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Archive for July, 2008

I’m excited to be able to announce that my second historical novel, Beyond the Veil, was recently released by Phaze Books. It seems I’ve been waiting for this to be published for ages, but when the release finally happened RL played an unkind trick on me and I wasn’t at my best, so I’m a little late with my notice.  However,  I’m posting the Blurb below, together with the first few paragraphs to give a taste:

BLURB:

Captured by the aggressive pirate captain of a Barbary corsair ship off the North African coast in the latter half of the eighteenth century, David Jordan faces a life of slavery of the worst kind when he is taken to the specialist markets of Tripoli.  However, the enigmatic man who finally buys him is not at all what David expects.

Robert Charteris has a very personal reason for fighting against the iniquity of slavery and, in disguise, witnesses the disposal of the slave cargo from a captured English ship and, for the first time in fifteen years, Charteris feels an interest in another man.

His decision to rescue the young man has repercussions he could never have expected in this tale of high passion and forbidden love.

EXCERPT:

David was forced to duck yet again as a cannon ball screamed overhead, this one slamming into the ship’s mast, the cracking of the wood drawing everyone’s attention, but miraculously it held. More cannon balls whizzed and shrieked as they tore through sails or broke off some of the smaller spits holding the shrouds aloft.

Slipping further back into the shadows, David cursed his stupidity at ignoring the perils of travelling in the Mediterranean as he watched the Barbary Pirates pouring across the ship’s tilting deck, its surface already awash with blood. The crew manfully attempted to fight the pirates back but they were not only outnumbered, they were outfought. David had no weapon and weighed his chances if he tried to help.

His attention was drawn by the angry bellowing of a pirate who was chasing Miss Bateson, her long blonde hair coming loose from its tortoise shell grip and streaming out behind her. As she looked back over her shoulder, her eyes showed fear yet her mouth was set in a determined line. David was debating his options when he saw young Tom Bateson struggling with one of the pirates.

Almost immediately David understood that Tom had been attempting to help his sister, who ducked hoping to avoid another pirate trying to intercept her.

Without a second thought, David ran out of his hiding place and launched himself at the pirate who shook the sixteen-year-old youth like he was a rat in the teeth of a dog. The man was huge, his bare arms bulging with muscles where the split sleeve of his shirt fell open, his legs braced with a wide stance. David landed on the pirate’s back but the man was not even unbalanced. He dropped Tom instantly though, and twisting from his shoulder he reached back and cuffed David upside the head.

David hung on even though his head was spinning and his ears were ringing. With a growl, one of the man’s beefy hands gripped David’s right arm and his vice-like hold broke David’s grasp as if it was nothing. He yanked David towards him and his other hand slammed into David’s chest, throwing him clear across the deck where he landed heavily, his head ringing.

Suzanna Bateson’s forward rush came to an abrupt halt when she ran into a solid object. Strong arms wrapped around her, keeping her from falling. For a moment she looked grateful for the help, until she glanced up and gasped in shock.

She was held tight in the grip of another pirate. A tall man whose dark eyes were all that could be seen of his face, the rest of it covered by a black veil edged in silver attached to his burnous, and the long hooded cloak favoured by the Turks, which was also edged in silver. The burnous fell over loosely fitting black pantaloons and a loose silver shirt worn split open to the waist where it was tucked inside the wide waistband.

“What have we here?” he asked in English but with an odd accent.

The woman struggled in his grip, but he merely pulled her closer to him. “I like a woman of spirit. I think I might keep you,” he said as his eyes swept over her.

He leaned in towards her, obviously intending to kiss her and she shouted in shock, “No!”

Ignoring his increasing dizziness, David attempted to roll to his side to try and get his knees underneath him but just then Tom Bateson barrelled out of his hiding place among some fallen sails and leapt at the tall pirate.

“Leave my sister be, you bastard!” he yelled as he attempted to land blows on the man’s kidneys.

