Author Archives: Joanna

Spring gladdens the writer’s heart

It’s the end of March. The Vernal Equinox is past. We can properly talk about Spring.

spring sunshine, trees and snowviolets in springOf course, by the time this blog is published, it may be snowing again, but we don’t have a crystal ball here in the Libertà hive. So…

Instead, to gladden hearts and look forward to lighter, brighter days, we asked each hive member to give us a flavour of the things she most looks forward to with the coming of Spring. Violets rather than snow? Continue reading

Writing Retreats : Pleasures and Pitfalls

woman reading book in hammock against dark sky

Writing retreats do NOT include this. Sadly.

I’ve been on quite a few writing retreats. And as you read this blog, I’m probably off on another one. If you’re reading this blog after 20th March, though, you’re too late. I’m back 😉

This post is about writing retreats in general, and what I’m hoping to get out of this particular one. I’m also looking at some of the benefits of writing retreats and — sorry, but I won’t lie to you here — the pitfalls.

Writing retreats : what are they? what do writers do there?

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Libertà’s Liz Fielding wins Outstanding Achievement Award

Liz Fielding, winner of RNA's Lifetime Achievement Award 2019

Liz Fielding

Libertà author Liz Fielding is to receive the 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association at their prestigious award ceremony in London on 4th March 2019.

RNA President, Katie Fforde, said, “Liz Fielding’s books, with their warmth, humour and emotion, have charmed millions of readers. She is a true star of the romantic fiction genre.”

Liz has won the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Award twice; and she also won the RNA’s RoNA Rose Award in 2005.

Liz’s books have sold over 15 million copies, in over 30 overseas markets and in 27 different languages. More info about Liz’s Outstanding Achievement Award here.

Libertà sponsors RNA’s Shorter Romantic Novel Award 2019

We are proud to announce that Libertà is sponsoring the RNA’s Shorter Romantic Novel Award 2019. All the authors in the Libertà hive have strong connections with this genre. Libertà partner, Sophie Weston explained:

Shorter Romantic fiction is as gorgeous as this Fabergé Renaissance egg

Fabergé Renaissance egg
Sadly NOT the winner’s trophy

At its best, short fiction is the Fabergé egg of our genre — intricate, gorgeous and just a little bit magical.
So Libertà is delighted to sponsor this Award, with love and appreciation of the fabulous practitioners of the form — especially those who have done so much for the RNA and are now missing, including Penny Jordan, Sara Craven, Roger Sanderson, Anne Weale, Elizabeth Harrison, Lucilla Andrews and Rosamund Pilcher (in her Jane Fraser incarnation).

Shortlisted books and more information on the Libertà website page here.

On the Beautiful Blue … Nile? Temples, Gods…and Balloons

Listening to the New Year concert from Vienna, and in particular to the lilting Strauss waltz, On the Beautiful Blue Danube, I was struck by a subversive thought: the Danube isn’t BLUE.
Danube at Budapest and text: on the Beautiful Blue Danube?

(The image above isn’t Vienna either, it’s Budapest. But that greeny/brown river is the Danube.)

And I was reminded of a trip on a river that is actually blue and which has inspired many stories over the centuries. This was my subconscious providing the inspiration. Again.

On the Beautiful BLUE … Nile?

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Inspiration : writing ideas and the subconscious

Readers are fascinated by writers’ ideas. Where do you get them from? they ask.
Over and over again.gothic fantasy woman candle mist ideas

Sometimes we writers know. And sometimes — to be frank — we don’t.

How many of us have woken up in the morning with clear ideas about a new book and no inkling about how those ideas came to be? How many of us have more ideas jostling about in our brains than we can deal with?ideas light bulb

For most of us the difficulty isn’t finding the ideas, it’s turning them into a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Here’s a case in point.

Ideas? Silver shreds for starters…

It began quite a long time ago. And it was all the fault of my crit partner, Sophie Weston of this parish… Continue reading

Broken Resolutions : the Libertà Hive Comes Clean

new year fireworks happy new year from libertà message

New Year’s Resolutions. Broken Resolutions?

