My review of Antonia Barclay and her Scottish Claymore by Jane Carter Barrett

“A Wild and Wily Ride”

I am a huge fan of historical fiction and when I was approached by Smith Publicity with the opportunity to read and review this book and take part in the blog tour I jumped at the chance.  Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore is an unconventional historical romance that hums with energy, wordplay, swordplay, and a touch of melodrama. I have  posted my review below but don’t forget to scroll to the end to read a question and answer session with the author, the lovely Jane Carter Barrett.

In 1586, Antonia Barclay embarks on a quest to find her real mother, Mary Queen of Scots, as well as the long-lost Scottish Royal Sceptre. Along the way, Sir Basil Throckmorton, a well-known villain and alchemist, kidnaps the beautiful Antonia and plans to use her to pave his way to the English throne. If Mr. Claymore, Antonia’s partner in love, does not find her soon, she will be forced to wed Sir Basil, and both Scotland and England will fall under his control. Readers of historical romances will enjoy the feisty heroine, her outrageous adventures, and the humorous take on a well-loved genre.

I really enjoyed this book, and the different take on historical fiction, I loved every minute and was sad when it ended, there were ups and downs, I laughed and loved it, for me it really was great.  I hope to see more from the author in the future – highly recommended and definitely 5 stars from me!

The next stop on the blog tour is Big Reader’s Site – Bigreadersite.wordpress.com

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Interview with the author

1. My name is Jane Carter Barrett. I can be reached via Facebook at Jane Carter Barrett or the book’s website: http://www.herscottishclaymore.com

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2. There’s a reason that Antonia Barclay plays the harp in the novel. I also play, and thoroughly enjoy it. It’s great therapy. If anyone is interested in learning to play, please let me know. I have an incredible instructor, and if you don’t happen to live in Buffalo, she Skypes lessons and will help you either rent or buy a harp.

3. I began writing in college and throughout law school, but mainly technical writing, which wasn’t much fun. Eventually I tried my hand at fiction and discovered it was much more enjoyable. Besides “Antonia”, I have written one other book (as yet unpublished), started the sequel to “Antonia”, and also started a legal thriller that’s set in Texas.

4. I really don’t have a favorite “writing” genre, but I do like to mix fact with fiction, and enjoy character development. As to my favorite genres to read, I go through phases and not necessarily dependent on genre. I’ll find a particular author or time period or historical figure and will then read everything I can find on the subject. Among my favorite authors are Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Stella Gibbons, Edna Ferber, Rosamund Pilcher, William Goldman, David McCullough, Ron Chernow, Maeve Binchy, and of course, Margaret Mitchell.

5. As mentioned above, I’m working on two new books as well as self-editing my “completed” unpublished book called “Thru the Iroquois Sky”, which is more in the realm of the “Young Adult” genre. If you’re interested here’s the synopsis:

Thru the Iroquois Sky is the story of a talented young athlete with bright prospects and boundless opportunities in front of him. In the spring of 1977, an extra layer of happiness is added to his already abundant supply of achievements and blessings. A quiet, introspective musician walks down the hallway of his high school and into his heart. Ben Longhouse is instantly smitten and immediately goes to work to make Evie St. Clair his own. He introduces her to his friends, his family, and his world as an assimilated Iroquois Indian. In turn, it doesn’t take long for Evie to become thoroughly enchanted with Ben’s sweet charm, selfless generosity, and loving overtures. To those who know the beautiful young couple, their future seems destined for success. But fate often has its own agenda.

6. Writing “Antonia” seemed to be a four-step process: conceiving, scaffolding, vivifying, and finishing. Conceiving was the creation of the idea for the story, scaffolding was the mapping out of the story’s plot, vivifying was the description of the story’s world and the animation of its characters (making them come to life), and finishing was the Herculean task of pushing myself to finish the story. In general, once I conjured up the idea for the story, I would map out the plot in my mind in the morning and put it to paper in the afternoon or evening, attempting to get at least the bare bones written down to keep the plot pushing ahead in my mind. On days when I had more time to devote to the project, I would bop back and forth between vivifying what was already written and scaffolding the next series of events.

7. My biggest, and I mean colossal, weakness is moving my characters around in the story. Physically moving and relocating people from the car to the house, from the kitchen to the dining room, from the horse to the ground, from the castle to the pond, from the chair to the window, I think you get the picture!

Explaining, describing and then remembering where all my characters are or where I’ve relocated them is a lot of work and often torturous for me. In addition, I seem to get muddled in the minutiae of grammar very easily and have a bad habit of overworking phrases. I seem to revise and edit my work to death, instead of just letting it flow. Most times, the first way you put something is the best.

Another weakness is finishing a story. I have to push, goad, and virtually threaten myself with egregious bodily harm in order to complete a project.

I’m not sure if they’re my strengths, but what I most enjoy about writing is creating dialogue, hunting down the best vocabulary word, and developing the characters’ personalities—especially their flaws and foibles.

8. Since this is my first foray into publishing a novel and I’m wading through the murky bog of marketing right this minute, I’m certainly not in a position to share valuable marketing tips. However, I can tell you the steps I’ve taken so far in the way of marketing. I’ve hired great publicists, created a Facebook page, an Instagram account and a website for the book, and my publisher, Greenleaf Book Group/River Grove Books, has provided excellent marketing services as well.

9. The best advice I’ve read on writing comes from a confluence of two authors’ thoughts on the subject.

—the late James Dickey (paraphrasing): “Write with all the passion and power you have, and don’t worry about how many words and minutes it takes.”

In other words, stop checking the clock and looking at the word count. It takes what it takes.

—William Goldman: “It ain’t about inspiration. It’s about going into a room alone and doing it.”

Mr. Goldman’s advice doesn’t need other words.

Best advice on rejection letters and reviews: The only failure in falling down is staying down (Mary Pickford) and no matter how hard you try, you’ll never please everyone.

 

 

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