Blog

Uncategorized

Apricots and Wolfsbane

pull quote

My debut adult, historical fiction thriller, Apricots and Wolfsbane, is now available from Filles Vertes Publishing

It is also short listed for the 2018 Chaucer Book Awards for historical fiction!

Shortlist-400x200

Buy now!

FVP ButtonAmazon Button

Watch the Book Trailer

Read reviews from other readers and on Goodreads or read an excerpt below.

front cover

Synopsis

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies, to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Her morbid desires are balanced with faith since she believes confession erases the sin of murder, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge against her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder, but the betrayals are just beginning.

This novel was inspired by the life of Locusta, Rome’s notorious poison brewer, and a homily from my priest about the ease of getting caught in a cycle sin and penance. I can’t wait to share more with you in the coming months!


Excerpt

The violent display of convulsions lasted longer than I anticipated.

With my boots propped on the table, I remember watching beads of wax roll down the candle, marking time between my victim’s spasms. The brothel room was sparse, and the bed in the corner remained undisturbed. I had assumed the role of temptress that evening, but delivered a different climax.

I savored the fear on my victim’s face as much as my own unlaced mead. The sweetness of both danced on my palate. His repulsive gagging, however, I endured with patience.

My target focused upon me. His hand shook, reaching out in a misplaced plea for aid. Instead, I raised my goblet in a final toast while he turned purple. He glanced towards his spilled glass, and then studied my face with new understanding. With his last remnants of life, he pieced together what I had done. Those little moments made the act so delicious. And as his body collapsed upon the floor, I added one more success to my mental tally.

Murder just never got old.

The scratching of my chair sliding across the uneven floor broke the sudden, serene silence of the room. Driven by curiosity, my boots echoed with each step towards my victim.

The man’s eyes contained a lingering remnant of vibrancy despite the departure of the soul they once served. White froth percolated from his open mouth, overflowing the orifice to trail down his neck. It was not an honorable death, but my client had paid for certainty, not dignity.

Curious, I examined the large ruby on the victim’s pointer finger which matched the client’s description — an ornate setting with a coat of arms on one side of the gem and a mare’s head on the opposite. The worked piece of silver did not seem important enough to procure my service, but as a professional, I had not asked for justification, only payment. Material significance so often motivated patrons to fill my coffers. I recognized the inherent sin, but I never judged a client’s reason. I was not qualified to cast the first stone.

I did admire my victim. After all, he was a fellow criminal. I believed his talents as a thief must have been remarkable to pilfer the ring unnoticed from the finger of its owner. I often boasted of my own sleight of hand, but admittedly, I could not accomplish such a feat. Though in my defense, assassin clearly trumped thief.

After donning the black leather gloves concealed within the lacings of my bodice, I returned to business. I pushed the tipped chair out of the way and pulled on the ring, but my motion abruptly halted.

Caught at the knuckle, the gem did not budge.

I stared at his limp hand, dumbfounded, before a flame of focus burst through my body. How I craved and savored that rush. That high, and the feeling of power, motivated my ghastly craft all those years. Despite the stress, I never lost control of my emotions on the job. No matter the circumstance, I learned to remain calm and reason through any dilemma. That night was no different.

Grabbing the corpse’s wrist in one hand, I pulled on the metal band with all my strength. Still, the damn ring did not move, even with my heel braced against his chest. But through the sound of my grunting, the unexpected scratching of a nearby rat interrupted my efforts.

The rodent stood tall on his hind legs, observing the entertainment outside his hole in the floorboard. What else could I do except laugh in amusement? There was something poetic about the meager creature being the singular witness to the growing farce, while beyond the chamber door, an entire brothel remained unaware.

But their ignorance would not last for long.

By God’s nails, I was not going to degrade myself to play tug of war with a corpse, nor disgrace my spit to serve as lubrication. I retrieved the dagger from my boot and sawed through the bone of the blasted digit. In contrast, his purse strings cut with ease and the contained sum gave me confidence the proprietor would retain his promised discretion. Eager to depart, I cleansed the ring with the pure decanter of mead and left the contaminated gloves on the table.

I threw the finger to the rat.

 

Pre-Order

Kindle from Amazon:
Paperback from Filles Vertes Publishing:

Uncategorized

2017 Nanowrimo Reflection

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-Cover

It’s been 5 days since the madness.

5 days later, I’m starting to have the itch to write again.

