Winter Blogfest: I’m Hoping for a White Christmas by Hywela Lyn

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $6 Wild Rose Press Certificate and a pair of diamante four leaved clover earrings.

I’M HOPING FOR A WHITE CHRISTMAS
I love Christmas. If we’re lucky, we’ll have some snow. Despite all the inconvenience and problems it causes, for me, snow really makes Christmas seem – well, more like Christmas) I love all the preparations, from baking the Christmas cake and making the special sherry trifle, to decorating the house and Christmas tree. I don’t like starting Christmas preparations too early, but once I start I find it really exciting.

My husband and I enjoy a pre-Christmas visit to the local Garden Centre, towards the end of November. As well as Christmas trees and poinsettias, cyclamen and other winter flowering pants, the garden centre also sells loads of Christmas decorations and gifts.

It is prettily decorated at this special time of year, with little alcoves featuring polar bears and penguins – and even Father Christmas himself, with shelves and shelves of Christmas trimmings, stars, angels, penguins, bears, squirrels and reindeer.

I usually manage to pick up a few more decorations for the tree (I’m amazed I manage to fit them all on the tree as I tend to buy one or two more from the Christmas tree farm as well.) in addition to choosing some gifts for friends, some chocolate teddy bears and snowmen, and, of course, my favourite bottle of Christmas mead! There are so many lovely things on show. If I ever came into money I think I’d buy the lot!

It’s too early to buy holly and mistletoe yet, we’ll get that from the Christmas tree farm, the other place which is becoming a traditional trip for us, about a week before Christmas, when we’ll pick out our own Christmas tree from the hundreds available, grown specially on the farm, and brought in from the fields by Shire horses. As you’ll have gathered, not for me the supermarket for our Christmas decorations, I love the atmosphere of the garden centre, and the Christmas tree farm. We’ll probably pop into our local farm shop as well, for their delicious cranberry jelly, mincemeat, and some other home produced delicacies.

As anyone who knows me knows, I’m crazy about animals, and one of the things we’ll be doing on Christmas day is travelling to the farm where we keep our two horses, Harri and T’pau, to give them some special treats along with their daily feed. My little dog Choccy always enjoys coming along too.

As I said at the beginning, I love snow, and the lovely Christmas atmosphere it imparts. I haven’t written any full length Christmas stories so far, the nearest I’ve got is the snow and ice covered planet Niflheim, which features in ‘Starquest’ and ‘Children Of The Mist’. Maybe it will snow this Christmas and I’ll be inspired to write that Christmas story!

hywelaAvailable early 2016.

Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.

Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

About the Author:I currently live in a small village in England, with my long suffering husband Dave, although my heart remains in my native rural Wales, which has inspired so much of my writing.

Although most of my writing tends to be futuristic, the worlds I create are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature. My characters often have to fight the elements and the terrain itself. My heroes are strong and courageous, but chivalrous and honourable – and of course, handsome and hunky.My heroines are also strong and courageous, but retain their femininity and charm. However difficult the journey, love will always win in the end.

My first novel, a futuristic romance released by the Wild Rose Press was followed by a sequel ‘Children Of The Mist’. The series has now become The Destiny Trilogy and the third book ‘Beloved Enemy’ is due for release early in 2016.

I am a member of The Romance Novelists’ Association (UK) and Chiltern Writers

A keen animal lover, I have two horses, a Jack Russell ‘rescue’ and two ‘feral’ cats. When I amnot writing, I can usually be found enjoying the outdoors with my horses and dog – or just eating chocolate!

Website | Facebook

Anniversary Blog Fest: Hywela Lyn

Photobucket
As someone who’d never been outside the UK, I always dreamed of seeing America, but never thought it would happen.

