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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Rumpled Rhett by Rachel Rossano 💕 Guest Post, Book Tour & $15 Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Medieval Fairy Tale Retelling)



But can he protect her when enemies from his past catch up to him?
Rhett is a Huntsman, skilled, secretive, and mysterious. A wanted man, he spends his life on the move. His sole retreat is the outskirts of an isolated village in the northern reaches of the duchies. Then one fall, he arrives to find his hovel burned to the ground and the village reeve offering a new arrangement.

Catherine knows her father, the village miller, only cares about what she can bring him. The latest scheme of marrying her to the Huntsman is not the miller’s first attempt to sell her. Cat’s dread wanes when she meets the Huntsman. There is something honorable about him, and he treats her with respect, unlike her father or brother. Perhaps she can escape her father’s influence forever.

Despite his suspicions, Rhett agrees to the deal and frees Cat from her father’s tyranny, at least for a time. But can he protect her when enemies from his past catch up to him?

Inspired by Rumpelstiltskin.


How do you find time to write as a parent?


When my kids were young, naptimes and bedtime were my writing time. Now that I have pre-teens and teens, they are old enough to respect my need for writing time. I announce when I will be writing that day and then enforce only an emergency rule. It is a challenge because I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them, but I have to write if I am going to produce more books.


What inspired you to write this book?


Rumpled Rhett came from multiple inspiration sources. 


First, there was the huntsman from fairytales. He appears most notably in “Snow White” and “Red Riding Hood.” I always thought he should have a story of his own. Years ago, a friend of mine started writing a story about Snow White and the huntsman, which I really enjoyed. She never finished it, but I couldn’t shake the idea that the huntsman needed his own story.


There is the billed source of inspiration, Rumpelstiltskin himself. The fairytale was always a fascinating one for me. After reading K. M. Shea’s retelling, I began brainstorming alternative stories where Rumple could be the hero of his own tale. By the way, I highly recommend K. M. Shea’s Rumpelstiltskin


Then, there was a surprise inspiration source in Between Floors by W. R. Gingell. Athelas and the dynamic between him and Pet inspired the crisis point at the climax of Rumpled Rhett.


Oh, and finally, I was inspired by “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. The fact it has been a favorite poem of mine since childhood probably betrays a bit more of the strangeness of my interests. It is a tragedy, and I almost exclusively write happy endings (my two tragedies are short stories in The Making of a Man short story anthology, if anyone is interested).


What did you enjoy most about writing this book?


I absolutely loved Rhett. Writing his character was fun from the beginning to the end. After adorkable Silas in Grace by Contract and scholarly Crispin in Reclaiming Ryda, it was wonderful to get back to one of my favorite kinds of heroes, the man of action and danger. Who doesn’t daydream about a hero capable of defending her from the trials of life?


Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?


It depends on the book, but most of my characters tend to hijack their own stories. In the case of Rumpled Rhett, Rhett had a moment where he insisted on burning Cat’s socks. The struggle between me and the character became a blog post for Lands Uncharted (https://www.landsuncharted.com/2021/02/writers-life-socks-must-go-rachel.html). Spoiler: he won the argument. 


Have you written any other books that are not published?


The short answer is a resounding yes. First, there is my early work which I hope will never make it into print. 


Then, there is an epic science fiction romance series for which I have written the first book, Diaspora (rough draft). I can’t publish the first book until I write the second. 


Oh, and I have a contemporary Christian novel written and tentatively titled White Bear. It is inspired by “East of Sun West of the Moon” and is set in the early 2000s. That one might appear soon. I have to fix a plot hole and get it through editing.


Finally, I have a long-lost (not really) fourth and final novel in The Theodoric Saga that has so many issues that it will require an extensive rewrite to bring it up to my current standards. I might just start that one from scratch…or bury it with my early work, never to see the publishing light of day.


Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?


It depends. Some characters appear in a flash of inspiration with their own distinct voice and personality. Those characters are the ones I spend the book discovering as I write. Other characters are built, piece by piece, either through the plotting or the writing process. Either way, writing them and finding their voice is a journey of delightful discovery.


Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?


I would prefer silence or listening to music that is so familiar that I can tune it out. But as a mother of three, I have to be flexible. Writing with the background noises of life going on around me is a necessity.


Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?


I usually only draft one book at a time, but I can be developing other book ideas while drafting one. Oh, and I publish and promote while writing the next novel. For example, at this moment, I am writing the next Once Upon a Duchy novel, editing a short novella for a multiple author project, plotting a different project, and promoting Rumpled Rhett. I am constantly juggling multiple projects.


What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?


First comes inspiration. An idea, an image, or just a conversation can prompt a story idea. I immediately begin playing with it in my head to see if it is viable. Does it make sense? Does it excite me? Is it something I could make work?


Once I am confident I can make it work, I start sketching a rough high-level collection of plot points. Perhaps a few characters and interactions are added. I keep mulling as I collect ideas in a Word document, so everything is in one place.


Then, I sit down and plot out a series of points. Tensions, crises, motivations, villains, antagonists, pressures, family, settings, etc., until I get a solid framework. At this point, I know that it might change and shift as I develop it.


At the same time as this plotting/brainstorming is going on, I start collecting research and inspirational pieces.


Once I have a solid handle on the story, characters, and plot, I usually start writing. I write in chronological order. No scene hopping allowed. As I write, the story changes. Sometimes the end result looks nothing like the original plan. Other times, only some things change. Frequently the climax shifts around depending on what is needed to tie it all together into a satisfying ending.


