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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Kate’s yearning to write full time now a reality


Hi Kate and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us a little about your adventure.

Thanks for having me Jean. I’m delighted for an opportunity to meet some NZ readers.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I’ve written prolifically over the last six years and the late nights have paid off this year. My first novel, THE YEARNING, was published with Simon & Schuster, Australia, last month and Random Romance published two of my erotic novellas in February. In addition to those I’ve had two short stories published in anthologies with a third anthology about to be released in July this year, as well as another novel next year.

My favourite has to be The Yearning. It’s my first full length novel and took me four years of rewriting to work into a publishable standard. I love it because it emerged from a very deep place within. Writing it was a very intimate and intense experience. It virtually wrote itself (initially), then went through about a dozen major rewrites, one of which made me sick and I had to take some time off to recover. It really does feel like a baby I gestated for four years. I’m very excited about its release because it’s attracting five star reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and book review blogs.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

The Yearning is an unexpected and complex novel. It’s being promoted as erotic romantic fiction, but it doesn’t quite fit that mould. It’s set in an Australian country town in 1978. A teenage girl falls deeply in love with her charismatic substitute English teacher and she lures him into an affair with erotic love letters. When the affair is discovered the pair are separated, but the young girl grows up longing only for Solomon Andrews. Not until she reconnects with him twenty-five years later can she resolve her feelings for him.

It’s a story about passion, longing and the desire to deeply connect with another human being. The Yearning explores the lines between love and lust and the moral boundaries we cross when we just want what we want. The narrative is explicit at times, but isn’t salacious or tawdry. The student/teacher relationship is opened up for examination, not exploited as some might expect it to be. I have tried hard to treat both characters with respect. I didn’t want either of them to be demonised or seen as victims. I want people to understand the consequences, the damage, that this kind of relationship can reap in the long term.

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

My family and pets keep me very busy. I read a lot. I’m an extrovert so I love socialising and spend a lot of time interacting with an online community of writers. I enjoy being mentally and emotionally stimulated, and have a strong sense of social justice, so I get involved in environmental and social justice organisations like Australian Conservation Foundation and Amnesty International. I used to work with local Aboriginal organisations and have a strong passion for issues relating to reconciliation and Aboriginal rights. I have lots of interests and not nearly enough time to indulge them all.

I also like to cook (when I have time) and LOVE reading cookbooks for relaxation. Nigella is my favourite.

Do you hear from readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I LOVE hearing from readers and try to interact with them regularly via Facebook (mostly) or on my blog. It’s nice to hear compliments about my books, but even more I enjoy talking to readers about how they respond to my (and others) work. It’s great to have a conversation with someone about how Ramon Mendez (from my Master of Love series erotic novellas) learned about Tantra, or why they loved a particular sex scene, or why they think a character behaved in a certain way. I like to talk about run of the mill things too. Bringing up children, recipes, other books, festivals – just about anything. That’s what I love about being in an online community. New friends, new idea’s, great humour. In many ways the internet has brought us all a lot closer together.

Tell us about your writing journey before and after you signed with a publisher.

Up until this year I was working part time. I wrote two days a week while my daughter was at school. Sometimes I’d work into the night if I had a competition deadline to meet. I entered lots of short story competitions, but the field was always so competitive. There are so many very talented writers out there. I received one prize and a number of commendations and they kept me going while I was polishing The Yearning.

The turning point for me came when I attended the 2011 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne. There I was introduced to a new world of passionate writers and I met my wonderful agent, who shortly afterwards offered to represent The Yearning. I also met some publishers there and had the opportunity to pitch The Yearning to them. None of them ended up taking it, but Sheila was very confident we’d place it with someone eventually.

Then 50 Shades of Grey hit the stratosphere and every publisher in the world was looking for erotic romance titles. Sheila helped me land a contract for two (unwritten) erotic novellas with Random House’s new digital imprint, Random Romance. Suddenly I had publishing deadlines to meet. The competitions sank to the bottom of the priority list and I took some time off work to write, which was utter bliss. I remember saying to my husband ‘I’m so happy doing this, this is what I want to do every day.’

