Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Congratulations to the WAAR Christmas Giveaway winners!

Congratulations to Debra T., Crystal B., Fran S.,  Myra E., Elise C., and Jenny B., winners in the huge giveaway sponsored by Facebook group Wanda's Amazing Amazon Reviewers. All winners have been notified. There were more than 3,300 entries, and I thank you for your tremendous support!

The contest may be over, but Wanda's Amazing Amazon Reviewers is always looking to expand their ranks. All of us authors appreciate you very much!

Merry Christmas, and I hope you enjoy a safe, blessed, and happy holiday season.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wanda's Amazing Amazon Reviewers is looking for more reviewers...

... and they're sponsoring an awesome holiday contest as a recruitment incentive!

Enter the Rafflecopter contest below to win ebooks, including a copy of my novel Dawnflight, Amazon gift cards, and more! You don't have to be a book reviewer to enter, but this great Facebook group, Wanda's Amazing Amazon Reviewers, is looking to expand their ranks, and we authors are grateful to you all for your tremendous support. This contest closes on December 21st, 2013.

On my blog only: leave a comment on this post giving the title of the most recent book you have read or reviewed, and I'll use the site to choose one lucky winner to receive an ebook copy of the award-winning Dawnflight. Subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow this blog, and add me to your Google+ circles for more chances to win! (And please let me know that you've done this via your comment on this post so that I can be sure to count all your entries. :)

Thanks and have a wonderful holiday season!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Join me in supporting military families for this May 2014 giveaway!

Reblogged from

Attention, Authors and Bloggers! I have already committed to supply an ebook copy of Dawnflight. Join me to help make this giveaway huge!

Read, White & Blue
We at Closed the Cover are putting together an event called "Read, White and Blue" which will run in May, 2014 for Memorial Day.

Here are the preliminary details for Read, White & Blue.

The grand prize for Read, White & Blue will be an "All You Need to Read" kit.  We are hoping to offer: a set of custom coffee cups, coasters, an afghan blanket, Starbucks gift card and a Kindle.

Do you want to be a part of it?

Here is how it works for authors:

You have the choice to donate a minimum $5 and either a book or book swag.  In exchange, you receive two Rafflecopter entries on the giveaway widget.  Or you can donate a minimum of $10 for two Rafflecopter entries.  Additional entries can be purchased for $5 up to a total of four Rafflecopter entries.

Here is how it works for bloggers:

You can purchase up to 4 Rafflecopter entries for $5 a piece and will be asked to promote the event during the month of May.

Any money raised above the cost of the grand prize is going to be donated to the Semper Fi Fund for US Military troops and veterans.

If you are interested in signing up to be a part of Read, White and Blue please sign up here --->

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Romance for the Holidays Double Giveaway!

Congratulations to Eva M. and Jeannie B-P, 
winners of ebook copies of Dawnflight in the Maze’s portion of the 
Home for the Holidays Blog Hop!

A great double giveaway is going on through the end of the month.
Don't delay—enter today!

US Residents: to win an autographed print copy of Dawnflight by Kim Headlee and other novels, enter this giveaway:
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

No residency restrictions to win an ebook copy of Dawnflight and lots of other great books & prizes in this contest:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Home for the Holidays Blog Hop and Mega-Giveaway!

Click on the button to visit all the hop sites for more chances to win!

Hosted and Sponsored by the authors and bloggers of: THE ROMANCE TROUPE

Grand Prize: Shopping Spree on a $450 Amazon Gift Card

Second Prize: (1) Ebook from every participating Author,
including Dawnflight by Kim Headlee.

To enter the mega-contest: Leave a comment with this post and include your email address and the type of ereader you have. Then go visit my author site ( and the other stops for more chances to enter and win!

On my blog only: Follow this blog, add me to your Google+ circles, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and leave a comment on this post about your favorite holiday recipe or tradition for up to four chances to win an ebook copy of Dawnflight—which is the Indie Book of the Day for 11/18/2013!

The phrase “Home for the Holidays” may mean different things to different people—different holidays, different religions, different countries, different traditions, and so forth—but one thing we humans all have in common is the need to gather for special occasions, usually accompanied by food! And in the 21st-century hustle-bustle of our lives, augmented by holiday stresses and pressures, we can all use the “Easy” button now more than ever.

To that end I offer a quick, simple, inexpensive treat that can be served as a dessert or breakfast pastry. And if your kids are old enough, they’ll have fun helping you with this baking project, or perhaps even doing it themselves!

Jam-filled Crescent Rolls

  • 1 tube of pre-cut crescent roll dough
  • Your favorite jam(s)
  • Melted butter (optional)

  • Preheat oven as directed on the package for the type of baking sheet or pan you plan to use.
  • Open tube and unroll each triangle.
  • Spread a small amount of jam across the base of the triangle, no more than halfway toward the point. This is the tricky part, because the jam can ooze out and burn during baking.
  • Roll the triangle loosely and place on baking sheet.
  • Brush with a little melted butter (optional).
  • Repeat for the remaining triangles, leaving at least 2 inches between crescents.
  • Bake as directed on the package, and do not over-bake!
  • Cool before serving. The jam can get very hot.

Enjoy your treats, and have a safe and blessed holiday season!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thoughts for Veterans' Day 2013

The Maze today is not draped in black—though it would be fitting. Today it’s draped in red, white, and blue.

Last week I lost a friend. Her passing hit me far harder than I ever would have anticipated, forcing me to examine my feelings in the days after her sudden and shocking death.

My conclusion was just as shocking.

Cadet Harold Headlee, USMA Class of 1951
circa 1947
Lt Col Harold "Hal" Headlee (USAF, retired) circa 2012

Please allow me to introduce you to the Vietnam veteran I honor today, my late father-in-law. He was big, loud, annoying, didn’t pay attention to anything the women in his life said, complained about the most trivial things—like the rising cost of Chicken McNuggets(tm) and the season-to-season doings of “his” Pittsburgh Steelers(tm)—and I loved him dearly.

Hal died in his sleep the morning of 1/1/2013. His oldest son Chris, my husband, found him within a few hours of his passing, and to this day I cannot imagine how awful that must have been. Chris walked in to his dad’s house expecting to act as chauffeur to help Hal pick up a brand new car he had bought the day before. He walked out with an entirely different job, one he had long expected...and dreaded: executor of his dad’s estate.

