Please help me welcome my guest, Gina Conkle, to my blog today as she kicks off her Rafflecopter tour (see below). Take it away, Gina.
Why Do We Love Stories?
Everyone craves a good story now and then. Whether the tale comes by way of movie, book, or shared anecdote with a friend, we all push lifeâ€™s pause button for a story.
Make it a great story and thatâ€™s time well spent. But whatâ€™s the draw?
What lures you away from a mile long â€œto-doâ€ list? Some might say escape or entertainment. But I have a different, deeper idea.
We seek meaning. We seek connection.
Think about it. From the first cave paintings to Egyptian hieroglyphs, man worked to express what he saw in the world around him, to understand. We progressed from stone and brick to papyrus and paper. Yet, even oral traditions lasted for centuries and for good reason. Ancient storytellers from hot Mesopotamia to skalds in icy Norse lands fed legends and sagas to rapt audiences.
Often the tales touched on gods and goddesses as men and women tried to make sense of life events, the big things going on around them. Of course, many a yarn was told that included the internal thingsâ€¦like love.
Why else is romance the number book genre sold in America?
Love is as old as Adam and Eve. We seek the deepest connection in love, yet frankly that powerful emotion can baffle us. Books, stories give us some meaning, some understanding and insight into lifeâ€™s complexities.
Even if we donâ€™t get all the answers, we still shared an experience with the writer and lots of other readers. Donâ€™t you love to gab with a friend about that great book you both read?
Long ago, I briefly volunteered at an adult literacy organization and later became an elementary school teacher. One of the key points I learned while training for both endeavors was this: reading is social.
Stories help us connect and find meaning to the world around us and ultimately to each other.
Thanks for sharing your time with me!
As I close, thank you, Margery Scott, for your kind invitation to be part of this blog. And I invite you, blog reader, to share a comment below on why you love to read.
What makes you hide out with a book?
Gina Conkle, a history nerd to the core, loves castles and museums. Her motto: â€œthe older and moldier, the better.â€ When not enjoying relics, she lives in the present, dabbling in organic gardening. Gina married her favorite alpha male, Brian. The two live with their boys in southern Califronia.
NORSE JEWEL excerpt:
He saw wetness on her lashes. She turned her face to the fields, and another piece of the riddle that made Helena fell into place.
Hakan cupped her chin. His thumb stroked her scarred jaw. â€œYour pouch, the stone is the reason for this. Magnuson said as much.â€
She nodded, sniffling and swiping at tears that rolled down her cheeks.
His thumb brushed a tender stroke over her cheekâ€™s curving pink scar. â€œThe stone almost cost you your life. Why?â€
Hakan, with great tenderness, stroked her face. The salve had done its work: smooth, touchable skin remained. But the salve only healed skin deep wounds. Some wounds lurked deeper than the Daneâ€™s cut. What ached beneath the surface? More fat tears rolled down her cheeks.
â€œI am a peasant maid.â€ Her voice quivered. â€œWhen Guerin wanted me, I feltâ€¦â€ Helena sniffed and chewed her lower lip. â€œI was suddenly important. A woman of value. Without itâ€¦â€
Her vulnerable admission was a tender spot for her. Couldnâ€™t she see her worth was higher than any stone?
His thumbs wiped away her tears. â€œKeep the pendant. It came at a great price. Wear it for all to see.â€
Hakan took her hand in his and set the necklace in her palm. He curled her fingers over jewel and chain. â€œAye, Helena, the stone could buy more thralls. But â€˜tis metal and stone. They do nothing for me.â€
Her lashes, spiked with wetness, fluttered at him. Bewilderment writ on her face, he soothed his voice as if calming a babe.
He shook his head. â€œIâ€™ll not trade you for that.â€
â€œI donâ€™t understand.â€ Her eyebrows knit together.
How could he explain what he didnâ€™t fully understand? He was on shaky ground. From the corner of his eye, part of a red sail caught a strong breeze and fluttered. Selig replaced the rocks that tamped down the sail before the whole cloth blew free. The vibrant red waved at him, a banner by which he could escape explaining why he would not let her go. Hakan waved his arm at the sails drying in the meadow.
â€œLook what youâ€™ve accomplished in so short a time. You promised me great talent weaving fine linensâ€¦to expand my wealth.â€ Hakanâ€™s arms folded across his chest. â€œStrong sails for my ships. This I understand.â€ Tilting his hand toward the jewelry in her hand, the corners of his turned down. â€œStones do nothing for me.â€
A thousand glittering stones couldnâ€™t equal her worth. He stared into the depths of her blue eyes and called himself a coward for not admitting this to her.
Helena sniffed again and clutched the pendant, returning it to the leather pouch. â€œIs there no custom? No means to gain my freedom?â€ she asked, her voice hoarse with emotion.
Hakan sighed. â€œThere are ways.â€
â€œMardred told me a thrall can earn her freedom after some years of service. Is this true?â€
â€œAye.â€ His arms stayed crossed, unmoving. Heâ€™d give no more.
â€œThen, may I strike such an agreement with you?â€
â€œI want to earn my freedom.â€ Her eyes pleaded with him.
Hakan shifted his stance, cagey about giving an inch. His neck and shoulders knotted.
True, many a valuable thrall gained freedom after years of service. Most stayed.
â€œServe me well for seven years, Helena, and youâ€™ll be a freewoman.â€
â€œThe time cannot be shortened?â€ She clasped her hands together. â€œSeven years,â€ she groaned. â€œSo long.â€
â€œI will not be swayed on this.â€
She canted her head at him, doubt clouding her features. â€œBut, will you keep your word, my lord?â€
â€œWhat makes you doubt me? The way Iâ€™ve mistreated you?â€
Helena flinched at his sarcasm. She was not satisfied. Seven years must feel like one hundred to her. Her fingers plucked at her apron, and she kept silent. A stab, like a hot brand, hit him. This was rejection. An armâ€™s length from her, Hakan shut himself away as if in a distant fortress. â€œI require your respect. For seven years.â€
Pain flashed from her eyes. She dabbed at their corners and nodded.
Hakan needed to move. He needed something to ease the itch that plagued him. He needed to keep a good distance from her. His ax leaned against the barn. He grabbed it and swung the heavy tool over his shoulder.
â€œI have to clear some trees,â€ he announced. The field did need widening, and he needed wood.
The tree line would keep him a safe distance from her, yet he could keep an eye on the longhouse. And the loom where she would sit. Hakan walked to the edge of the yard and something pushed him to needle her.
â€œI expect fresh bread at my table tonight. See to it.â€
Her eyebrows shot up at his harsh command. He hadnâ€™t spoken to her that way since the journey to Svea. Her body visibly bristled at his tone. He waited, and Helena bowed her head in exaggerated servitude. Hakan whistled on his way to chop wood, pleased at gaining the upper hand.
Much could happen in seven years.
NORSE JEWEL is available on Amazon
Here are the details of the Rafflecopter Blog Tour:
Grand Prize: 3 wooden spoons, $25 B&N gift card, &
1 tweet with @ginaconkle about Norse Jewel = 1 entry
1 blog tour comment (1 comment per blog only) = 1 entry
Join my newsletter (see the website â€œcontact pageâ€ â€“ can only enter once) = 3 entries
The Rafflecopter lasts as long as Norse Jewelâ€™s Entangled Blog Tour from June 4 â€“ July 4, 2013.