Guest Post by author Rachael Pruitt and eBook Giveaway of The Dragon's Harp!

Today, Passages to the Past is pleased to welcome Rachael Pruitt, who is currently touring virtually her novel, The Dragon's Harp, the first book in her Arthurian historical fantasy series.  

To follow her virtual tour and check out the reviews, guest posts and interviews please see the tour schedule HERE.

Thanks to Rachael I also have one eBook copy of The Dragon's Harp to give away to a lucky reader! 

And now, please enjoy this guest post from Rachael Pruitt...

Goddesses, Queens, & Mermaids: Women of the Arthurian Legend


When Geoffrey of Monmouth first popularized the Arthurian legends in the early 12th century, he started an unfortunate precedent regarding the women of Camelot. Once regal queens became faithless sluts, powerful goddesses became demonic, and once multi-faceted and mysterious princesses became cardboard cut-outs, sighing their lives away when not being rescued from dragons.

If you dig a little deeper into the mythological origins of the famous females that populate Arthur’s fabled kingdom, you will find a very different story. The Gwenhwyfar that inhabits the pages of my novel Dragon’s Harp is based on careful research into both the mythology and history of 5th century Britain—a time when women did not have the luxury of prancing about on endless picnics or sighing boring afternoons away, waiting for knights to kidnap them.

Since the 5th century is the most likely time a historical Arthur would have lived, it’s interesting to compare women of this earlier Celtic culture to the ladies portrayal by medieval troubadours and Victorian poets more than a thousand years later. These early queens and priestesses lived at a time when Goddesses were still worshipped by British tribes. These women too were deeply romantic, only in a different, grittier, and more ancient—less“sanitized”--way.

Nor could Arthurian women’s true origins be totally glossed over, even by pompous Victorians. Where, for example, would Arthur have been without the Lady of the Lake? I doubt that many Victorians knew that this mysterious female guardian of the great sword Excalibur comes from early Celtic tradition. In ancient times it was believed that bodies of water held sacred power and thus a Goddess who lived in a Lake was able to gift a king with his right to rule. Perhaps because she was so enigmatic, later authors left this “Lake Lady” alone, to shimmer her magic for countless generations.

Human queens and priestesses were a different story. Gwenhwyfar herself is a prime example of how powerful women lost ground in the Medieval & Victorian versions of the Arthurian legends. In her case, a powerful queen who gifts Arthur with the very same Round Table that made his reputation, degenerates into a shallow twit whose flirtatious ways led to the destruction of Camelot. A sad progression indeed!

For readers interested in more about Gwenhwyfar’s origins, another little-known fact is that she was often seen as a Queen of the Faeries in early Celtic tradition. One of the earliest forms of her name is the lovely “Guenhuiuar,” meaning “white Fairy” in early Welsh! For anyone interested in further details about Gwenhwyfar’s origins, please do visit my website where I will be posting several books and resources.

One final note about Gwenhwyfar: If you have not yet seen Jo Jayson’s beautiful painting of Gwenhwyfar, please look for it on the cover of Dragon’s Harp. Jo & I can also tell you an amazing story of how we met--a meeting and collaboration that has us both convinced Arthur’s unfairly maligned Queen is very much alive and kicking in our hearts today—and determined to set the record straight. Although the story is a bit too long to tell here, if you are interested, please visit my website blog after March 17th for the “scoop”.

To conclude this look at Camelot’s women: Marion Zimmer Bradley was, perhaps, the first modern novelist to give Arthurian women a voice. Her ground-breaking novel Mists of Avalon, became a best-seller almost overnight because it tapped into the yearnings of women to reclaim the Arthurian legend for themselves. It was an exciting time for women and Bradley’s ability to give the long-maligned Morgana la Faye a sympathetic voice still resonates with readers to this day. I am also a big fan of Persia Woolley’s Guinevere Triology which did the same for Arthur’s tragic queen.

 I feel very blessed to be joining the ranks of these novelists who, like me, are determined to give the women of Camelot their true voices back so that new generations of women—and men—can experience the full range of mystery and magic that is only apparent when both men and women are given full-bodied expression.

