CatherineKean

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Catherine Kean, Jaunty Post

My teenage daughter loves shoes.  What girl doesn’t, right?  However, she and I both have the same problem in that sometimes great-looking shoes, while stylish, just don’t fit right.

I could tell her mind was on shoes last Saturday as she gathered her outfit for the year-end dinner and dance that she was to attend that night, which was sponsored by a school club.  She had nice dressy heels to wear, but they were a bit high for dancing.  Her flat shoes pinched her feet.  She could, however, make either pair work if she needed to.

She and I went out to our favorite sushi restaurant for lunch that day, only to find we’d arrived fifteen minutes before it was due to open (their Saturday hours are different from their regular weekly hours).  Since temperatures are already volcanic here in Florida, we didn’t want to stand around outside.

“Want to look at shoes?” I asked, pointing to the DSW across the parking lot.

My daughter shrugged, still preoccupied with plans for the evening.  “Sure.”

Truth be told, I’d never been inside a DSW.  Wow.  Talk about shoe overload.  As I wandered the aisles of sandals, boots, dressy heels, and more, my daughter started trying things on.  A big grin on her face, she waved me over to where she was tottering around in a pair of lacy black shoes that were a cross between an ankle-hugging boot and an open toe shoe—and at least five inches high.

“I really like these,” she said.  I sensed she was thinking about buying them to wear to the dance.

“They’re cute, but can you walk in them?”  I answered.  She could walk, sort of, but we both agreed we’d set those aside and think about them while we looked at other styles.

During our browsing, we came upon a pair of flat black sandals with glittery rhinestones and a lacy bow.  She slipped them on.  On her slender feet, they looked fabulous.  She could walk in them without effort.  She moved with a sway in her stride, as though those shoes had given her a much-needed boost of confidence.

We bought the shoes.  We painted her toenails black, to match her black fingernails, and off she went to her dinner and dance.  The shoes worked our perfectly and I have no doubt they are “keepers.”  How wonderful, that the right pair of shoes can make a gal feel super special.  I hope all of us have shoes in our closets that make us feel that way.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes?  Are they practical flats or designer heels?


I’m often asked why I write historical romances—specifically, books set in the Middle Ages.  Quite simply, I love that historical era.  I adore castles and the romanticism of chivalry.  And, dare I say, I love bold, sexy, alpha male knights whose heroics make ladies swoon.

Is it any wonder that when my British husband and I married close to twenty years ago, our song was the theme to the movie Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves?  My heart still flutters when I hear Bryan Adams singing “Everything I Do, I Do it For You.”

My love of all things medieval began as a child, when I listened to fairy tales.  My dad, who is British, often took my sister and me to England during our summer vacations to visit relatives, and he took us to many historic sites.  We visited awe-inspiring churches built centuries ago, ruins of Roman baths, Stonehenge, The British Museum, old graveyards, and other places that left upon me a lasting impression of how fascinating the past can be.

After graduating from university, I further enriched that fascination through a one-year course with Sotheby’s auctioneers in London, England, where I studied silver, glass, porcelain, furniture, jewelry, paintings, and more from the Middle Ages through the 20th century.  It was an amazing year.

An added perk?  I met the tall, dark-haired, charming Brit who became my husband.  And yes, he loves castles, too.

When I started writing medieval romances, I wanted to bring the past I’d experienced to life in a way that was meaningful to me and hopefully other people, too.  To do that, I had to make my characters and story settings three-dimensional.  I needed vital emotional conflicts for my heroes and heroines to struggle to resolve.  I needed to know what foods were cooked, what the different social classes wore, what weapons were used, how a man trained to become a knight, and how wounds were treated.  More simply, I needed sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.  Easy peasy, right?

Um…  No.

I spent many, many hours doing research on the internet.  I brought armloads of books home from the library and jotted pages of notes.  I accumulated a small library of books on kings and armor and medieval recipes (one day, when I’m feeling really ambitious, I’m going to try making a few dishes).

I also bought CD’s of medieval-era music and listened to them while I cooked dinner.  One of the songs started out slowly and then sped up to a vibrant melody accented by drums.  I was captivated.  Immediately I had an idea for the opening chapters of Dance of Desire, a fast-paced, emotional story of a proper noblewoman desperate to save her younger brother who is imprisoned as a traitor and the “barbarian” sheriff she is coerced into marrying to help rescue her sibling.

Dance of Desire was my first novel published in paperback and it won numerous awards.  My daughter, in elementary school at the time, proudly announced to her teachers that her mom was “a published romance author.”

With each book I penned, my love of the Middle Ages grew.  A Knight’s Vengeance, my very first medieval that I wrote when my daughter was a baby (and I revised from start to finish about seven times, because I was still learning how to craft a book) had several secondary male characters who deserved to be heroes of their own books.  The idea of connected novels, all set in the fictional county of Moydenshire I’d created, took seed in my mind.  The Knight’s Series was born.

Originally published in paperback, the first four books will be available again as eBooks on Kindle (A Knight’s Vengeance, Book One, and A Knight’s Reward, Book Two, are are up now, the other two will follow later this year).  My goal for the next year is to write the fifth and final novel and to wrap up the series the way I always envisioned.  And then…  I already have ideas for more medievals.

On trips back to England, my husband and I have taken my daughter sightseeing at some of the historic sites, including ones I visited with my father.  A few years ago we toured Warwick Castle, magnificent to this day.  One of my clearest memories is of standing in an interior room, putting my hand on the smooth stone wall, and just listening, to the voices of modern-day visitors drifting in from outside, but also to the ancient pulse that still seemed to flow within the stone.  It was an amazing moment that snatched my breath away.

