New Reader Discussion Groups

I’ve finally created two reader discussion groups on Facebook, where we can chat about my books.

Making Medieval Magic Facebook discussion group for Claire Delacroix medieval romances
Making Medieval Magic
is a place to talk about my Claire Delacroix medieval romances.

Dragon Warriors Facebook reader discussion group for Deborah Cooke paranormal romances
Dragon Warriors
is a place to talk about my Deborah Cooke paranormal romances, which pretty much all feature dragon shapeshifters.

You’re welcome to join either or both groups, and participate in the discussions there. There is a signed print book giveaway in each forum to get things started, so please stop by!

New Editions

This year, I’m doing a big update to my book files, in both digital and print formats. I promised to keep you up to date on my progress, so here’s an update.

The Rose Red Bride, book #2 in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixThere are new versions uploaded to all portals of The Jewels of Kinfairlie series. You can easily identify the new versions because the books have new covers.

They were published in July, so have perked through everywhere. The last update was made to Overdrive last week, and the changes are live there, as well.

The Last Highlander, a Scottish time travel romance by Claire DelacroixThere are also new versions published of my time travel romances. In addition to having updated end matter and reader letters, these books have had another editorial pass. Please download the new editions!

You can tell them from the previous editions because they now have only one excerpt at the end. (The last edition had two excerpts at the end of each book.) Also, for the Amazon editions, the clickable Table of Contents has been moved to the front of the digital book. The print editions are updated as well and available through Ingrams. These books had been in KDP Select earlier this year—they’re now available in wide distribution, including Overdrive for libraries.

Next up: The Coxwells, which are getting an update, and The Prometheus Project, which are getting new covers and an update, too.

The Snow White Bride on Sale

The Snow White Bride, third in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixMy medieval Scottish romance, The Snow White Bride, is on sale for just 99 cents at most online portals through the 30th of the month.

The Laird of Kinfairlie has helped his sisters, each a gem in her own right, to find husbands. Now the laird himself seeks to wed, and pins his hopes on The Snow White Bride.

Lady Eleanor knows better than to dream of romance and love. Married twice to secure her father’s alliances, she has learned that she is desirable only for her fortune. When the Laird of Kinfairlie’s sisters ask her to wed their brother, Alexander, Eleanor agrees, expecting only to save herself from danger.

But Alexander is like no man she’s known before, a man more interested in courting her smile than her obedience, a man who values her counsel as much as her newly awakened passion…and a man unaware that Eleanor is the key to a fortune that could ensure the future of
everything he holds dear.

Now, ruthless enemies will stop at nothing to secure Eleanor’s capture. Will she dare to trust her new husband before it’s too late for her, for Alexander, and for Kinfairlie?

“Delacroix provides an excellent end to a terrifically captivating series.”
Booklist

USA Today Bestseller

A #1 Kindle Bestseller

Buy The Snow White Bride Now
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The Beauty Bride, first book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

The Snow White Bride is the third book in my Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy—remember that book #1, The Beauty Bride, is free.

The digital bundle, The Jewels of Kinfairlie Boxed Set, is discounted to $5.99 through the 30th, as well.

Remember also that this entire series is available in audio.

RCMP Musical Ride

This month, Mr. Math and I have done a few road trips, including one to see the RCMP Musical Ride.

The RCMP Musical Ride travels around Canada each year (and to other countries, too) to perform as a fundraiser for communities, and also to recruit for the RCMP. We saw the Musical Ride a few years ago for the first time, and were excited to have the opportunity to see it again.

There are 32 horses and riders in the Musical Ride, and they perform a number of routines in time to music. The horses are bred and raised for the RCMP in Pakenham, Ontario, and they are truly lovely creatures. They’re bred to be black and about the same size. The riders are all RCMP officers, who do a two-year tour of duty with the ride before returning to their commissions.

It’s tough to take pictures of horses on the move, but here are my attempts!

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

The 32 horses break often into groups of 8.

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

One of the things that I really didn’t manage to photograph well was the maple leaf on the right hip of each horse. It’s not a brand, but is done with a stencil and a paintbrush, brushing the hair against the grain. It catches the light. You can just barely see one on the second horse in the line on the right.

