Monday, September 16, 2019

SONGBIRD - New SciFi Romance by Liza O'Connor

Five hundred years from now, the necessity of population control and a preference for male children has resulted in a shortage of women. Down from the Appalachian Mountains, comes Tory White, an unusually tall and muscular young woman. Unable to read, she is deceived into signing a lifelong contract as a concubine. Entirely unsuitable for the position, she soon finds herself slotted for the ‘beds,’ where few girls live beyond a month. Yet, her honest and forthright manner charms the head of security into saving her and sets her upon a path in which she becomes the ‘heart’ of the world and the savior of man’s future.


“What has you looking so pensive this morning?” Link asked as he sat down beside her on the grassy hill overlooking the lake.
“Love.” She laughed at his look of concern. She explained the nonsense of the Summers/Hatchet/Smith affair. When she stopped talking, he still looked confused.
“People get married in the mountains?”
“Of course. How else would they keep the farms going? There’s man’s work, woman’s work, and children’s work. And you need all three parts to keep a farm running.”
“Why did you leave there?” he asked. His voice sounded strained as if he was upset that she’d left the mountains. He could probably hear in her words how much she missed her old way of life.
“Well, none of the boys wanted me for their wife. They were willing to take me on their farms, but not respectfully. So, when Leroy come around looking for a partner to sing duets in city clubs, Momma said I should go, for there weren’t nothing for me in the mountains but a future of shame and misery.”
“And you think this will be better?” he asked in surprise.
“No,” she laughed. “This ain’t at all what I thought I’d be doing. I was supposed to be singing for my living, but I ain’t done nothing here but get myself in trouble every time I turn around. I’ll be so happy when this week is out, and I can leave here!” She then paused. “Except, I’ll miss you terribly, Link. I ain’t never met a person ’cept for Gram that I like more.”
She had expected him to smile, for surely, he understood how big a compliment that was. But he didn’t smile. In fact, he looked most upset.
“What do you mean leave?”
“I mean pack my bags and go,” she said. “I’m sorry to sound so ungrateful, because you’ve been awfully nice to me. But beyond you, there isn’t one thing I like about this place. I will be very glad when our contract is up, and Leroy and I can leave. And just so you don’t think I’m some stupid-headed female, the moment Leroy hits the other side of that gate and I get my half of the money, I’m going on my own. Leroy only cares about himself and will sell me out any chance he gets. I see that now, and he’s not pulling this shit on me a second time.”
Link seemed more upset than ever. “Tory, only Leroy is leaving in a week. Your contract is for life.”
“For life? Whose life? Mine? That can’t be! Who would hire a musician for life?”
He shook his head as if trying to make sense of her. “They didn’t hire you as a musician, Tory. You signed on as a concubine.”
“A what?”
“A concubine.”
She’d never heard the word before. “Exactly what does a concubine do?”
He stared at her a moment and then he sighed. “It won’t work. We tape the contract signings to prove the girls are not under duress when they agree to become a concubine. I watched you read that contract word for word, myself. You cannot claim you did not know you were signing on as a concubine.”
She sighed. “Can I trust you with a secret?”
He nodded and reached out and took her hand.
“I can’t read. Girls aren’t taught in the mountains. But Leroy says it’s against the law not to teach girls, and if I told anyone I couldn’t read, they’d go up in the mountains and kill everybody for breaking the law. So, I did like he told me, and looked at each and every block of print for a moment before going on to the next block.”
“Which is why you smiled when you finished it,” he said, as if he finally understood something that had been bothering him.
“It wasn’t easy to stay focused on such a tedious task. I was so relieved when it was over, and I had managed to pull it off so we could work here.”
“As a musician?”
“Yeah, for a month.” She frowned. “I didn’t think he’d lie about the contract because he had to sign one as well. Did he know mine was different than his?”
“Without a doubt. He received three hundred dollars for bringing you here. He knew exactly what you’d be doing for the rest of your life.”
Tory’s frown deepened. “Will I be doing whatever the other girls do?”
“Yes.” He watched her expression.
“They’re concubines?”
He nodded.
“Is that like a waitress?”
She swallowed. “Will you just tell me what I have stupidly signed up for? Because my stomach is starting to go sour.”
Link told her about the three levels of girls. The most pleasing girls were “High Girls” and they entertained important men. Then there were the Common Girls and they entertained regular men. Last, there were the “Low Girls,” and they were sent to the “Beds,” where they were strapped down to a cot, and the worst of men did whatever they wished to them.
“It’s no life at all for a Low and a hard life for the Common girls. The only ones that have any chance of happiness are the High Girls.”
“And who makes the decision as to what level I’ll be?”
“Miss Dunbery.”
“Well, now I know why she smiles every time she looks at the calendar.” Tory sighed.