Not knowing what else to do, I threw my time, energy, and talents into helping Chris settle his dad’s affairs insofar as I was legally enabled to do. I wrote letters. I made phone calls. I researched options. I fielded questions. I emailed heirs. I made recommendations. I wrote invitations and thank-yous. I filled out paperwork, including not one, not two but three years’ worth of unfiled income taxes. I established physical and electronic filing systems for the estate’s records. I created PDF scans of important documents. I made deposits and paid bills. I set up a memorial service and interment at West Point for the ashes of Hal and his wife Jeri, Chris’s mom, who predeceased her husband by 16 years. I could go on.

The point is, over the past 10+ months I’ve done everything but mourn Hal myself.

Today I would rather have him here—in all his big, loud, annoying glory—not just because his children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and friends miss him more than my paltry words can ever describe, but because I miss him too. Today Chris and our children and I would have joined him at our local Applebee’s(tm) for their annual Veteran’s Day meal, listening to his stories of past military missions and escapades yet again.

I have to confess that I didn’t appreciate those stories as much as I should have, and I’m sorry, Hal. I have always appreciated that you gifted your children with the courage, loyalty, and integrity you acquired as a West Point cadet and subsequently honed throughout your Air Force career. I appreciate the advice and support you gave us throughout the years. I appreciate the magnitude of your distinguished service to this country—and the magnitude of sacrifice you had to make to your family as a result.

Now I fully understand the sentiment expressed by others who wish they had kept a recording of their departed loved one’s voice.

Today I would give anything to hear Harold Headlee tell one of his stories once again.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Au revoir, Diana P. of Woofville

Today the Maze is draped in black.

My friend Diana P., pictured above on 10/1/2013, departed this world at 1:27 p.m. Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 from complications following surgery for a brain aneurism she had suffered the day before. I like to imagine she was a bit PO’d that she didn’t get to vote Tuesday.

I knew Diana as the owner of  a “boutique” pet shop in Wytheville, VA that she had named Woofville. Though predominantly a dog lover, she had given it the official and diplomatic title of Woofville and Meowtown. In fact it was our shared love of animals and puns that had attracted me to her shop—and her soul—in the fall of 2007. She was gently but unabashedly proselytizing for Obama in those days, but her naivety didn’t deter me from forming a lasting connection to a kindred spirit.

After 2009 or thereabouts, we never talked politics again except once, earlier this fall, when she mentioned a local candidate she was supporting. He was running in a different district than mine, however, so I couldn’t have voted for him even if I had wanted to. And for Diana’s sake, I truly wanted to. Speaking as someone who in every election since 2008 has voted for the only people I can trust to govern intelligently, honestly and fairly—myself and my age-eligible family members—that’s saying something.

But we did talk, sometimes at great length, about many other things every few weeks whenever I stopped in to pick up more food and toys for my pets.

Pet product information sat at the top of our chat priority, of course. Diana taught me that the healthiest foods (Canidae for dogs and Felidae for cats, Taste of the Wild, Fromm, NutriSource, Diamond Naturals, etc.), though expensive, were the best for my cats and dogs in the long run. Her wisdom has proven itself in the noticeably reduced shedding of our seven indoor cats, the longevity of our lone outdoor cat who has carried the feline leukemia virus for eight years and counting, and the health and vigor of our new Great Pyrenees puppies that have grown to be almost as large as the goats they guard. She always was giving away samples to try before switching brands, and sometimes “just because.” In fact, last week she surprised me with an unopened case of sample packages, explaining that I was her only customer buying that brand of cat food, and she wanted me to have them as an emergency supply.

I wonder if on some level she knew she would be leaving us.

Diana loved all her customers…and their owners. She took great joy in welcoming them, especially the four-footed ones, into her shop. I cannot count the number of times I would walk in to find her sharing advice about how to care for a new puppy or socialize a rescued dog, gushing over someone’s pictures or the animal itself if it had accompanied the owner, photographing a happy pair, or manning the “Woofwash” dog-bathing station she had established in the back room. Although these days I’m more of a cat person than a dog person, I always enjoyed watching her interact with her other clients while I waited my turn.

And when it was just the two of us, we often simply chatted about our families, our vacations past & planned, and other life events. Sometimes we would vent to each other about our spouses or other frustrations. I felt her thrill and pride for me whenever I would talk about my latest published novel or progress I had made on an unpublished manuscript. I know she bought at least one of my releases, Dawnflight, and was reading it via the Kindle app on “her baby,” her wonderfully bling-encrusted smartphone. I’ll never know whether she finished it, but that scarcely matters now. I may have lost a fan, but what hurts far worse is that I have lost a friend.

Today I bid Diana P. au revoir—“until the re-seeing,” rather than the more final adieu, “unto God.” Because from this moment on, whenever I observe someone advocate for animals, or speak proudly about spouse and children, or smilingly recommend a favorite political candidate, I will see my dear friend Diana again.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Romance for the Holidays Giveaway

Enter to win some e-Romance 
for the Holidays, 
including Dawnflight by Kim Headlee.
No residency restrictions! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
US Residents: to win an autographed print copy of Dawnflight by Kim Headlee and other novels, enter this giveaway:
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

And US residents still have time to enter the Goodreads giveaway to win one of 10 print copies of Morning's Journey by Kim Headlee!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Morning's Journey by Kim Headlee

Morning's Journey

by Kim Headlee

Giveaway ends November 11, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Message from Arthur on the Eve of Samhainn

From Legion Headquarters in Caer Lugubalion, Brydein, I send you greetings.
I put pen to parchment in honor of my wife, Gyan—formally, Chieftainess Gyanhumara nic Hymar of Clan Argyll of Caledonia—who celebrates her natal day today. We have been married a few short months, just since the Calends of July, and we met each other for the first time only three months before that. Yet I feel so closely bonded with her in heart, soul, and mind that it seems as if I have known her my entire life.

If you were to ask me what first caught my attention about this remarkable woman, I would have to confess it was her exotic beauty. Her brilliant copper hair, sea-green eyes, berry lips, the wild blue doves winging across her forearm all beckoned to me to learn more about her. Since I knew her to be a warrior—though untried in battle at the time of our meeting—I had expected her to act aloof, cold, haughty, arrogant. From the moment my hand gripped her arm in welcome, I knew she was none of those things.

And I think I knew—on some level, at least, if not overtly—that my heart stood in grave danger of declaring its undying allegiance to her even as I realized that to do while she remained betrothed to Urien might plunge our lands into another war.

Fortunately for both our peoples, Gyan proved herself a canny diplomat and hid her feelings about me until the time was right for both of us to declare our love.

