November 24, 2013

Historical: Legend of the Mist @VeronicaBale1 #RLFblog #contest

Legend of the Mist 
Veronica Bale, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Legend of the Mist.
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self
Cover artist: Viola Estrella Cover Art
Length: 224 pages
Heat rating: 18+
Tagline: An island rises from mist; a destiny rises from legend
There is a legend familiar to those who call the island of Fara their home. It is one that is passed down through the generations. From mothers who whisper the tale to their bairns as they float into dreams each night. From starry-eyed lasses who pray to find for themselves the undying love of which it speaks. From elders who know the magic of the thick and inexplicable mist surrounding this, and no other, of Orkney's islands which rise from the sea off Scotland's northern coast.
As the daughter of Clan Gallach's chief, Norah knows the legend better than anyone on the island. It tells of a lady who waits in the mists of Fara for her long lost love to return to her. It's an entertaining story, to be sure. But it is no more than fantasy. Or so the islanders say. But Norah is not so certain. All her life she's felt that the legend is more than simple folklore, that the lady of the mist is more real than anyone wishes to believe.
But these are turbulent times, marked by the very real tales of Norse invaders and their brutality. When her people are conquered by a band of fearsome Vikings, one among them will blur the lines between reality and legend like never before. For Norah cannot help but feel that she knows him ... from some other time ... from some other life ...
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What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Legend of the Mist is the story of Norah, daughter of the chief of Clan Gallach, and Torsten, a Viking raider whose men conquer the clan's island, Fara, off the northern coast of Scotland. Among the people of Clan Gallach exists a legend which tells of a Lady of the Mist. It is said that the lady, who when her warrior love was killed in battle cast herself into the sea, waits in the mists of Fara for a time when her love will return to her. Norah had always thought the legend was just a story, but when Torsten appears on the island, she begins to wonder whether the legend may, in fact, be true. Is she the Lady of the Mist, and is Torsten her warrior love? As for their ages, I wrote Norah at 19 years, but did not really identify Torsten's age. When writing him, I pictured him to be between 25 and 30.