About the Author
Liza O’Connor

Investigate these sites:
Over 50 books for your reading pleasure
Feel Good Novels
Books range from young adult to mature audiences.
I write them as my characters want them to be written.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A sad loss - Snippet from DAME AUDREY for #WeWriWa #Medieval Romance

Welcome to another Sunday with Weekend Writing Warriors. Meet writers in various genres and read 8-10 sentence snippets of their stories. Find a new author and sample their work. Enjoy!

Last weekend, I had the chance to visit Niagara Falls since my husband was giving a talk at a conference. Here is a view of the bridge and the American falls from Goat Island.

My latest novel, Dame Audrey, released at the end of August, and I’ve been working on two new stories in different series.
For now, I’ll continue snippets from Dame Audrey, my new medieval romance set in fourteenth century England in and around my hometown of Reading.
Audrey has discovered the sheriff’s bailiff, Selwyn Drake, praying in her parish church. St. Mary’s is a twelfth century church in Reading with a distinctive checkered tower.  
Photo by Ron Sanders

I have adjusted the punctuation slightly to fit 8-10 sentences.

     “Good morning, Dame Audrey,” he said, “I trust you have recovered from yesterday’s assault.”
     “The thief didn’t touch me,” glancing at his severe features, I asked,         “Are you visiting the chapel to mourn a friend?” 
     “By Jesu’s bones, you’ve hit the target; I’ve come to offer a prayer for my wife and child. The eve of Saint James’ Feast is the anniversary of her death. Graziella died in giving birth to our stillborn son; at one stroke, I lost my two dearest kin.” 
     “A sad loss indeed; when did you lose your family?”
     “It has been five years.” He passed a hand over his face as if recalling the tragic event, “I didn’t learn of their deaths for many weeks since I was away with Lord William and fighting in the king’s army. The years have passed swiftly, yet my heart is still burdened with guilt.” He sighed and gazed over the altar into the light-filled rose window.

 Dame Audrey

Young widow seeks true love in this vivid Medieval romance with a touch of fantasy.
     In fourteenth century Britain, Dame Audrey cherishes her independence as the widow of a wealthy cloth merchant. But several of the wealthier traders covet her profitable business and she fears they will invoke the Abbot’s authority to compel her to marry a man of their choice. Her worst nightmare is suffering under a cruel husband like the hateful jeweler, Henry Goldsmith, who has threatened to curb her lively spirits.
     Audrey joins a pilgrimage to Glastonbury to pray for guidance. The holy relics give her no inspiration nor do her fellow travelers. On the homeward journey, she aids the dying victim of a brutal robbery. She wins the stranger’s blessing and a gold brooch with a green dragon. Back in her hometown, the faerie brooch attracts trouble from thieves of all ranks and the attentions of a handsome yeoman, Selwyn Drake. As her nightmare looms nearer, she grows desperate to preserve her freedom.
     Can the magic brooch help Audrey evade the schemes to force her into wedlock or must she submit to a husband’s will?

Discounted to 99c for two more weeks: Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay

As always, I’ll be happy to reply to your comments.  
Please return to to sample the works of the other writers.

Find a catalog of my published stories HERE.
Join me on Facebook and Twitter 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

DAME AUDREY - Her Household, Family and Friends in #Medieval Romance


Dame Audrey - Her Household, Family, Friends and Employees

Few people would live alone. Most householders, even the poorest, would have servants. Servants might be either freemen or bondsmen/slaves. Families and neighborhoods were close-knit.
Dame Audrey’s household includes her cousin and companion, Margaret, and her servants, John and Emily Holt and their thirteen-year old son, Alfred. Her young apprentice, Matthew Cornelius, lives in her house, except for holidays when he stays with his parents. Jacob Cornelius serves as Audrey’s steward and runs the trade when she is away. He and his wife, Hanna, are expert weavers from Flanders.
Audrey has a wolfhound called Rufus, and keeps riding horses for herself, Margaret and John and a packhorse. Traveling alone would be improper for a woman and dangerous for anyone. 

Audrey’s widowed mother, Gwen Smith, lives in the village of Pangbourne, about 7 miles from Reading. Gwen has two servants, Elfreda and Kenneth. The local blacksmith in Pangbourne is one of her cousins.

Her sister, Bethany, lives in Redding in the next parish.

Her aunt and uncle, Clementine and Wilfred Woodcote, live by the wharf on the Thames. Wilfred Woodcote is a shipwright. Their sons are William and Colin.

Audrey is friends with Sally, the wife of Edward Faringdon, a mercer. Their children are Philip and Jenna.

Audrey employs the dyers, Roy and Kathleen Kelsey, and the fuller, Nick Fuller, in her cloth trade. 

Her Cloth Shop
This picture from Giovanni Boccaccio's 15th Century book gives an idea of the spinners and weavers at work in Dame Audrey's cloth shop. She might be the well-dressed woman at the top, although as a widow, she would have to wear a wimple and veil in public. 

Find DAME AUDREY at: Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  B&N  GooglePlay