Problems remain, of course. Though together Gyan and I defeated the Scots and bought peace from that quarter for a season, the Saxon and Angli kings remain a looming threat. Urien stands to become chieftain of his clan, and may God deliver us all from that day. And I cannot shake the disturbing thought that, should Gyan and I have children, they might fall victim to treachery from without—or within.

But I also have deep abiding faith in that which makes us strongest: our love for each other, and the love of our God, our families, our clans, and our friends. Against an alliance of that nature no power in heaven or on earth stands a chance.
Arturus Aurelius Vetarus, Dux Britanniarum

Reblogged from Blissful Book Reviews, 31 October 2013, 
the Eve of Samhain

Follow the Tour

1. October 21st - Kathleen Foley (Review) 2. October 22nd- Literary Redemption
3. October 23rd- Nikis Book Blog (Review) 4. October 24th - Identity Discovery (Promo)
5. October 25th - Andis Book Reviews 6. October 28th - The Caffeinated Diva (Review)
7. October 29th - Out There Reviews & Stuff (Review and Excerpt) 8. October 30th - Mamas Got Flair (Promo)
9. October 31st - Blissful Book Reviews (Guest Post) 10. November 1st - Bibliophiles Thoughts On Books (Review)

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Giveaway for Print Copies of Morning's Journey!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Morning's Journey by Kim Headlee

Morning's Journey

by Kim Headlee

Giveaway ends November 11, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Ten—that's right, 10!—print copies are being offered in this giveaway via Goodreads. Enter now, and good luck!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Congratulations, Giveaway Winners!

Dawnflight by Kim Headlee
Congratulations, Raven W. and Lisa W.! You each have won an ebook copy of Dawnflight, volume 1 of The Dragon's Dove Chronicles. Enjoy!

And I would like to extend special thanks to all the other entrants, including Merita, Ava, Bertha, Jill, Angela, Laura, Linda, Caridad, Wendy, David, Richard, Jennifer, Jessica, Cherry, and Amy. Thank you very much for all your support!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Morning's Journey now available in print!

Morning's Journey by Kim Headlee 
Cover art by Jennifer Doneske & Joe Calkins
is available in print 
at last!

The long-awaited sequel to Dawnflight and the second installment in The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, this is the Arthurian Legends as you have never seen it presented before. Morning's Journey seamlessly blends myth and history, fact and fiction, legend and lore to deliver an action- and emotion-packed tale that's sure to please not only fans of the genre but anyone looking for a great read.

If you want to "try before you buy," I recommend The Color of Vengeance, a stand-alone short story excerpted from Morning's Journey that will soon be available as an audiobook edition too.

Dawnflight (The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, #1) The Color of Vengeance

View all my Goodreads reviews

What others are saying about 
Morning's Journey:

Morning's Journey
is “...a page turning story that gives a new life to old stories.” ~ Gaele Hince, I Am, Indeed

“I love the way Headlee infuses historic languange to really flesh out the cultures and history of her world. Overall strong characters, good pacing and a vibrant world make for a compelling read.”
~ Craig Scott, CS Fantasy Reviews

Saturday, October 5, 2013

CS fantasy reviews: Morning's Journey by Kim Headlee

CS fantasy reviews: Morning's Journey by Kim Headlee 

Originally posted 09/2020/13 by Craig Scott

Gyanhumara and Artyr are now married but duty leads them to long periods of separation that neither are happy about and puts a strain on their relationship.  Gyanhumara also falls pregnant and has to deal with the realization that her life may change irrevocably and her warrior days may be behind her. She is also aware that any child they have will become a target for Urien, who is making plans to speed up his succession to the leadership position in his own clan. Meanwhile other outside forces have plans of their own.

Like the first novel (Dawnflight) Gyan remains the star of the show and the various tensions she has to deal with lead to some very strong character development. Both Artyr and Angusel face their own obstacles and their development is equally well handled. While there are certainly moments when both Urien and Morghe hint at more depth for the most part they are remain driven by selfishness and remain one-dimensional. The minor villains in the piece were actually much better fleshed out than these two and made for more compelling characters. 

Pacing in the first quarter of the book is a tad slow but after this point it picks up and is well controlled for the remainder of the story. I love the way Headlee infuses historic languange to really flesh out the cultures and history of her world.

Overall strong characters, good pacing and a vibrant world make for a compelling read. I would still like to see the main villains fleshed out more. 8/10. Also rated 4 stars on

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Giveaway!

Okay, so I’m new at this blog thing, but I finally figured out which gadget to add so that all you lovely folks can join my site! Everyone who decides to “Enter the Maze” via Google Friend Connect will be entered in a drawing to receive a copy of one of my ebooks—one winner for every 10 connections. Adding me to your Google+ circle will be good for an extra entry.

If you need more information about my books, which present the Arthurian Legends in a seamless blend of fact and fiction, legend and lore as you have never seen before, I invite you to view the fantastic book trailers, located in the sidebar. In addition, a lively video of review blurbs and excerpts from Dawnflight may be viewed here: And if you like audiobooks, you will love the video of Dawnflight's Prologue,, set to haunting music and poignant images.

The drawing for the ebooks will be held October 10th and the winners will be announced on this blog. The link to add me to your Google+ circle is next to my profile, and the link to “Enter the Maze” is in the sidebar under my profile and blog pages. Don't delay; enter today!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prologue of DAWNFLIGHT by Kim Headlee set to Music and Pictures!

Dawnflight by Kim Headlee
Audiobook narrated by Dorothy Dickson

Be swept away by the power and majesty of the greatest legend of all time, told in a fresh and exciting new way!

Gyanhumara "Gyan" nic Hymar is a Caledonian chieftainess by birth, a warrior and leader of warriors by training, and she is betrothed to Urien map Dumarec, a son of her clan's deadliest enemy, by right of Arthur the Pendragon's conquest of her people. For the sake of peace, Gyan is willing to sacrifice everything... perhaps even her very life, if her foreboding about Urien proves true.

Arthur map Uther is the bastard son of two worlds, Roman by his father and Brytoni by his mother. Denied hereditary rulership by the elders of Chieftainess Ygraine's clan, Arthur has followed Uther's path to become Dux Britanniarum, the Pendragon: supreme commander of the northern Brytoni army. The Caledonians, Scots, Saxons, and Angles keep him too busy to dwell upon his loneliness... most of the time.

When Gyan and Arthur meet, each recognize within the other their soul's mate. The treaty has preserved Gyan's ancient right to marry any man, providing he is a Brytoni nobleman - but Arthur does not qualify. And the ambitious Urien, Arthur's greatest political rival, shall not be so easily denied.

