FreebitsSincerest thanks to all who have visited this blog for Friday Freebits all these weeks. As with all good things, we have run our course. This will be the last installment.

Today’s excerpt is again from my work in progress, Sword of Names.  At her grandfather’s urging, Elthwen, the young daughter of the king and twin sister of Elthric, has changed into Tolmer’s clothes. The disguise, he insists, will keep her safe on the road and help hide her true identity from the bad guys who probably mean to kill her.


“I am afraid I will fool no one with this disguise.” With a sigh, she dropped the garment she clutched to her chest and opened her arms. Through the coarse-woven wool of the tunic, her nascent breasts made barely a wrinkle.

He smiled and opened his mouth to speak, but quickly reassessed the wisdom in proffering his candid observation. Indeed, she had grown. The progression from coltish girl to young woman—with all the complexities and annoyances associated with the female sex—had been hard to ignore, especially over the past few years. Yet, even a blind man would sense her want of certain feminine attributes. Outwardly, she lacked the fineness of feature and figure—some would call it beauty—that graced her mother’s face and shapely form.

As Elthwen grew through adolescence, so did her perception of these qualities as imperfections. If only she could see, he often pondered, that her features—while by no means plain—revealed a strength of character and intelligence that had long ago opened her child’s mind and heart to the world around her. It was obvious in her direct and penetrating gaze—the way she studied a flower or peered into a person’s eyes as if they were books to be read. The set of her jaw—noble without pretensions—a trait she had exhibited since her earliest years. But Nirmanath in Her infinite wisdom had chosen as her lot to be long in the leg and flat as a fintil seed cake.

“I was about to say that you make a fine-looking lad.” He could not lie to her. “Except for your hair…”

The pained and angry look with which she regarded him conveyed the tangle of thoughts and emotions coiled up inside her. He could not blame her, after all she had been through…all she had experienced over theE&G4 past three days.

“It is only for a short time, my sweet. Until we reach Elyndrus.” His light touched her with gentle warmth. He smiled again and flicked his finger over her cheek. “Now put on your cloak before you catch a chill.”


Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.

Friday FreebitsWelcome to a new edition of Fridays & Freebits. This week’s excerpt is again from my work in progress, Sword of Names. Here we meet Elthric, son the Lothrian king and twin brother of Elthwen, the heroine. The king has been dispatched on an errand of dubious nature, compelling the queen to quietly send Elthwen away under her  grandfather’s care. Othreld, the king’s smarmy brother, has organized a search for them.


Elthric clenched his jaw. His uncle knew his feelings for Lokthar. His distrust had long since grown beyond the childish competitiveness that once had colored his regard for the man Othreld relied on as his captain. Sentiments once inspired by jealousy had solidified into an intense aversion. The thought of Lokthar anywhere near his sister caused Elthric’s blood to run hot. He swallowed his displeasure as he would a vile-tasting remedy and again nodded his understanding.

“Yes, Uncle….”

“Elthric….” Othreld lowered his gaze. His cheek and eye continued to twitch.

Amid the sudden clamor of morning birds, his mother’s voice sounded in his ear, as if she were standing at his side. Startled, Elthric turned, then glanced up at the turret overlooking both the harbor and the courtyard. The parapet remained empty. And yet the touch of her breath on his ear remained tangible. Be wary, she had said. Trust no one.

“Why has my mother not come to bid us a good leave-taking?”

Othreld turned his gaze toward the parapet. “The queen sends apologies. Her woman said she was feeling unwell…. Elthric….” He clasped Elthric’s shoulder with a trembling hand, his face pale and tense, as he once again fixed on his nephew. “You have been like a son to me.”

A shiver of foreboding gripped him. He forced a smile and covered Othred’s hand with his own. “And you have been like a father.”


Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.

Friday FreebitsThis week’s Friday Freebits excerpt is a little different from my other posts. Following is from the “eternal novel,” a medieval fantasy I’ve been working on, off and on since the latter years of the past millennium. Sword of Names is a story of truth and lies, mistaken identities and disguises, unlikely alliances, good-guys versus bad-guys, and with a hint of magic.

In this short piece, we meet Tolmer, a boy of 15 from a race of people of little—if any—moral character who have, among their other skills, the ability to make themselves invisible. Nochlan is an aging wizard-type who must rediscover his craft on the fly, and who is also the grandfather of the heroine. He and Elthwen, the deposed king’s daughter, are on the run from unsavory characters at the beck and call of the Main Evil Dude. Prior to this bit, Tolmer has been caught trying to steal Nochlan‘s corrath, Glaer, a crystal with powerful capabilities and her own personality.


“I saw no one, sir!”

The corrath flared red. “If you are lying to me, rogue, your tongue will turn black and choke you with bitter bile!”

“I swear!” Fear flashed across the young villain’s face and his ragged voice broke on the strain.