My first two novels, Starquest, and the sequel, Children Of The Mist, were published by the US publishing house, Wild Rose Press. By networking with US authors I’ve made some amazing friends, including Mary Rickson and the late Sharon Donovan. Sharon was a wonderful author and despite having lost her sight to Diabetes Type 1, managed to write amazing inspirational and suspense romances, as well as her memoir, Echo Of A Raven. We collaborated on a ‘fun’ blog to promote other authors, The Author Roast and Toast , and became such close friends it felt as if the three of us had always known each other. Out of the blue, Mary (who lives in Florida) suggested I travel to Pennsylvania with her to meet Sharon, and after some persuasion on her part, we started making plans. I’d never been further than France in my life, so the prospect of flying so far by myself was both thrilling and a little scary.

Tragically, a month before I was due to leave for the US, Sharon, who’d been admitted to hospital in January for a second major heart operation, suffered a series of setbacks and, despite putting up a tremendous fight, did not pull through. Mary and I were heartbroken, but decided to go ahead and make the trip to Pittsburgh, me from the UK and Mary from Florida, to meet Sharon’s parents, and her sister, Mary Beth, who had kept us both updated about Sharon’s progress.

The flight was smooth and I’ll never forget my first glimpse of America as the plane prepared to land at JFK airport – or the thrill of seeing the space shuttle Enterprise, sitting ‘piggyback’ on a specially converted Jumbo 747 as we taxied along the runway en route to Pennsylvania. Mary’s plane was due in before mine, so she arranged to meet me at the airport. However, when I’d picked up my luggage, and walked along what seemed like miles of terminal in search of her, I began to think I’d made a mistake and missed her somehow, and started to panic. It turned out her plane had been delayed by two hours, and I hung around the baggage collection point for what seemed hours before we were finally able to give each other a real hug after all the virtual ones we’d shared. I was very glad I’d brought my eReader with me – and extremely grateful for to the very tall and charming airport official who helped us find each other.

We spent several days in Pittsburgh and met Sharon’s lovely sister and parents, and saw the delightful room where Sharon wrote her novels. Mary Beth showed us around the places Sharon loved. It was bitter-sweet and we were so sad that Sharon had not made it, to share in our dream of meeting up, but we all sensed her presence and felt that somehow she was there with us, sharing our experiences and conversations and helping us make wonderful memories. We went to one of her favourite restaurants, saw the ‘spaceship’ at the little town of Mars, where Mary Beth lives with her husband, son and daughter, and visited the peaceful cemetery where Sharon was laid to rest, looking towards the trees and mountains, and the beautiful Church where she used to worship.

After five days in Pennsylvania, Mary and I spent a very relaxing few days at a lovely guest house, called ‘Dream Horse’ in Ohio, in the heart of Amish country. We’re both horse lovers and the owner of the Guest House breeds Hafflinger horses. We were fascinated to learn she has written a book about the house and its guests, illustrated with the most beautiful photographs and paintings also done by herself. Writers are naturally drawn to each other it seems, because we had no idea when Mary booked our reservation there that we would make yet another writer friend!

My time in the US was wonderful, and something I’ll never forget. I little dreamt when I had my first novel accepted, that it would lead to the trip of a lifetime, across the pond!

About the Author: I live in a small village in England, with my long suffering husband Dave, although my heart remains in my native rural Wales, which inspired so much of my writing. Although most of my stories tend to be futuristic, the worlds I create are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature. My characters often have to fight the elements and the terrain itself. My heroes are strong and courageous, but chivalrous and honourable – and of course, handsome and hunky. My heroines are also strong and courageous, but retain their femininity and charm. However difficult the journey, love will always win in the end.

STARQUEST is the ‘book of my heart’ to use the old cliche. It is set among the stars I love, and on various imaginary planets, one of which, the icy planet Niflheim, features largely in the sequel CHILDREN OF THE MIST. I fell in love with my characters, and hope you will too. One of them, Kerry Marchant, begged to have his own story – so I’m working on it, and ‘Beloved Enemy’ will eventually become the third in the trilogy.