These early queens and priestesses were powerful, mysterious, and courageous. It is time their once-dismissed and distorted magic is celebrated fully again. May you too be enchanted as you journey into the mysteries of this once and future kingdom!

About The Dragon's Harp


ENTER THE WORLD OF THE DRAGON’S HARP ARTHURIAN HISTORICAL FANTASY FOR THE 21st CENTURY

Before Gwenhwyfar became Queen - before Arthur met Merlin - a tribal Welsh princess met a young Heatherlands Mage. Together, they will create a legend. Inside a mist of beauty and brutality waits the Arthurian legend as you’ve never heard it before. Enter the world of THE DRAGON'S HARP, a realm of blood lust and vengeance, of spellbinding magic from the beginning of time. The realm of Princess Gwenhwyfar: a young girl torn between magic and desire, born with magical powers she can either wield to save her people from destruction - or deny to save her soul. IN AN ERA OF DRAGONS A YOUNG GIRL COMES OF AGE First in a five book series of historical fantasy, Rachael Pruitt’s unique take on a beloved legend reintroduces the mythic characters of Gwenhwyfar, Merlin, and Vortigern against the gritty backdrop of sixth century Wales, where scenes of shape-shifting and heartbreaking romance vie with torture, murder, and battle in a dragon-haunted land. ERA OF DRAGONS: THE LOST TALES OF GWENHWYFAR: BOOK ONE JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF THE DRAGON'S HARP YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!

About Rachael Pruitt


Author Biography Rachael Pruitt is a writer, storyteller, and teacher with a lifelong fascination for Celtic mythology and the Arthurian legend. Her Arthurian poetry has been published in "Paradox" magazine (2008 and 2009) and her article “To Dream a Dragon” appeared in the award-winning 2011 writing anthology, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT. THE DRAGON'S HARP is her first novel, and the first in a projected series of five books following the life of Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), King Arthur’s famous Queen: ARTHURIAN HISTORICAL FANTASY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY ERA OF DRAGON'S: THE LOST TALES OF GWENHWYFAR

You can find more information on Rachael Pruitt on her WEBSITE | Facebook | Twitter

Here's what readers are saying about THE DRAGON'S HARP:


“From the first page I was drawn deep into Pruitt’s beautifully-realized Celtic realm, so vivid I felt as if I’d stepped right into the tale . . . With shades of The Mists of Avalon, the story is a magical blend of Welsh and Arthurian myth. "All the characters are so vividly rendered they soon lay siege to your heart, and you find yourself loving them, rooting for them, terrified for them, and utterly captivated by them." —-Jules Watson, bestselling author of The White Mare Trilogy, The Swan Maiden, and The Raven Queen

"Rachael Pruitt is a gifted storyteller, able to create vivid, three-dimensional characters in prose that is, by turns, lyrical and powerful. Readers who enjoyed the novels of Parke Godwin, Persia Woolley, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Marion Zimmer Bradley will love THE DRAGON'S HARP, in which Gwenhwyfar comes of age; best of all there are four more books to come… —Sharon K. Penman, New York Times Bestselling author of Lionheart, Here Be Dragons, & Time and Chance

“Rachael Pruitt is a natural story teller, and her love of the Guinevere character shines through every page of The Dragon’s Harp. It’s a pleasure to discover her take on this very old story.” —Persia Woolley, author of The Guinevere Trilogy. 

Giveaway Information

 
- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open to US ONLY.
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow me on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on April 6th.
 
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giveaway winners!

Hold on to your hats, kids...I've got lots of giveaway winners to announce!

Please help me in congratulating the following...

Angela @ Griperang's Bookmarks

Susan O'Bryan @ Blissful Reader

Kim H. 

Book - Robin / Survival Kit - Beth

Jenny Q @ Let Them Read Books

Diane Leigh & Kyrsta

Jenny @ Jenny Loves to Read

Molly @ Reviews by Molly

Emails have been sent to the winners!  Thanks to all who entered and who helped spread the word!

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Interview with author Donna Russo Morin + giveaway of THE KING'S AGENT

As part of the virtual book tour for THE KING'S AGENT, Passages to the Past is pleased to be hosting an interview with author Donna Russo Morin and a giveaway of her exciting new release!