Nochlan leaned on his staff, Glaer’s  intensity cooling. “I accept your word.”

“Thank you, sir.” Choking down a breath, the boy shuddered.

“But I am once again of a mind to change you into a toad…or perhaps a fish…yes, a fish!” He wrinkled his brow in pretended thought, his corrath flickering slowly. “Perhaps your mother would prefer something more useful. A dog is a fine companion that can hunt and fetch and protect her.”

“Please, sir. I beg you. Leave me as I am.”

Nochlan rubbed his chin. “Then again, I fancy you would make a handsome bird. A rooster or a goose…. Oh, unquestionably a goose!” He raised the staff, its stone emitting a blinding light.

“Oh please, sir….” Tolmer cringed, shielding his eyes with his hand from the intensity of the glare. Tears streamed down his face, his lanky form tremulous with cold and distress.

“Very well, then.” The stone’s light dimmed. “For your old, sick mother’s sake, I will spare you this once. But only under one condition.”

“Anything, sir. I will do anything.” He wiped his runny nose with the back of his hand.

Nochlan raised his eyebrows. “Anything?”

“Please, sir….”



He took in the lad from top of his coppery head to his coarse woolen leggings—patched in the knees—to his soft deerskin boots, already short in the toe. He shook his head, his lips pursed. “No, that would never work.” He pondered some more. “No, unacceptable…except perhaps….Yes, that is it!

“What is it, sir?”

He glanced around quickly and, having spied a small copse of blooming bracklethorne at the forest’s edge, he motioned to it with a tip of his staff. “I will let you go, Tolmer of the Navith Milithos, but only if you surrender your clothes.”


Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.

Friday FreebitsI don’t know about anyone else, but lately the time has been flying by! Here it is Friday again. This week’s Friday Freebit is from Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Book 1 of “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy. Here Anne encounters Peter Marlowe for a second time, under somewhat inauspicious circumstances. While attempting to sneak away from her father’s hall, she is startled and takes a fall. It’s all Peter’s fault.

“The novel excels in that it introduces a myriad of characters, all of whom leave the reader wanting more. I’ve noticed a lot of comparisons to Jane Austen or rather “the dark side” of Jane Austen. … if anything, I would reference Daniel Defoe or Henry Fielding, though there is little comedy in Anne’s journey. The novel is quite gothic in fact. All in all, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter  is an interesting read that aptly captures the period in which it is set.” — Caroline Wilson Writes


“Are you hurt?” He bent toward her.

She flinched away. “No thanks to you, I think I’ve escaped permanent injury.” She turned her eyes on him, a glowering look that held a trace of fear.

The look took him aback. “Forgive me, I was afraid that you—”

Her eyes softened, a rush of color surged in her cheeks. She turned away, as if embarrassed. “Is it your custom to go around sneaking up on people?” She rose gingerly, flexing her left ankle.

“To be quite truthful, it’s not.” He smiled sheepishly and scrambled to his feet. “Is it your custom to go climbing over walls?” He found her shoes in the grass and deferentially offered them to her. “Sensible people would use the gate.”

“Perhaps I’m not sensible!” Without a word of gratitude, she snatched the offering from him and winced as she slipped her left foot into the boot. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go.”



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Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.

Friday FreebitsWelcome to another edition of Fridays and Freebits. This week’s excerpt from Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter takes place at the end of Chapter Three. Julia, Anne’s mother has died, and Anne, rather than keep her deathbed promise, has attempted to take her own life.


“…The plot is fast-paced. The characters are well-developed… I recommend this story to those who like gothic fiction, and to those who are interested in aristocratic English society prior to the American Revolution.”
History from a Woman’s Perspective


The girl stirred. He sat back, wiping away his tears, but she merely shifted her head on the pillow and pulled the blanket to her chin. Again he leaned over her. Early morning light now fell more sharply across her face, weaving patterns of brightness and shadow as the curtains rustled on the draft.

“Oh, my child!” he whispered. “You have every right to disdain me. I cannot begrudge you your feelings. But it will pass. It must! I mean to do right by you. I owe it to you…and to your mother.” He sat back in the chair, as she rolled onto her side, away from him. “There is so much you need to know, so much that only I can tell you. Trust me…just a little…and I will find a way to redeem myself in your eyes.”

It would not be easy. She remained steadfast in her animosity. Nothing could shake her resolve. She had been betrayed. Her world turned upside down.

Day and night he had sat by her side, cradling her in his arms when she cried out, wiping vomit from her chin, bathing her burning face and limbs with cool towels. Clutching her hand in that bleakest hour of the night, he saw in her glazed and dilated eyes that the spark of life had begun to fade. He clutched her against himself, as though to squeeze into her the very force that sustained him. Three days and nights passed before a flicker of light returned.