When I finally finish the rough draft, it is time for proofing, beta readers, editors, and final polishing.


How long on average does it take you to write a book?


Oh, that is a tricky question. Some of my books, like The Talented Trilogy, took years and years. While others, like Rumpled Rhett, took about six months. It depends on what else is going on in my life, the time I can devote to getting words on the page, and my health. Writing while dealing with brain fog is dangerous. Characters do unexpected things, I drop words, or make little sense on those days.




Cat


The Huntsman stood in the darkest corner of the room, a solid, inky shadow in the growing dimness. Despite the malevolent impression created by hiding himself from me, I didn’t feel threatened. If anything, the opposite feeling lingered. Perhaps it was because he was so bluntly honest with me. It made a refreshing change from Father’s lies and offered hope that the Kurios had heard my prayers.

“Father wishes to be rid of me because I am useless for his purposes.”

“Oh?” His voice, rugged and husky, betrayed mild interest and nothing else.

“I talk back, argue, and refuse to comply with his orders. To make matters worse, I am lame.”

He frowned. “I see no cane.”

“I rarely need one.” I adjusted my weight to rest on my good leg and give my right foot a bit of a rest.

“May I see?”

“What?” I peered at him in alarm. “See what?”

“Your foot.” He stepped forward so that he was partially out of the shadows. My gaze first went to his hair. Gold-streaked brown, it was rumpled a bit about his forehead and ears despite the short crop. His dark eyes, almost black in the dim light, studied my face, waiting for a response. “That is what is injured, right?”

I nodded but didn’t offer it for his inspection. “I have not shown it to anyone since the accident.”

His lips pressed tightly in what might have been disapproval. Of me?

“How did the accident happen?” he asked. Again, he studied my features.

When had someone last asked that? Never. No one ever asked. Before I had recovered, my father had seen to it that everyone had heard his version of the story. Unless I wished to call him a liar and risk a confrontation that would end up with me nursing more than a mangled foot, I had been constrained to silence. “My father crushed it in a door.” I blinked back the burning in my eyes. “Though he will deny it.” I swallowed carefully.

“When?”

I almost smiled. The man had a way of using as few words as possible. “I was seven.”

“And you are now?”

“Twenty-four.” I cleared my throat of the lump of gathering tears. “How old are you?”

“Thirty.”

I nodded.

“You approve?” Amusement tinged his voice, but when I glanced at him, there was no hint of humor about his expression.

“Not too old and not too young,” I explained.

“Just right.”

I nodded again, this time with a small smile.

“I am going to look.” 

He knelt at my feet. Before I was ready, he lifted my lame foot. Off balance, my hands went to his head, fingers sinking into a mess of soft strands, as I struggled to stay upright. Despite his evident care, the sudden pressure of leaning on my twisted foot in his hand to compensate for my shifting balance made the constant ache of my foot ramp up to pain. Tears sprang to my eyes.

“Inspecting the merchandise?” I asked sharply.

“No.” He adjusted his grip, so he held my ankle instead of my foot. The impression of solid, warm fingers seemed to burn through my stockings as he removed my shoe. “Has it healed? Is it infected?”

“No and no.” Angry tears burned my eyes. Heat flushed my cheeks.

“Does this hurt?” He pressed my toes.

“Yes.” 

“And this?” 

After a few more rounds of the same question and more pain, he finally replaced my shoe. Setting my foot back on the floor with far more care than he had picked it up, he waited until I had regained my balance before rising to his full height. Blinking away the tears, I waited for him to move, but he didn’t step away. 

“Your father will do worse if I reject you?”

“Don’t worry about me. I will survive.” I studied his tunic front. The coarse wool was dyed a brown so dark it was almost black. Not precisely the clothing of a rich man. My father’s claims about the mysteries surrounding the man before me ranged from his great riches to his right to a lost title. I didn’t believe a word of any of them.



  

After her father uproots the family to the northern duchy of Brackenhurst, Grace Eldon and her four younger sisters struggle with a new life of hardship. Desperate to keep a roof over their heads amid mounting debts, she and her youngest sister seek employment in the Duke of Brackenhurst's household despite fearsome rumors.

Scarred and maimed from a terrible fire Silas Isling, Duke of Brackenhurst, buries himself in his work to avoid the stares of pity and fear. When one of the new maids shows no fear at his appearance, he is intrigued. That is until his meddling steward gives her the task of cleaning Silas' bookroom. It is a most unwelcome disruption since he prefers to be alone.

While a thief plagues his castle, an old nemesis reappears, and enemies invade in the guise of guests. Amidst the distractions and chaos, Grace brings some unexpected order. Once convinced his scars had stolen all hope for love, Silas finds his life forever changed by the quiet maid. Could she love a scarred Duke?

A reimagining of Beauty and the Beast


  



Rydaria lives as a prisoner in a tower library. Captured as a child, her past is a mystery. Maintaining the literary treasures within her care, she studies the world through books that give her a glimpse of the freedom she craves.

A scribe by trade, Crispin has devoted the last three years of his life seeking the lost heir of Avalene. He travels to Worthenave’s famed library in hopes of finding the key. Instead, he discovers a new mystery, a beautiful librarian who is locked in with her books every night.

As the days pass, Crispin must choose. Rydaria’s precarious situation is deteriorating. Meanwhile, his duty demands he leave before the Duke of Worthenave uncovers his quest. Still, the scribe can’t bring himself to abandon the captive in the library tower, even if it costs him his mission.

Inspired by Rapunzel and East of the Sun West of the Moon


  

Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.


    

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