November 21, 2011

Int'l Book Giveaway! Asenath by Anna Patricio

Two Destinies...One Journey of Love

In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a
fisherman's daughter who has everything she could want. Until her
perfect world is shattered.

When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her,
separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And
she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome
and kind steward named Joseph.

Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that
Asenath comes to find solace…and love. But just as they are beginning
to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master’s wife and thrown
into prison.

Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?

Please welcome the author of Asenath, Anna Patricio (See below for the International Book Giveaway details!):

On Asenath
by Anna Patricio

I have always been fascinated with the Biblical account of Joseph of the coat of many colours. It is an intriguing tale of strength and perseverance. Sometime ago, I realised that while much is known about him, hardly anything is known about the woman he married - Asenath. All we are told about her is that she was the daughter of a priest of On (also known as Heliopolis).  Curiosity drove me to research. The results were scant.
Possibly the most known story about her is the first century Greek text JOSEPH AND ASENATH, which is also in the Apocrypha (books that were left out of the Bible). Basically, this story centers on Asenath's conversion to Judaism. Asenath is a proud and beautiful woman who shuns all ideas of marriage and lives alone in a tower. One day though, she sees Joseph outside riding in his chariot, and immediately changes her mind about marriage. She asks her father to introduce them. Alas, Joseph refuses because she worships idols. She then locks herself in her room and weeps. An angel who looks like Joseph then appears to her and feeds her sacred honey. Asenath is then converted. When she meets Joseph again, he accepts her hand in marriage. Sometime after Joseph's brothers arrive in Egypt, Pharaoh's son notices Asenath and hatches a plan to get rid of Joseph. Benjamin, Joseph's youngest brother, comes to the defence of his noble relatives. The tale ends with the wayward royal son defeated and, if I am not mistaken, with Joseph as Pharaoh after the current king's death.

I might add, by the way, that my novel sort of pays homage to the Greek JOSEPH AND ASENATH. There is a scene with bees, inspired by the ancient tale.
Some tales have Asenath as Dinah's long-lost daughter. Dinah, as you may know, was Joseph's half-sister who was violated by the prince Shechem. Asenath was apparently born as a result of this, and the brothers got rid of her to hide Dinah's shame. In one Jewish folktale, the brothers abandon the baby in the desert.
An eagle gets the baby and deposits her at an altar in Heliopolis. There, the priest finds Asenath and adopts her as his own. Asenath, however, has evidence of her true lineage: a medallion bearing Hebrew inscriptions. Years later, after Joseph becomes vizier, he immediately recognises his niece because of the medallion. (I find it rather peculiar how Asenath becomes Joseph's niece, but this was still an interesting story.)

Yet other accounts have Asenath as the daughter of Potiphar, Joseph's master. The reasoning behind this is the striking similarity between  the names "Potiphar" and "Potiphera," the name given to Asenath's father in Genesis. There is one story in which the infant Asenath cries out Joseph's innocence after the latter is falsely accused by his master's wife. Asenath's reward later in life was marrying Joseph. Some contemporary fiction, by the way, makes use of this legend - Asenath being Potiphar's daughter. This didn't make it to my novel,
but I find it an interesting idea; it has a potential for a really riveting plotline.

Other than the abovementioned, I didn't find much on Asenath. Hence, I imagined what she might have been like: how she lived before she met Joseph, how she felt upon her marriage to him. I like to think that
just as Joseph was a strong person, so was Asenath. Hence, my novel ASENATH.

Anna Patricio is a lover of ancient history, with a particular interest in Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. She is also intrigued by the Ancient Near East, though she has not delved too much into it but hopes to one day.

She undertook formal studies in Ancient History at Macquarie University. She focused mostly on Egyptology and Jewish-Christian Studies, alongside a couple of Greco-Roman units, and one on Archaeology. Though she knew there were very limited job openings for ancient history graduates, she pursued her degree anyway as it was something she had always been passionate about.
Then, about a year after her graduation, the idea to tackle historical fiction appeared in her head, and she began happily pounding away on her laptop. ASENATH is her first novel.
Recently, she traveled to Lower Egypt (specifically Cairo and the Sinai), Israel, and Jordan. She plans to return to Egypt soon, and see more of it. In the past, she has also been to Athens and Rome.

Anna is currently working on a second novel, which still takes place in Ancient Egypt, but hundreds of years after ASENATH.

If you would like to enter for your chance to win your own copy of Asenath, leave a comment on this post.
Open to all International followers of HF-Connection. Please leave your email address so we can contact the winner!

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Good Luck!! Ends December 1, 2011

November 16, 2011

Historical Fiction is Double Talk by Killian McRae

Please welcome author Killian McRae to HF-Connection, who has kindly provided us food for thought regarding romance and historical accuracy.

History is written by the Victors Survivors Idealistic Revisionist – And why that suits romance

I’m about to say something radical. Ready?

The term “historical fiction” is double talk.

Most of history as you know it is fiction. Oh, there are the occasional truths and some particulars are more or less right. In the modern era, the dates we assign to key events are scarcely wrong. Names tend to be correct, though when transliterating spelling variations are par for the course. And there is one, underlying reason we can attribute for this mass deception: the human reliance on the linearity of time.

History is not a sequence events, nor is it as simply recalled and structured as a flowchart. The problem is, this is how we read: left to right, top to bottom, page after page. We’re sequential beasts. History, however, is messy. It’s a complex overlapping of time, judgments, cultures, weather conditions, climatic patterns, phases of the moon, the price of wheat... Some believe you can take the entire history of the Roman Republic and summarize into a few chapters of a book. But, take one specific day out of a typical Roman’s life and try to tell a modern reader, and you could write volumes about the why, how, and what of everything he does, tastes, sees, smells, touches, and thinks. The linearity of our existence deceives us into believing that our past is non-contextualized. Personally, mine has more nooks and crannies than that Palace of Versailles, and I bet yours does too.