On the fourth night she asked for water. He poured out a glass from the pitcher on the bedside table and held it to her lips. She focused her eyes at him in the wavering light from the candle stub. She looked hard at him before recognition sent a pained expression over her face. Her eyes darkened, then filled with tears. Then she turned her face to the wall, and she wept.

She would not die. Yet, in that instant, she slipped away as surely as if death had taken her.



For more information, please click on thee cover.

Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.

Friday FreebitsWelcome once again to Fridays & Freebits. Can you believe it’s August already?

This week’s  excerpt is from Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy of historical novels. Here you will meet Julia, the mother of the heroine, Anne. I hope you enjoy.


“Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is an accessible, fast-paced historical romance with elements of suspense and danger. I liked the heroine immediately…”–Cora Seton Reviews


Julia Fairfield loved the smell of earth. Warm and damp under her bare feet, it gave off an aroma filled with promise. The spring season always brought a sense of hope, best seen in the renewal of life with all its delicate scent and color, best felt in the touch of sun on her uncovered head, best nurtured in the little sprouts that appeared almost magically overnight in her little patch of garden.

Under the gentle warmth of the May sun, amid sweetly scented breezes, Julia hitched her skirts up over her knees, fixing the hem securely in her waistband. Armed with a trowel and a pair of sturdy leather gloves, she wended her way into the plot of young flax.

She knelt, taking care not to trample the fragile grasses, and dug up weeds, one by one, shaking off the clumps of damp red soil clinging to the roots. After so many years, she marveled at how skillful she had become, how quickly she worked. She’d grown strong of limb, her body lean and agile.

Yet there was a time—so long ago—in this selfsame plot of earth on a spring day much like this, when the vastness of the project overwhelmed her. She’d been unprepared. Nothing in her upbringing or experience had provided her with the disposition to endure such a provincial existence. She had found the strength deep inside, where it lay untapped during those years of growing soft and complacent in a world that now seemed little more than a dream.

The same as Joseph. Nothing but a dream. Not even the assurances of spring could resurrect the hope she had sustained during those first hard years at Melbridge. Those years spent waiting. That hope had died long ago. She had let it fade away. But still he remained a part of her, would always be a part of her, just as Anne was a part of them both. And, yes, in her heart she still loved him. She would always love him.


Cover art by Michelle Lee

For more information, please click on thee cover.


Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.

TGIF! That means it’s tiFriday Freebitsme for Friday FreeBits, six paragraphs from one of my published books.

Today’s excerpt is from the opening chapter of Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, book One of “The Serpent’s Tooth” historical trilogy, published by Books We Love. Set during the turbulent 18th century, the series follows Anne Darvey from her impoverished childhood in rural England to the American colonies and the War for Independence.


“…This is a dark novel that deals with the resentment and anger of a girl who has been misled and cannot seem to get past her grief …. While not a typical romance, this is a fascinating, complex story that I completely enjoyed. It is well written and entertained me with mystery, suspense, scandal, sinister characters and first love.” — Romantic Historical Lovers


Blinded by tears, Anne Fairfield ran. She had lost her shoes somewhere in the squire’s field amid the newly plowed furrows, but she couldn’t stop to worry about them now. Nor would she stop to consider how her mother might take to the loss, although the thought stirred a fleeting pang of anxiety in the pit of her stomach. But it was nothing compared to the need that drove her to keep running. To run fast and hard and not look back. Far worse than a mother’s scolding would be her punishment if she allowed them to overtake her. Even as she ran, their hateful voices grew louder as they steadily closed the distance between her and them.

Cradling her basket against her heaving chest, she tried not to think of the precious eggs within. She’d already lost a goodly number…not counting the one she had hurled at Dickie Hodge.

She hadn’t realized how far she had run. All the way to St. Cillian’s Well! Nearly home. But they gained ground. The pounding of their ponies’ hooves and a new clarity in their cruel voices drew closer and more distinct. She’d never outrun them. They’d be on her before she could cross the meadow between the spring and home.

Gasping for breath, only partly conscious of the raucous chatter of birds that greeted her entry and the cheerful gurgle of water bubbling up from the earth, she darted into the thicket surrounding the pool. She pressed her back against the spiny bark of a slender hawthorn, and willed the tears from her burning eyes. Hands balled into fists, Anne swiped their trails from her cheeks. She sucked in a deep breath and peered through the grove at the road and the fields behind her.

There was still no sign of them, but their taunting voices filled the air, ringing in the glade with hurtful words that stung her to the heart. The strident sound drew closer—young voices chanting and laughing in fiendish delight.


An-nie Fair-field, where did your father go?

Across the sea to Galilee, but Mother’ll never know.

An-nie Fair-field, what is your father’s aim?

To kiss the maids and make them cry!

Oh, for shame, for shame!




Fridays and FreeBits is a regular feature on Ginger Simpson’s blog, Dishin’ It Out. To read more excerpts from some great authors, click here.
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