Hello everyone. Today I’m thrilled to have Romance Author Anne Barwell stop by. She’s got a great post on Unexpected Guests and a wonderful excerpt for your enjoyment! Don’t forget to leave her a little love below!
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Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.
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Hidden Places, Book 1
Tomas Kemp has two successful novels to his name and the true belief that a successful sequel is only a matter of a little inspiration. When Tomas meets a mysterious stranger under the branches of an old oak tree, he feels compelled to tell him about a book he holds dear and the sequel he wants to read. But Cathal doesn’t share that deep belief that the sequel Tomas seeks ends happily. Cathal has seen enough of a world where stories are real to know that happy ever after is sometimes the dream that won’t come true.
But stories have never let Tomas down, and as he follows Cathal across the reality shift between their worlds, he learns that Cathal is right: Happy ever after is never just given—but sometimes, it can be fought for and won.
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A big thanks to Tempe for hosting me today J
Writing about characters and plot and which one comes first is often on par with the age old question about chickens and eggs. With my own writing I find I tend to experience a mix of the two. Often my ideas start with a ‘what if’, which then grow into full blown plots complete with characters. Or on the flip side, I have characters I want to do something with and the plot grows alongside them. Often it’s difficult to tell where the line is between the two, but I rather like it that way as it means by the time I go to write a story, the characters are very real and clambering to get out of my head and onto ‘paper’.
Then there’s the characters who just show up, move in and refuse to go away again. I’ve had a few of those. In Cat’s Quill, there was supposed to be a kid with a bicycle who nearly ran Tomas, who is one of the main characters, over. Said kid was supposed to apologise, somewhat reluctantly, and ride away never to be seen again. All part of the general sucky day Tomas is having at the time. How was I supposed to know Mikey was actually a part of the plot, and not exactly a small part at that? And then there was Christian, who also turns out to be a major character, with a very interesting back story. He just turned up, made some so-called witty comments, much to Tomas’s chagrin, and decided to stay. I love Christian. He’s one of my favourite characters, and he’s very smug about it too.
In A Knight to Remember, the person who ends up being the villain wasn’t in the outline either. He just showed up and ran with the plot, while the person I had pegged for the villain ended up in quite a different role altogether.
After Mikey and Christian, oh and Will who somehow snuck into Cat’s Quill as well, I really should give up being surprised by these kinds of things. The one thing I have learned to do from all this is to just go with the flow. While an outline is nice, and gives me a plan to work from it’s not set in stone. Listening to the characters and the story is an important part of writing, and the fact they do their own thing―within reason, as some things are NOT open for debate―is a sign that I’m working with three dimensional people who know their own mind and will complain loudly if they’re not happy with the way things are going. Or more likely, do something about it in such a way that by the time I figure out that’s what they’ve been up to, it’s already too late.
In saying that, however, it’s probably on the cards they’re not going to like the way everything is going, but sorry, they’re going to have to put up with a bit of hurt/comfort along the way in order to get their happy ending. Sure, I’ll listen to them and the story as I write, but, as with most things in life, as the saying goes… so much for the well laid plans of mice and men.
Or in this case writers, characters, and stories.
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Cathal wiped his palms on his trousers and then turned the page of the journal back and forth, his eyes scanning the words again. “Maybe I could help?” he suggested. “Can you tell me what the story is about so I can get more of an idea of what this kiss should, er… involve?”
“Involve?” Tomas’s voice sounded strained to his own ears. He coughed, clearing his throat before speaking again. “Umm, it’s about a writer who meets someone he thinks might be a muse.”
“I see.” Cathal nodded slowly. “Why does he think that?” He edged closer to Tomas, the book still balanced carefully on his lap.
“He’s drawn to this person he’s not long met.” The explanation sounded somewhat weak now that Tomas had to actually explain it to someone else. “It’s like they have a connection….”
“Like Alan and Roger in your other book?” Cathal frowned. “That doesn’t explain why—” He checked the name. “—Deimos might be a muse though, but then I haven’t read enough.”
Tomas opened his mouth to explain more, how Deimos seemed to appear and disappear out of thin air, how he seemed otherworldly, how Mark kept thinking about him all the time. Cathal placed one hand on Tomas’s knee, his breath warm against Tomas’s face. “Cat? What are you doing?”
“I’m getting into character.” Cathal reached over and brushed Tomas’s hair from his face. “You’re a writer, so you need to be Mark. That leaves me the role of the muse.” His voice was barely a whisper. “This scene is too good for it to be abandoned like the other one.” His eyes dropped to the page and back again. He licked his lips, his fingers tightening on Tomas’s knee. Tomas’s breath hitched.
“Yes, it is.”He swallowed again, reaching out his own hand to caress Cathal’s cheek, echoing Mark’s actions in his book. “I don’t want you to leave,” he whispered, his words following the script, his heart speeding up.
Cathal closed his eyes as he followed Tomas’s cue, slipping into a role that could have been written for him. “I think I’m in love with you,” he murmured.
Their lips brushed together, tentatively, awkwardly. Tomas pulled away, unsure, his breathing growing ragged, Cathal’s skin warm under his fingers, soft but for the slight stubble across his lower cheek, blond facial hair almost invisible. Tomas leaned in again, his lips parting this time in invitation as he pressed their mouths together. Cathal moaned softly, opening his own lips, leaning into it, his fingers threading through Tomas’s hair.
Wet skin, soft and inviting, tasting of coffee and something else Tomas could only describe as uniquely Cathal. It felt right, better than anything Tomas could have imagined. He whimpered, pulling Cathal to him, convincing himself for that moment they weren’t play acting, that this was real, that the man in his arms was someone who loved him.
The need to breathe drove them apart. Cathal’s eyes opened with a start, searching Tomas’s. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Don’t be.” Tomas traced Cathal’s lips with his fingers, committing the scene to memory, allowing himself a photograph he realized he wanted frozen in his mind forever. “I’m not.”
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A Knight to Remember
"The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon."
Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.
At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.
However, Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.
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