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Friday, 22 September 2017

Goodreads Giveaway for RULED BY SHADOWS

Great news for bibliophiles ... Goodreads are running a paperback giveway for RULED BY SHADOWS!
Enter to get the chance to win one of three paperback copies of my new Epic Fantasy Romance, RULED BY SHADOWS. Giveaway ends on October 2, 2017 so don't miss out!

What's RULED BY SHADOWS about?

In a land ruled by shadows, the fate of all lies in the hands of a girl who is afraid of the dark.

Meet Lilia, a young woman who is afraid of ... everything.

Lilia's life changes the day a stranger walks into the tavern where she works as a cook. Handsome and darkly mysterious, Saul leaves a charm-stone in her safekeeping. Only, what appears to be a humble Hag Stone--used by folk to ward off evil spirits--is in reality a powerful talisman. One that a secret brotherhood has spent five-hundred years searching for.

Life will never be the same for Lilia again.

Her shadow begins behaving strangely--and when The Shade Brotherhood come after her, Lilia must leave her sleepy isle to embark on an epic journey into danger, discovery ... and love.

The shadows are deepening and an ancient evil risks being unleashed upon the world. Lilia must face the darkness, and her own fears--or there will be no going home.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruled by Shadows by Jayne Castel

Ruled by Shadows

by Jayne Castel

Giveaway ends October 02, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Sunday, 17 September 2017

RULED BY SHADOWS is LIVE on Amazon & free on KU

Exciting news—after nearly two years in the making, RULED BY SHADOWS is now available for purchase on Amazon! 

RULED BY SHADOWS is a detour from my usual Historical Romances set in Dark Ages Britain and Scotland (although I've got two more of those in the pipeline!). It's an Epic Fantasy Romance about a fearful young woman named Lilia who is catapaulted into an epic adventure. Romance, action, adventure and High Fantasy—this novel has it all!

Here are the links to the book on Amazon (if you buy a copy, please consider leaving an honest review—I'd appreciate it hugely):

Click on one of the links below to purchase from Amazon (it's free in KU):

Try RULED BY SHADOWS before you buy
Claim your free sample from Instafreebie and read the Prologue and the first three chapters of RULED BY SHADOWS on your Kindle or e-reader!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

RULED BY SHADOWS is available for preorder!

For those of you eagerly awaiting RULED BY SHADOWS—the wait is almost over!

I LOVED writing this book.

You can read RULED BY SHADOWS as a stand-alone, although there will be a three-book arc which explores a larger Epic Fantasy storyline (involving three different love stories).

This Epic Fantasy Romance—Book #1 in the Light and Darkness series—is the story of Lilia, a frightened young woman who is propelled into a life-changing adventure. It’s Epic Fantasy, but not as you know it! Sure, there will be adventure, magic, a quest, and the threat of darkness that risks destroying the world. But our heroine, Lilia, isn’t a warrior princess, an assassin or a sorceress—she’s the kind of girl most of us have met. Just an ordinary young woman thrown into an extraordinary situation.

RULED BY SHADOWS will be released on 18 September 2017!

Click on one of the links below to preorder:

Monday, 7 August 2017

Ruled by Shadows - BOOK TRAILER

This blog is dedicated to my Historical Romance novels - however I also write Epic Fantasy Romance!

Since my historicals are also set in the Dark Ages - and so have a slight Fantasy element to them - I think readers should enjoy this detour into the realms of Epic Fantasy Romance. I'm particularly excited about this project, as it's the book I've always wanted to write.

It’s been a ‘work in progress’ for a while, but RULED BY SHADOWS is steadily inching closer to publication.

The book is now in the hands of my beta-readers, and I should hear back from them toward the end of August. That’ll give me some time to make the final changes, sort the proofreading, and send out copies to the ARC readers. The novel will be up on pre-order soon, for release mid-September. As soon as it’s up on pre-order, I’ll post a link up on this blog. 🙂

What’s RULED BY SHADOWS about?