When an author sets out to write a romance, romance that is also historical fiction may be at least fictioniest. (Yes, I know this is not a word, but it should very well be one.) It’s not the love story that’s unique. Most are of a “a boy and girl meet, fall in love, and come together” variety. What we get to explore, however, is the very real historical miasma through which their love had to battle. In writing A Love by Any Measure, I had to keep in mind the very ugly truth of the historical context. In 1860’s Ireland, the Irish were seen as uncivilized vermin that some British didn’t even recognize as human. How then could an Irish peasant catch the eye and win the heart of a British lord? Even if she is beautiful, there must be qualities of her environment in which she is set in opposition in order to make that connection possible. He, likewise, must be motivated by more than just his loins. Lust is fleeting, but love is forging. Thus, there are some very real, very ugly passages in the book that don’t tip-toe around the issues. Does this make the love story suffer? No, on the contrary, it makes the love that more precious.

Publication Date: November 8, 2011

An Irish lass. An English lord. A love that overcomes all boundaries.

August Grayson has secretly dreamt of the girl living on his family's Irish estate since childhoods spent together in Killarney. Now a proper Lord of the British Empire, he knows that Maeve could never be more than just a distant fantasy. Still, if only...

Maeve O'Connor owns nothing in this world but her good name, which proves just enough to win a proposal for a marriage of convenience to a good, Irish lad. Until the wedding, however, she's in dire straits. Rent on the cottage she and her father share is due, but there simply isn't the money to pay. Driven to desperation, Maeve hopes Lord Grayson, childhood chum turned dashing English rogue, will prove lenient when she comes seeking clemency.

The temptation presented proves too much, and August offers Maeve a compromise: should she permit him twice as long on each succeeding visit to do whatever he wishes in pursuit of his pleasure, he will consider her rent paid. Starting with a mere five seconds, pulses soon out race the ticking clock, as August's desires become Maeve's own. Passion blinds them to the challenges closing in on both the Irish and English fronts, threatening to destroy the love they've only just rediscovered.

Working to bridge that which divides them, tempting fate with each stolen kiss, and torn between desire and obligation, Maeve and August must strive to overcome all and find a love by any measure...

November 07, 2011

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard

We know her as Cecily Neville. Hard, cold, courageous and shrewd wife of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, who Anne Easter Smith dramatized in her latest release, QUEEN BY RIGHT. Now, meet her as Cecylee, through author Cynthia Sally Haggard's vision of her in THWARTED QUEEN.

Please welcome Ms. Haggard!

First of all, I'd like to thank Marie for inviting me to do a guest post. It is an honor to be featured on this beautiful blog, and I'm really grateful to Marie for her efforts in helping me to promote my first novel.

When I made a private visit to Castle Raby in July of 2007, I was lucky enough to be taken around by the docent, Clifton Sutcliffe, who gave me a tour of everything connected with Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), the protagonist of THWARTED QUEEN.

Castle Raby

Mr. Sutcliffe told me a number of interesting things. If you go to Castle Raby nowadays (it is located near the village of Staindrop off of the A688 between Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland), you see a grey edifice amongst a parklike cluster of ancient trees. Made up of several towers, Castle Raby looks serene, and it is, because of its location in a peaceful corner of England, not on a major road.

But in the early 1400s, when Cecylee was a girl, it was anything but peaceful.

First of all, there were thick, dark forests that came right up the castle that contained wild animals like wolves.

Secondly, the castle was an armed camp, teeming with soldiers due to frequent raids by the Scots and a continuing, simmering feud with the Percy Earls of Northumberland, who were upset that those upstart Nevilles had been given the wardenship over the Scottish Marches, when it had been the ancient prerogative of the Percies to take care of those heathenish Scots.

Thirdly, there used to be a huge Barbican tower in front of the main gateway, to ensure that enemies could not easily find their way into the castle. It is now gone.

And lastly, and most striking of all, there were wooden walkways that crisscrossed Castle Raby, going from one tower to another, some 60 feet above ground, because it was an easy and convenient way for the soldiers to get from one tower to another in the event of a raid.

Cecylee’s father, Ralph, Earl of Westmorland was a political operator with 24 children to marry off. He did so well at arranging illustrious marriages that he is probably ancestor to more aristocrats than any other person of his generation. Cecylee’s betrothal to Richard, Duke of York was his supreme achievement, because Richard was cousin to three-year-old King Henry, and if anything happened to that little boy, why, Richard would be King.

Indeed, Earl Ralph wanted this match to take place so badly that he locked his nine-year-old daughter up in the Castle Keep, to prevent any unseemly embraces between the duchess or queen-to-be and the rough soldiers who armed Raby’s defenses. I visited that barred room. It was at the top of an extremely steep, and winding staircase. There was only one way out, and that went by the guardroom where Earl Ralph’s most trusted men kept a round-the-clock watch on the movements of Cecylee and her visitors. The room itself was handsome, large and cold. There were not many windows, and it was hard to see much outside since the windows faced onto the interior courtyards. How a spirited, slightly spoiled young girl must have hated being shut up here in order to marry someone that she may have had mixed feelings about, I thought as I looked around.

And so I used all of this information to try and paint an accurate picture of how it felt to be that young girl, living in that wild part of the country, with a powerful warlord for a father who would not be gainsaid.

THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.

Born and raised in Surrey, England, Cynthia Sally Haggard has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at:

Find Thwarted Queen on Amazon Kindle