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Monday, March 19, 2012



I've always been a pushover for the underdog. That is probably the reason I became a counselor in my other life. Helping people solve their problems, pointing out their alternatives and helping them map out a course of action was always very gratifying. So I suppose it was no wonder I felt drawn to Mary Queen of Scots even though it was half a dozen centuries too late to help her.

My husband and I were living in England when I first became aware of this woman's sad plight. Oh, I had read enough history to know the general outline of what happened but I had never been close enough to the events to care.

As we traveled the country on weekends, it seemed that Mary had stayed for a time in almost every castle we visited. I began to wonder why. When we went to Scotland and toured Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, we were shown the bed where Mary slept. It looked rather dilapidated and uncomfortable, covered with a nondescript gold spread, yet in another room a glass enclosed bed was covered in fine tapestry. Why was a queen's bed left for tourists to bounce on if they chose while another bed was preserved simply for its finery, I asked myself. And much later, on another National Holiday weekend, we saw the site where Fotheringhay Castle had stood, and where the queen had lost her head, literally. There was only a small sign in a weed-covered field stating the castle's former location and no reference to Mary at all.

I began to ponder the inconsistencies. It seemed every castle in England wanted to claim the queen had slept there, but the castle where she had been beheaded no longer existed and castles are not easily destroyed. Even in her own country, she was almost ignored. I began to think of Mary Queen of Scots as an enigma and wanted to know more about her. And the more I learned, the more sympathy I felt. When I mentioned this to any of my English friends, it was quite clear they didn't share my sentiments. I suppose this had something to do with how the course of history would have been changed if Mary had somehow usurped the throne of her cousin, good queen Bess. But in my opinion as an outsider, I think Mary would have been happy to return to Scotland and rule her own native land and bring up James. And perhaps that might have made a difference in this boy king who allowed his own mother to die without lifting a finger to save her though he did finally relent and have her entombed in Westminster Abbey.

In retrospect, I think it a pity that Queen Mary didn't have better counselors to guide her. There was her early marriage to Francis, that sickly boy who was heir to the throne of France. Then the vain, ambitious Lord Darnley, and worst of all the ruthless Bothwell. Not a one of them were worthy of her. By all accounts, she was beautiful and intelligent but she needed to learn to trust her own instincts. She made a lot of poor decisions, like stopping in England instead of going on to France when she fled Scotland for her life. My heart breaks for her always longing, throughout all the years of her English captivity, to be invited to London to meet her cousin Elizabeth. And in her final hours, the way she met her death was an example of true courage.

And so, Queen Mary inserted her strong personality into my thoughts until I was forced to put her into a book to get her out of my head. I had intended to give her a minor "walk-on" part but she had other ideas. She insisted on speaking! And I found myself creating other characters to showcase her. She did allow me to write a sweet romance between her innocent waiting-lady and a handsome, stalwart castle guard but she stayed in control of the story most of the time.

However, I can't begrudge her that. It was the least I could do for her. I really wanted to help her escape back to Scotland but one can't rewrite history without changing fiction to fantasy, can one? I hope you'll read Maid of the Midlands and that the tragedy of this queen will touch your heart as it did the hearts of Matilda, Jondalar, and me.

Tell us your favorite queen and be entered into a drawing for a copy of Maid of the Midlands.

About the Author:
Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published fiction, poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Linda holds an Education Specialist Degree from Murray State University with post-graduate work from U. of Alabama and was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist in public schools in three states. She credits her husband and adult children for providing encouragement and technical support necessary for survival in the cyberspace world.

Linda's first two books were published by Kensington. She currently has nine e-books(eight also in print)available from the publishers below. Two books of fiction, a haiku collection, and four short stories are scheduled for 2012. For more information, please visit her website at

When Mary, Queen of Scots, is sent to Hafton Castle, Matilda becomes her waiting-lady. The comely maid loves Jondalar, a stalwart castle guard who returns her affection but places his greed to succeed above all else. After Matilda nurses the queen through a fever, she rewards the maid with a valuable ruby. Jondalar plots with the young lord of the castle to rid the Crown of the captive queen in return for a promotion in the guard. When Matilda discovers the plan, she risks her life to warn the queen. As Mary journeys toward her next destination, Matilda and Jondalar separately travel the English countryside in pursuit of her. Jondalar had a change of heart and also seeks to warn the queen but Matilda is unaware of this as they dodge each other enroute. When Jondalar almost loses the maid he loves, will he realize what really matters?


Linda Swift said...

Good morning, Judy and Marianne, and thanks for having me here at LASR today. And goood morning to readers. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you'll tell us your thoughts on a queen, too. I'll be popping in throughout the day so please check back.

jrlindermuth said...

It's always interesting to look at history from a different perspective. You make some good points. Best wishes for many sales and good reviews of the book.

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I'm truly amazed by your writing. I don't know anyone who can put something into words as simply and understated as you, and have the meaning jump off the page. You are a true master at storytelling, and I wish the world would see that. You deserve high praise for all your stories, and you know I have read everyone--only one I never got to the end, and you know which one that was, and why I did not get to the end.
Maid of the Midlands should entertain anyone who likes a very well written story with enough twists and turns.
In the end, it's all about the characters, isn't it?

Linda Swift said...

Good morning, Jrlindermuth and thanks for coming by and for your comments abd good wishes. I hope no one takes my comments as disrespectful of royalty. It's all said with tongue-in-cheek. I love reading about all the queens (and kings) in history. And I love all fiction books written about them.

Linda Swift said...

Celia, I read your post and the first thing I thought was "Is she talking about ME? That was high praise indeed. I surely wish I could afford to hire you for my PR person. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your kind words.
And as for that story you were too squeamish to finish? You might as well read it all. It won't be as gruesome as you have already imagined it!

Paula Martin said...

I enjoyed your portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots in 'Maid of the Midlands', Linda.
I find Mary a bit of an enigma, she seemed to be a strong character but still became the 'victim' of the political and religious upheavals of the time.

Linda Swift said...

Exactly, Paula. That's why I felt Mary could have profited from the services of a good counselor! She was strong in so many ways. Even physically, she was an egnima. Big, strong, a horssewoman, but with a very weak digestive system that laid her low so many times. I found her such a fascinating person. Thanks for coming by and your nice comment about the book.

L MCMAKEN said...

Very intriguing - you're right she is one of those historical figures that everyone knows of, but no one knows much about. Sounds like a really good read!

Linda Swift said...

Thank you for your comments, L McMaken. And for an historically accurate account of Queen Mary's life from birth to tragic death, I highly reccomment "Mary Queen of Scots" by Antonia Fraser. It's a huge non-fiction book but her whole life reads like fiction!

divavixenqueen said...

Favorite queen right now is the reigning "Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth".Your story looks really,intriguing

Linda Swift said...

divavixenqueen, I agree that Queen Elizabeth is fabulous. She is a pillar of strength and elegance in a crazy world. And she has ruled for such a long time and hasn't slowed down. What fortitude!

Linda Swift said...

Readers, please check back after noon today, March 20th for the winner. I will also contact the winner by email if I have the email address. Thanks.
And happy first day of spring. As if it hasn't been spring all winter most places.

Linda Swift said...

Okay, Readers, we have a winner of Maid of the Midlands. And the winner is: L Mcmaken.
Will you please check in with me at and I'll send your digital copy of the book.
I wish everyone could be a winner and I want to thank you for your comments. If you really want to read the book, please check it out on Amazon, Smashwords, or Monkeybars. I think you would enjoy the story. Linda