Book #1 of the Light and Darkness series, RULED BY SHADOWS is an Epic Fantasy Romance about Lilia, a frightened young woman who is forced to leave her old life behind and embark on an epic adventure. It’s the story of an ordinary girl thrown into an extraordinary situation. It has everything I love about Epic Fantasy in it (epic adventure, dark forces, magic and huge stakes) but it’s also a character driven story about people we feel we could know. The novel is a romance as well, so the love story is central to it.

In a land ruled by shadows, the fate of all lies in the hands of a girl who is afraid of the dark.

To find out more, watch the book trailer for RULED BY SHADOWS below.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

July update from Jayne - listen to a recording!

It's madness, I know—but I have three writing projects on the go at the moment: a Fantasy Romance, and two Historical Romances! 

To update you all on what each novel is about, I've done a recording. Just click on the link or the image below to listen. I hope you enjoy it. :-) 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Historical background to WIND SONG (Book #2: The Kingdom of Northumbria)

I'm now hard at work on Book #2 of The Kingdom of Northumbria. This novel is a Historical Romance, but like all my others set in 7th Century Britain the story is based on real historical events and historical figures.

WIND SONG – to be released later this year – is set in the later period of the 7th Century – when the Northumbria King, Ecgfrith (Oswiu’s son) takes on the Picts, and loses.

First up, here's a few facts about the Kingdom of Northumbria, to give some historical context:
  • Northumbria – ‘Northanhymbre’ in Old English – has always been a frontier land. The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall there to mark the northernmost edge of their empire, for they were never able to conquer the Picts. The Anglo-Saxons after them had similar difficulty in ruling the wild lands to the north.
  • Northumbria was one of the most important kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, lying north of the River Humber. 
  • During its most flourishing period it extended from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, between two west–east lines formed in the north by the Ayrshire coast and the Firth of Forth and in the south by the River Ribble, or the Mersey, and the Humber.
  • Its military strength was greatest in the 7th century, when the supremacy of three of its rulers, Edwin (616–632), Oswald (633–641), and Oswiu (641–670), was recognized by the southern English kingdoms. 
  • Northumbria was formed from the coalition of two originally independent states—Bernicia, which was a settlement at Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast, and Deira, lying to the south of it. 
  • The kingdom probably reached the west coast by the mid-7th century, and it also rapidly expanded northward, at one time extending as far as the River Tay. To the south, the power of Mercia checked further expansion of the kingdom.

WIND SONG is focused on a pivotal historical event: the Battle of Dun Nechtain – the Picts vs the Northumbrians
  • The Battle of Dun Nechtain (or Battle of Nechtansmere as it was known in Old English), marked a turning-point between the Picts and the Anglo-Saxons. The battle ended with a decisive Pictish victory which severely weakened Northumbria's power in northern Britain.
  • The battle was fought between the Picts, led by King Bridei mac Beli and the Northumbrians, led by King Ecgfrith on 20 May 685. Relations between the two kings had been worsening for years, especially since Ecgfrith saw the Pictish king as a sub-king rather than an independent ruler. During the battle, the Picts pretended to retreat and drew the Northumbrians into a bloody ambush at Dun Nechtain near the lake of Linn Garan.
  • Ecgfrith was killed in battle, along with the greater part of his army. The Pictish victory marked their independence from Northumbria, who never regained their dominance in the north.

Bridei mac Beli is the hero of WIND SONG. Here are some facts about him:
  • Bridei mac Beli – Bridei son of Beli was king of the Picts from 672 until 693. He ruled the Kingdom of Fortriu, in Southern Pictland (today southern Scotland).
  • His father was Beli, King of Alt Clut, and his mother was an Angle – possibly a daughter of King Edwin of Deira. 
  • Bridei spent most of his childhood living at Bebbanburg, under the charge of the Northumbrian king
  • Bridei would have left Northumbria as a young man and returned to his father’s lands
  • He was based at Dundurn, a hilltop fortress in southern Fortriu.
  • Bridei was an expansionary and active king – he led violent campaigns throughout Pictland, claiming new lands and taking back old ones for Fortriu.
  • The relationship between Bridei and King Ecgfrith of Northumbria was strained – Ecgfrith likely saw Bridei as a ‘sub-king’ rather than an independent ruler, and Bridei would have chafed under what he saw as the yoke of an Angle overlord
  • Their worsening relationship led to the famous Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685, in which the Anglo-Saxon army of Ecgfrith was annihilated
  • Bridei's death is recorded as the year 693.
There are no records as to whether Bridei married, or had any children, so in my story (WIND SONG: Book #2: The Kingdom of Northumbria – to be released later this year), I create a romance between him and a young Anglo-Saxon woman, Hea. Bridei and Hea are childhood friends during his time fostering in Bebbanburg. However, when they meet again years later, their relationship changes dramatically…

Find out more about WIND SONG: 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

What I learned about the Picts?