But there is an even greater threat looming. The Laird of the Scots wants their land and will kill all who stand in their way. Gyan, Arthur and Urien must unite to thwart this merciless enemy who threatens everyone they hold dear.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The See-Through Leopard by Sibel Hodge

The See-Through LeopardThe See-Through Leopard by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When grief & loss collide with teen angst & overwhelming guilt, sometimes it takes a helpless little bundle of mewling fur to convince someone to step onto the grueling path toward ultimate healing.

“Everyone has scars. Whether they’re on the outside or inside, everyone’s got them.” So observes Zach, the wise-beyond-his-years mentor and secret love interest of Jazz Hooper. At this point in the story, Jazz is far from certain that she’s ready to believe him.

Still reeling from the accidental death of her mother quite some time earlier, an accident for which she unswervingly blames herself, her grief is compounded by the fact that the accident left her permanently disfigured. Abandoned by her friends, who now revile her with taunts like “freak” and “weirdo,” she has retreated from the cruelty of the world into which she was born. And if the inability to bear looking at her reflection in a mirror isn’t bad enough, her very name—her mother’s favorite music genre—provides a constant reminder of everything precious that she has lost.

Her veterinarian father also struggles with his grief while ineffectually watching his daughter sink further into the throes of hers. His solution is to relocate his decimated family from England to Kenya, where he and his late wife had worked prior to Jazz’s birth. Naturally afraid of the unknown, and possessing zero interest in animals, Jazz drags her feet about the move. Being a minor gives her no choice in the matter.

Jazz’s new life in Kenya begins to play out just as disastrously as her post-accident life in England had become... until she is confronted with the pitiful spectacle of a starving young leopard cub whose mother had been killed by poachers. Fortunately for all concerned, Jazz chooses to help the cub. Thus begins a nearly two-year process as Jazz, with Zach’s invaluable help, becomes “mama leopard” to Asha, teaching her all the skills Asha will need to survive as an adult back in the wild.

I chose to review this book based on its cover blurb, and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

There were some elements to the book for which, collectively, I knocked one point off its rating. Several technical errors slipped by the copyeditor (and I’m not talking about the differences between American English & British English), the storyline was fairly predictable, the author resorted to causing romantic conflict between Jazz and Zach by failing to have them simply talk to each other, and Jazz’s father made at least two questionable parenting decisions: he didn't seek professional grief counseling for Jazz right after the accident, and he allowed his underage and highly fragile daughter to be interviewed alone by a reporter whose agenda proved to be less than honorable.

All in all, however, I found The See-Through Leopard to be a quick and engaging read, and I highly recommend it to any parent or teen coping with loss, or who is interested in learning more about the plight of animals in Africa and across our entire planet.

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for this review.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Author Interview on Through the Mists of Time

Author Interview: Kim Headlee, author of Dawnflight

Reblogged from Through the Mists of Time by Nicole Evelina, 3/4/2013

Today I’m honored to feature an interview with Kim Headlee, a fellow Arthurian author whom I’ve admired for years. She and I were on the same Arthurian list-serve back in 1999 when I was first conceiving my own Guinevere books and I’m so thrilled to have connected with her once again!

1. Please tell us a little about Dawnflight. 
DF-COVER-FRONT-FINAL Dawnflight is the first installment of The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, a series that I hope will span at least eight volumes, including two which precede Dawnflight in terms of the characters’ chronology. Dawnflight features the romance of Gyanhumara (“Gyan”) and Arthur beginning in the aftermath of the first of Arthur’s twelve battles, in which he defeated her people and established the treaty clause that she must marry a nobleman from his side of the border.

Of course, treaties, like all other rules, are indeed meant to be broken. The trick lies in how to break them without creating calamity for all involved. Throw in an enemy invasion for good measure (battles two and three on Arthur’s list of twelve), and our heroes have quite the conundrum, indeed.

2. What inspired you to write it?

A combination of factors contributed.

When I was 7 (I’m dating myself, but I stopped caring about such things decades ago), my parents took me to see the movie Camelot in the theatre. The two images I liked best from that first viewing were Guinevere in her white fur wrap and the knights fighting on top of the Round Table and breaking it. Both foreshadowed the direction of my Arthurian fiction.

At age 9, I read a modern-English rendering of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur cover to cover and became hooked. I began devouring every Arthurian title I could lay my hands on. In those days, that meant editions such as The Boy’s King Arthur, a version of Malory illustrated by Howard Pyle, an umpteenth reprinting of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and an almost-umpteenth reprinting of The Once and Future King.

In high school, my parents gave me a first-edition copy of The Hollow Hills, which made me thirst after historical adaptations. The highest compliment any reviewer has paid my work to date is to give it a favorable comparison to Mary Stewart’s novels; she was my primary literary hero in those days. She still is.

High school was when I first started writing my own version of the Arthur-Guinevere relationship. I still have a couple of drafts of that—and read them recently, in fact. What a hoot! 100% teenage girl, no question about it.

Then Marion Zimmer Bradley came out with her iconic entry into the Legends (Mists of Avalon and, yes, I have a first edition of that, too), which concentrated on “rehabilitating” the reputation of Morgan le Fay.

Through all of this—and I include the works by Nancy McKenzie, Persia Woolley, Sharan Newman, and Helen Hollick—I couldn’t find a rendering of Guinevere that I well and truly liked. So, as the adage goes, “If you want something done right…” :D

3. You are a woman after my own heart! What’s different about this new version from the award-winning one released in 1999?

Glad you asked!

The most obvious difference at first glance is the inclusion of my digital line-art renderings of images engraved on Pictish standing stones found throughout Scotland, plus some of my original artwork inspired by said stones. These drawings function throughout the text as clues to the reader of an imminent viewpoint shift: the doves represent Gyan, the dragons Arthur, and so forth. With more than ten viewpoint characters, I decided my readers could use a bit of help!

Linguistically—aside from tighter wording and hotter sex—I have expanded my characters’ vocabularies to include additional epithets, endearments, insults, and mythology in order to more richly define their world. I never would have dared to do this had I not decided to include a glossary. Since my work has truly epic scope, I also include an index of characters who appear or who are referenced in the book. This index defines each character’s function in the story and gives other pertinent details.

4. I’ve heard you say that yours is a Guinevere “people will actually like.” What do you mean by that? What makes her different?