I was unhappy in my job and later in the year redundancy packages became available so I applied. In September 2012 I received a redundancy offer AND a publishing contract for The Yearning on the same day. It was divine coincidence. I signed them both and rushed them off in the post, drinking a bottle of champagne to celebrate (not a good idea because I was on crutches at the time!)

This year I am depending on my redundancy payout to survive (for now) and writing full time. I sit at my desk Monday to Friday, 10am – 3pm. I treat it like a job and I’m very committed. The benefit is I’m more available to my family, I’m fitter because I have time to go to gym and I’m the happiest I’ve been in years After years and years of despondent and gloomy struggle I’ve finally hit a point in my life where I can truly say I’m doing what I love.

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

Never give up. Keep trying. People who give up never get published.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of improving your writing. Learning the craft can be depressing, especially when you compare yourself to others. Reading great writers used to depress me because I felt I’d never achieve what they did. The best lesson was to drop my defensive, protective attitude to my writing and take on good advice. Be brave and allow someone to tell you when your writing isn’t working. Grow a thick skin, because once you’re published you going to need it.

Write every day. Just write something, it doesn’t matter what. Make words a constant habit.
Finally, persist. No matter how many rejections you get, keep improving your work and try again. Remember, every rejection is one step closer to your publishing goal.

THE YEARNING by Kate Belle

Blurb 
It’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen-year-old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.
Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.
Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.
Buy links:
Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Yearning-ebook/dp/B00BSVMRC4/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1368593170&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=The+Yearning)
Fishpond (http://www.fishpond.co.nz/q/The+Yearning?rid=1085552448)
Local bookshops and major retailers including Target, Myer, Collins, Dymocks and Big W.
Kate Belle Bio

Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Blog/website: http://www.ecstasyfiles.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecstasyfiles


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Alexa enjoys seeing courage make heroes of ordinary people

Hi there Alexa, and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please make yourself comfortable and tell us a little about your writing adventure.
Do you see writing as a career?

I do see writing as a career. It is intense and extremely satisfying and when I’m not working I usually miss it. I’m not in a position to have it as my only career yet, but I do intend to eventually make it my only career. A girl’s gotta have dreams, right?

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

I really love writing romantic suspense. I love to see a romance unfolding as two people try to uncover clues to solve a crime. I love to see justice done and to see courage make ordinary people heroes.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

My next two books are contemporary romances, both set in the Scottish Highlands. CARRY ME HOME is set to release on June 5th and SILENT SURRENDER is currently in the editing stage. Both books star secondary characters from my first book, characters who had so much life in them I just had to tell their stories. Carry Me Home is Jamie MacDougall’s story. Silent Surrender is his little sister Meggie’s story. At the moment, I’m drafting the other brother’s story too.

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

I’m a sports fanatic. At the moment, soccer holds my heart. I try to watch some games each weekend as a way to relax. Of course I love to read, too. Traveling is really important to me as well since I love learning about different cultures. And on and off I try to exercise.

Do you hear from readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I don’t hear from readers that much. Occasionally a friend will email me and tell me what they thought of one of my books, which always makes me happy, but not too many people contact me. L I look forward to the days where I hear from more people. As a result of my own feelings about hearing from readers, I now try to contact authors when I love their books just to let them know.

Have you ever travelled to a place and come away with a story unexpectedly?

Yes! After I graduated with my Master’s in Education, a relative I visited in Australia took me to Thailand. We were only there about a week, but I came away with a great story idea. That manuscript didn’t sell, but I plan to revise it later this year (since it was first written over 10 years ago & I’m a MUCH better writer now!). Also, I went to Mexico three years ago to participate in a Spanish immersion program. On a field trip, I bought an ancient-looking dagger and on the bus ride home to my Mexican family I came up with a GREAT story idea! I’m currently writing that book.