Researching BLOOD FEUD was great fun. The Isle of Skye is a fascinating setting and the history and culture of the Picts was one I loved immersing myself in. 

As well as gaining a lot of info online, I got out library books on the history and culture of the Picts. A friend also loaned me a book on Pictish symbols, which she'd bought during a visit to Aberdeen. All helped me add depth and color to my story.

Here are some of the discoveries I made about the Picts (specifically those who were likely to have lived upon the Isle of Skye in the 4th Century):

  • The early Picts were a tribal society, formed by hunting (boar and stags mainly), fishing and farming (sheep, goats and cattle). They were also a warrior people and their would have been a number of feuds and battles between tribes. Ironically, the only time the Picts ever truly united together was against a common enemy: the Romans.
  • The Pict chieftains lived in fortified stone forts (duns) upon headlands—the heart of the fort would have been a brochs: a stone round-tower.
  • Pictish houses tended to be dug into the earth and circular in shape with alcoves around the edges for sleeping. They had cone-shaped thatched roofs, giving the inhabitants room to stand up inside. The dwellings would have been built in this way to make them warmer and protect from drafts during the cold winters.
  • The clan (the word comes from 'clanna' which means 'children') came much later in Scottish history. Instead, the early Picts could have easily been grouped according to animal names (according to the many animal symbols they used). i.e. the People of the Eagle.
  • The word 'mac' meant 'son of' so a warrior's name: Galan mac Muin meant 'Galan son of Muin'.
  • Many historians believe that Pictish chieftain descendency came down through the female, rather than male line. There is some debate about this, but the fact remains that Pictish women enjoyed considerable independence and rights (compared to some of the later British cultures). Pictish women were also warriors, and could be as formidable as their menfolk in battle.
  • The Picts didn't wear kilts or tartan (that came centuries later)—however, it's likely they would have worn clothing (leggings or skirts) made of plaid.
  • Despite the cold climate the Picts often went barefoot, and the men barechested. What clothing they did wear would have been minimal, with leather foot wrappings to protect their feet during the coldest months of the year.
  • They bore blue (woad) tattoos on their bodies (depicting the tribal markings and symbols of their people) and would have painted their bodies for special occasions and before going into battle.
  • The Picts took pride their appearance, the men and as well as the women—they wore beautiful jewellery and hair accessorys, and both sexes generally wore their hair long.
  • They were a pagan people, who would have believed in more than one god—rather a host of gods and goddess to represent different times of the year and different stages of life.
  • The passing of the year was celebrated by a number of fire festivals (as with all Celtic peoples).
  • The Pictish were highly artistic—they left behind a number of symbols and carvings on standing stones, buildings and jewellery.
  • They were a culture that believed in magic and superstition—they believed in fairies (called the Aos-si or 'Fair Folk') and in magical creatures such as selkies (half man, half seal), kelpies (water horses), brownies (a type of pixie) and wulvers (men with heads of wolves). 
  • Druids were an important part of Pictish society, and highly respected.
  • When the Picts wed, they did so barefoot and standing outdoors in nature.
Those were just some of the bits and pieces I gleaned during my research, and which I wove into my story. 

Piecing together Pictish culture when we have so little recorded history on them means that an author has to fill in a lot of gaps herself! As there is no existing map to show us what 4th Century Isle of Skye would have looked up, I have delved into the realms of fantasy and created my own—complete with four warring tribes: The People of the Stag, Wolf, Eagle and Boar. Here's the map which appears in BLOOD FEUD.


Grab the first three chapters of BLOOD FEUD for FREE off Instafreebie and see what you think!