She’s smart (and sometimes a smartass!), she’s strong willed, she has a fairly firm idea of who she is and what she wants from life—and from her life-partner—and yet all that strength forms a shell around a compassionate, vulnerable core. She wants to do the best thing for her people but sometimes doesn’t have the first clue how to accomplish it and seeks approval along the way. Consequently, she is mercilessly hard on herself when she perceives that she has failed to meet others’ expectations. In short, she is very much a woman that female readers can relate to despite the fact that most of us don’t rule clans or collect heads. I once described the book to a coworker as, “a female assertiveness training manual.” It’s not far from the truth. Male readers can simply sit back and enjoy the view, along with the battles and political intrigue and whatnot.

5. What made you choose Scotland as the location for your novel when England is the traditional setting?

Several research works I read in the 1980s—before Dawnflight first took shape upon the page—suggested to me that the Border Country was an ideal location for Arthur’s military operations. Plus, I was attracted to the cross-cultural aspect of having Arthur be a Romanized Celt and Gyan a Pict (or “ban-Caledonach,” as she would call herself in my newly invented Pictish terminology). In fact, the more I delve into Scottish Gaelic to create Pictish terms for place-names, the more I am convinced that southern Scotland/northern England was Arthur’s home turf, in spite of what others may insist. The wording, in comparison to traditional Arthurian place-names and battle sites that nobody can identify with anything approaching certainty, fits far too nicely to be mere coincidence.

And, yes, I firmly believe Arthur, his wife, and their associates existed. To do anything less would be a gross disservice to my writing and to my readers.

6. I’ve read that you purposefully stripped your tale of the magic usually associated with Arthurian legend to focus more on the history. Why?

Oh, the magic is there, trust me! But it is the magic of visions and prophecies, the magic of prayer, the magic of curses and blessings, the magic of herbal lore…and most of all, the magic that happens when two charismatic individuals unite to forge a better world for themselves, each other and their people.

7. The summary for your book puts forth an interesting premise: Gyan (Guinevere) marries someone other than Arthur. What made you choose such a bold departure from previous legend?

Good question! I think it may have been inspired by some obscure, ancient tale…after having studied the Arthurian Legends for more than four decades, it’s safe to say that I’ve forgotten far more than most people know about the subject.

Actually, to be fair—and this isn’t really a spoiler alert—Gyan is betrothed to Urien. After she and Arthur meet and become attracted to each other, they spend the rest of the book trying to figure out how she can extricate herself from the betrothal without making Urien start a civil war.

8. Dawnflight has a sequel, correct? What can you tell us about this book and when it will be available?

Morning’s Journey picks up the morning after Dawnflight leaves off and follows Gyan & Arthur through more battles and family changes and triumphs and tragedies. And it delves a little farther into the relationship of Gyan and Angusel (Lancelot). Morning’s Journey is available in ebook format and will be available in print next month.

9. What else might readers like to know about Dawnflight?

If you choose to buy the print edition, message me on Facebook ( for instructions on how to obtain an autographed bookplate. If you buy the e-book edition, I can mail you a magnet… but I wouldn’t advise putting it anywhere near your device!

10. When and where can readers find your books?

Please see the links on my blog's sidebar for current retail outlets for all my books, including audiobook editions.
11. How can people find out more about you?

Friend me on Facebook: I like to share stuff about cats and Star Wars and writerly things and inspirational sentiments and, oh yeah, the occasional original thought. :D

Thank you , Kim, for joining us here. I hope you find great success with Dawnflight, and best of luck on your future works!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Congratulations to the winners of my most recent Goodreads contest! 

The following fans each won an autographed print copy of Dawnflight: Mario, Ava, Claire, Melissa, Jesse, Sarah, Shay, Mary, Syvannah, and Maddie. Watch this space for an announcement about a contest where you can win a print copy of Morning's Journey! This picture is a preview sketch of the new cover... though the background will be a bit different. Here, Gyan and Arthur appear to be fighting invaders near my home. I took the background photo January 18, 2013, the morning after a 16-inch snowfall!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deanna's Tidbits: Interview with author Kim Headlee

Reblogged from 5/20/2013
Hi! Thank you for stopping in to meet Kim! 

Deanna: Kim, thank you for hanging out with us this week! Tell us something about yourself that our readers might not know.

Kim: When I was 7, my parents took me to see the movie Camelot (starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave & Franco Nero, Warner Brothers, 1967). This inaugurated my lifelong interest in the Arthurian Legends. My interest received another boost at age 9, when I read a modern-English translation of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur cover to cover. These two facts I have mentioned in other public forums.

What I have never revealed is that when my preteen friends were identifying with athletes and pop-culture celebrities, I identified so strongly with Lancelot that I wanted to be him! My favorite pull-on top was of a shade and style that looked like something Franco Nero wore in the movie, and I had a silver doubloon attached to a silvertone necklace chain that reminded me of something a knight in the Middle Ages would wear.

Deanna: Really! Were you a tomboy?

Kim: I was a competitive swimmer—ultimately, I was recruited to compete at the Air Force Academy—so I was always very athletic. The aspect of Lancelot that appealed to me was that he was the best in the world at what he did and knew it, and he talked about it in such a matter-of-fact way that his peers despised him for it. And yet because it was the unvarnished truth, the other knights could do nothing to prove him wrong. As a kid I wanted to be that good at whatever I did. I hope my writing lives up to that ideal. My fans seem to think so, and that heartens me.

Deanna: Thank you for sharing that with us. What do you do to relax when you aren’t writing?

Kim: Writing is my relaxation! It focuses and invigorates me. Everything else I must do to keep the wheels of my life spinning along…doesn’t.

Deanna: Ah, but surely it isn’t all-work-and-no-play for you all the time. For your evenings out, do you favor dinner or a movie? What would the dinner be? What might the movie be? Do you prefer wine, whiskey, soft drinks, or iced tea? Inquiring minds!

Kim: My Spring 2013 has been so insanely busy, for happy reasons as well as sad, that at this point I will take any evening activity that isn’t related to high school athletics, college events, or mournful family gatherings.

And if I’m not driving, I will take any cocktail that contains a shot of Peach Schnapps, thank you very much! Though my husband’s invented frozen “Blueberry Surprise,” made with our home-grown blueberries, Blue Curacao, and other surprises, comes in a close second.

Dinner and a movie sounds good, though! My town has the best Japanese restaurant in a hundred mile radius, and the movie will be Star Trek: Into Darkness. For my evening out I don’t want to wait till almost Christmas before the next installment of The Hobbit is released!

Deanna: The Blueberry Surprise sounds delicious! You ARE very busy. Do you have to schedule your writing time around a day job too?

