Monday, April 23, 2012

My Scotland ~ Her Castles ~ A Little History by Allison Butler


I find it hard to believe it's been almost nine years since my husband and I travelled to Scotland. For my husband, it was the first trip back to his homeland in thirty-two-years. For me, it was the first trip to the destination of my dreams.

I remember my excitement - I started the countdown a year before our departure date, so had plenty of time for my anticipation to build:) - and armed with my new camera - analogue back then - I took many amazing photos. I'd like to share a few of them with you, along with a little history on things I found fascinating. Please sit back and enjoy ~

We crossed the Border into Scotland on a bright Summer's day ~

Heading west we came upon Gretna Green's Blacksmith's Cottage where many couples still get married ~
We continued on and then...that's when I realised I was no longer dreaming. That's when I laid eyes on my very first real, live Scottish castle -

The gatehouse entrance with its two great drum towers.
Isn't she lovely?
I was in AWE! I took a ridiculous amount of photos - I think we have at least a dozen identical shots to the one above - I refuse to take full responsibility in this matter for my husband stole my new camera from me and took an even more ridiculous amount of photos:)
As you can imagine, Caerlaverock Castle has since held a special place in my heart. Not only because it was the first real, live Scottish castle I ever saw, but because of its formidable beauty and its timeless strength.
Please allow me to share a little history about this medieval fortress ~
The family appear on record in the early twelfth century in Roxburghshire when Maccus, son of Undwin was granted lands by the king. But it was the estate granted to Maccus's grandson, Sir John De Maccuswell, at Caerlaverock about 1220 which was soon adopted as the principal seat of the family and stayed as such for the next four hundred years.
Sir John built the original castle which was situated in the woods to the south of the present castle. Occupied for a short time due to being built too close to the salt marshes of the Solway Firth, only the grassy earthen mound and the occasional stretch of stonework are visible now. The new castle was built 200 meters to the north, more securely founded on rock.  
Caerlaverock Castle From The Air ~ Surrounding the castle are two moats, the outer one now dry, but the inner moat still has a good amount of water lapping at the walls and towers.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Due to its position so close to the Border and with the constant power struggle between England and Scotland, Caerlaverock withstood several sieges and underwent numerous rebuilding's from 1300 until 1640. Depending on its keeper's allegiances, Caerlaverock wavered between being known as an English stronghold or a Scottish stronghold.
Caerlaverock Ruins and Inner Moat
Caerlaverock Inner Court - the heart of every castle - and Nithsdale Lodgings (added about 1634)

Fireplace, Oven and Well
After the 1640 siege, the castle was partially dismantled by the Covenanters and this time fell into decay. Caerlaverock was placed in state care in 1946 and having gained a secure structural reinforcement, visitors today and in the future can be awed - as I was - and learn from its remains.
Caerlaverock West Tower
Thanks for accompanying me as I relive my trip to Scotland. I hope you'll return and enjoy my next treasured memory as I journey on to...Ah, but that's another blog:)
Do you have treasured memories from a particular place you've been? Or do you have a dream destination you'd love to visit?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The City of London.

Because my historical romances are set in London or other parts of England, I am fascinated by the enormous growth of the City of London and its importance throughout history. 
I hope you enjoy learning a little more about the Square Mile which is now only a tiny part of 'Greater London' yet is so famous.

Suzi Love.


The City of London is an area in central London, England, which made up most of London in Medieval times but is now only a small part of ‘Greater London’. It is just over one square mile (1.12 sq mi/2.90 km2) in area, so is referred to as the ‘City’, or the ‘Square Mile’.
Add Borders of the City of London, showing surrounding London boroughs and the pre-1994 boundary (where changed) in red. The area covered by the Inner and Middle Temple is marked.

 It is one of London’s 32 boroughs, alongside the City of Westminster and only has a little over 11,000 residents, although around 316,700 people work there, mainly in financial services. It is England's smallest ceremonial county by area and population and the fourth most densely populated.