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

The Musical Ride shows the origins of the RCMP as a cavalry police force. That’s why they have the lances and pennants.

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

This is the “dome”, which used to be illustrated on the back of the Canadian $50 bill.

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

They do a lot of wonderful precision riding which photographs poorly but is amazing to watch, like pinwheels, cartwheels and threading the needle. There are aerial shots and videos of the various formations performed by the Musical Ride on their website, right hereThe RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

Here is the company after the cavalry charge—you can see that (once again!) we made the strategic error of sitting on the opposite side of the arena from the VIP seating. We were able to photograph many horse bums.:-)

 

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

After the performance, the horses are brought to the perimeter of the arena. The officers answer questions and the horses gather some affection from the crowd. This is Venus, ridden by Cst. Tracy Aube:

The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

And this is Sherif, ridden by Cst. Leslie Goode. He was loving the attention! He bent down right away for the girls and was leaning into their pats on his forehead.
The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

Here’s a perfect pose!
The RCMP Musical Ride, photographed by Deborah Cooke

It was a wonderful evening, and we’ll probably go to see the Ride again. The schedule for the RCMP Musical Ride is on their website, right here, and the current horses and riders are listed on their site, right here.

Castle Keyvnor Character Cards

Henry Beck, hero of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Elizabeth Essex, included in the Regency romance anthology, VexedAva Stone has been creating some wonderful character cards for the heroes, heroines and even the ghosts who appear in the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor series of Regency romance novellas. Because I think they’re so wonderful, I’m collecting them in a gallery here on my site.

Here’s the gallery of character cards. I’ll be updating the page as Ava reveals new cards, so be sure to check back.

And, if you’re planning to attend the Historical Romance Readers’ Retreat, coming up in September, you’ll want to find Ava Stone, Elizabeth Essex and/or Deb Marlowe. They’ll have printed versions of the cards – collecting the whole set won’t be so easy, as some will be rare.:-)

That Koigu Yarn

A few weeks ago, Koigu yarns had their first-ever tent sale. I didn’t even know about it, until my editor mentioned it—after I’d talked about the sale at Spinrite. I’ve never knit with Koigu yarn because their colours are so beautiful that I can never choose.

Koigu Yarns

Also, I picked up a new-to-me knitting magazine and fell in love with one of the patterns included. It’s an Interweave publication called knit.wear, which has beautiful photography. The pattern from the Spring/Summer 2016 edition is called Katherine. They don’t show it on their site, but here’s a Ravelry link.

It’s a strange thing that I seldom have the yarn I need for a pattern or a good substitute in my stash. You’d think that as a stash got larger, it would be possible to knit anything from it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Koigu KPPPM (it turned out) looked like a perfect substitute for the specified yarn. (See the fortuitous timing? This is how the universe encourages and enables the building of stash.)

I was curious to see where Koigu paint their yarns because I love to see where it all happens. (They don’t raise their own sheep any more.) Mr. Math was up for a road trip, so we packed a picnic and away we went.

The yarns were every bit as beautiful as I remembered from seeing them in stores, but at the sale, I found it easier to choose. In stores, they tend to hang the skeins on hooks to display them, or pile them into cubbies. They might be sorted by dominant tone or not. I always find the riot of colour a bit overwhelming. At the tent sale, however, they had the yarn packed up in clear bags, each bag containing all of a dye lot—usually 20 skeins. (There was a discounted price if you bought all of a dye lot.) Because there were “bricks” of colour stacked on the shelves, I found it much easier to hone in on my favourites.

Koigu KPPPM

Still, I had two favourites.:-) Mr. Math reminded me that we’d had a bit of a drive to get there and advised me to buy them both, so I did. (It’s true—I don’t need that much encouragement.)

Here they are. Those who handpaint and dye yarn always say it’s easier to see how the colourway will knit up if you cake it, so I caked one of each for comparison. I had wanted either a red mix or a grey mix—turns out I have both.

I’m itching to cast on and start knitting with these beauties (still, I have to choose between them somehow!) but am determined to finish another project first. I’ve never knit so fast on anything as I’m knitting on that Bohus sweater right now!

