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Behind The Scenes: King's Warrior

Time to drag you behind the scenes!   

I wanted to show you some storytelling decisions that go into writing a book, and show you how real-life research can fuel a story.

This one's about King's Warrior.

First, a little backstory on the story.

Originally, King's Warrior was part of an anthology of connected stories, & mine was kicking things off, so I knew I wanted something big and exciting for all the other stories to reference.

The theme for the anthology was a ‘captured' theme.  

The stories were all going to be connected via this theme,  all have Celtic heroes, and all were going to have a jeweled dagger running through them.  The SAME jeweled dagger. And yet, the stories were going to span hundreds of years.

Since my story was appearing first in the anthology, I wanted to set up a compelling, exciting ‘story’ for the dagger that the other authors were going to be working with.

I knew I wanted to set it during the 2nd Crusade, with King Richard the Lionheart and all that crazy jazz. Lots of potential for drama, but where to focus…and get my dagger??

Assassination, of course. Of a Crusader king. By ANOTHER Crusader king.  Amiright??

The History

Okay, so what REALLY happened?

In 1192, Conrad of Montferrat,  Marquis of Montferrat (Northern Italy) and one of the leading crusaders, was elected King of Jerusalem by the other crusader leaders, although he’d ruled as de facto king as a result of his marriage to the heiress to the crown, Queen Isabella, in late 1190.

(I'm not even going to go into that crazy, convoluted history, but it's worth a look!)

Anyhow, England’s King Richard was pretty unhappy about this bonhomie among the other crusading leaders. Richard didn't want Conrad to be king: he wanted someone else.

In fact, Richard had lobbied hard for one of his own vassals to be elected king.  More specifically, one of his troublesome vassals, in the even more troublesome duchy of Poitou, Guy of Lusignan.  But Guy wasn't a popular…well, guy.  He wasn't brave, he wasn't honorable, and he wasn't really a very good fighter.  Also, he was a right arse. I suspect no one in the entire world actually liked Guy. 

But Richard was extremely motivated to hoist his independent-minded, belligerent vassal off on the Holy Lands where he would trouble Richard no more. 

Alas, the English king's candidate was outvoted by the other crusader kings.

I’ll go out on a limb and say this wasn’t something the strong-willed Richard appreciated. 

(Of note: Richard really, really, really did not want Guy returning home to bother him, so at this point, he SOLD Guy the lordship of Cyprus (where he could still be called ‘king') to keep him away from Poitou. Ha.) 

Everything seems good, right? 

Richard got rid of his troublesome vassal, plus some money into the bargain.

Conrad, who was a courageous fighter & leader and respected by everyone, would get the kingship. Happy days ahead in the land of fighting.

Then tragedy–or opportunity–struck. 

The Murder

Two days before he was to be crowned, Conrad was assassinated by, well, two Assassins.  As in, the real-life Assassins. They'd been disguised as monks and had infiltrated the grounds for awhile before they struck. Conrad was basically hacked up in the gardens.

The Assassins fled. One was killed, but one was caught alive.  And guess what?

Under torture, he claimed King Richard contracted them for the kill.

Whaat??   Yup.

Medieval crazy sauce.

Whether or not King Richard was actually involved in the assassination, and whether that involvement was direct or indirect, no one knew. 

A lot of people believed it.  And the rumors spread throughout Europe, driven in large part by the French king’s enthusiastic support of them.

Oh how King Philippe wanted Richard to have done this deed. Or at least be thought to have done it. It would make his take-over of England so much easier.

Because that's what Philippe was planning, of course. He'd already hie-tailed it out of the Holy Lands, and he was conspiring actively with Richard's younger brother, Prince John. (Yes, the one who became the evil King John of so many truths & legends).

So, did Richard plot for the assassination of a king?  It was never proven, but it was a compelling enough rumor that the king was required to submit proof that he hadn't been involved at one point. (A hard thing to do, but there you have it.)

(Second parenthetical: I'm not going into this crazy backstory either, of King Richard's travels home from Jerusalem et al, but omg, the drama!!!  Another day, another post.)

But whether he did or didn't conspire, all you need for Story is plausibility, and this was intrigue I couldn't ignore: King Richard accused of conspiring to commit regicide and assassinate another king.

But I still needed my dagger…

Fortunately, history provided that too.

The Dagger

What you need to know about the Assassins was they really like daggers. Like, a lot. They used them as weapons, but they also used them as threat.

They were legendary for sneaking into the tents of political opponents at night and leaving behind one of their daggers and a note, right next to the leader they’d stood beside, undetected, in the dark.

The message was clear, but in case it wasn’t, they often followed up more overtly. 

For instance, one of their exploits: In 1092, upon his coronation, the new sultan of the Seljuk empire rebuffed a Hashashin ambassador. Bad idea.

One morning soon after, he woke up to find a dagger plunged into the ground beside his bed. Terrified, he didn’t say anything about it–who wants to announce a weakness like that?  A little while later, a messenger from the Assassins arrived, saying, “Did I not wish the sultan well, that the dagger which was struck in the hard ground would have been planted on your soft breast.”

Gotcha. That one was pretty effective.  For decades after, there was a ceasefire between the Seljuks and the Nizari.

Guess what this gave me? My dagger for King's Warrior! 

The Proof

The way I saw it was…King Richard's involvement in the murder was never proven.

But what if it could have been??

What if this dagger, specially constructed and engraved with runes that implicated the king, boasting the king's very own ruby in its hilt, was used in the assassination.  It would be an unavoidable message to Richard, and the world.

The Story

I had my story!

