckler. If you do too, come see a preview of Ballad of the Highwayman here at

Tell me what you think! And leave feedback there too, if you could. :)

I'll be back again soon, so please comment, and again, don't let my characters get in your way.

Slainte, Hazel

Friday, September 2, 2011

Introduction and all That

Well, everyone. For those who already know, I have just published my first book, Freedom Come All Ye, a book about young William Wallace. You can find a link to it over in my link list. I have been writing a blog about Scottish history for about a year and a half now, and have gotten very good results with it. This blog is different however. This blog is all about my books and what I am writing at the moment.

Character Purgatory is the place where characters go after you make them up. They go there to wait to be written about, it's like a greenroom for stage actors. All the characters from all my books are there, just waiting for their parts to play. They get really bored, so I have agreed to let them have a little fun and so they will be guest posting on this blog on occasion. For you readers, that means that they will have a chance to talk about things going on in their books, they will be able to interact with you, and they will also be able to interact with each other which will cause some interesting conversations, I am sure.

I, of course, will also be posting things. I really, truly hope you enjoy this blog. It is all for good fun and a laugh. My characters will most likely be commenting on things, but please do not let them get in your way. I would love to hear your comments as well. Feel free to ask any of the characters anything you wish. I'm sure they would be thrilled.

I'll be back later with some news on my upcoming book, Ballad of the Highwayman, so check back soon!

Slainte, Hazel