DANCING WITH FATE is a fantasy novella, originally written for an anthology about the nine muses, published by The Wild Rose Press. When I regained my rights last year, I revised it and republished it myself, and it is available both as an Ebook and in paperback.

A keen animal lover, I have two horses, a rescued Jack Russell and a ‘feral’ cat. A horse or two usually manages to creep into my stories. Come, join me in adventures beyond the stars, where new wonders await, or travel back to a time where the world was greener and less frantic, to a time where myths and legends merge and legendary heroes shape the future.

All my books are available from Amazon and Kindle, and you can obtain an autographed paperback copy from my Website

MY BLOG: www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com

MY WEBSITE: www.hywelalyn.co.uk

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Hywelalyn

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Hywela_Lyn

PURCHASE MY BOOKS FROM MY AUTHOR PAGE AT THE WILD ROSE PRESS: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=138

PURCHASE MY BOOKS FROM MY AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BMBXH4

PURCHASE LINK FOR DANCING WITH FATE: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/53249

Friday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn

THE GENTLE ART OF PROCRASTINATION

Do you look forward to Mondays – or do you dread them and wish your life away looking forward to Friday? I have to admit I used to be the former person, doing a job I really disliked, and one which left me with little time to write. Now I’ve packed it in and I’m able to stay at home, run my little home business, care for my horses and rescued dog – and write! Well that’s the theory, anyway.

Of course, now that I’m able to write pretty much when I want to, I find all sorts of excuses not to; there’s always something else to do first. Why should I procrastinate so much when I love writing? The thrill of getting drawn into a world of my own making is even worth the hardship of doing without a regular salary and having to severely ‘draw in my belt.’ I wonder how I managed to write at all when I was working full time.

Now, of course, with two books ‘out there’ and two more another ‘in progress’, I also have to think of ways of promoting – to let people know that I have books. Books that I hope the reader will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing them. To that end I have a website, A Facebook and a ‘My Space’. Two of my characters have their own ‘My Spaces’, I belong to countless groups and loops and I also have a BLOG: www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com, and another one I run with some friends: www.theauthorroastandtoast and they’re terrible ‘time sucks’!

So there it is. That’s my excuse for procrastination. I have to admit that I love the interaction with other authors, and especially with readers. There is a danger, however, that I am spending so much time ‘networking’ that my actual writing is suffering. My poor WIPs have been in the seedling stage for far too long. It’s time I put everything else aside and gave them the time and attention they need if they’re ever going to have a chance to begin their journey to publication. It is really a fact that the more time one has, the more things one can find to fill it – so I’m making a late Resolution. Beginning next week I’m going to spend less time ‘socialising’ and more time writing.

Not as easy as it sounds though, is it! Do you have a similar problem or are you disciplined enough to be able to put aside enough time to actually write? If so, please tell me your secret!

BIO

Hywela Lyn lived in Wales for most of her life, and the beautiful countryside and legends inspired her to write. Although she now lives in a small village in England, she is very proud of her Welsh heritage and background. She enjoys weaving romantic tales of the future, and distant, mysterious worlds. Her pen name is a combination of her first two names.’Hywela’ is Welsh and her first name but it was never used and she has always been called by her second Christian name, Lyn. One thing remains constant in her writing: The power of love. Love, not only between her hero and heroine, but between friends and siblings, and for their particular world and the creatures that share it.

She is crazy about all animals, especially horses, and loves the ‘Western’ way of riding which is becoming more popular in the UK. She lives with her long suffering husband, Dave, and her animal family includes two horses, two feral cats and an adopted Jack Russell terrier called Bouncer.

Her latest book Children Of The Mist is available from The Wild Rose Press and is a sequel to her debut novel, Starquest. She is currently working on the third book in the series and a historical Western. She also has a fantasy ‘free read’, entitled A Bargain With Death and has recently re-published a fantasy novella Dancing With Fate, which was originally part of TWRP’s ‘Song Of The Muses’ series.