 

CARRY ME HOME

Blurb:

     After six months in the city, Mary MacDougall returns to the Scottish Highlands to finalize her divorce. Because of a past tragedy, she doubts her husband Jamie can possibly love her with the same unbridled passion as before and insists ending the marriage is best for both of them. But Jamie has other ideas….
     Jamie MacDougall has no intention of letting his bonnie lass go. At least not without a fight. Aye, they’ve suffered heartache, and she may be ready to call it quits, but he refuses to throw away the partnership they’ve built since they were children. Instead, he’ll remind her they were meant to be together, forever.
     Can this marriage survive pride and grief to allow love to carry them home?

Excerpt:

“What do you want, Jamie?” She’d not get caught up in his soulful amber eyes. No, she would not.
“You’ve had your bit of fun, but I want you to come home.” He tilted his head to one side and drifted his fingertips along her bare arm.
She yanked away. “I’ve come to get my papers from you, to say good-bye to those I love, and to move on with my life.” She stepped around him and continued down the path to the center of Glenhalish. “I’ll be at the Kierlain House until Sunday. Please bring the forms and leave them with the front office.”
“I don’t have them.” He nearly shouted with glee. “I tossed them out.”
“I thought you might say that.” Smiling on the heels of another small victory, she fished through her handbag and pulled out another copy of the divorce papers. She’d come armed with a half-dozen copies just in case he chose to be difficult. She strode back to him with her chin held high and slapped the papers against his chest. “Here.”

Jamie stared at the lass’s fine arse strutting away from him. Her hair had been cut, straightened and the summer dress with the flowery print accentuated all the curves he’d fallen for so many years ago, the curves he knew so intimately. And those heels, for the love of St. Bridget, Mary hadn’t worn high heels like that since she left school. They’d brought her closer to his height, yet she still only reached his shoulders.
She’d left Glenhalish in January, a cold, distant housewife, and come back this alluring woman. For a moment, panic set inside his gut. He’d intended to convince her to come home so they could face their grief and move on together, but seeing how much happier, sexier, and sophisticated she was, perhaps Edinburgh was good for her, better than he could be.
But he wanted her back, wanted to get through this rough patch they’d strayed onto after the lad’s death, and return to the partnership they’d shared since primary school. They had too many years left. She couldn’t leave him. He wouldn’t survive without her.
The lass may have plans to leave him forever, but Jamie MacDougall wouldn’t give her up without a fight.

Twitter: @AlexaBourne

Thank you for joining me today. Good luck with your sales.

Jean


Saturday, May 11, 2013

If music be the food of love, Polly has it made

Hi Polly. and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us a little about you adventure. Apologies, Polly, I couldn't get your picture to load.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I got tired of saying to myself, “I wish I could write a book”! When I finally got serious about writing one I did it with specific goals: write the best one I could, get it published and then walk into my public library and see a copy of it on the shelf. Or even better, NOT see it on the shelf, because someone had checked it out! I’ve met that goal and what a great feeling it is. Every book I’ve created since that first one has been a gift.

What book are you reading now?
Typically I have two to three that I switch between. I’m reading “Killing Time”, the first book in Cindy Gerard’s new military romance suspense series, “One-Eyed Jacks”; Kathleen Woodiwiss’s, “Everlasting”; and “The Private Investigator’s Handbook: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Get Justice or Get Even”, by Chuck Chambers. That one is 50%  research material for my “Games People Play” character Reese Adams and 50% just plain entertainment.
In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

Historical romances are my favorite to write. Researching past eras rich in history and locations other than North America is fascinating. The “proper speech” of the upper classes comes easily to me and talking like a gutter snipe isn’t too hard either!

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

Playing classical piano music, a lifelong love, reading, digging in the dirt or repotting plants, and spending Wednesday through Saturdays in Bookmarks LLC, the second-hand bookshop I own and manage.  

What historical person would you want to meet and why?