The tall pirate swirled the girl away into the arms of her erstwhile pursuer while he grabbed up the fair-haired youth. “I can clearly see you two are related,” he said with a smile, his oddly accented voice warm with amusement.

David just managed to hear the captain say, “Take them to my cabin, Achmed,” before everything dimmed and he gave in to the pain pounding behind his eyes, momentarily losing consciousness.

A rough voice calling out in a language he knew he ought to recognize dragged David’s attention back to his surroundings. He tried to open his eyes but swiftly closed them again as the brightness seared his pupils. He tried to listen to what was being said, but at first he could not even remember which language it was, let alone interpret it.

However, he realized it was the pirate Captain speaking and with growing horror he did recognize a few of the foreign words, “…kill the injured men too. They’re no use as new crew and even less use on the slave block.”

<end excerpt>

Buy today from Phaze: http://www.kingcart.com/Phaze/product=Beyond+The+Veil

Stevie

http://steviewoods.com

My Publishers:

http://www.phaze.com

http://www.torquerepress.com

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Eeek, I’ve just realised it’s the last Friday of the month today, and time for our latest Brit clinic.  If there’s anybody out there, and not lazing by the pool eating ice cream, who wants to ask the combined Brains of Britain here a question, go right ahead.  🙂

As usual, please post your questions in the comments section and we’ll do our best to reply.

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I would proudly like to announce the ‘birth’ of my newest ebook Cold Fire.

This short story is the first fantasy that I have written but I am very proud of it. I hope that this book will be shortly followed by others linking into the story since this one touches upon planar travel, and of course a sexy fantastical ‘ice man’

Cold Fire front cover, available from Phaze.com

Cold Fire front cover, available from Phaze.com

Here is the blurb:

In his ice palace Kevalan spends his time visiting different planes bringing cold and ice at certain times of the year. On a brief visit to one he rescues a young woman. He carries her to his palace for her safety all the while worried about his feelings for her. He only has one night on this world is it enough to form a strong enough bond, and why does she look upon him so fearfully?

For a hot excerpt visit here (but be warned 18+ only and it is not work safe!): http://phazebooksexcerpts.blogspot.com/2008/07/cold-fire-by-nicole-gestalt.html

Cold Fire is available for only $2, so go and get yourself a hot slice of ice!

ISBN 978-1-59426-828-1

You can presently buy it from: http://www.king-cart.com/Phaze/product=Cold+Fire

If you would like to talk to me about my ebook you will be able to find me at the Realms of Love chat tomorrow 9pm EDT/6pm PDT/2am GMT. The website: http://www.realmsoflove.com/

You will need to join the site first but it is free and you will be able to talk to some fantastic erotica authors

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A very British quiz

This is just a lightning flash of fun – the BBC has a British summer weather quiz on its website right now.  Pop along to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7509668.stm to test yourself against some surprisingly difficult questions.  Mind you, I would say that.  I only scored 3 out of 10…

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I’ve been reading a book called ‘Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination’, by Peter Ackroyd, in which he examines popular thought and literature in Britain since the Saxons in order to identify common threads. That’s a book which deserves a post of its own, but more on that later. For now, I thought it was interesting that one of the things he said the British were obsessed with was the past.

My father, among other people, has always maintained that the British are obsessed with our past because it was more glorious than our present. He thinks it’s a little pathetic of us, to be frank. So I was amused to have it pointed out to me that whenever you look at British culture, we have always been obsessed with the past.

The first piece of fiction written in English, in fact; the epic poem Beowulf, written down some time in the 8th century, but clearly composed earlier, is set in a past which had already become legendary. The first piece of fiction in English is a historical, in fact 🙂 As a historical novelist, this warms my heart.

However, in a blinding change of tactic, I’m going to use this fact as an excuse to post some pictures of what I did at the weekend. I’m a member of the Saxon re-enactment society, Regia Anglorum who attempt to recreate the society in which Beowulf was first performed.