‘Starquest’, ‘Children Of the Mist’ and her ‘freeread’ can be found here:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/hywela-lyn-m-138.html

Website: www.hywelalyn.co.uk

Blog: www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com

Dancing With Fate: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/53249

Thursday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn

HORSES IN MY WRITING

As a horse lover, I always manage to include a horse of some kind in my stories, even if they’re ‘fantasy’ horses or unicorns. My novella about the Greek Muse Terpsichore, Dancing With Fate, was no exception, I just had to include a couple of horses in the story. One is Harri, my black Welsh cob and the other is my much loved little endurance mare Sal, who sadly passed away three years ago at the grand old age of thirty-four.

Harri became the hero, Myrddin Ab Morfryn’s horse. Harri’s show name is Pentrepiod Sovereign. Not surprisingly his previous owner called him ‘Harry’ and apart from the fact that it’s supposed to be unlucky to change a horse’s name, I didn’t see much point in changing it; it suits him. I do use the Welsh spelling in the book though. He’s a lovely fellow, jet black and very handsome, but he has a lovely nature and is so very loving and gentle. He will come up to you, showing his teeth and curling his lip – and then plant a big kiss on your face. He’s never been known to show his teeth or raise a hoof in anger, even though my other horse, T’pau, bosses him around mercilessly. He just takes so much of it then walks off and ignores her – and T’pau, a paint x Quarterhorse looks at me as if to say ‘Why doesn’t he love me?’ LOL!

T’pau is very beautiful too – one day I’ll have to put her into a story.

Sally, or Sal, was a feisty little Welsh mare who worked her socks off for me when we did long-distance endurance riding in Wales. She was a lovely golden buckskin with a black mane and tail. When I first bought her she used to rear up and try to rub me off against trees and hedges, but I suspect that was to see how much she could get away with, because once we reached an understanding, she was a wonderful ride and I trusted her completely and still miss her. I’m glad I was able to give her a kind of immortality by making her Terpsichore’s mount in Dancing With Fate.

If you have animals do you incorporate them into your stories?

Wednesday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn

A GHOSTLY ENCOUNTER

Do you believe in ghosts? And if you do, do you think they’re benign or sinister? I’d never thought too much about the question until. some years ago, when I was attending a writing weekend at an old mansion, called Gregynnog in Wales. Various halls have occupied the site since the twelfth century and it was the ancestral home of the Blayneys and the Traceys from the fifteenth century. The house, a very large, mock Tudor building, was given to the University of Wales in 1963,

Legend has it that the house is haunted by a lady whose family used to own it but who lost their money and had to leave. Apparently she returned to the house after she died because she loved it so much. I felt nothing but a warm, welcoming presence, while I was there, not cold or frightening at all. I slept soundly at night and enjoyed exploring the house and grounds, and writing in the large, comfortable music room.

The gardens are mostly formal, and extend to 700 acres, although they used to be considerably larger. There was an interesting statue of a huge hand in a secluded area, not far from the house. I took a photo of a friend standing beside it, and he took one of me. When they were printed the one of him was fine, nice and clear and sharp. The one of me, taken seconds later, with the same camera, showed a mist in the bushes behind me and the shadowy figure of a lady in a long flowing dress. It wasn’t easy to see unless you looked really hard, and it was another friend who first spotted it. The figure eventually faded over time, although it was still visible once you knew where to look.

I’ve kept it in an album with several other photographs. Strangely enough, when I went to check the photographs, for this article, that particular one had disappeared. It still hasn’t come to light. Is that a coincidence do you think, or something more…supernatural?

Tuesday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn

RESEARCHING THE FACTS (2)

Yesterday I talked about researching ‘horsey information,’ so today I’m going to talk a bit about my own research.