There is a legend familiar to those who call the island of Fara their home. It is one that is passed down through the generations. From mothers who whisper the tale to their bairns as they float into dreams each night. From starry-eyed lasses who pray to find for themselves the undying love of which it speaks. From elders who know the magic of the thick and inexplicable mist surrounding this, and no other, of Orkney's islands which rise from the sea off Scotland's northern coast.
According to the tale, many centuries ago (just how many no one knows with any certainty), there was a lovely young maid who lived on Fara. Her beauty, it is said, was unparalleled. Her lips were as red and full as an English rose; her skin as smooth and fresh as cream. And her eyes were the colour of the sea before a storm.
It was the most handsome of warriors ever to land on Fara that fell in love with this beautiful maid of the isles, and he was fortunate enough to earn her love in return. For a short while their love blossomed, undisturbed in a time of peace and prosperity brought about by the wise reign of the island's chief.
But their bliss was not to last, for there was a great battle which took place on the island, and the warrior, defending his lady and her land, was killed. Heartbroken, the maid cast herself into the sea, unable to bear the thought of a life without her love.
Here, tale turns to legend. It is said among the islanders that, to this day, the lady drifts in the mists of Fara, her spirit hovering over its rocky shores and gentle hills. In this ethereal form she shrouds her island, waiting for her lost love to return to her.
And he will return. In time. When that time comes, the lady of the mist will be reborn, and the two lovers will be reunited.
Or so it is said ..."How did the warrior die, my Lady?" said Cinead, interrupting the story to which the children were listening with rapt attention. Overcome by his excitement, the boy of only seven summers had risen to his knees where he sat in the middle of the group.
"Cinead, sit down. I canna see," whined Aibhlin, tugging on Cinead's sleeve. The unfortunate five year old, the youngest child of one of the island's crofters, had found herself seated directly behind the older, larger boy.
"Aye, Cinead, on yer bum, eh? That's a good lad," encouraged Lady Iseabal gently. Ensconced at the head of the group on a battered wooden stool, she smiled as Cinead reluctantly lowered himself. "Now, what d'ye mean, how did he die? Were ye no' listening? There were a battle, and he were killed—"
"I heard that, my Lady. Nay, I mean how did he die? Were he cut through wi' a sword, or were his head lopped off? Like that."
From where she sat, beside Cook on a bench behind the children, Norah caught her mother's eye. Iseabal responded with a knowing glance, her exasperation tempered by understanding. Cinead, as everyone on the island well knew, was a rambunctious boy. His wild games of make-believe typically featured monstrous beasts and daring warriors; more often than not they ended in minor damage to property, often with a dose of bumps and bruises to his playmates for good measure.
But neither Iseabal nor Norah could bear to reprimand him. Not today, not when the loss of Cinead's father was so fresh a wound upon his poor little heart. It had only been two days since the raid on Fara by the Norse invaders, and Cinead was not the only child to be left fatherless and the end of it.
The Norsemen were notorious for their ruthlessness. There was no mercy in their hearts, and they spared no one, not even women and children—if the reports that reached the island were to be believed. They honoured not the sanctity of holy structures, and tales flitted from island to island about helpless monks, nuns and other holy persons being cut down, slaughtered in the places to where they fled for refuge.
The Viking beasts. They had no conscience, no soul.
Norah supposed that her people should consider themselves lucky, for no women or children had died in this, Fara's first raid. Only men. It was little consolation, though, especially to the children gathered there in the kitchens that night. Most of them had lost someone: a father, a brother, an uncle or grandfather. In fact, they were gathered together that evening, enticed by the promise of a story from the lady of the castle, to spare them having to watch their dead as they were prepared for burial.
"I reckon 'tis not the best time to be speaking of such things, d'ye?" Iseabal answered Cinead, giving him a reproving but gentle look.
"Was the maid beautiful, my Lady," queried Greine, the seneschal's daughter.
"Of course she were," admonished her younger sister beside her. "Wi' hair as fine as silk and eyes the colour of the sea before a storm, isna that so, my Lady?"
"I wanted Lady Iseabal to tell it," Greine protested, shooting her sister an angry glare.
"Aye, that's right," Iseabal agreed, smiling. Instinctively she ran her hand over her belly, which was large with child. "She were a beautiful lass, the maid, and her eyes were as the sea before a storm. A deep green, changeful as the rolling waves. Not unlike our Norah's there."
At this point in the story, even though Iseabal said the same thing each time she told it, the children gasped and turned to see for themselves the colour of the maid's eyes reflected in Norah. With a wicked grin, Norah covered her eyes with her hands, and when the children sent up a general cry of protest, she lowered them again, opening her lids wide that an ordinary pair of green eyes may be seen.
"And how does the maid wait in the mist?" Cinead continued. "She canna. Someone will see her sooner or later."
"She is the mist ye daft fool," sassed Aibhlin from behind him.
Cinead turned and regarded Aibhlin over his shoulder through narrowed eyes. Then he gave her a malicious shove in the shoulder. Aibhlin toppled sideways into the boy next to her, and immediately began to bawl.
"Cinead, why dinna ye come sit wi' me?" Norah called to the boy.
Glowering at the whimpering Aibhlin, Cinead huffed in frustration. "Go on, then. I dinna want to be in amongst all these children anyway."
Pushing himself off the stone floor, he sauntered around the group and to the back of the kitchens. Beside Norah, Cook leaned into her slightly with his small, beefy shoulder; an acknowledgement. Norah did not need to see his face to imagine the grin he must be stifling, nor the glint in his pale eyes. Despite his unruly behaviour, Cinead was one of Cook's favourites.
Norah did not find it difficult to be patient; she knew Cinead was a good boy ... at heart, at least. It was never with ill intentions that his play was so wild and destructive. He was only enthusiastic. Cinead's mother had died when he was only four, having taken her stillborn daughter to the grave with her. The lack of a tempering female presence in his life gave Cinead a small measure of immunity in the eyes of many of the islanders.
Now his father was gone, too. Everyone handled their grief differently. Aibhlin would get over it.
"Stupid brats," Cinead muttered as he plunked himself next to Norah, crossing his arms tightly over his breast.
"Be that as it may, ye've a duty to be an example to the younger ones, d'ye no'?"
Cinead pouted briefly, unwilling at first to acknowledge that she might be right. Begrudgingly, he shrugged. "Aye, perhaps. And I suppose I am a man now that my da's ... now that he's gone."
A battle of emotion warred in the set of the boy's features: grief; pride; fear. It made Norah want to pull him close, to cradle him protectively and shelter him from the world and its cruelties. But he would not thank her for embarrassing him in front of the others like that.
"Our island needs ye," she answered solemnly. "We willna let ye bear yer responsibilities alone."
Cinead declined to answer, not wanting her to see how her promise had affected him. Just the same, the slight inward turn of his shoulders as he pretended to listen to the Lady Iseabal's story betrayed him.