Really, I have to come up with just ONE?! There are so many composers, authors and artists who have influenced the arts that I’d love to have a sit-down with but at the top of my long list would have to be Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827. He was the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras, my favorite periods of music. I’ve studied all 32 piano sonatas and most of his smaller works. His chamber music and symphonies are tender and fiery with romantic melodies that pull at my heart. I’ve had the good fortune of being a member of choruses that performed his Ninth Symphony with some acclaimed symphonic orchestras, an unparalleled performance thrill for me. A large portrait of him, with his famous wild hair and deep scowl looms over my piano studio. Having him “watch” me play feels like I’m at a lesson and he’s critiquing my music. And has plenty to say about it!

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

Be patient and don’t compare your writing styles to other writers. We all have unique voices and none of them are wrong, right or even better. They’re just different.

Share three fun facts about you that most people don’t know.

1) I name inanimate objects. Stuffed animals, cars, plants. Naming stuffed animals isn’t unusual, I know, but for someone a zillion days past her childhood, my collection is large. I know where each one came from or who gave it to me and that often influences the name. My Camaro’s name is Val and all my cactus and succulents have names. The better that way.  

2) When I was a kid I would add a pleading postscript to my nightly prayers (after my parents tucked me in and left the room), for an alien to please, please, pick me up in his spaceship and take me to his planet. Must have been the adventuring traveller side of me.

3) If I could live somewhere other than I do it would be in a lighthouse. Water and circular rooms have forever been entrancements.

 Blurb for "Charades", first book in "The Games People Play" series.
A woman and her child are missing. Reese Adams is on the hunt for them, her first major case as a private investigator. It would be a lot easier if the missing woman’s brother weren’t in the picture. Ethan Chamberlain isn’t hard to look at or spend time with, if you like a man with perfect posture, proper speech and an affinity for antiques and expensive suits, but experience has taught Reese to be wary of men and she has no intention of getting to know this one or let him anywhere near her heart. 
Tired of women who want him only for his wealth and position among Denver’s elite, Ethan finds the headstrong, charmingly unsophisticated Ms. Adams strangely tantalizing. Her seeming indifference to him only adds to the allure. As she and her hodgepodge of friends take control of the search for his missing sister and nephew, shocking discoveries about their disappearance are unearthed. Reese’s determination to learn the complete truth exposes facts and feelings that are best left buried. People Ethan thought he knew aren’t at all who they seem to be.
While looking for answers, Reese captures the heart of the man she is determined to dislike, and in turn, Ethan patiently peels away her layers of distrust.
If they can only avoid getting shot at, they may have a chance at love.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT: (first phone conversation between Reese and Ethan about his missing sister, Connie and her husband John)

Is he flirting with me? Sounded like flirting, based on dim recall.  "So. What are you going to do about Connie?"
    "There's not much I can do until I hear from her again. John won't be in the office until Thursday so that gives me another day to think about what he's up to."
    "There isn't much to go on anyway until Connie gives you more clues. But, hey, Chamberlain, she's a big girl. She can take care of herself, can't she?" Reese couldn't imagine what it’d be like for someone to be as worried about her as Ethan was his sister. So sweet, the whole brotherly thing.
    "Yes she can, but I've always looked after her."
    "It's just the two of you?"
    "Yes and before you ask, I'm the oldest, by four years."
    "Uh-huh. I kinda figured."
    "And what about you? Do you have brothers or sisters?"
    "No, and you can stop right there with the family questions."
    "All right. No more questions." He paused. “Miss Adams–"
    "It's Reese, in case you didn't know. Coming from an adult, 'Miss Adams' makes me feel eighty and pushing a walker.”
    "Reese it is then. And please, call me Ethan."
    Last names stuck with her better than first, but she’d never forget his.
    "So, Reese, could I interest you in going out one evening this week? Say, Saturday night?"
    "Go out? Like on a date?"
    "Yes, ‘like on a date.’"
    A date. How long had it been? A year? Two? And those had been only with cops and department personnel. Since then she'd sworn off seeing anyone involved in upholding the law. And in the past year she'd included anyone remotely resembling a male. Maybe she'd been in a dry spell long enough. At least Chamberlain didn't try to run down bad guys for a living.
    "Why?" she asked.
    "Why?"
    "Yeah. We don't exactly match, in case you didn't notice."
    "No, I suppose I didn't. I was too busy enjoying conversing with you."
    Conversing? Reese rolled her eyes. Tut-tut. "Uh, okay, yeah, I guess so."
    He chuckled. "I must say that's the most hesitant yes I've ever been given."
    "Yeah, well…" She tried to ignore the roto-rooter business going on in her stomach. "I'm not too good at this whole dating thing."
    "Then let’s not consider it a date. Rather, a reacquaintance. How does seven o'clock Saturday night sound? We'll keep it simple. Drinks and dinner."
    "Simple works for me."
    "Is there any cuisine you don't care for?"
    "Yeah, raw."
    Another rumbly laugh. "All right. No sushi. I'm not fond of it either."
    "And nowhere fancy, okay? Those china and shiny silverware places with some guy hovering over you all night long creep me out. I mean, how the hell can you relax and enjoy your food when someone keeps stopping at your table to watch you eat?"
    "Agreed. But no steak and salad buffet restaurant. I do have my limitations."
    "What, no Bonanza?"
    He groaned. "No Bonanza, please."
    "All right. I guess I'm at your mercy then, Cham…. Ethan."
    "I'll try to make it as painless as possible…Reese."



