Monday, October 20, 2014

Interview with Rachel A. James...check out her latest book

The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia - Interview

How did you get in to writing?
I have always enjoyed writing, but never taken it seriously as a career until recently. I tried to write a novel a few years ago, but gave-up. I had lots of ideas, but no skills and training to speak of. It was only as I was working on my business degree that I decided to take a creative writing track. I’d had enough of studying financial accounting and wanted something ‘fun’ to do instead. Once I started studying, I was hooked, and decided to try my hand at novel writing once more.

Give us a summary of The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia
The book is about a Celtic princess who witnesses her father murdered by invading Saxons, and she is then taken into slavery. Her kingdom falls, but her brother escapes to a nearby island off the east coast. Many years later when she grows up, she finds out her brother is alive, and she manages to escape the Saxons. She searches for her brother so that they can reclaim their lost kingdom, and their identities. 

Where do you get your ideas from?
I find inspiration through researching the past. I love history, and find the old tales of early British history fascinating. That combined with whatever I’m reading, watching or listening to… all contributes to ideas for my novels. My writing always has an inspirational theme too. When I wrote The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia, I focused on God’s grace and forgiveness, but other themes found their way in there too, such as redemption, and our identity in Christ.  The second book, which I’ve just finished writing, concentrates on acceptance, and value. I find that writing is probably the primary way God speaks to me

Talk about your book’s setting
I found out about the tiny kingdom of Elmetia when I was researching early British Kingdoms. At the time, I was living just a few miles from Sherburn-in-Elmet in Yorkshire, and realised the name derived from Elmetia. I discovered that the kingdom only existed for a few hundred years, before the last King was killed and the kingdom taken over by Saxons. When I researched further into King Ceretic, the last king of Elmetia, I discovered there was no record of his wife or any children. Some critics say it may be that they could have existed, but the records were destroyed, or lost. In truth, we are talking about over 1500 years ago, so no-one can really know for sure. This was the basis for The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia. I began to wonder, what if he did have children, but they died, or even escaped….

Do you find writing easy?
No… writing is hard work, and it consumes your life! I find I’m thinking about plot lines and        characters as I drift off to sleep, and even in my dreams. I’m thinking about them as I do the     washing-up, or picking up the kids from school. I even have to reprimand myself when my thoughts trail off during a sermon!

You are a pastor’s wife and mom, how do you fit writing in with your busy lifestyle?
Any mum will know, trying to juggle work and kids and family life is challenging. The hardest part in working from home is separating family life with working, and self-motivating myself to write.  For me though, I know I have to have the right priorities. God and family come first… before my writing. It may mean I have less hours in the day to dedicate to my writing, but when I do get the opportunity, I can work away without guilt and have a clear conscience. In fact, I find I get more work done that way.  When the kids were younger, I’d write during their naptimes. Now, I fit in between their school times. I find writing in the morning easiest (when my brain seems to function better!), and then I can focus on church or family stuff in the afternoon. I tend to write/research in the evenings when the kids are (usually) quiet and asleep. But there is no such thing as a typical day, and (despite my natural tendency for organisation) I have to remain flexible.

Any more releases due out in the future?
The Last Princess of Meigen, is the second book which follows on from The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia. I’ve just finished writing that, and hope it will be published next year sometime. Now I’m taking a short break from writing before plunging into the third book of the series, The Secret Princess of Lindes.

About Rachel


Rachel grew fascinated with the medieval time period as a child. Dubbed a bookworm from a young age, Rachel found herself surrounded by places steeped in history and adventure. She enjoyed trips with her family to visit nearby derelict castles and Roman ruins, and that coupled with a zealous imagination and love for stories, sparked her interest in knights, fortresses and ancient kingdoms. 

Born and bred in England, Rachel writes adventure driven historical romance, she is also a pastor’s wife, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own spiritual journey. She’s also captivated by romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten! Find her at www.rachelajames.com for more information.



About the Book  (Inspirational Medieval Romance)
It is 616AD, and one fatal night the ancient Kingdom of Elmetia falls. Saxons kill the Elmetian King, and capture Princess Teagen. Teagen poses as a slave girl and works for the Saxons in the Kingdom of Deira, until she discovers her brother is alive. She finds a way to escape, and her path crosses with Ryce the Warrior.
Struggling with his past, and angry against the tyrant Saxon king, Ryce helps the princess in pursuit of her brother. But just as the connection between them intensifies, obstacles get in their way. The Saxon king now wants vengeance, and will stop at nothing to get it.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chapter One of Profiled

After a few fits and starts on some projects that didn't inspire me enough to keep at them, I've finally got the bug to work on a new novel. It's called Profiled. Here's a taste. Please tell me what you think and if you want to read further...