How did you get your start in the industry?
I started as a freelance writer, ghostwriting short stories and novellas for a number of different clients. At some point I decided to write the story that I wanted to tell, and released my first novel, Bride of Dunloch (book 1 of my Highland Loyalties trilogy), in August, 2012.
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
Social media. Since releasing Bride of Dunloch I've discovered how much self-marketing authors, especially indie authors, need to do. I'm slowly improving my presence on the web; I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I started, at least.
What websites do you visit daily?
I'm on twitter every day, of course. That's actually my go-to spot for a lot of industry information (romance news, writing tips, publishing help, etc.). Not knowing much about it when I joined, I was surprised to see how useful a resource twitter is. So many great people are sharing so much great stuff, it's an amazing community.
If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
There are a ton of things I would change … but I'll never say what they are (insert devious laugh here).
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I like meeting my characters. That probably sounds strange, but for me, my characters already exist. I didn't make them up, they came into being on their own, and the only difference between them and me is that I live in the real world, whereas they live in my head. It's exciting, I never know which character I'm going to meet next.
If you could choose anyone to be your mentor who would it be?
I wish I could give you one great name, like Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood, but really I would love to have as a mentor someone who works in the publishing industry. Just someone with a wealth of knowledge about good writing, good publishing, good marketing, all that. Those individuals are just as important as the actual authors; I'd love the opportunity to learn from those who make a career out of helping authors be successful.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
I would say, "Hey, Veronica, get started on that first book. Don't wait like I did."
What is your work ethic when it comes to writing?
I'm not sure I have a work ethic, because I don't consider writing work. I write because I love to write, I love to create stories and discover the lives of my characters. For me, writing is like reading. I no more have a writing ethic than a reading ethic. I read and write wherever and whenever I can.
How do you cope with stress as an author?
Again, I wouldn't so much call it stress as excitement. This is a fast-paced world, this indie-author place, and as frightening and labour-intensive as it can be, it's also incredibly rewarding.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
For the purpose of this interview I'm going to say no. My friends and family might be reading this, and I wouldn't want to let the cat out of the bag … if there was a cat to let out of the bag, that is (insert another devious laugh here).
What are some jobs you've done before (or while) you were a writer?
Believe it or not, I actually have a background in finance and accounting. Nothing like staring at numbers all day to get your creative juices flowing.
Which of your books would you recommend to someone who doesn't normally read your genre, and why?
I would recommend any one of them. There is sometimes a stigma associated with romance novels, I think. Those who don't read them are more likely to dismiss them because of the provocative covers, or because of what romance novels were thirty and forty years ago. But today's romance novels have evolved. They're sources of historical information; the writing is often superb; character and plot development are top-notch. These are all things I've paid attention to and worked hard on. I think a non-romance reader would be surprised to discover how enjoyable and worth-while romance novels can be.
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
Reading is an integral part of my writing, so I never "take a break" to read. I make time for both. My tastes are eclectic. Every book provides me with the opportunity to learn, and I read a wide range. I will finish up a Jayne Ann Krentz one day, and take up a Charles Dickens classic the next. I am as eager to read futuristic fantasy as historical non-fiction. It's all fascinating.
What do you think is the future of traditional publishing?
Bride of Dunloch 
It's not going anywhere; It will always have its place. The difference today is that the paradigm of twenty years ago is gone – advances, multi-million dollar deals, dedicated marketing and promotion, etc. But that doesn't mean traditional publishing has gone with it. It will always be there, and it will always be something authors (I use the term non-exhaustively) strive for, whether going the indie author route first or not. We're starting to see a shift now where indie authors are proving to agents and publishers that they can be successful, and that is persuading publishers to take them on. The difference today is that, even if traditional publishers decline to publish, that author still has a place to make his or her voice heard and books available to the public.
What do you wish I had asked you? Please ask and answer it now.
What kind of reader response have you seen so far?
I am amazed by how many people have connected with me to let me know what they thought about my books. Each time a reader contacts me, leaves me a message on my facebook page, tweets something about me, etc., I'm not only flattered, I'm honoured. I'm reminded of why I write in the first place – because I want to share something, and I want to inspire, entertain, and reach people with something I think they'll enjoy. It's such a great thing to see that I'm accomplishing that goal.
What was the proudest moment of your life so far?
Besides the day my son was born? I'd say getting that first positive response from a reader. Just knowing that I'd reached someone, that I'd made an impression on them, that was a great moment.
Imagine you get to go on a dream vacation, but you have only one hour to pack and leave, and it starts as soon as you finish this interview. What will you take with you and where will you go?
Laptop, thermals and sturdy footwear. Why? I'd be going to Scotland, of course! I can buy the flagon of whiskey when I get there.
What good book have you read recently?
I've read a lot of good books, but lately I have become a fan of Kate Morton. I love her style, and the way she describes things. She creates an atmosphere with her novels, a very haunting one. I admire that.
Where were you at midnight, on December 31st when the new century started?
I was in Northern Ontario at a friend's cottage, panicking over whether or not anything would happen to my family back in the city. At 12:15 am when the television stations were still airing I figured nothing catastrophic had happened and went to bed.
What do you like to do when you're bored?
Daydream. Isn't that what all writers do? Of course that sometimes gets me into hot water, like if I'm bored and start daydreaming when I should be paying attention to something … that happens a lot, unfortunately.
If your life became a movie, who would you want to play you?
Honestly? I think I'd like to be surprised. I would love to see what someone does with that role. I wouldn't want to have any pre-conceived notions about who would be best to play me and exclude all others. That assumes my life is interesting enough to make a movie out of … which it's not, and that's why I write in the first place.
If you were a color, what color would you be?
Chameleon-coloured. I'm so indecisive, I'd never be happy with just one colour.
What do you wish I had asked you? Please ask and answer it now.
What is the next book you plan to write?
I've got a basic storyline in mind, but no title yet. In a historical context, I'm moving a little ahead of where Highland Loyalties and Legend of the Mist were, to the mid-15th century. I've become rather intrigued by the story of the Black Douglasses and their feud with King James II of Scotland. I'd like to try and write a story that is more defined by actual recorded history, and plan to craft one around the Douglas clan.
Please underline which statement is more like you:
"I am a vacation spa because I am laid back and relaxed."
"I am a ten-countries in ten-days tour vacation, because I do things as fast as possible."

