Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New! The Girl by the River

My new short story, The Girl by the River, releases today! I wrote this as a gift to readers of The Lady and the Minstrel, but I hope that people who haven't read that romantic historical novel yet will enjoy this short story prequel scene too.



Seven years before Robert and Marguerite fell in love in The Lady and the Minstrel, they had a brief, fateful encounter at a river’s edge. Now you can read exactly how that scene unfolded in The Girl By the River.

With only the clothes on his back and a few belongings, lowly serf Robert tries to escape from the lord who would have him killed, but he doesn't get far before he's trapped between the river's edge and a pack of hounds hot on his trail. Robert's only hope is to swim across the river, but the water will destroy his most precious possession. Can he risk losing his life to protect the one thing he prizes most? Frozen with indecision, with time running out, he stumbles across a ten-year-old girl also hiding among the reeds. Can the child help him, or will he die protecting her as well?

The Girl by the River is a 3300 word short story.

You can download your FREE copy of The Girl by the River by clicking here. (This Books2Read link will allow you to choose the digital bookseller of your choice. The story may show up as $0.99 on Amazon, but I'm working on making it free there too, so keep checking back or contact Amazon to let them know you've found it for free on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo and ask them to price match.)

UPDATE: The Girl by the River is now FREE on Amazon too!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Happy Anniversary, Heléne and Gunthar!



My sweet medieval romance, Loyalty's Web, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year! The Earl of Gunther wants to celebrate by giving his wife, Heléne, some gifts. What do you think he should give her? Visit my Facebook page by clicking here and post an idea in the comments. Just remember to keep it medieval! (And clean. :-) )

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Can you help me with a survey?

It's so easy to get lost in the creative part of writing (you know, the part I love the best!) that I sometimes forget I need to pause and take off my writer's hat . . .






. . . and replace it with my business hat.





The days are long gone for most authors when they can spend all their time writing book after book and let someone else (like a publisher) worry about nitty-gritty things like marketing and sales.
Yeah, so I'm not so good at all those "business" parts. That's why I recently signed up for a 12 week course sponsored by my church called "Starting and Growing My Business for Self-Reliance."
The weekly lessons emphasize the importance of building our business on spiritual foundations and introduces us to some of the important basics that will help a small business venture succeed.


I'm only on our second lesson and I have an assignment to research "customers" and "business owners" in my field. I smiled when I saw that and realized, "Those are readers and other authors!" So I'm wondering if some of you would be willing to help me out with this lesson? 

If you're a reader, I've prepared a survey with a few basic questions about your book buying habits. (I know, I know, authors are readers too, but I have a separate survey for authors to fill out.)

If you're an author, I've prepared a survey with some questions about how you run your business as an author: what formats you publish in, how do you choose your prices, etc.

Can you help me out? If you're a reader please click here to take the readers survey. If you're an author, please click here to take the author survey. (Indie and traditional authors are both welcome.)

To thank you for your time, I've included a link at the end of each survey to enter a giveaway for a chance to win a $10 gift card to your choice of Amazon/B&N/iTunes, so be sure to click on the link when you finish the survey.

The only catch is, I need you to fill out the survey by 11:59 pm, Tuesday, July 25 so I can compile the results on Wednesday to take to my class on Thursday. I'll continue to leave both surveys up if you want to take them later than Tuesday, but that's when the gift card giveaway will close.

Thank you so much! I hope you have fun with the surveys and I truly appreciate your help if you can give it!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday Teaser

So you remember that "medieval ghost story" I started writing clear back in 2015? Yeah. I got two whole chapters written before it kind of fell off my radar while I dove into medieval Venice and Nick and Giacinta's story instead. This whole process has been very odd for me. I usually pick a story and write straight through until I finish a draft, but somehow it's not working out that way this time. Nick and Gia told me they need a bit of a break. Not from each other, thankfully, but some space to let their story "gel in my head" a little bit. So while it's gelling and I'm waiting to start typing out their story again, I've decided to return to my medieval "ghost story" . . . which I guess I should confess upfront isn't really a ghost story, but don't tell my hero, Alric, that. It will completely spoil the lesson Mariel is trying to teach him!