An Irish warrior, once bodyguard to the king, on the run, with a dagger that was (or was not??) used in the assassination of Conrad, hunted by noblemen and kings who'll stop at nothing to get him and his contraband.

The Romance

Our hero is desperate, cornered…dangerous.  He'll do anything to accomplish his mission.  Even kidnap an innocent merchant woman and use her as camouflage to escape.

The drama hurts, yes?  :)

If you've read King's Warrior, I hope you loved it, If you haven't, go check it out!

If you like big adventure and hot romance, you'll love King's Warrior because it has a charming, dangerous Irish hero who finds the love of his life on the mission of a lifetime.
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Weekly-ish Update-April 7

I had a little moment of panic when I saw my last Friday post had been on March 31. “March??” I thought.  “Aw hell, you mean I haven't posted since March?”

Yep, Kris, that's right, you slacker. March. i.e. last week.

Shaking Up The Muse

I've been trying to shake up the muse, who keeps wanting to write big old plots rather than honed-in-like-a-laser-beam romances.

I tried dictating.  I tried through a mic, which was incredibly unsettling, to watch the words try to appear, after a huge delay, on the screen, as I was saying them.

So then I set up an entirely internal system, where I dictate to a digital recorder, download the mp3 files to a software program, that runs yet another software program, and the dictation happens software-to-software. 

 

Dictation Results

Much better results, distraction-wise. As far as output…? Here's a sample

The line I dictated, which had some ‘administrative' type instructions for myself, ran something like, “She was standing by the window, in a wash of spring sunshine–remember to use the original typed paragraph for this intro–when Brian de Lisle walked in. He smiled at her, tray of food in hand, and kicked the door shut behind him.”

What did it transcribe for me?

–> “Next field decrease her organs store Foster handler for two Mesa County pointe shoes undercover with some bubbles it was a finders crisis.
So are shine.” He said <–

Close. So close. Should speed things right up. 💩

 

Short Story

I'm writing a short story, to use as bonus material for an anthology I'm going to be part of in the summer.  The anthology will include three other historical authors, and we're going to use existing stories, but include little ‘extras,' as a way to reach new readers & cross-promote our work.

My bonus contribution is a short story that connects to Defiant.  A paragraph of the short story is above. As is the word-vomit hallucination of a transcription.

 

Contemporary Romances

Dare: I've written about 110K on DARE, my sexy contemporary romance  follow-up to SPIN, featuring Finn & Janey Mac, but it's all circling the romance.  So I'm rejecting all this nonsense, and will keep hammering away.  My goal here is another 50K super sexy story.

Out of His System: About 20K in, and we see, again, the too-much-plot problem.  Curse this story.

Untitled Christmas Novella: DONE!  But it's in a super rough state, right down to the fact that there are still a lot of incomplete sentences. But at least this shows me I can still actually write.

 

Recent Reads

I finished J.A. Huss's Anarchy Missing: Alpha Case. Super fun!! Sex and violence and love and crazy shit. So. Much. Fun.

Then I started in on a re-read of Lord of Scoundrels by Lorette Chase.  Because…shaking up the muse.

Hope your week was everything you needed it to be, and your coming weekend is everything you want it to be!

Behind The Scenes: Writing King's Warrior

Thought it might be fun to give you a sneak peek behind the scenes at the writing of King's Warrior, which just released last week. 

His plan was heartless, ruthless, and simple. Until he met her.

My plan for this story was simple, too.  (Not so much ruthless, but then I'm not an Irish warrior….)

I wanted to write a story where the hero exploits the heroine while appearing to help her, a story that would set up the new series I was starting, Renegade Lords.

I originally wrote King’s Warrior (originally titled The King’s Outlaw) for an anthology with three other author friends, Eliza Knight, Vonda Sinclair, and Jennifer Haymore, Captured by a Celtic Warrior (out of print now).  It was terrific working with these ladies, and if you haven’t checked out their stories, do!

The theme for our Captured anthology was, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘captured.’  All the stories were also going to have a jeweled dagger running through them.  The same jeweled dagger. And yet, the stories were going to span hundreds of years.

Since my story was appearing first in the anthology, I  knew I wanted to set up a compelling, exciting ‘story’ for the dagger that the other authors were going to be working with.  But I also had to keep the storyline relatively tight, because these were all novellas—no sprawling 400 pg epics here!  And of course, it had to be über-sexy. All within a ‘captured’ theme.

I wrote and wrote, but kept writing around the story, until I wrote what is now the opening scene with Tadhg, the Irish hero of our story. He’s on the docks in a grubby little French seaport, trying to get out of town before he’s captured by the villain, and, boom, the story took off.

I really loved the challenge of this story, and when it came together, it came together fast and tight. Really fun!

But that was only half of it. Because as I wrote, the story morphed and grew (of course!) and kept getting longer. This hero had a backstory, a big one, with complicated relationships that were going to yanked brought back to the forefront and tested.

Clearly this was not a novella.  And so not all of it could make it into the anthology version. But I knew Tadhg (pronounced /tie-g/) needed to have his story told.  As did Magdalena, his simple, innocent heroine, who, Tadhg is about to find out, has the heart of a lion.

King’s Warrior is their story, in a full, single title release, with loads of adventure and scorching hot passion.

Travel to medieval France & England and get a taste of the Holy Lands with King Richard the Lionheart. Visit a sea town shrouded in darkness and corruption, sneak into hidden caves, and get snowbound in a firelit cottage with no one but a dangerous outlaw and the way he’s looking at you, firelight glinting in his eye… (Yes, there is snowbound-ness!)

I hope you love it.  Let me know; I love to hear from readers!

Have fun in there! 

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