I hope you enjoy the interview...

Can you please tell us a bit about The King's Agent and the inspiration behind writing it?

It will be my pleasure, and thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with your followers.

While doing the research for my third book, To Serve a King, which dealt a great deal with King Francois I, the rival of Henry VIII and an avid art collector, I came across his art agent…the king’s agent. Battista della Palla is a Florentine, a friend to the great Renaissance artists of his age and a bit of libertine. He could be called a patriotic plunderer or a religious rogue, but most often he could be called a thief. Having spent some time at court with Francois, a deal was struck…Battista would deliver the Italian masterpieces that Francois craved, and the King of France would supply the military power necessary to defend Florence, should any such defense be required. The dichotomy of the man that was Battista was just too much for me to ignore and it gave me a good excuse to return to the land of my Italian heritage.

The King’s Agent is inspired by Battista’s life, what it might have been, but of course, with my own personal finger prints splattered all over it. He meets the Lady Aurelia, the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, a fictitious woman with a profound duty and a longing for adventure. But meet is not the right word for the inception of their relationship—collision is more apropos. As a result of another of Francois’ requests, they set off on a search for an ancient relic, crossing the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art, political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is an adventurous quest with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.

If The King’s Agent were to be made into a movie, who would you like to see cast for the roles of Battista and Aurelia?

Well, Battista and Aurelia aren’t your typical antagonists; they aren’t ‘kids’ in their late teens or early twenties as can be the norm. So they would require actors possessing age, wisdom, and beauty.  I have to confess from the very beginning I pictured Battista as Johnny Depp. He’s the right age range and has that marvelous mixture of bad boy, magnetism, and vulnerability; characteristics that are Battista’s truth. As for Aurelia, both physically and constitutionally, I could see Julia Roberts play her with ease. She has not only the femininity and the strength, but also the wisdom that Aurelia possesses and needs to endure all that she must.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?  And did you always want to write historical fiction?

Well, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. My mom has my first stories, written while in grade school; they’re turning yellow and cracking at the creases. But it’s been a long and winding and sometimes bumpy road to get to book publication. I worked in advertising and marketing for many years, ‘writing’ press releases and brochures and such. I wrote book reviews for newspapers and magazines nationwide, back before the internet, when you saw your work in print and it was paid for. My first published short fiction was actually in horror, having been lead down the dark path by the King. It wasn’t until I contracted a chronic illness that the signs in my life told me writing was meant to be the main focus of my life. It wasn’t until I finally learned how to hear my own ‘writer’s’ voice that I knew I was meant to write historical fiction.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  What do you find the most difficult?

Would I sound ridiculous if I told you that I love every part of the writing process? I love the research; following clues, uncovering treasures, having one nerd-rejoicing fact lead to the next. I love the moment of conception, when the true story has shaped in my mind and then the joy of merging the research with the story. The actually writing can sometimes be, surprisingly, the most difficult, but only because of my circumstances; a single parent with sons—young men now—that don’t understand that mom’s fingers flying across a key board mean she’s working, who stand within inches of my desk and chatter away; the flotsam and jetsam of a bad marriage and an even worse divorce that must be dealt with still. These things make fighting for the time to write a challenge as well as the health of mind and soul that are a must, for so much of both goes into the process. I love the polishing, the rubbing on my words with a keen eye till they’re as smooth as I can get them. I love the editing process with the publisher; seeing it through someone else’s eyes and learning, each and every time, something that makes me a better writer. I love promoting my work; to bring that which I have labored over for so long out to the world, and discussing it with readers. The hardest part, by far, is when all is said and done and I must say good-bye to my characters—true and fictional—that have been a part of my life for so long.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Learn tenacity. The tenacity to write and write and write some more until you know what you’re doing, because, believe me, it is a continuing process (if you think you know what you’re doing with the first words on the page, you’re only fooling yourself).  You must possess the tenacity to be rejected, then rejected, then rejected again for the industry is more competitive and difficult than it has ever been. And when you’ve made it through all that, you must have the tenacity to endure any reader’s criticism—knowledgeable or not—stating their opinions in a world where every word is made in public. 