One of the enormous things we have done over the past ten years has been to buy some pine-infested land in Kent, clear it of the trees and build an Anglo-Saxon longhall on it. This has been done with nothing more than the volunteer, amateur work of the members of our society, who’ve turned their hands to tree clearing, landscaping, post hole digging, carpentry, wattle and daub, lime plastering and roofing with hand cut oak shingles. After about 10 years work, the longhall is almost finished and it looks like this:

At the weekend we were doing various jobs such as fitting the shutters to the windows and putting on the final, blinding white, finishing coat of lime plaster. (Not quite blinding yet because it hasn’t had time to dry yet.)

Inside we’ve begun to furnish it with necessary articles such as lamps:

Meanwhile, outside, we’ve brought our society’s longships into the area because it’s cheaper to dry-dock them here than it is to pay mooring fees. I spent most of my time there taking down and coiling the running and standing rigging, and spreading out the sails to dry before rolling them back up again and lashing them down under a tarpaulin to stay dry.

Oh, there’s also a hive in the corner there – we had heard there was a swarm in the area, so we were trying to catch it. We’ll transfer it to a more appropriate skep if we get it 🙂 And speaking of wildlife, we’re lucky to have managed to buy this land in the centre of a wildlife preserve, full of the kind of animals with which the Saxons would have been very familiar:

(There are wolves too, but I didn’t get a picture of them). Altogether, I like to think it’s a modern triumph of the antiquarian spirit, such as would do both Peter Ackroyd and the Beowulf poet proud 🙂

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At least, I’ve been interviewed by the inestimable Emma Collingwood, author of ‘Lieutenant Samuel Blackwood (deceased)’ over on her blog:

(Click on the picture to get to Emma’s blog)

As a person of obvious taste, Emma says :

INTERVIEW WITH ALEX BEECROFT

I’ve had the great pleasure to talk with Alex Beecroft about her work, her plans, fanfiction and God, and I’m very happy to share this interview with you. Special thanks to Alex for putting up with me!

It was my pleasure!  It was also my great pleasure to find that she had reviewed my book, ‘Captain’s Surrender’

Says Emma:

‘Beautifully written?’ Nonsense. It’s far better than ‘beautiful’; “Captain’s Surrender” is a great novel, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Period. There are those wonderful characterisations of Joshua Andrews and Peter Kenyon, the authentic tone and description of the settings, transporting the reader right aboard a ship of the Royal Navy in the 18h century, all those lovingly added details that give the tale a true, authentic ring.

Those facts alone would have already been enough to draw my sleeve in for this book; but on top of that, Alex Beecroft is also one of the few authors who manage to write the reader right into the story. She makes her readers watchers, observers, analysts – she makes them care about her creations. At times this becomes almost uncomfortable; one feels like an intruder, a spy on the lives of Joshua and Peter. How can it be right for us to know their feelings if they are still in the dark? A brilliantly told story; gripping, upsetting, touching, captivating.

You know, I can’t help thinking she underestimates her ability as a reviewer!  I’m not sure I can think of any way this could be better!

If you like the sound of ‘Captain’s Surrender’ after that, it’s available HERE in ebook or print from Linden Bay Romance, or HERE by ordering from Amazon.

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My fellow britwriters have covered many of the essential signs of a British summer already – Wimbledon, the seaside, steam fairs, celebrating the solstice, rain – but I have one more to add to the collage – village and church fetes!

These are community-run fund-raising days, and a chance for everyone to get together and have fun in the sun (or while huddling in tents and under umbrellas, depending on the weather) Church fetes are normally raising money for the church buildings, and village fetes may be fund-raising for a village hall, the local Brownie and Scout groups, or any other local or larger charity that’s been agreed on.

(I’ll leave school fetes, fairs and sportsdays to someone with more recent experience.)

Recipie for a church or village fete.

A medium-hot day is preferred, but temperature is not essential. With enough community spirit, your fete will rise, even in the rain.