 

Something Wicked…

Spellbound, a Regency romance anthology by Claire Delacroix, Jane Charles and Claudia DainMy novella, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is part of The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor collection. This series of twelve novellas which take place during the same week at the same estate are being published digitally in four volumes. My story will be included in the anthology Spellbound. This is my first Regency-set story and it was a lot of fun to write—and also pretty awesome that I had so much help from my fellow authors in getting the details right.

All four anthologies are available for pre-order now, and they all go on sale September 20. You can read about the series right here, or you can read an excerpt from Something Wicked… right here.

There will be a longer excerpt available for download from my Selz store and also included in my newsletter next week.

Buy Spellbound now!

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Bohus Inspired Pullover

It’s been an interesting week for knitting in my little corner of the world, so I thought I’d share a bit about that today.

Vogue Knitting Winter 2015/2016For a while now, I’ve been working on a pullover from Vogue Knitting’s winter 2015/2016 issue, a Bohus-inspired pullover. (If you’re on Ravelry, here’s the magazine issue and here’s the sweater.) It was on the cover, and was pretty much the reason I bought the magazine. What intrigued me about the sweater was the fit. It didn’t look like an Icelandic sweater with a round yoke, but like it had more of a straight yoke. Icelandic sweaters fit men really well IMO but often look puffy on women. This one looked sleek. It also used Bohus design elements. I have a Bohus kit (Vildapplet cardigan, right here) but am a bit daunted by it. Bohus style sweaters use multiple colours of yarn in a row (three or even four) and also purl stitches on the right side. They also are worked on tiny needles in colours that gradually shade into others, so I thought this VK sweater in a larger gauge would be good practice.

I didn’t have the yarn specified, so I dipped into my stash to look for options in that weight. I found my Rowan members’ yarn pack, which was three balls of Felted Tweed, one in Avocado, one in Bilberry and one in Watery. Hmm. The Avocado would work for the Leafy Palm: the Watery for Caspian, and I used the Bilberry for both the Oxblood and the Mecca. (I thought about adding a fourth colour, but couldn’t find one that I liked with the others.) What about the white and grey? I’ve knit Felted Tweed with Colourspun several times, which works out to be a nice squishy combination, plus Colourspun has been discontinued. (Boo.) This was a chance to make another sweater in that yarn before it’s gone forever. I bought Colourspun in Semer Water for the charcoal grey, and in Winterburn for the white. These two shades of grey are much closer together than the white and grey used in the pattern, but Bohus is known for its blending of colours so I figured I had that covered.

This is a top-down sweater, so the cast-on is at the neck. One good thing about top-down sweaters knitted in the round is that it’s easy to try them on as you go—just put the stitches on a thread and tug the sweater on.

There has been goofiness with this one, which is why you haven’t seen it yet even though I’ve been knitting since April. I’ve knit the yoke three times. The first time, I missed the purl stitches on the schematic and had just knit them, so I frogged back. The second time, I made the L size, because I wanted a nice sloppy sweater, but the yoke ended up being enormous. I tried it on, then had Mr. Math pinch back the yoke from behind me until it looked right in the mirror. Then I counted the repeats to take out. It turned out I needed to knit the smallest size in the yoke, so I knit it again. My gauge is slightly off—instead of getting 21 stitches in 4 inches, I’m getting 20. I like the fabric and don’t want it to be stiffer by using smaller needles. The thing is that over 200+ stitches, that little difference adds up.

I like the colours a lot, but it is a round yoke.

VK_Bohus2

I’d expected it to be more like a Bohus sweater yoke, which isn’t a complete circle when flat. Here’s a Bohus yoke photographed flat in the Swedish Bohus Museum, so you can see what I mean. I’ve seen other Bohus yokes that are closer to 3/4 of a circle, but they’re seldom fully round—When people photograph the pullover yokes, the knitting pulls up into a cone closer to the neck, rather than lying flat. That’s why Bohus sweaters tend to fit women well through the shoulders. We’ll talk more about Bohus sweaters when I get mine a little further along and post about it. I’d like to finish that yoke before showing it to you. (Right now, it’s about 1″ deep!)