Chapter One

Seeds


            Claire sat at the kitchen table cupping her hands around a hot cup of coffee. She sipped then set it down on the table and watched the creamy brown liquid swish around the edge of the cup. She glanced into the living room at the hospital bed where her invalid father slept peacefully. Motionless. She looked at her watch—7:55 a.m.—then shook her head and picked up the cup again, took a bigger drink this time, and closed her eyes as the slightly sweetened, heavily creamed java slid across her tongue and down her throat. She smiled for a moment then frowned as she reflected on the pitiful state of her life. Coffee made with fresh-ground coffee beans was the only luxury she could afford.
            It wasn’t always this way. Claire remembered a time when she was a typical twenty something single girl living in a one-bedroom efficiency apartment making car payments on a slightly used ruby red compact car and doing yoga in her spare time. No worries. She lived on a little less than two grand a month and didn’t miss a thing. She even had money to go on nice vacations every couple years.
One call changed everything.
            The memory of the call haunted her, even made her cry every time she thought about it. In a somber tone, the man said, “I’m Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Carson. Are you Claire Jones?” She frowned as she realized again that he didn’t bother saying hello.
            Groggily, she answered, “Yes,” as she shook the cobwebs out of her head. She looked at the nightstand clock. Big green digital numbers flashed 2:00 a.m., the image etched into her brain forever. “I’m Claire.”
            Police don’t call so early in the morning unless something’s terribly wrong. The cobwebs cleared, incinerated by the white-hot inferno of realization. Oh no, she thought. Something happened to Mom.
            Mom was the only relative she had, the only person she cared about. Boys had come and gone, but Mom was always there. If something happened to her…she shuddered at the thought as she waited for the inevitable bad news.
Dad, conversely, was the furthest person from her mind. She didn’t hate him; rather, his apathy toward her left her numb toward him. No, apathy was the wrong word. Selfishness, that’s it. She hadn’t seen him for more than ten years, or talked to him on the telephone for more than five. He’d abandoned his family so he could enjoy life as a single man without any thought for the problems it caused Claire or her mother.
She sat up in bed and dropped her feet to the floor, then put her elbows on her knees to brace herself for the expected shock. “What happened?”
            “Michael Jones was in an accident. He put you down as an emergency contact in his cell phone.”
            She wasn’t sure what shocked her more, that he’d been in an accident or that he had her phone number yet never used it. She’d only had it for a year or so, which meant had had to have looked it up, considered calling her. What a coward. She shook her head as she felt her cheeks warm—anger clouded her vision, anger over Dad never calling, yet there was also concern that he’d been hurt.
            How could she feel concern for the man who abandoned her?
            “He’s my dad. Is he okay?”
            “No. He was code red when they took him to the hospital. He may not make it.”
            He made it, unfortunately.
Reality snapped her back to the present. She sipped her coffee and looked in the living room again, then yawned. She frowned as the wickedness of the last thought sank in, the inescapable truth that she’d be much better off had he died that night. If he’d died she would have avoided lots of heartache, especially since she was the only one of his kids willing to take care of him, and Mom had checked out of his life long before and had no intention of coming to his aid after what he’d done to her.
            Claire yawned again. The night had gone like many before it. Fitful sleep for Dad—night terrors followed by unfortunate accidents—Claire getting a couple uninterrupted two hour naps and one final one hour one before having to get up to get ready for work, with Dad finally going to sleep for good around five a.m. A tear slid down her cheek and into her coffee. She wiped her cheek dry as the doorbell rang. She stood quickly and walked past Dad’s bed and to the front door. She glanced at him on the left as she passed and noticed him shift his head slightly toward the door—about the only movement he had control of anymore.
            She looked into the peephole and smiled, then stood back and opened the door. She said in a soft voice—almost a whisper—“Hey, Sheila, come in.”
            The older nurse walked in smiling. In an equally soft voice, she replied, “How was he last night?”
            She felt her eyes water and shook her head.
“Bless your heart.” Sheila patted her on the shoulder as they walked through the living room and into the kitchen. They made it to the kitchen and Claire offered Sheila a cup of coffee, which she accepted—she always did. “Well, it is you Mission day, so maybe helping others who aren’t quite as desperate as you will do you good.”
Claire nodded and smiled. Strange that taking on more work could make her feel better, but Sheila was right. Before she started helping out at the Downtown Rescue Mission’s Soup Kitchen, she felt totally hopeless. Seeing others struggle just to find food to eat made her less so. It made her wonder sometimes whether she got joy from seeing other people worse off than herself, or if the Holy Ghost had changed her by giving her a desire to give some hope to the hopeless. She said a silent prayer asking God to erase her doubts, to make her not revel in others’ suffering just so hers seemed less.