www.pmccrillis/blog.html





Saturday, May 4, 2013

Becket's murder the subject of Elaine's book

Hi Elaine, and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please tell us a little about your adventure. 

What inspired you to write your first book?

To see if I could! I’d written plays at school, wrote professional documents like policies (yawn) at work, and tried my hand at short stories. Then I’d reached the ripe old age of 37, was moaning to my husband one day about how I’d never got anywhere with writing, how I could probably write a book. His advice? “So go and do it, then.” How irritating is that? So I borrowed a second hand computer, sat down and wrote a 150,000 word novel in nine months. And yes, you have read that word count correctly. And, no, it will never see the light of day. It was dreadfully, spectacularly bad. But I did it- I wrote a book! Writing it taught me a hugely valuable lesson: that writing is a craft like any other. So I went off and set about learning my craft.

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

I love to read thrillers…and I love to read historicals. I follow the advice (and it’s good advice) of write what you read. The Fifth Knight is just that: it’s a medieval historical thriller. I know some publishers get very jumpy about books that cross genres. But the fact that The Fifth Knight made #1 in Action & Adventure and #1 in Historical on Amazon.com tells me that readers are just fine with that!

 Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

The Fifth Knight is currently on release. It’s a thriller based on the infamous murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. History records there were four knights who carried out the murder. My ‘What if?’ includes a fifth: Sir Benedict Palmer. It also includes a different focus for the knights’ quest. Not Becket himself, but a young nun, Theodosia Bertrand, hidden in the walls of the cathedral.

I’m currently working on the sequel, called The Blood of The Fifth Knight. Rebellion is in the air and Palmer is called on once again by King Henry II.

Do you hear from readers much? What kind of things do they say?

I’m delighted to say that I’ve received a whole pile of e-mails from readers who have enjoyed The Fifth Knight. They’ve said things like: ‘Yours is the best kind of novel, one where the reader feels a certain sadness in reaching the conclusion, because we must leave these characters that we have become so attached to. I am sure I will come back to read this book again and again.’ and ‘I had started your book and thought I would finish by the time I had gone to bed last night. I was restless thinking about it, and woke at 2:30 am to pick it up again. Just finished it, and I am a confirmed fan of yours.’ E-mails like that just make my day, not only for how lovely they are about my work, but also the fact that someone has taken time out to send them.

[I have to  say this particular story has always fascinated me.  Jean ]

What historical person would you want to meet and why?
I would love to meet Thomas Becket. I’d love to ask him about that terrible night in the cathedral, when armed men broke in and murdered him on his own altar. I’d ask him how he had the courage to face them and not turn and run, hide, call others to his defence.