New Year resolutions about to become broken resolutions?How many of us have resolved to become a better, slimmer, fitter, kinder person in the year to come? And how many of us have broken our resolutions and admitted defeat before a month — possibly a week — is out?

If you haven’t, dear reader, you’re a very special kind of person and a cut above the rest of us 😉

girl in despair as result of broken resolutionsHere in the hive we’re fully prepared to admit our failings.

So our resolution for this year — coming a little early in our Sunday blog, because 1st January occurs on a Tuesday — is to come clean about (at least some of) the broken resolutions from our past.

Asked to confess at least one broken resolution of previous years, this is what the hive members said. Feel free to gloat… Continue reading

Altering History : is it OK in Historical Fiction?

cranium silhouetted against question markAltering History. In other words, changing what actually happened into something that didn’t happen; or didn’t happen in quite that way; or happened at a different time…
Is it OK for an author of historical fiction to do that?

Always? Sometimes? Never?

Does it depend on what the alteration is? Some think it’s OK to alter small things, relating to minor characters, but not decisive things relating to really important characters.

Some might say an author can do whatever he or she likes, provided the reader knows what the author has done. In other words, the author has to come clean.
Others don’t care, as long as the end result is a good read.

Altering History : a Big Deal for Queens

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Roman Soldiers on the Frontier : Tough or Tedious?

Hadrian's Wall Roman frontier

Hadrian’s Wall : Britannia’s northern frontier

The Roman Frontier? We Brits immediately think of Roman soldiers stationed at Hadrian’s Wall to defend the empire against painted marauders (the Picts or picti) from the barbarian north.

We imagine their life was cold and wet and miserable. Some of them certainly sent letters home to Rome to ask for warm woollen socks. Clearly northern Britannia was not a place for short tunics and sandals.

Hadrian's Wall Roman frontier

Hadrian’s Wall: not exactly warm and cosy?

On the German frontier, the weather was warmer than Britannia, especially in summer. Short tunics and sandals would have worked just fine.

But guarding a frontier against a potential enemy — who (mostly) didn’t attack — was probably 99% boredom.

So how did the soldiers fill their time? Continue reading

Award-Winning Historical Author Joins Libertà this Weekend

Hot News!

Libertà will have a fourth bee buzzing in the hive from this weekend.

She’s the award-winning author of dozens of historical romances and she has a worldwide following of fans. Among those fans — needless to say — are the other three members of the hive.

Who is this prolific author? Is she one of your favourites? Find out in her first blog here on Sunday 4th November. Not long to wait, is it?

Subscribers will find out who she is first, in Saturday’s Libertà newsletter.
Can’t wait to find out? Just use the Subscribe button in the top right of our sidebar.

Roman Germany : Dark and Dangerous? Or Delightful?

Roman Germany? What picture does it conjure up for you? Mile after mile of dark, trackless forest with a hostile warrior behind every other tree, waiting to kill you?Roman battle against Germanic tribes from film Gladiator

Yup, that was what I thought, too.

Varus Massacre (Varusschlacht), Otto A Koch, 1909

Varus Massacre (Varusschlacht), Otto A Koch, 1909

Probably I’d been watching too many films like Gladiator with that opening forest battle [above] and all those barbarian attackers.
Or reading about Falco’s bloody struggles in Germania in AD71 in The Iron Hand of Mars. In that story, Falco finds links back to the massacre of the legions in AD9 where up to 20,000 Romans died.

The massacre is depicted in this painting [right]. You’ll note Germanic warriors complete with winged and horned helmets.
It’s by a German painter, too 😉

For me, that battle always conjures up an image of Augustus butting his head against the wall and crying, “Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions.”

So partly because of those cultural influences, I had assumed, without giving the question much thought, that Romans in Germany would always be watching their backs and that their lives would be pretty basic. Continue reading