“Thanks for staying late on these nights.” She glanced into the living room and smiled. “I think he likes you better than me anyway. It’s good for him, too.”
“Silly. If you heard what he says about you when you’re gone you wouldn’t say such things.”
Even that was a joke. He barely talked. Couldn’t say much when he did. The accident not only paralyzed him from the neck down, but also caused brain damage. He'd turned into a child overnight. Claire walked to the table and picked up her purse and keys. “Okay. Call if anything happens. I’ll be home by eight.”
“Okay. Be blessed today, okay?”
“Okay.”
            As she left the house she wondered if her life would ever get better. Another more disturbing thought popped into her thoughts: What did I do to deserve this?
* * *
Judge Bryce Morgan stood in the semi-lit hallway between his private chambers and the door to his courtroom. His court reporter of fifteen years, Janice Everett, stood in front of him. She turned and nodded. He nodded back as he looked down at his black judge’s robe, wiped downward to remove any latent wrinkles, then looked forward as Janice pushed the door open. “All rise,” she announced as they entered.
            Janice walked down a ramp to the right that led to her court reporting station then sat behind her miniature court reporter’s keyboard. Morgan stepped forward and pulled his cordovan leather chair out from under the elevated judge’s bench and sat down. He smiled as he squeezed the subtle, well-worn arms of the chair and nodded, reflecting on the first time he took this seat almost thirty years before. The big chair made him feel as important as the position, and the familiarity of the chair—an old friend, it seemed to him—gave him comfort on those rare occasions when his sharp legal mind failed him. “You may sit,” he directed those in the courtroom, moving his hands toward them with palms down.
            Morgan surveyed the courtroom slowly, methodically, as he scanned the faces one at a time. He prided himself on his ability to read minds through the faces of the lawyers and litigants in his courtroom, or at least the feelings churning inside them. The uncomfortable glances to the side or downward, an inadvertent smirk, slouched shoulders, etc. They were tells as to the true feelings of the messenger. The gift helped him in the courtroom as much as it did at his Thursday night poker games.
So what do you people think I will do today?
Assistant District Attorney Lyle Banks, a short, middle-aged, prematurely gray and balding man, sat at the rightmost table facing the bench. His trademark dark, three-piece suit with white shirt and red power tie gave him an aura of arrogance despite his somewhat nerdy genetics. He glanced up a moment then looked down at his notepad, pretending to write something. Probably a doodle to make Morgan think he didn’t expect the worst from that morning and afternoon’s hearing. Morgan smirked. Nice try.
To the prosecutor’s left and Morgan’s right was the defense table. In between Banks and the defendant sat Mark Evans, also middle-aged but possessing above average good looks and an athlete’s build. He didn’t bother to dress the part of a power litigator, preferring the comfort of khaki pants, striped shirt with blue tie, and blue sport jacket that looked to be an off-the-rack purchase from a chain department store. Evans smiled, winked, and nodded. Morgan shook his head and smiled back. No need for fancy clothes when your legal arguments are solid.
Then there was the defendant Jeremiah Downs, a nineteen-year-old black youth who’d been through the system before. In fact, Morgan himself had judged him before, back when Morgan was assigned to juvenile court. He frowned as he realized how frustrating his job was when he knew a defendant was guilty yet his oath to uphold the Constitution compelled him to rule otherwise. Heat rushed to his cheeks at the last thought and he pounded the top of his desk with both fists. At least the kid looked scared and not cocky like some frequent fliers did.
If the police did their jobs right I wouldn’t have to deal with this garbage!
Morgan looked to the back of the courtroom, back where spectators and witnesses sat after testifying. He clenched his fists tighter as he saw River City Police Department Officer Steven Cross who’d been grilled by the prosecutor and defense attorney about his actions on the night of Downs’s arrest. Good. You need to hear what Im about to say more than anyone else. He smirked as the thought lingered, and then looked at Downs, who glanced uncomfortably at Morgan, then to Evans. Another thought occurred to MorganDowns was the same age as his own grandson. The smirk faded into a slight frown.
He cleared his throat then looked to Janice and said, Lets go on the record. She nodded. He looked at Downs again. You are one lucky kid.
            Downs nodded, but still looked scared to death. He reached for a Styrofoam cup of water and took a sip.
Morgan looked at his yellow legal pad. Hed filled it with illegible scribbles that only he could decipher along with a few easy to read words scattered about. He tapped his pen on the paper and mouthed a few of the legible words then underlined some for emphasis.
            Probable cause for stop. Check.
            Probable cause for arrest. No.
            Probable cause to search the vehicle. Heck no.