Kim: “Have to”—not anymore, thankfully. I worked as a full-time computer consultant for 25 years. While writing & publishing my first two novels (Dawnflight, 1st Edition, Sonnet Books, 1999, and Liberty, writing as Kimberly Iverson, HQN Books, 2006) I held jobs that not only took me outside the home but entailed horrific commutes. After being in a near-fatal automobile crash in 2003 that left me with pins holding together a neck fracture, the 9-to-5-plus-commute grind became increasingly difficult to sustain. So when we left the “rat race” and moved to rural Southwestern Virginia in 2005 (because the “rats” won, in case you were wondering), I did a little bit of telecommuting and still do on rare occasions. But I didn’t pursue any more full-time computer positions. I also substitute-teach now & then at the high school where my husband teaches. It turns out that I’m one of those rare substitutes who actually can teach, so my services have been in demand lately.

Deanna: As women, we must juggle many roles, and as authors the situation seems even more acute. I’ve been accused of being several people because of the characters in my writing—how about you? How many personalities live in your mind?

Kim: All of them! Every character that finds his or her way out of my head and onto the page is a part of me in some way: villains and heroes, minor characters and major ones, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the hideous. Some characters of course inhabit more real estate inside my head than others, and for longer periods of time. Sometimes, decades longer.

Gyan, the heroine of The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles and one of the characters who has stayed with me the longest, recently granted an interview with the Love For Indie Authors blog.

Deanna: Sounds crowded up there! Do your characters get together and throw their own parties?

One of the most surprising things that ever happened to me occurred in my “pre-published” days, when I picked up a draft of Dawnflight and reread it for the first time in several years. Because I knew chronological distance tends to strip away the bias created by working on a project every day, I fully expected the manuscript to strike me as being utter crap. Not only was it not crap, but I felt as if I was experiencing a family reunion with my characters! Their “faithfulness” heartened me and gave me the impetus to see their story through to its initial publication, five years later.

Deanna: How many characters do you have? You must have a lot of plots going on to keep them all busy. How many plots do you include in one of your books? And why do you use so many viewpoint characters?

Kim: Wow. In all this time I have never sat down to count plots, and I always used to lose count when trying to list the viewpoint characters! I write epic literature, which by its very nature entails many plots and characters with which to effectively carry them. And I use the word “epic” in the traditional sense of story scope, not the way in which the word has been trivialized in today’s conversational usage. Since my story arcs are so broad, not every plot gets resolved in a single volume, and not all plots have been introduced in the first installment.

With the 2013 reboot of my Dragon’s Dove Chronicles series of Arthurian novels, and having decided to go the indie-publishing route to retain control of all aspects of my work, I finally hit upon a method that allows me to count viewpoint characters: the line-art totem. Each character has his or her own totem, and the major characters have two. My artwork is inspired by carvings on standing stones found throughout Scotland, and each novel in The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles features an acknowledgments section in the backmatter where I identify the specific stones and their locations, and which character the image represents. I hope these totems help the readers navigate the viewpoint shifts. It appears so, since the feedback I’ve received has been very positive.

So to answer your second question, Dawnflight features 14 viewpoint characters, and its sequel, the forthcoming Morning’s Journey, has 18! My alter-ego for historical romance, Kimberly Iverson, uses far fewer viewpoint characters, which is more in keeping with the genre. In the 2006 novel Liberty, which features the love story of a female gladiator-slave and the son of the Roman governor of Britain, only 5 characters’ viewpoints were necessary for effectively telling that story.

Deanna: My readers love to know how writers spend their day. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Kim: LOL, I don’t think “typical” applies to any day of mine! (Did I mention how crazy my Spring has been? Yes, I believe I have.

And in fact I prefer not to have a set routine unless I am pressing to finish the first draft of a novel in progress. If that’s the case, I go to “the Retreat,” a small house we built on our property when we first bought the land which has all the comforts of home except—deliberately—a landline and Internet access. This is where I store my research library, signed books, memorabilia acquired from conventions and research trips throughout the years, artwork, and other items that inspire me as I write. It also functions as a guesthouse, which we make available to family and close friends. Once school resumes in the fall, I plan to spend as many days as it takes there to finish the first draft of Morning’s Journey’s sequel, Raging Sea. I got about 80 pages into it last fall before a family crisis put my writing of new material on temporary hiatus.

Deanna: I’m sorry to hear that and hope you can get back to it soon! What one thing would you pass on to new writers?

Kim: One thing, eh? Just one? Okay. Here it is:


Because if you don’t stick with your writing, creating it and revising it and polishing it so hard and so shiny that you can see yourself in it, nobody else is going to do it for you.

Deanna: That’s an excellent point. Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Kim: My novels feature many different themes but with one unifying concept: the primary romantic relationships feature couples who are not of the same race or culture. In Dawnflight and Morning’s Journey, Gyan (a.k.a. Guinevere) is a Pictish warrior-chieftainess, and Arthur is a Romanized Celt. In Liberty, my female gladiator, Rhyddes, is a British Celt, and Marcus is a Roman nobleman descended from one of Rome’s founding families. The next-to-be-published work under the Kimberly Iverson brand, Snow In July, which is set in the months immediately following the Battle of Hastings, features the Saxon heroine Kendra, who is forced by royal decree to marry the Norman knight Alain.

I even have a body of work—including a trilogy of screenplays—that centers upon two time-traveling lovers: the heroine was born in 5th century Britain, and the hero, by our chronology, won’t be born (in America) until 2037! But I’ll leave the reveal of their names and story for another day.

Deanna: I look forward to that. Let’s switch gears a bit, now. What physical characteristics do you admire in a man?

Kim: ROFL! That is a gear shift. Well, shall I admit that I don’t watch pro football games only to see a fat little brown, pointy-ended thing get schlepped up and down the field? That I prefer football uniforms to any other sport’s attire because of the, shall I say, tailoring, especially in the seat region? And that Joe Montana is my favorite pro player of all time, and not simply because of his impressive on-field statistics?

Oops, I guess I just did!

I’ll let our gentle readers draw what conclusions they may from those hints… ;-)

Deanna: Okay! Back to business, then. Please tell us about your latest book and characters, and the type of reader it may appeal to.

Kim: For decades I have called myself the “Cross-Genre Queen.” In the early 90s, when I was trying to market Dawnflight myself, it never even occurred to me to send it to romance publishers. Although the romance of Gyan and Arthur drives the central plot, their story is so much more than that, filled with history and legend, battles and conquests, struggles of the soul, and the magic of herbal lore and prophecies and visions. After Dawnflight was picked up for publication by Sonnet Books, a romance imprint of Simon & Schuster, its spine classification was simply “Fiction.” Most of what I write is heavily cross-genre because that’s what appeals to me most as a reader. I feel it’s much more representative of life and therefore much more meaningful to the audience.