Please complete the sentences

I love pizza with milk.
I'm always ready for Coronation Street.
When I'm alone, I talk to myself. A lot!
You'd never be able to tell, but I write romance novels. I tend to keep that quiet in my day-to-day life, just because I'm not big on talking about myself, much less bragging about my accomplishments. When I do tell people I'm an author, I get "I never would have guessed that," or "it's always the quiet ones."
If I had a halo it would be quickly taken away, because I'm no angel, just a flawed human being trying my best to be a good person.
If I could live anywhere in the world I'd live in a small, stone cottage in the Highlands of Scotland. Is that predictable? Yeah, probably …
I can never go skydiving with my husband like he wants me to because I am a complete scaredy-cat when it comes to things like that. I like it when my head is in the clouds, not my whole body.

Previous Books

Bride of Dunloch (Highland Loyalties volume 1)
Uniting the Clans (Highland Loyalties volume 2)
The Laird Returns (Highland Loyalties volume 3)

Books Coming Soon

Soon? None. Eventually? Yep … not sure of the details, but I'll get there.


As a special occasion to mark this interview with Romance Lives Forever, tweet this: 
Win Legend of the Mist by @VeronicaBale1 #RLFblog 

for a chance to be entered to win one of two free Kindle copies of Legend of the Mist. I will contact the winners via twitter, and will also tweet the results of the contest. The close date for this contest will be November 26th, 2013.

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