            He scanned the courtroom again, and not just the five people inside it at the moment. He loved his courtroom. Though the exterior of the 13-floor county building was modern, the inside of his courtroom was not. Oak paneled walls surrounded him. The waste high wall that separated the litigants and judge from the gallerythe barwas also well-crafted oak, freshly stained from the rooms renovation and modernization two years before. Old School looks with the modern touch of a networked 70-inch flat screen monitor for displaying exhibits and PowerPoint presentations along with laptop and HDMI connections for plaintiffs, defendants, and the judge, though Morgan hated high-tech distractions.
Fancy wrappings mask bad legal arguments.
            He tapped on the legal pad then glanced to the side at his dark, powerless computer screen. No fancy wrappings for his decision this day. He smiled as he looked at Banks and glared. Banks squirmed in his chair and looked down, as if he knew that what he was about to hear wouldnt be good. Morgan nodded, fighting the urge to smile.
Good. Cant deceive me with that lousy poker face and expensive clothes.
            I have never seen a more pitiful piece of ... police work, Morgan said as he resumed frowning and shaking his head. He focused on Banks. What disturbs me more is that you, representing the State of Kansas, didnt dismiss this case before we arrived at this juncture. Can you please explain this to me?
            Banks shrugged as he slowly stood. The right corner of his mouth curled up slightly and his mouth parted. We didnt see it that way, Your Honor. This was a good stop and Officer Cross has years of experience investigating drug crimes. We believed his two decades of training and experience along with his observations during the stop gave him sufficient grounds to search the car." He stood straighter and puffed out his chest. "We support our officer one-hundred percent.
            Morgan frowned as he looked at Cross, who sneered back. You arrogant son-of-a-gun. Morgan shook his head and looked down at his notes. The words heck no screamed back at him. He looked at Banks. I see. Well, just so the records straight…” He looked to Janice, who looked up and nodded as she arched her fingers on her miniature keyboard, then at the parties, alternating looks between Downs, Evans, and Banks “…the record reflects that this incident began with a routine traffic stop. Speeding just eight miles over the forty-mile-per-hour limit. Upon making contact with the defendant, Officer Cross claims the defendant appeared wired via jerking head and eyes, and seemed to be hesitant to produce his drivers license, insurance, and registration information. I also note that it was eleven p.m. since Officer Cross seems to think this was a factor in how he handled this investigation. Officer Cross, thinking the defendant, based on the above observations, was high on drugs, pulled out his sidearm and ordered the defendant to get out of the car. The videotape recording reveals that the defendant did as told. Officer Cross cuffed the defendant and put him in his patrol car. Officer Cross then proceeded to search the defendants vehicle. He found a bag of marijuana and scales underneath the front passenger seat.
            Morgan smiled, looked at Banks, and then frowned. All the cases I reviewed indicate that these observations provide super thin cause to believe a crime has occurred or will occurcertainly not enough to equate to probable cause.  More important, since the defendant was secured in the patrol vehicle, there was no warrantless search exception such as weaponsthe defendant was nowhere near the car so couldnt grab such weaponsor an inventory search since the vehicle was legally parked on the side of the road where the stop occurred so couldnt, without more information, be towed. Indeed, its important to note that the car wasnt towed. The defendants grandmother arrived at the scene thirty minutes later and drove the car to her house. Search incident to arrest is no longer legal in Kansas, so that certainly doesnt save this case.
            He nodded his head then looked at the defendant. He pointed a long, thick, fleshy finger toward him. Mr. Downs, I see kids like you in this courtroom weekly. It usually starts with something like this, but goes downhill from there. You have two choices, as I see it. You will learn from this unfortunate situation by never using drugs again and keep your nose clean, or think you got away with another crime and keep doing what you did to get into trouble this time, only the next time the stakes with be much higher. He leaned back in his chair and squeezed the padded arms. I, for my part, have no choice but to grant your motion to suppress since this search was clearly illegal. You have a decision to make. Either stop acting like a moron and rebellious youth, or get your head on straight and become a responsible citizen.
            Cross stood, shook his head, glared at the back of Downss head, and then stormed out of the courtroom. Morgan fought to suppress a smile as he watched the door shut behind the agitated officer.
            He looked at Banks and said, “Now that all evidence is history, does the State have a motion?
            Banks paused as he looked up at Morgan then at Evans.
            Please file an interlocutory appeal so the whole world will know how incompetent you are, Morgan thought.
            Instead of that announcement, Banks stood, nodded, and said, State moves to dismiss all charges without prejudice.
            Objection? Morgan said as he looked at Evans.
            Evans stood and said through a toothy grin, “No, Your Honor. 
            "Motion granted. Charges and case dismissed.” Judge Morgan picked up his gavel, slammed it violently on the surface of his bench, then stood and walked out of the courtroom through the same door he’d entered.

Copyright © 2014 Kevin Mark Smith