I shared some previous Summary Sunday snippets from their story with you here and here. Since it's Tuesday, I thought I'd update you with a Tuesday Teaser from a new chapter I began last week.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envisioning the test she had set before him had been easy. Plotting and planning the details had helped divert her from the pain of his betrayal through the long days and nights when it had lain so fresh on her heart. A heart she had spent six weeks turning to stone so that no man could ever break it again. But when she had seen Alric fall to his knees in the road, when she had heard him weeping . . . Suddenly a resolve to prove and punish had quivered into a small thread of hope that perhaps—just perhaps—she could do for him in death what she had not been able to do in life.    


Friday, June 16, 2017

Celebrating fathers in real life and fiction

Sunday is Father's Day and I couldn't let the day pass without expressing my love for fathers.

Here's a picture of my dad as a little boy at his Catholic confirmation.


His parents were immigrants from Italy, but my dad refused to learn Italian because he wanted to be "all American." Here's a picture of him as an even smaller boy with his parents and older sister.


Here's my dad (left) grown up with his father.


And here's my dad being a dad, with my brother and sister. (I wasn't born yet.)


Here's a picture of my dad feeding the ducks, just because I remember how he liked to take us to feed the ducks when we were kids, so this picture makes me happy. :-)



My dad wasn't perfect. He had his share of faults, as we all do. But I love him for choosing to be my father and for sticking it out through both good and hard times. He passed away in 2002 and, like my mom, I miss him.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Celebrating Fathers in Fiction

I wanted to do something special for Father's Day this year, so I gathered some author friends together and we've put together a Fathers in Fiction giveaway! This is a multi-genre giveaway, so every title may not be in your favorite genre, but there should be something for everyone. Each one of these FREE titles includes a father or father-figure as a major or minor character.  In addition, the authors are giving away 8 $10 gift cards ($80 value) to winners' choice to Amazon, B&N, or iTunes.


We're holding our giveaway on My Book Cave where every book is rated. This way you'll know exactly what content is included in the books and there won't be any unexpected surprises. (This is why I love My Book Cave!)

The Fathers in Fiction giveaway runs through June 25. Click here to check it out and please invite your friends!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday Teaser

Here's another excerpt from Giacinta's new Chapter 1. I've had a terrible struggle trying to picture medieval Italian architecture for this story. It's all so different from the castles I'm used to describing in England and France. It's taken a very long time for the architectural design that was apparently common to nearly all Venetian houses to begin to click in my brain, but little by little I think I'm getting the idea. 

(Speaking of pictures, I actually drew a very rough one imagining what the the portego--1st floor--of Giacinta's house might have looked like.  I thought about sharing it with you, but it's soooo rough I haven't had the courage. Maybe I can neaten it up at some point and share it with you here. We'll see.)

I don't think I've described the portego very well in my story so far, but hopefully it'll get better in revisions. Just do your best to imagine the portego for now in this little excerpt.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Torchlight beckoned her from the T-shaped end of the long hall of the portego. It was left burning all night to allow the illusion that the household of Saverio de Luzio never slept. They did, of course, behind the doors to the chambers that framed both sides of the portego, but her father’s fabrication stood a symbol of her ancestors’ industry that had raised them from simple salt farmers to one of the wealthiest merchant families of Venice. Giacinta passed her father’s chamber and Amadio’s and the others to go gaze through the bank of tall, arching windows that overlooked the canal. Even from the height of this second floor, the torchlight cast small yellow pools against the dark rippling water.
Where would you take me if I let you carry me to the mysteries that lie beyond our city where my father goes, those tantalizing points on the maps that Amadio is such a laggard to learn?
She sighed, turned away, and walked back to Amadio’s chamber, two doors down from her own.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuesday Teaser

It's nearly inevitable with a writer like me. I tried outlining a book in advance once, but it proved to be a dismal failure. My characters ran off and told an entirely different story and turned all my outlining into a tremendous waste of time. Ever since then, I've just jotted down a few ideas of character and plot to get me started, then started writing and let my characters take me where they wanted to go.