Therefore, my work—especially Dawnflight and the other volumes of The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles—appeals to a wide variety of readers for a wide variety of reasons.

As far as graphic content goes, sex as well as violence, I have had parents of children as young as 10 tell me their children love my fiction, which doesn’t surprise me. It’s at its heart an exciting story, after all. And the sexual content is higher for this edition of Dawnflight and its sequels. My advice is that the parent of any child under the age of 16 should read it first and decide whether it is appropriate reading material for their son or daughter.

Women may like the love story that develops between Arthur and Gyan, two very strong, talented, compassionate, intelligent leaders who share a vision to unite their formerly warring peoples and bring peace and prosperity to their world. Arthur and Gyan are soulmates, and it shows…and not just in the bedchamber.

Men may like the swordplay, which I learned firsthand from a Tai Chi master and have incorporated into my combat scenes as a way to distinguish Gyan’s fighting style from the brute-force, hack-and-slash method most of her male opponents employ. And, hey, she wears leather, and fills it very well! But I drew the line at giving her the ridiculous if uber-sexy, fantasy-babe look. My heroine is far smarter than to get caught dead wearing something as impractical as that!

Anyone who enjoys depictions of political intrigue and wars will find plenty of both in The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles. By tradition, Arthur fought 12 major battles and won them all in the course of establishing a generation of peace for Britain. All of these battles have been, are, or will be described in the various volumes of The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles. Another aspect that sets my work apart from other Arthurian renditions is that I delve into the various reasons why Arthur’s enemies attack—everything from desperate brink-of-starvation need to unabashed avarice. And not all of Arthur’s allies choose to fight against these external enemies all the time; hence the intrigue.

Lovers of the beauty and intricacies of the written word may enjoy the effort I have put into inventing entire sets of idiomatic language that the characters of my various races employ to refer to themselves and each other. These terms, based on my studies of Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Old Welsh, and Old English, show up in names, endearments, epithets, insults, and mythology for the enrichment of the world I have created. All of my editions now feature appendices to aid readers who wish to learn more about these terms and their origins. Those who wrestle with the pronunciations may be glad to learn that audiobook editions are in the works!

And no story about Arthur’s era would be complete without depictions of the various characters’ religious beliefs and practices, and how these beliefs affect their decisions. Some of this resonates with readers, and some doesn’t.

It is all, as the saying goes, in the eye of the beholder.

Thank you very much, Deanna, for this opportunity to share with your readers!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bringing Legends to Life: An Interview with Kim Headlee by Moira Allen

Bringing Legends to Life:
An Interview with Kim Headlee

by Moira Allen

Reblogged from WritingWorld.

Somewhere -- perhaps in a cave guarded by ravens, or on an island shrouded in mist and magic -- rests the body of King Arthur. Not dead, legends say, but only sleeping, until the hour of Britain's need summons him forth again.

The legends that surround the fabled king seem equally unlikely to die. From generation to generation they have continued to fascinate, retold and reinterpreted to the point that, if Arthur were to wake up today and read about his "history" in the morning tabloids, he probably wouldn't recognize himself.

For storytellers, this fascination is both a blessing and a curse. People love to read about Arthur -- but how does one say anything new, when everyone already knows how the story ends? This is the challenge Kim Headlee takes on in her novel Dawnflight (2nd Edition, 2013; originally published by Pocket Books, 1999) -- a novel that adds some unexpected twists to the story of Arthur and Guinevere.

Dawnflight begins at the end of the 5th century, when Roman traditions are still strong in Britain even though the legions have officially "left." Headlee places her story against the backdrop of Arthur's twelve battles, beginning just after his victory over the Caledonians (Picts). Rather than slaughter his former enemies, however, Arthur seeks to enlist their aid against a new threat to Britain: Scottish and Germanic invaders. It is through this tangled web of politics, alliances and war that Arthur and Gyanhumara ("Gyan") are brought together.

Gyan is no hapless damsel, but the head of a Pictish tribe. Moreover, she is betrothed to Urien mac Dumarec, heir to a clan that has feuded with Gyan's for generations. Gyan is determined to bring peace by going through with this ill-fated match, despite the fact that Urien soon "proves to be her enemy in more ways than one" -- and despite the fact that she has fallen in love with Arthur.

A Lifelong Fascination

Kim Headlee has been fascinated with Arthurian legends since the age of seven. She soon began writing her own versions of the tales, which followed the Malory tradition until she discovered Mary Stewart's The Hollow Hills and its prequel, The Crystal Cave. "Stewart's Merlin trilogy inspired me to start my own quest for who the 'real' King Arthur might have been," says Headlee. "There was also no question that from then on, I too would base my work on 'Dark Age' Britain." Headlee went on to read everything she could lay her hands on -- fiction and nonfiction -- that dealt with post-Roman Britain, Celts, Druids, Anglo-Saxons, and the numerous theories of Arthur's origins.

The inspiration for the prior-betrothal angle in Dawnflight came about when Headlee read Dr. Norma Goodrich's King Arthur. Goodrich speculated that such a betrothal might account for some of the later "captured Guinevere" motifs that appear so often in Arthurian lore. Goodrich discusses the theory that Pictish culture might have been matrilinear, with the line of succession determined through the female rather than the male line. [Interviewer's note: This idea, first proposed by Bede in the 8th century, is supported to some degree by modern archaeological evidence. See British Archaeology, April 1995].

Headlee believes that Dawnflight is also the first Arthurian novel to pay serious attention to the motivations of Britain's waves of invaders -- in this case, the Caledonians and the Scots. Headlee depicts not only the clash of armies but the clash of cultures, as Gyan encounters the customs of Romanized Britain and Arthur attempts to deal with the traditions of the clans.

Besides the problem of finding something new to say about Arthur, Headlee also faced the challenge of bringing to life a culture about which little is understood. Her novel paints a realistic picture of Roman Britain and of the decidedly un-Romanized Pictish clans -- and she offers some worthwhile advice to other writers who would like to depict a "real" historical timeframe.

It's in the Details

With more than 200 books on Arthurian history and related topics in her library, Headlee clearly believes in the importance of research. At the same time, she warns against falling in love with that research. "Remember that readers don't pick up your book for a crash course in history -- although most enjoy learning a thing or two along the way -- but to be entertained. Avoid the temptation to show off your wonderful knowledge all at once, but sprinkle tidbits here and there throughout the story."

