Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blog Tour Guest Post by Anna Belfrage, Author of A Newfound Land

Please join me in welcoming author Anna Belfrage to the blog today! Anna is touring the blogosphere with A Newfound Land, the fourth book in her Graham Saga time slip series. I'm excited to have her here today talking about characters, and she's got an excerpt for us too! Read on and then enter to win your own copy of A Newfound Land!

Being a writer is at times a lonely place. Or rather, it is an existence devoid of real people, as most of the time the writer is communing with his/her characters. Over time, those characters become eerily real – so real, in fact, that it is quite possible to hold a long and fulfilling mental conversation with them.

There is this misconception that the writer directs the characters, shaping them as the plot needs it. Ha! Most writers I know have issues with recalcitrant characters, imaginary people who cross their arms over their chests, shake their heads and say “I won’t do that!” The writer sighs. This is a pivotal scene in the novel, and character X must really jump into the churning sea. Character X looks the writer up and down, glances over the cliff and takes yet another step away from the edge.

“No way! You need someone to jump into that, you do it!”
Hmm. The writer peeks at the black, restless waters below. “It’s just for a little while,” the writer wheedles, “and then he’ll come and –”

“I might die!” protests character X.

“You won’t,” the writer promises. “I decide that.”

Character X looks down the cliff again. “No one would survive jumping into that. I thought you were writing HistFic, not Fantasy.” With that, X wanders off, the writer groans and realises he/she has to rewrite the whole scene…

What amuses my family the most – well, when they’re not bemoaning my total absorption in my writing, at the expense of homemade meals and cakes – is that I can become so very upset when writing.

“You’ve made them up,” my husband will say.

“Sadly, they don’t seem to care about that. Bloody man!” I retort, still angry with Matthew Graham for being a jerk. Don’t get me wrong; most of the time, I consider Matthew to be the best thing since sliced bread, but seriously, at times he is so old-fashioned!

“How strange,” Alex Graham utters sarcastically, “given that he’s living in the 17th century.”
I frown at my female protagonist. “He should still –”

“Hey!” Alex raises her hand. “I’m the one living with him, okay? You’re the one making him behave the way he does.”

“No way,” I protest, “I definitely did not want him to–”

“Hmph! The moment you breathed life into that toad, Richard Campbell, you knew something like this would happen.”

Oh dear; Alex has me there. I enjoy creating moments of tension between Matthew and Alex, and one fail-safe way of doing so is to introduce a belligerent Puritan minister in the mix.

For those of you that haven’t read my books (yet :) The Graham Saga is the story of Alex, a most
reluctant time traveller who is thrown three centuries backward in time, and her 17th century husband Matthew Graham. Where Matthew is a very devout Presbyterian, Alex is a relaxed agnostic, disliking what she perceives as the hypocrisy of the Presbyterian Church.