For my debut novel, Starquest I needed to be sure that when I wrote about star drives and planetary conditions I had my facts right. I didn’t want to bore readers with facts or figures, but I did want to be sure that the events I depicted were logical and might be possible in the future. Much of Starquest takes place on a starship, so I wanted conditions on board to be as accurate as possible, and I also wanted to try to put across some of my heroine’s love for space and the stars, and for the ship she hires to take her in search of her lost love. So I did a lot of research into theoretical drives, and propulsion systems, life support and artificial gravity, etc. I only used a smidgeon of what I learnt, but hopefully it helped to make the final result realistic and plausible.

My second full length novel, Children Of The Mist is set on one of the planets visited by the two main characters in Starquest. I based this planet loosely on ‘Niflheim,’ the land of mist and cold of Nordic legends, so again I did a lot of research into the stories and legends of Scandinavia, and also its geography and climate. Of course I used books and magazine articles as well as the internet for my research and I found the whole process absolutely fascinating.

Then, for my research into the background of my story Dancing with Fate I needed to delve not only into Greek mythology, but because I set the story in Celtic Wales, I also drew on the myriad Welsh folklores and legends, as well as the Arthurian legends. I love reading myths and legends, so really this research was more of a pleasure than a chore, the difficulty was in not getting too carried away and sidetracked!

Only a very small fraction of what one learns in ones research will ever be actually used, but learning itself is a rewarding and wonderful process, with the bonus that occasionally something you pick up in your research might spark off a totally new story.

Monday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn

RESEARCHING THE FACTS (1)

Most readers don’t realize the amount of research involved when writing a book – and sadly some otherwise excellent readers don’t give it enough thought either, but if a writer hasn’t researched his or her subject thoroughly, it soon becomes evident to a reader who knows something about it.

For instance, I’m an ardent horse lover and nothing pulls me out of a historical romance more quickly than inaccuracies about saddlery etc., or riders who ‘shake the reins’ to encourage the horse to move forward. My pet ‘peeve’ is heroes who always ride stallions, (even worse if it’s a heroine). Now don’t get me wrong, a stallion can be an amazing animal to ride, and I’ve ridden a couple who were a dream – but on the whole they’re not practical for every day travel. Apart from usually being very spirited and only suitable for an experienced rider, they do tend to have a ‘one track mind’ when it comes to mares, and you couldn’t just turn a stallion into a field with other horses without a few ‘fireworks’.

In historical times a woman would usually ride a mare or gelding, and although it might seem like a good idea for your feisty unconventional heroine to ride a stallion, bear in mind that this would not be ‘the norm’ and very few women would actually have ridden an ‘entire’ animal.

This was especially true in medieval times when noblewomen normally rode a light, gentle horse known as a ‘palfrey’. It’s different with warhorses or destriers, ridden by knights though,when a stallion’s fiery and aggressive nature would be an asset on the battlefield.

These days with so much information on the Internet, it’s relatively easy to find out the details you need to make sure you don’t slip up on a ‘horsey’ detail, such as which side a bridle would be buckled on and how many girths there are on a sidesaddle, and it’s pretty much the same with almost any subject you need information about. Just Google the subject and you will usually be presented with a number of sites. Personally, I love Wikipedia, but don’t take everything there for Gospel, although it’s a fantastic source of information it’s not always one hundred per cent accurate. I find the best sources of information are websites which concentrate solely on the subject you’re trying to research.