Basic components:

– Space (outdoors preferred, but if you can’t get it, a church or village hall will also work)
– Sound system
– Marquees
– Folding tables
– Banners, posters, and signs
Bunting to taste.

Begin the day early with a generous serving of volunteers. Mix well with the basic ingredients to create your temporary fairground. Allow approximately four hours for this stage of the process.

Add at least one and preferably more element from each of the following categories:

Stalls, selling things donated by members of the church/village .

  • Cake stall – baked goods by the slice, or in the round from the best cooks- an essential component.
  • Plant stall – houseplants and bedding plants from the green fingered.
  • Gifts – candles, jewelry, cards, bath bombs, wood carvings, from the craftily inclined.
  • Book stall – books, dvds, videos, cds, records etc
  • Bric-a-brac or white-elephant stall selling random *stuff* – ornaments, jewellery, pictures, toys, if there’s not a separate toy stall. (NB – *not* clothes; this isn’t a jumble sale, after all!)

Games of chance.

  • The Raffle – an essential. It’s not a proper fete unless you’re presented with a table mounded with prizes and the opportunity to buy a strip of tickets when you arrive. You will need the sound system for the raffle calling at the end of the day, as well as the interim entertainment.
  • Tombola – another essential. Sometimes split into adult (mostly alcoholic) and children’ (mostly sweets) but the principle is the same. The stall will be filled with bottles and jars, each with a numbered ticket taped to them. The punter picks from the bucket of folded tickets, and if the numbers match, they have themselves a prize. Most of the time numbers ending in 5 or 0 are the winners
  • Wheel of fortune – like the tv show, but on a domestic scale.
  • Lucky dip – everyone gets a prize from the barrel full of sawdust or straw, but some of them are penny sweets, and some of them are pound coins.
  • Key dip – pick a key from the bucket and if it unlocks any of the locks on the test bar, you win a prize.
  • String pull – pick a string, and pull – if it’s tied to a prize, you win.

Games of skill.

  • Whack-a-rat – home made, with a length of drainpipe, and rats made out of newspaper stuffed tights, with something heavy at the nose. The volunteer drops the rat down the drainpipe, and the punter takes a swing with a bat or stick, with a prize for anyone who can pin a rat on the base-board.
  • Electric buzz – manouvering a metal ring along a bendy wire course without touching the wire and completeing the ‘buzz’ circuit.
  • Coconut shy – some would argue this should be in with the games of chance, but that’s just sour grapes ;p.
  • Beat-the-goalie – does what it says on the tin – the punter normally gets three attempts to get the ball in the net, like a penalty kick in football (soccer for the Americans).
  • Hoop toss – throw your hoop over the prize and it’s yours
  • Horseshoes – toss your horseshoe around a prize, or a prize-representing-stake and it’s yours
  • Beanbag toss – land your palm-sized beanbag on the prize spots to win
  • Skittles – like ten pin bowling, but not (this one’s a whole entry’s worth on it’s own.)
  • Guess the weight of the X / number of Y in the Z (weight of the cake / sweets in the jar etc)

Stuff for the kids.

Food, and drink.

  • The tea tent is essential – tea, squash, and scones with cream and jam at a minimum, a wider range of cakes, drinks, and sandwiches if you can muster enough volunteers willing to cook and serve it all.
  • Beer tent
  • BBQ
  • Hog roast
  • Icecream
  • Stawberries and cream

(getting a hot dog van or similar to show up is clearly *cheating*. Perfectly appropriate for a fairground, or showground, but not really cricket for the amateur-run fete. Similarly, candy-floss is an option, but is more traditional for a fairground or carnival. )

Entertainment

A harmonious mix from the lists above will ensure that there’s something for everyone, and that your fete will fill the temporary fairground base well. Allow time for the stalls and games to set before presenting your fete to the appreciative audience waiting at the gates.

As a final garnish, you may wish to add a local celebrity to declare the fete officially open.

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