In A Newfound Land, Matthew and Alex are building themselves a new home in Maryland, this to get away from the religious persecution that has plagued their life in Scotland. In between struggling with creating a viable farm in the wilderness, they have to address other issues – one of which is Richard Campbell, a minister Matthew brings home to help educate his sons in Scripture. Richard has no fondness for Alex – very mutual, let me tell you – and Matthew is caught in between, with the minister hissing that Matthew, as the man of the house, must uphold his authority, while Alex retreats into silences and distance, hurt by what she perceives as Matthew's betrayal of her. And one day, things come to a head, as described in the excerpt below. Enjoy!

~~~ Excerpt ~~~

Over the coming week, Alex more or less stopped speaking to Matthew – she was so pissed off with him she preferred not to. And he, typical man that he was, pretended things were just like normal, even if he was smart enough not to try cuddling her. He probably realised he risked being kneed in the balls if he did, given her present mood. So they went to bed together – in silence – they rose in the morning – in silence. Well, except for the more basic communication along the lines that were there any clean stockings, or was Sarah’s scraped knee healing as it should. And all day long that enervating, brain-dead excuse of a man hovered around her children and her man, a self-satisfied simper on his lips. Worst of all were the mealtimes, dinner conversation shrinking to Richard Campbell’s long, haranguing monologues.

“But that’s how it is,” Richard stated. “No matter how hard she tries, a woman remains a simple, immoral creature, ruled by her lusty nature, not by sense.”

Okay, that was it, she’d had it; not one more night listening to his misogynist crap.

“What?” Alex said.

“Oh, yes, Mrs Graham, that’s how things are ordered. Even a male child has more intellectual capacity than a grown woman, which is why, of course, it is so important that boys be schooled by men, not by their deficient—”

“Take that back!” Alex glared at Richard across the table. “Don’t sit in my kitchen and tell my sons that their mother is a simple creature on account of her sex!”

Richard gave her a bland smile. “It’s the truth. Eve was made a helpmeet to Adam, a weaker vessel that relies entirely on her husband for guidance and protection. Women lack the cerebral power of men.”

“Bollocks,” Alex said. “And I must say that for a man that professes such great insight into the mysteries of life you’re woefully ignorant.”

“Ignorant?” Richard cleared his throat. “And you’d know better? I think not, Mrs Graham. Loud you may be, opinionated too, but your understanding of intellectual matters is at best limited, at worst non-existent.”

“Oh, shut up! I know more than you do about everything – anything – but the Bible. And even there I’d argue that while you know huge chunks of the Bible by rote, you’ve totally missed out on the underlying message.” She stopped to fill her lungs with air, throwing an angry look in the direction of her silent men. Why didn’t Matthew or Magnus agree with her? How could Matthew allow this toad of a man to say these things? Richard opened his mouth but Alex raised her voice. “But of course you have; you lack context because you have no understanding of history or geography, and you scoff at any ideas that don’t fall exactly within your limited understanding – extremely limited, if you ask me.”

“Alex,” Matthew interrupted, “that’s enough. You’ll not insult the minister further.”

“Insult him?” To her irritation, her voice wobbled. “And what about when he insulted me just now? Why don’t you berate him for calling me a foolish, opinionated woman?” She slammed the pitcher of beer down so hard the earthenware cracked, leaking beer down the sides to puddle on the table. “So seeing as you won’t defend me, I’ll do it myself, okay? In my opinion, Richard Campbell, you’re nothing but an uneducated charlatan with your head so far up your own conceited arse all of you smells of the shit you spout.”

There; that shut him up. In fact, it shut all of them up. Matthew was looking at her as if he dearly wanted her to go up in smoke; Magnus was biting down on his lip, eyes glittering with laughter; and Richard, well, he’d forgotten how to close his mouth. Alex decided it might be wise to take a little time out and went to check on the soup.

For a couple of seconds, the silence was absolute. There were none of the normal sounds a dozen people would make while seated at a table. Instead, it seemed to Matthew that his household had turned into pillars of salt. And then Sarah sneezed, Jacob shifted on his rump, and life returned. Breathing was resumed, feet scuffed at the floor. Spoons were raised, bread was torn off in chunks, as his family continued with their meal. But Richard remained immobile, arms folded over his chest while he stared demandingly at Matthew.

“Apologise,” Matthew said. Goddamn the woman! Aye, Richard had been out of line, but how could she do this to him, humiliate him in front of a minister, showing him to be a man that had no control over his own wife?

Alex ignored him, busy stirring the pot. The kitchen filled with the rich scent of chicken soup, complete with sage and garlic.

“Alex,” Matthew injected his voice with ice, “you’ll apologise to Richard. Now.”

“Matthew…” Magnus said in a warning tone.

Alex turned to face the table. “No, I won’t. He’s a despicable narrow-minded little worm, and if anyone should apologise to anyone it should be he to me.”

“He’s a guest in our home, and you’ve insulted him.” Matthew was all too aware of their silent audience, his sons, his lasses, all looking at him with huge eyes.

“Not my guest, remember?” Alex shrugged, ladling up the soup.

“You must curb that wilful tongue, brother,” Richard said. “A wife to speak to her husband like that...sometimes the only thing that helps is the belt.”

Alex wheeled and swung at him with the ladle. “Get out! Get out of my kitchen!”

“Alex!” Matthew roared, leaping to his feet. He grabbed her, ignoring her angry struggles as he carried her to their room and set her down inside.

“You must apologise.”

“Go fuck yourself,” she spat, face red with anger.

He walked out of the room and slammed the door behind him. He heard her shoot the bolt into place.

“You’re not painting me in the best of lights,” Matthew grumbles, leaning over my shoulder to read my selected extract.

“It wasn’t your best moment, was it?” I retort, and to my satisfaction he blushes.

“Nay,” he sighs. “But…”

“Water under the bridge,” Alex interrupts, coming over to take his arm. She leans into him, he into her. Two halves made into a whole – a whole that at times is imperfect, but then that’s how it is, isn’t it? I smile at them as they wander off, his head bent towards hers to hear what she’s saying. He laughs, throws me a look over his shoulder, and laughs again. Sheesh! I bet they were talking about me!

Thanks for the post and excerpt, Anna!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!

And now for the

Enter to win either a Kindle ebook or a paperback copy of A Newfound Land!
Simply leave a comment on this post with your email address and you're entered. And guess what? This giveaway is open internationally! Woo hoo!

Giveaway closes at 11:59pm Tuesday, December 31, 2013. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!


  1. What a wonderful giveaway. This novel is captivating. the paperback would be lovely.Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Thanks for your great review of this enthralling book. I would love to read the paperback. Many thanks for this chance. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. What a great giveaway. I had never heard of this series before and this blog has me intriqued especially the excerpt. I have just orderd A Rip In The Veil, so I can start at the beginning.

    tmrtini at gmail (dot) com

  4. Thanks for making it open to all. Much appreciated.


  5. I love time slip, I love books in a series. I added the earlier books to my wish list as soon as I heard about them. Would love to win the paperback edition of this novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Ooo, very intriguing excerpt! I've seen Belfrage's novels on Goodreads - thanks for the change to win!


  7. is the giveaway open to the residents from india?


  8. is the giveaway open to the residents from india?


  9. Great post! I have the previous book, would love to add this too! MarieBurton2004 at Yahoo Dot Com


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