I was pretty quiet on my blog during November since I focused on nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). This is an insane, annual activity where authors attempt to write a novel (50,000) words in one month.

Yes, 50,000 words or 1,667/day. (Insert rant of how it’s unfair that a historical fiction novel is more like 80k-100k words…)

As a full-time working mother who likes to remain somewhat sane, I set a personal goal of 30,000 words towards the sequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane, and am pleased to say I made it. It’s not an “official” nano win since it’s 20,000 words short, but dang-it, I’m calling it a personal win! My official word count was 30,547 and the story draft is sitting ~47,000 words to date.

Screenshot_1

Apricots and Wolfsbane was a 2016 nanowrimo project and I also wrote ~30,000 words during the month. I somehow kept up that trajectory during December 2016, but I doubt that is going to happen this year. Frankly, I’m burnt out! Also, marketing for Apricots and Wolfsbane is taking a lot of my writing time, but I have some exciting events in the works for 2018 I plan to announce in the coming weeks!

The good news: I am loving my draft novel so far and am so pleased with how it is coming. I hope to have the first draft finished in early 2018.

But more importantly, I made some new author friends last month. Thank you to everyone who word-sprinted with me and for the fantastic community and encouragement.

Apricots and Wolfsbane, Guest Blog

My novel inspired poems!

@GeorgiaTell is working on a project to write 1,000 poems and two of them are inspired by Apricots and Wolfsbane! In the book, Lavinia dreams of being captured in poetry and now she has!

Check out Georgia’s website, and read her beautiful poems below.


of the same kind

a drop of poison
thief dead on the floor
saw off his finger
he keeps the ruby ring no more


I enjoy

the squeak of a chair
watching their eyes realize
life was draining away

the stillness of the body
when my poison won
taking proof

the silence when it was done
echoing in my head
until confession welcomed God’s voice back

Apricots and Wolfsbane, Guest Blog

The Life and Bizarre Death of “Necro-Entrepreneur” Locusta, the World’s First Known Serial Killer

Dirty, Sexy History

WDM27975 The Love Potion. Evelyn de Morgan, 1903.

Little is known about the world’s first serial killer, which is perhaps why accounts of Locusta’s death are . . . eccentric?

Here’s what we do know: Locusta hailed from Gaul, the outer province of Ancient Rome now known as France. Trained in herbs, she mastered the system of “patronage” and made a name for herself as a reliable assassin – or as Dr. Katherine Ramsland calls Locusta’s business, “necro-entrepreneur.” [1] To Locusta’s benefit, Rome brimmed with wealthy, would-be-patrons, eager to hasten the death of rich relatives. These clients also reliably bailed Locusta out of prison when events didn’t unfold per plan.

In AD 54, Empress Agrippina, the fourth wife—and niece—of Emperor Claudius, grew tired of her uncle/husband. She conspired with Locusta to murder Claudius in order to place her son from a previous marriage, Nero, on the throne. The Emperor, however, proved…

View original post 642 more words

Apricots and Wolfsbane

On the eve of publication

Tomorrow, my book releases.

(Holy crap!)

Tomorrow, you can dive into the words I’ve fretted over.

Your eyes will scan over them in microseconds, but I assure you, I’ve agonized over each one.

Tomorrow, I become a published author!

I remember making cardboard and wallpaper books in elementary school and I’ve always thought it would be amazing to create a real one. I’m am so proud of this work.

Tomorrow, you can enter the imaginary world I created.

And just like the real one, I know it will be critiqued. I am thrilled at the positive reception I’ve received from pre-release reviews, but I know not every book is for everyone. Some of you may not finish, some of you may despise the plot, or the writing, or the choices I’ve made. And that’s okay. Putting creative works out into the judging world takes courage and I hope you have the courage to be honest with me.

Tomorrow is the result of help and encouragement I have received from so many along the way.

I am grateful to my publisher for believing in me and elevating the piece with insightful editing. (Thank you, Myra, from the bottom of my heart.) I am grateful for all of the encouragement and support I have received from other authors I only virtually know – every time you  hit “like” on one of my Twitter hashtag game lines, you made my day. Thank you to my family who are my rock.

Tomorrow, my book releases.

I am still in disbelief. I am overcome with excitement and a little bit of nerves. I feel so grateful for the support I’ve received and the opportunity. I know there are many  hopeful authors who dream of publishing and I am honored to have made it this far. No matter what dream or crazy idea you have, don’t give up.

Tomorrow . . .

(Guess who is probably not going to sleep tonight.)