GUEST BLOG: HYWELA LYN

Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about Wales, where I grew up and spent most of my adult life. When I had the privilege of being one of the authors in the Wild Rose Press’s Song Of The Muses anthology I set my story, ‘Dancing With Fate’ in 5th Century Wales and used much of the wild scenery, with its mountains and lakes as background to that story. My first full length futuristic novel Starquest had several chapters set on the planet Niflheim, and again the inspiration for that planet came from memories of the Welsh mountains, and was reflected in the sequel, Children Of The Mist, published last year,

When thinking about my post for this blog, I decided to talk about one of the many old Welsh traditions, the love spoon. First of all, what is a ‘lovespoon’ exactly. Well, in the words of David Western, a very talented hand carver of these items: “Welsh lovespoons trace their roots back to the 1600s. They are hand carved tokens of love or esteem, each an extraordinary work of art… Originally, it was a handmade spoon given by its maker to the girl who had captivated his heart in the hopes its acceptance would lead to the beginnings of a courtship. The custom was known throughout Wales and was known to exist in Sweden, the Alpine regions and even down to Hungary; it is even reputed to have occured in areas of Spain, France, Italy and Greece. It is in Wales however, that the lovespoon has survived the industrial revolution and it is the only country where it has survived in a notable fashion.”

David was born in Cardiff and now lives in Victoria, BC. He is not only highly skilled, but very passionate about his craft. The picture is of a love spoon formed tor represent the Welsh dragon for the Portland ‘West Coast Eisteddford’ 2009. I think it is exquisite.

This is what he says about one of the other spoons he was commissioned to craft.

“What really makes this spoon special is something that you can’t see. Rather than putting together a series of symbols or meaningful images, this spoon was designed to capture a feeling. For the couple who commissioned it, the spoon is a remembrance of a single significant event in a lifetime of memories. For you and I, it is a nice walnut spoon with a cheerful yellow cedar inlay and some nice Celtic knotwork. For them, it is the memory of a long-ago walk on a wintery moonlit night when the promises of a life-long love were made…The heart shaped bowl signifies the unity and strength of their love joined as one. Even to those of us unaware of the true meaning hidden in the spoon, the heart lets us know this spoon is about love.”

I can imagine a young Welsh man after a hard day’s work, returning to his family home and spending the long evenings carving a piece of wood into the shape of a wooden spoon, with an ornately decorated handle. The more complicated and difficult the design, the more it would symbolize the depth of his love and desire to labour on behalf of the woman he yearned for.

The young carver would probably have been shy and unwilling to show his emotions, and would attempt to convey his true feelings through the use of various symbols and motifs. Over the centuries, many more such symbols have been added and as the love spoons became more elaborate and decorative, they have become valued as collectibles. Many of the symbols used are familiar throughout Europe. For instance, a chain or a Celtic knot would mean a wish to be together forever, a diamond would mean wealth or good fortune and the richness of a life filled with love, a cross would mean faith, a flower would mean affection, or a dragon for protection, or to symbolize Wales itself.

How romantic is that?, There has to be a wealth of romance tales in this one love token, alone! No amount of machine made, mass-produced trinkets could convey half the emotion of a single wooden spoon ornately carved by hand and made with love.

Excerpts reprinted with permission from David Western’s blog, all material © 2009, David Western –http://davidwestern.blogspot.com/

David is a regular contributer to Americymru, a blog specifically aimed at People with Welsh roots, living and working in the USA: http://americymru.blogspot.com/

BIO: Hywela Lyn lives in a small village in England although her heart remains in her native rural Wales, which inspired so much of her writing.

Although most her writing tends to be futuristic, the worlds she creates are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature. Her characters often have to fight the elements and the terrain itself. Her heroes are strong and courageous, but chivalrous and honorable – and of course, handsome and hunky. Her heroines are also strong and courageous, but retain their femininity and charm. However difficult the journey, love will always win in the end.

Her latest book ‘Children Of The mist’ was released by The Wild Rose Press on 19th June 2009 and is a sequel to her debut novel, ‘Starquest’. She is currently working on the third book in the series. Her novella ‘Dancing With Fate’ is included in Book II of The Wild Rose Press’s anthology, ‘Song Of The Muses’.
She also has a fantasy ‘free read’, entitled ‘A Bargain With Death’.

All her books can be purchased here:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/hywela-lyn-m-138.html

Website: www.hywelalyn.co.uk
Blog: www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com