So, this pullover going to fit a lot like a round yoke Icelandic sweater, when all is said and done. It looks like an Icelandic sweater in most of the finished projects on Ravelry, too. I’m resigned to the good chance of it being puffy, but because I do like the colours and the yarn, I’m carrying on.

VK_bohus1
The purl stitches look quite neat, and they blur the transitions between the colours in true Bohus style. I also like the slight variegation in the Colourspun. There are little bits of colour in the dark grey as well that don’t show up in the photo—a bit of blue, a bit of purple—and they pull it all together very well. Now that I’m into the plain knitting, it’s going much more quickly. I’ve divided for the arms and am working down the body, and will show you more soon.

I’m already thinking about the hems and the neck—the pattern has ribbing on the hems, but I might just let them roll. It also has the ribbed neck knitted separately and sewn on, which is unusual. I had thought about casting on with the ribbing at the neck (at the very top!), but I’m not sure I want it as tall as in the pattern. It’s good to be able to try it on to decide, but I’m concerned about the join showing. I’ll probably pick up the stitches, knit up and hope for the best.

I have no idea how I ended up knitting this warm fuzzy beast in the hottest summer I can remember, but there you go.

I also finished an afghan in the last couple of weeks. I was determined to get it off my needles. It was another bulky project that was crazy for me to knit in the summer. This was the Rowan knit-a-long mystery afghan by Martin Storey, which I started in 2014. There’s a blog post here about the beginning of the KAL, and another one about my progress here. I designed my own border for it, and had to knit it in a contrasting colour since I ran out of the variegated yarn. It’s been waiting on that border to be finished for a while. The variegated yarn proved to be a bad choice, even though it was in my stash, since the different stitch combinations on the blocks meant that the colours pooled in different ways on different blocks. Oh well. (Interestingly enough, the pooling is much more evident in this pic than in real life.) I’m glad it’s done, and there’s 5 lbs less of Patons Decor in my stash. It’s now in the car and The New Girl loves it, so all ends well.

Rowan Martin Storey KAL afghan knitted by Deborah Cooke

I also had a little yarn excursion this week. I bent a set of my steel DPN’s—I’ll show you how I did that one day soon—so went to Spinrite to get another set. Lo and behold, it was their tent sale. I managed to avoid being swept into the madness and only bought a couple of things in addition to a new set of needles.

tentsale1

The Patons Classic Wool at the top left is for my mom. She knits kids’ mittens for charity in the winter, and I thought she’d like these colours. (The colourway is called Kimono.) The Kroy socks is for the pair of Aran knee socks I’ve always meant to knit (and maybe now I will.) The two skeins of red are B&L Tuffy, for a new pair of winter socks for Mr. Math. The three balls of red are (I think) Bernat Roving out of the seconds bin, and I’ll make a hood and scarf for myself out of that yarn. I have no idea what the lime green is. I’m always intrigued by thick and thin yarn and I liked the colour of these seconds, but I’m not sure what I’ll knit with it. I tend not to like thick and thin yarn knitted up, but we’ll see. There should be enough for a scarf.

What have you been crafting lately?

The Crusader’s Handfast Pre-Order

The Crusader's Handfast, #5 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixA pilgrimage to Jerusalem with her mistress has left the maid Radegunde determined to live every moment to the fullest. She dreads the return to routine and her inevitable marriage to a reliable man, so convinces the warrior Duncan to make merry with her while their respective masters linger in Paris. Dancing and singing are not the sole revels in Radegunde’s plans, for she means to taste passion with this man who snared her attention in Venice. Duncan is convinced his own heart is lost forever, but Radegunde’s allure cannot be denied. When he surrenders to her seduction, Duncan suggests a handfast, knowing that even this honor is far less than she deserves. Radegunde, however, is not interested in half-measures, and resolves to win Duncan’s love, no matter what the cost. Will she succeed in her quest? Or will their paths part forever, and do as much too soon?

Reader Letter from The Crusader’s Handfast

Read an excerpt from The Crusader’s Handfast.

In what order should you read the Champions of Saint Euphemia books? Here’s the blog post on that.

The whole story – coming October 18, 2016

Pre-order available at these portals:

 Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Kobo Buy at Amazon.ca Buy at Amazon.co.uk Buy at Amazon.de