The downside of this writing method is that sometimes my characters don't tell me things in the first draft until I'm several chapters into the story, then they force me to go back and rewrite the beginning before I can push on through the rest of the story. That's what happened with Nick & Gia's story last week. I thought I was happily writing away on Chapter 12 when Giacinta suddenly revealed some new information to me, and now I'm back writing a brand new Chapter 1 just to please her!

Here's an excerpt from Giacinta's new chapter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 “Donato is only a baker, but he says he loves me madly and will knead his fingers to the bone to keep me richly gowned and our table laden with all of the delicacies he imagines must grace the kitchen of a man as rich as Saverio de Luzio, the silk merchant.”
In truth, they dined simply more days than not, especially when her father was on one of his trading ventures. But when he was home and had guests he wished to impress, he loaded his table with foods strewn with exotic spices, and dressed his daughter and son in lavish attire. Giacinta was glad he was gone more months than he was home.

 “I do not think Papa cares for love, though. I mean, not for me,” Giacinta added hurriedly, so as not to offend her mother. “You know how Papa is. I do not mind. I do not care for love either, not since Francesco died.” She shifted her gaze away from the bright star called Venere, scanning the shimmer of lights in the blue-black canopy of the heavens. Curious she had never found a star to remind her of Francesco. She supposed she still carried his memory too deeply in her heart to let him free.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Welcome to the May FREE For All & Giveaway Event



May 8-12, 2017!

Click to download these romance reads.

Thank you for being loyal readers! To show their appreciation, your favorite authors have come together to offer a book for FREE. Download one or all. Maybe you'll find your next favorite author.


Please note: all sales are limited time offers.
Don't have a Kindle? Don't worry. Read with the FREE Kindle App.

**Please note: these books may not be free on other Amazon sites and many of these books are free for a limited time only.**



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday Teaser

I fell off the Tuesday Teaser wagon for a bit...I do that sometimes. Sorry! Let's give it another go-round. Here's a new teaser from Nick & Gia's story. (Yes, I'm still working on it. Slow and steady will hopefully win this race...eventually!)

Did I mention that the hero of Courting Cassandry, Gerolt de Warrenne, plays a part in this story when he was a young man? Here are a few paragraphs of him getting into mischief with his friend, Samson, in medieval Venice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Caution dissipated as Gerolt found the first handholds and pulled himself up. He expected the path to be easier, given Samson’s dexterity, but the bricks were not always where Gerolt thought they should be. Perhaps because his limbs were so much longer than Samson’s, he kept misjudging their placement. Di Luzio had not been much above Samson’s height, so the distance between the bricks had undoubtedly been chosen for the natural length of his body.

Gerolt tried to think “shorter”, but soon he felt a wild giddiness rushing through his brain. It’s the wine, he thought, hitting me at last. He glanced down, startled for a moment to see how far below him lay the shadows of the garden. He had stood on the soaring parapets of his father’s castle and looked out over land and people grown curiously small, but he had never hung in the air like this, so exposed, so helpless should his grip slip. Would he plummet into a bramble bush or would he hit the hard earth at the bottom of those shadows? Would the fall bruise, or had he climbed high enough to break a few bones? Or my back? Or my neck?

He bit off a euphoric laugh. It is the wine. It has made a fool out of you. Yet as he scrambled for the next brick and the next, he thought he had never felt so blazingly alive as he did scaling this gloriously precarious wall.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Get Lost in Time with Historical Fiction


Some author friends and I have banded together to create the Lost in Time with Historical Fiction Giveaway, running now through April 19th. We're giving away FOUR $10 gift cards ($40 value) to Amazon, B&N, or iTunes (winner's choice). And while you're entering for the gift cards, you can browse 12 historical fiction ebook titles (all PG-13 or lower rated) and download any or all of them for FREE in exchange for signing up for the authors newsletters. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time, but maybe you'll want to stick around and learn more about them.