City and financial district

In the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre and today it still ranks above New York City as the leading centre of global finance. The legal profession takes up most of the Western area, especially with the Inns of Court in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas, having the Inner Temple and Middle Temple both within the City of London.
Many Roman sites and artefacts can be seen in the City of London today, including the Temple of Mithras, sections of the London Wall (at the Barbican and near the Tower of London), the London Stone and remains of the amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall. The Museum of London, located in the City, holds many of the Roman finds and has permanent Roman exhibitions, as well as being a source of information on Roman London generally.


Borders of the City of London, showing surrounding London boroughs and the pre-1994 boundary (where changed) in red. The area covered by the Inner and Middle Temple is marked.
The City borders Westminster, crosses the Victoria Embankment, passes to the west of Middle Temple, along Strand and north up Chancery Lane, where it borders Camden. It turns east to Holborn Circus, with Baltic Street West as the most northerly boundary and in the south in includes Bishopsgate and Petticoat Lane. The City controls the full span of London Bridge but only half of the river underneath it.
Boundaries are marked by black bollards bearing the City's emblem, and by dragon boundary marks at major entrances e.g. Holborn, with a similar monument at Temple Bar on Fleet Street.

 Dragon statue atop the Temple Bar monument, which marks the boundary between the City and Westminster.

Roman London was established as a trading port by merchants on the tidal Thames around 47 AD but by the time of the construction of the London Wall, the city's fortunes were in decline, with problems of plague and fire. Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and arguably the first king of the 'English', began resettlement of the old Roman walled area in 886 and appointed his son-in-law Earl Æthelred of Mercia over it as part of their reconquest of the Viking occupied parts of England.

  The 1666 Great Fire destroyed nearly 80% of the City.

Map showing the extent of the Great Fire of London.
The 18th century was a period of rapid growth for London, reflecting an increasing national population, the early stirrings of the Industrial Revolution, and London's role at the centre of the evolving British Empire. The urban area expanded beyond the borders of the City of London, most notably during this period towards the West End and Westminster.
By the beginning of the 19th century, London was expanding rapidly in every direction and railways and the Tube allowed it to spread over a greater area. To the East, the Port of London grew when new docks were needed because the Thames at the City could not cope with the volume of trade. In 1894, an attempt was made to amalgamate the City and the surrounding County of London, but it did not succeed so the City elected four members to the unreformed House of Commons, which it retained after the Reform Act 1832 and into the 20th century.
St Paul's Cathedral, 1896.
During World War II, The City was aerial bombed in ‘The Blitz’ and although St Paul's Cathedral survived, large swathes of the City did not and the particularly heavy raids of late December 1940 led to a firestorm called the Second Great Fire of London.
In the decades following the war, there was a major rebuilding programme with modern and larger-scale developments.

They altered the City's urban landscape, although the parts which survived the bombings retained smaller buildings and old character.

The street pattern, which is still largely medieval, was altered slightly in certain places, although there is a more recent trend of reversing some of the post-war modernist changes made, such as at Paternoster Square.

Political and Legal   

The City is a ceremonial county, although it has a Commission of Lieutenancy, headed by the Lord Mayor, instead of a Lord-Lieutenant. Instead of a High Sheriff, two Sheriffs hold quasi-judicial offices and are appointed by the Livery Companies, another ancient political system based on the representation and protection of trades. Senior members of the Livery Companies are known as Liverymen and form a special electorate called the Common Hall and this body chooses the Lord Mayor of the City, the Sheriffs and certain other officers.
The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, has unusual responsibilities, eg. the police authority for the City, and holds ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from, and much older than, the Mayor of London.
The Guildhall - the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City

Numerous Functions of the City 

The City has an independent police force, the City of London Police, and the Common Council is the police authority, while the rest of Greater London is policed by the Metropolitan Police Service from New Scotland Yard.

The Corporation owns and runs both the Smithfield and Leadenhall Markets  and a number of locations beyond the boundaries of the City, which include parks, forests and commons eg most of Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and many public spaces in Northern Ireland through The Honourable The Irish Society.

It also owns Old Spitalfields Market and Billingsgate Fish Market, both of which are within the neighbouring London Borough of Tower Hamlets, owns and helps fund the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court for England and Wales, as a gift to the nation, it having begun as the City and Middlesex Sessions.
In 1123, the only hospital, St Bartholomews at Smithfield, was founded. Known as 'Barts', the hospital is undergoing a long-awaited regeneration.