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

Don’t give up because somebody says ‘No.’ It took me eleven years and hundreds of ‘No’s’ before I got a ‘Yes.’ That yes was from my wonderful and tireless agent, Josh Getzler at HSG. He got the ‘Yes’ from my equally wonderful publishers, Thomas & Mercer. And guess what, with all those people who said ‘No’? They were right. I still had to keep working on my craft- and still do.

BUY LINKS:



MY LINKS:



Twitter: @empowellauthor



BLURB:

     To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. But what begins as a clandestine arrest ends in cold-blooded murder. And when Fitzurse, the knights’ ringleader, kidnaps Theodosia, a beautiful young nun who witnessed the crime, Palmer can sit silently by no longer. For not only is Theodosia’s virtue at stake, so too is the secret she unknowingly carries—a secret he knows Fitzurse will torture out of her.
     Now Palmer and Theodosia are on the run, strangers from different worlds forced to rely only on each other as they race to uncover the hidden motive behind Becket’s grisly murder—and the shocking truth that could destroy a kingdom.


EXCERPT- from Chapter 2, as the knights approach Canterbury:

     “How much longer till we get there?” Palmer asked le Bret, the driver of their small tarpaulin-covered cart.
     Ahead, down a long, straight featureless highway, with winter-empty ploughed fields on either side, lay the town of Canterbury. The storms of two days ago had been replaced by clear skies and ice on the air, making easier progress along the mud-churned road. Plumes of grayish white smoke rose from hundreds of hearths and hung above the distant roofs, shrouding the cathedral’s huge towers.
     Le Bret shrugged. “Hour. Two, maybe.”
     “Good,” said Palmer. “My backside’s sick of this seat.” He shifted to stretch his deadened legs and nodded to where the other three knights led the way on horseback. “I’d rather ride any day. Keeps you moving. And warm.” He pulled his thick woolen neckerchief tighter to keep the afternoon’s deepening chill at bay.
     Le Bret shrugged again. “Need the cart. Fitzurse says so.”
     “What for?”
     “Don’t know.”
     Palmer shook his head to himself. Le Bret didn’t know much.
     “You there!” De Tracy’s shout carried across the frozen fields. “Make haste and stand aside.”
     Palmer leaned to one side to see past his mounted companions. Shortly ahead on the roadway on the left side were two men, ragged laborers mending a wide gap in the hedge by laying new pleachers. Piles of dead branches and shorn evergreens spilled partly on to the road. Both men looked up at the order and dropped their billhooks at once. They bent to scoop the trimmings back up onto the ditch, scrabbling low in their haste.
     As the knights on horseback went past, the men snatched their coarse dark woolen caps off and bowed their heads.
     Palmer’s rumbling cart drew level. One of the ragged men risked a glance up, then dropped his gaze abruptly again.
     “ Sorry sirs,” he muttered, eyes fixed low on the muddy wheels
     Neither Palmer nor le Bret acknowledged him.
     “Stupid peasant,” said le Bret as they carried on.
     Palmer glanced back around the canvas cover. The men had replaced their hats and were re-ordering their work, gesturing angrily to each other. He faced forward again. “He should have better manners. But they’ve a job to do with that hedge.”
     Le Bret smirked. “You a clod-grubber, Palmer?"
     “Better that than the son of a gargoyle and a whore. Go grab yourself, le Bret.” But Palmer was born a clod-grubber, with no land, no money. He’d hedged, ditched, picked stones from behind a plough, pitching them into a basket on his back until his five year old knees would near give way. Unblocked privies, carried hay on his shoulders. Always following behind his weak, meek father, trying to earn enough to feed them as well as his mother and his sisters. And never succeeding. Like the men on the side of the road, he’d lived in rags, feet numb and frost-bitten in split, useless tatters of boots. He too had snatched off his cap a thousand times to his betters.
     Palmer took a last look back at the two men bent low at their back-breaking task. There would come a day when they couldn’t do it anymore, when illness or old age or a slipped billhook would rob them of their pitiful livelihood. He settled himself onto the hard seat again. He wouldn’t have to face that fate, not any more. Once he’d finished his work for Fitzurse, he’d never know poverty again.