My romantic historical novel, The Lady and the Minstrel, is one of the selections, so if you've been wanting to grab a copy, here's your chance to get it FREE. 


This giveaway only runs through April 19th. To check out the Lost in Time with Historical Fiction Giveaway and enter for a chance at one of FOUR $10 gift cards, click here.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hug a Medievalist Day ~ Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of my Hug a Medievalist Day giveaway!

Melissa K won the illustrated copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and map.

Julie P won the autographed copy of my medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart.

Thank you to everyone who entered and helped me celebrate Hug a Medievalist Day 2017. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hug a Medievalist Day giveaways!

March 31 is International Hug a Medievalist Day and I want to share it with you with not one, but TWO giveaways, and a book sale! (Click here to read an interview with the creator of Hug a Medievalist Day.)



(Have you hugged a medievalist today?)

Prize 1 is a two-pack prize: an illustrated copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales plus a replica of a hand-drawn map of the pilgrims' route to Canterbury, which I picked up at this year's Arizona Renaissance Festival.

This giveaway is available to USA residents only. If you're international, check out my next giveaway below. (If the Rafflecopter form doesn't show up, just click on the link that says "a Rafflecopter giveaway")





















SaveSave

a Rafflecopter giveaway

OFFICIAL RULES: NO PURCHASE NECESSSARY. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Deadline to enter is April 5, 2017. Winners will be selected on April 6, 2017 and have 48 hours to respond to an email notifying them of their win. OPEN TO USA ENTRIES ONLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Questions? Contact me at jdipastena@yahoo.com.

Prize 2: An autographed PRINT copy of my medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart. (This is marked Book 2 in my Poitevin Hearts romance series, but can be read as a standalone novel. If you've downloaded a copy of Loyalty's Web in one of my recent giveaways though, you might want to read that one first, but it isn't necessary to enjoy Illuminations of the Heart.)



(Click on the book cover to read a summary of the book)


Autographed copies will be sent to USA residents only, but if you're international you can still win! I'll send you a print copy via Amazon Global -- it just won't be autographed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

OFFICIAL RULES: NO PURCHASE NECESSSARY. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Deadline to enter is April 5, 2017. Winners will be selected on April 6, 2017 and have 48 hours to respond to an email notifying them of their win. OPEN TO USA AND INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES ONLY ON THE CONDITIONS DESCRIBED ABOVE. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Questions? Contact me at jdipastena@yahoo.com.

Finally, I'm also holding a $0.99 sale of my medieval romance, Courting Cassandry, March 29 - April 4, so if you've been wanting to grab a copy on sale, this is your chance.



(Click on the book cover to read a summary)

Click here to be directed by Books2Read to the bookseller of your choice for a $0.99 copy of Courting Cassandry.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday Teaser

Here's a new Tuesday Teaser from Nick & Gia's story for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Sir,” she said quickly, “I assure you that we are but—”

“Brother and sister, cousins” —the man cut her off, a thread of laughter in his voice— “he is clearly too young to be your uncle.” He waved a hand that looked gloved in the air. “It is no concern of mine, signorina. I will leave you and your . . . ‘brother’ to resume your amusements, then. Buona notte!”

He strolled past them, his cloak rustling on the breeze as he whistled a light tune into the enveloping darkness.

Amadio muttered, “I warned you in the tavern that men would mistake you for a—”

She whirled on him. “Do not say that word with my name. If you had stayed home as I ordered you, I would not be so humiliated.”

“It was reckless of you to follow me, and unnecessary, as well. What, did you think Il Cavaliere Scarlatto had abducted me? I would like to see him try!”