The City is the third largest UK funding-patron of the arts. It oversees the Barbican Centre and subsidises several important performing arts companies.

The Corporation is The Port of London's health authority, includes the handling of imported cargo at London Heathrow airport, oversees the running of the Bridge House Trust which maintains five key bridges in central London, London Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Millennium Bridge. The City's flag flies over Tower Bridge, although neither footing is in the City.
Mansion House - the official residence of the Lord Mayor

Former Lord Mayor of London John Stuttard during the Lord Mayor's parade of 2006

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Historical Hearts Good News

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you are having a wonderful time however you are celebrating the Easter long weekend. And to carry on the celebrations I thought to post the latest Good News from our Historical Hearts members. So without further ado we congratulate...

Annie Seaton who's contemporary romance
Holiday Affair
From Entangled Publishing

Has hit NUMBER 1 on the Amazon Bestsellers list for New Releases!!!
And just to prove it (not that we have to of course)
here is a screen shot from Amazon.
Congratulations Annie!! We're all over the moon for you.
You can read more of Annie's path to publication by clicking here.

Maggi Andersen has a new book trailer for
A Baron in Her Bed

Available September 2012
From Knox Robinson Publishing
You can see the book trailer by clicking here.

Christina Phillips has dipped her toe in the
self-publishing pool and has released
Touch of the Demon

the first in her new Sensual Seduction Series.
Touch of the Demon is a 10k erotic paranormal romance
and is available from Smashwords and Amazon for only $0.99
You can also view the book trailer by clicking here.

Here is the blurb to wet your appetite:

Dark angel Rafe travels back in time to destroy the woman who is fated to bring untold chaos to the cosmos. Instead, he finds Celeste, a child of the Earth Goddess, who is sworn to protect the one Rafe seeks. He mistakes her for his quarry, but an irresistible attraction prevents him from taking her soul. And although Celeste holds the one weapon capable of banishing Rafe from Earth forever, she's unable to deny the overwhelming desire to possess this creature from hell. They come together in a frenzy of passion, each believing they are changing destiny by their actions. But when the Earth Goddess appears they discover her plans are more far reaching than either had imagined.

Anne Brear's latest release
To Take Her Pride

Has hit NUMBER 2 on the Amazon UK
Bestsellers list for free Historical.
And NUMBER 5 on the Amazon US
Bestsellers list for Historical.
Congratulations Anne!! Fabulous News!!!

And last but certainly not least
Tamara Gill now has a fabulous cover for her
upcoming Regency romance novella
A Marriage Made in Mayfair

Available soon from Decadent Publishing.
Congratulations Tamara!! It is beautiful!!!

Well, that's all our good news for the week.
Again Happy Easter and stay safe this holiday weekend.
Historical Hearts

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When should the hero walk through the door?

There was a discussion on an e-loop some time ago that I'm apart of, debating when a hero should make an appearance in a story. Hmmm. Good question.

For me, because I write single title, my hero sometimes doesn't show up for two or three chapters. And contemporary writer friends have mentioned, for their market, the hero needs to be there from the get go.

Now, this is all very well, but I read a book some weeks back, (a medieval romance) and it had me confused. Very confused.

The hero, and I'm not exaggerating, appeared for the first time on page 231 (chapter ten!) after the heroine had already married twice and both husbands had died.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the book and finished it, but the second husband seemed really nice and I could see the relationship (if the author allowed) could blossom into a romance of the greatest kind. But oh no dear reader. Don't get too comfortable with him, the author thought.
And I started to wonder if this would happen again? Well, I actually prayed it wouldn't. I mean, how many men were we going to get to know in this book? Would the bride out-live this husband too?  :o And to top it all off, the man she does love and 'IS' the hero, is very unlikable. And of course by this time, being near the end of the book, he didn't have very long to redeem himself. ARGH
It was all very confusing and I'm still (obviously I'm writing about it) confused by the novel.

So, when do your hero's enter the stories you write. From the get go? Or chapter ten? Or, for the readers out there, when do you like to see the hero appear in the books you buy? For me, I don't mind holding out a chapter or two, any more than that and I start to get impatient.

Happy reading and writing everyone.
Note: This post first appeared Oct 2010 @