The best way to do that, Headlee suggests, is to use the perspective of one's viewpoint character to "notice" appropriate details. In Dawnflight, this is relatively easy since Gyan and Arthur come from different cultures, "so I can slip brief explanations into dialogue, where one character truly doesn't understand what the other is trying to say."
Even when characters don't come from different backgrounds, dialogue and perspective can be used to provide necessary details. In doing so, however, Headlee warns against falling into the "as you know" dialogue trap:
"As you know, General Jackson died of wounds inflicted by one of his own men," said Captain Jones to Lieutenant Smith.
A better approach, according to Headlee, is to use a character who genuinely doesn't "know" the information you're trying to convey. In that way, the reader can learn along with the character, and share the character's emotional response to the information at the same time:
Captain Jones regarded the lieutenant: so young and fresh-faced, despite all the horrors he'd undoubtedly already seen in this Godforsaken war. Jones despised the thought of having to add to the list. But the truth had to be told. "General Jackson died of wounds inflicted by one of his own men." Smith's eyes rounded in obvious shock, before squeezing shut. He bowed his head but did not speak; praying, Jones guessed, although for whom, he had no idea.
Headlee also points out that a viewpoint character should notice only those things that are appropriate to his or her background. "A warrior (of either gender), for example, would probably describe scenery in military terms, such as the advantages and disadvantages of the terrain. Having him go on at excruciating length about the larches and blooming heather would be out of character, unless he has already been shown to have an interest in botany." Similarly, a non-military character might have difficulty understanding what is happening in a fight, unless one provides some background information that shows where the character acquired such knowledge.

To find all this information that one's characters will oh-so-subtly convey, Headlee recommends more than just book research. "Visit the sites you plan to write about as often as you can, and in many different seasonal settings. Put yourself in 'sponge mode' to absorb details of nature, people, weather, geography, etc. Haunt the museums -- especially those local to your site -- and take notes, lots of notes. Keep a diary of your observations, thoughts, and impressions. You might never get a chance to use them, but you won't regret the exercise."

If travel isn't feasible, Headlee recommends visiting local museums and getting as much "hands-on" exposure to the types of artifacts and objects that your characters will use or encounter in your story. She also recommends conducting research on the Internet, where one can also find maps, scholarly articles, and "living history" sites.

Headlee also turns to friends for research help. "I was fortunate enough to have a colleague who was a longtime student of Tai-Chi, a sword-based Chinese art. He kindly sat down with me on several occasions to explain the general principles of sword-fighting, and I watched him execute his routines." Tai-Chi, Headlee explains, is conducted with more finesse than the European "hack and slash" method, and she discussed these differences with her friend at great length, opting to retain some of the Oriental "flavor" in Gyan's fighting style to emphasize her cultural uniqueness.

"Attending medieval Renaissance Faires can also be a handy and fun way to conduct field research," Headlee says. "The fighting and jousting are choreographed, but it's still better than relying on what one learned in one's high school or college fencing class."

Maintaining the Illusion

Even with the most careful research, a historical fantasy will still be a blend of "real" and "fictional" elements. In some cases, the information one needs to build a historical world simply isn't available, and details must be filled in from one's imagination. The challenge is to combine these elements so that the reader never notices anything "false" or out of place.

One area in which ancient and modern worlds are likely to collide is dialogue. "Dialogue is an invaluable bridge between your characters and your audience," says Headlee. "When I write, I try to take extreme care to avoid word anachronisms. It's one of those thankless tasks: Most readers won't compliment you if you make no mistakes. But use the word 'tartan' in a Scottish Highlands story set prior to the 18th century (even though Celts had been weaving distinctive checkered patterns for millenia) and your mailbox will overflow with smugly irate responses." Similarly, Headlee tries to avoid words that, because of their ethnic origin, would be impossible for a character to use ("e.g., instead of 'admiral,' which is of Arabic origin, I use 'fleet commander'.").

"On the other side of the dialogue tightrope, however," says Headlee, "is the tendency to make characters sound too formal. Unless I'm reading something written by a medieval author, stilted or overly formal dialogue will turn me off a story faster than just about anything. I try to survive this balancing act by making my characters sound 'natural' while still avoiding anachronistic words and concepts."

Anachronistic words are one problem; anachronistic behaviors and values are another. According to Headlee, it can be a challenge to take a culture that has radically (even appallingly) different structures and standards from those of one's readers -- and portray it in a positive, appealing light.
"For example," says Headlee, "from what I've been able to glean from my research about the Celts, theirs was a highly gender-segregated society, even to the point that married men and women lived apart most of the time. So I decided to tone down that aspect by portraying men and women feasting together, served by their women -- and even the noblewomen weren't excused from this obligation. Gyan, being of a different cultural background, naturally finds herself having to buck this tradition, on general principles."

Portraying a character as "bucking tradition" can be a way to portray both the character and the tradition itself, but Headlee warns against applying purely 20th-century values and morals to different times and cultures. "Above all else, your characters must remain 'in character.' That means that if you choose to assign certain 20th-century morals (or lack thereof) to a 14th-century heroine, she must have reasons for acting the way she does that are logically justifiable within the context of her backstory or situation. Furthermore, the consequences of bucking the traditions of society must be shown -- which could very easily function as the core of your plot, depending on the nature and magnitude of the character's 'rebellion'."

Whatever a character's reasons for rebelling against the "system," Headlee warns against using that character -- or the story in general -- as a pulpit for "preaching." One of her pet peeves in any type of fiction is the "all pagans are good, all Christians are bad -- or the converse" angle.

Neither view, she points out, is realistic. She suggests that authors "portray characters who exist at all points of the moral and religious spectrum. Mythology in general and Arthurian legend in particular are rife with various forms of moral depravity and rebellion, coexisting -- or conflicting -- with virtue. That's how life operates. No author is devoid of religious bias, for or against. However, if you take care not to 'stack the deck,' but allow your readers to decide which belief system they'd rather relate to based on the logical decisions and actions of your characters, you'll stand a better chance of broadening your audience."

Finally, Headlee notes that when one chooses to write about a historical or mythological period, one should remember that to one's characters, the period is neither historical nor mythological. To the characters within the story, the period is "now." "Your characters are going to consider themselves and their inventions and ideologies (whether made-up or real) to be 'modern' relative to their time period. So if you, the author, treat them as 'ancient history,' you will be doing them, and ultimately your audience, a disservice."

For more information and an excerpt from Dawnflight, Kim Headlee's tips on writing, and suggested resources on Arthurian history and mythology, visit