When I sit down to write, I feel again that ancient pulse.  It inspires me.  It breathes new life into my words.  And the writer in me is happy.

Do you read historical romances?  What do you find inspiring about them?  Is it the historical setting?  The characters?  I’d love to know! :)

 



CatherineKean

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Catherine Kean, Jaunty Post

My husband and teenage daughter are flying to England in June for a three week vacation.  Alas, I can’t go with them this year—I’m staying home to look after the house and kitties–but I shall enjoy their photos when they get home and the stories they’ll share in the meantime via email and phone calls.

They have already put together a list of places they want to see, including the London museums, the Peak District, and several castles.  Since my daughter wants to have a career in art and design, and has talked about attending a London college, I expect they’ll visit a few and see what degree programs are offered.

My husband is looking forward to drinking some “real” English beer, and my daughter’s already craving scones with clotted cream.  It sounds like they have a grand holiday ahead.

Just for fun…  If you could travel anywhere in the world this summer on an all-expenses-paid trip(!), where would you go?  What sites in particular would be on your “must see” list?



CatherineKean

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Catherine Kean

Hair.  It’s something we’re born with.  We have no choice in the color (blonde or black), texture (coarse or silky), or thickness (thick or fine).  That’s all determined by DNA.

The good thing, though, is that if we hate our hair, we can change it.  Hooray for perms and hair dye!

My hair is extremely fine, slightly wavy, and a medium brown color.  When I was a child, my hair was super straight and a lighter shade of brown than it is now.  I look back at pictures of me and marvel at the sheen of my locks which didn’t see anything more than shampoo and conditioner until my early teens.  I did have the occasional braid, though, which I loved, especially once I’d unfastened the plait and my hair flowed loose and wavy.

Once I hit my early teenage years, I wanted a change.  My hair was too straight and had no volume.  I applied gel and mousse and turned the ends under with a curling iron.  However, the curl didn’t last long in my silky hair.

All of the girls at school were getting perms, and, as the brainy introvert who desperately longed to fit in, I wanted one, too.  I remember my first perm—a home permanent I’d bought at the drugstore which was done by a woman recommended to me by a friend.  I hated the smell.  I cringed at the way the solution burned my sensitive scalp.  But I wanted a perm, and I was going to endure.

Of course, the perm turned out very tight, puffy, and frizzy, and I didn’t really like it until about six weeks later, but it did make doing my hair in the morning easier.  The curl in my hair stayed in longer, and I liked that.

I continued getting perms, most of them at salons.  I graduated to spiral perms in my late 20’s, until a hairdresser convinced me to try highlights.  Oh, what wickedness.  Highlights gave my hair a lovely “been out in the sun” golden hue and added fullness to my locks.  I was hooked, especially after having my daughter.  My hair changed through my pregnancy—it acquired a loose wave, which my hairdresser said was due to hormonal changes—and with a bit of mousse, gave me the curls I’d always wanted from perms.

My hair is still boring brown, and now, I’m finding wiry strands of gray (eek!).  That’s okay, though.  I don’t have to live with the gray.  I have a great hairdresser who does wonderful highlights.  She also has a knack for color.  My teenage daughter, also gifted with blah brown hair and also going through that longing for change I remember from years ago, is now a redhead with a cute pixie cut.  She loves all the compliments she’s been getting.  Oh, the fun of hair!

***
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair?  Please share! :)

One guest who comments will win a digital copy of either my sexy medieval novella Bound by His Kiss or my award-winning medieval romance Dance of Desire!   Winner gets to pick which one. :)

 



CatherineKean

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Catherine Kean, Jaunty Post

We now have a new member of our family: a kitten.

My teenage daughter picked him out of a selection of kitties at the local animal services.  The day we first met him, back in late February, he was sleepy and snuggled next to one of his siblings before the staff member picked him up and put him in my daughter’s arms.  It was love at first cuddle.

My daughter also named him: Sherlock, after the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.  She’s a huge fan of Benedict Cumberpatch, the latest British actor to play Mr. Holmes, and our little Sherlock also has an angular face and piercing blue eyes (which are slightly crossed, which tells me either his Mommy or his Daddy were Siamese).  Our kitten is also extremely curious and eager to unravel the mystery in a blanket heaped on the floor, or a piece of crumpled up paper.  He’s also extremely vocal (another Siamese trait), especially if I’m not serving up his lunch fast enough.

Our adoption hasn’t been without its hiccups, though.  Sherlock got sick within days of arriving at our home.  He stopped eating, lost weight, and he’s still recuperating from the respiratory virus which apparently affects a lot of cats who come from shelters.  Our other feline, a male we adopted from the same shelter three years ago, was reluctant to accept another kitty in his domain for quite a few days.  He, too, got the virus.  Several times this past week, we’ve visited the vet.  While they’re both still sniffling and sneezing, with luck, the worst of the virus is over for both of them—and they’re becoming best buddies, sharing dishes of food and short plays together.

Already Sherlock has made a place for himself in our home.  I can’t imagine my days without his small, warm, purring body snuggled in my arms.  My daughter adores him.  My husband does too (I know this because he hasn’t once complained about the vet bills).  I’m sure there are many adventures ahead with Sherlock—and I can’t wait.

 

Do you have pets?  I’d love to hear about yours.


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