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on the first book in a trilogy; as with The King’s Agent where I write partially from a male POV, I’m expanding my craft to a place I’ve never gone before. In essence, it is the birth of the female artist in Renaissance Florence; they birth place of the Renaissance. Previous research keeps pushing me deeper and deeper into the art world and yet I grow tired with the male-centric atmosphere of the historical men’s club. I have found evidence of the female artist during the age, working in secret. Each book will center on a major event in Florentine history, the first being the Medici Assassination, or the Pazzi Conspiracy as it is also known. It is an enormously traumatic event that throws Florence into chaos and these women, The Secret Society of Saint Catherine, are thrust into the middle of the fray as they keep to their mission of honing their craft. While I have the crux of the following two books decided on, the trick with a series is to create characters that people will want to read about again and again. Most of all, I want the series to be an homage to the power of the female bond, the bond of girlfriends, a bond that has meant so much to me, especially in the last few years.

If you could read any book again for the first time, what would it be and why?

Oooh, such questions makes me squire, like being forced to say which child I love best. Even I must choose only one, it would be To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker. It was an epic story that encompassed three generations involved with the French court; characters so well-crafted I’ve never been able to forget them, merged perfectly with their historical context. I believe I’ve read it five or six times at this point. Following close behind (yep, cheating) The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

What books have you recently read and enjoyed?

Well, completely out of genre, I recently finished Open by Andre Agassi. It was a wonderfully, nakedly truthful memoir and very well put together. Currently, I’m obsessed with Stephen King’s 11/22/63, and I do mean obsessed, an obsession that is anxious to see if it will be satisfied by the ending.

What authors have inspired you?

I spoke of some in a previous question, Alexandre Dumas, Rosalind Laker, Diana Gabaldon. But to that list I would have to add James Michener, John Jakes, Jean Plaidy, Colleen McCullough and, for more than just her skill with a story, J. K. Rowling.



A huge thanks to Donna for answering my questions, I just loved her responses and really appreciate her spending some time with us today!  To throw in my own 2 cents...excellent choices for the roles of Battista and Aurelia, who would not want to see a movie with the delectable Johnny Depp and uber-talented Julia Roberts?!  I too LOVED the novels To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker and 11/22/63 by Stephen King - I also highly recommend them!  And I can't wait for your next novel, Donna...the trilogy sounds amazing!

About The King's Agent


Release Date: March 1, 2012 | Publisher: Kensington |432p

{SYNOPSIS}

To the casual observer, Battista della Palla is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for Fran├žois, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, Fran├žois resolves to rule Europe’s burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista’s search for the elusive objet d’art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own…

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture—a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart—and chance the course of history…
About Donna Russo Morin


Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.
Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse.  Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book   scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. 

In addition to writing and teaching writing, Donna has worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen, when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.

Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much, with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

For more information on Donna and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE.
 

And now, folks...on to the giveaway....

Giveaway Information

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow me on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on March 23rd.

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Mailbox Monday

Another Monday, Another Mailbox!! Mailbox Monday is a feature where we gush about the yummy new books that now grace our bookshelves! WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and GINORMOUS wishlists!!

Mailbox Monday was originally created by Marcia at The Printed Page and for the month of March it is being hosted by Anna at Diary of an Eccentric.

Hey everyone, it's been a few months since I've posted a MM so I've got a lot of new additions to share with you! Things have been kind of hectic for me lately, between the tours I've been planning for HF Virtual Book Tours and most of you know, but for those who don't I've also been busy with getting ready for my son who is due in mid-July!  I'm 5 1/2 months pregnant today and feeling really good, we're getting the nursery ready and it's all very exciting!  We have a teenage daughter who will be 16 this summer, so this will be an entirely new experience but we are so up to it!

Okay, back to business...here are the books I've recently welcomed to my library....

(you can click on the titles below to see more information on each book)

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The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas
The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot
The Queen's Pleasure by Brandy Purdy
The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
The Dragon's Harp by Rachael Pruitt

Purchased...

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
The House at Tyneford: A Novel by Natasha Solomons    

Won...


Borrowed...

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison


Well, that's my mailbox...what goodies have you received?
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