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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Interview of Author Judy Ridgley

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of a long-time friend, Judy Ridgley.
Latest Book: Vows of Revenge
Buy Link: Coming Soon at
Video: Vows of Revenge

With the discovery that King Arthur was naught but a Celtic chief, J.F. Ridgley’s fascination with this historical character led her into the magnificent world of the ancients. She learned quickly that once you run into a Celt, you clash with the Roman legion. Finally, after many years learning about ancient Rome, Vows of Revenge became a reality. Ms Ridgley lives in the Missouri with her wonderful hubby and three dogs. Contact her at her website Or send her email her at

A little note though…my author name is J.F. Ridgley. Kinda unisex or JKRowlinginsh, don’t ya think?

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write?
A: The draft is usually the easiest part to write for me. I have the story burned into my brain by that point and am going crazy needing to see it come to life. But it’s not the prettiest draft ever born at that point, even though I love it.What is fun is having moments occur and having to research it and learn a bit more about Rome and the ancients. They were a crazy bunch for sure. Then on to editing. I enjoy that too. I love it when a sentence suddenly pops or a scene or character suddenly becomes clearer. Yeah, I’m a cheap date.

However, editing is a task and I’m not good at editing. I read too fast. I can read a math problem aloud and turn it into a stage play. And by the time I get to the finish edit, the book is memorized the book. I don’t realize I’m reciting rather than reading. Arrrrrgh

Q: What is the hardest part of writing for you?
A: Letting go and believing someone will read and enjoy it. The story can always be better. Like I said, I just keep finding something to change. So I want to ‘just go through it one more time’ as if that will solve my errors.

Q: Who are your favorite characters?
A: Like my kids, I love them all. I’m a good mother. But when I’m in the story, that particular hero and heroine get my full attention and we ‘party'. I swear my other characters fret in the back of the office, wanting my attention. Julius and his gladius has poked holes in my floor.

Q: If you were on a remote islands with a handsome man, a computer and a mysterious source of electricity…what would you do?
A: Oh well, write. Send pictures home of the island via Facebook of this handsome dude trying to seduce me. I’d pick his brain on ‘men-think and speak’ and have him fix my stupidities. We’d laugh a lot for sure. And of course, I’m sure he’d need sunscreen slathered over his back and chest occasionally. So, I’d see that taken care of. And take more pictures.

Q: What do you do when not writing?
A: Actually clean house like I’m supposed to be doing now. I started cleaning in my office and guess where that led? To my desk, computer, email, Facebook. When all that is done and I get to issues as pulling weeds…watering. Mindless work that allows for daydreaming and fixing plot problems.

I devote my nights to my true hero, Joe. We usually do nothing but check out the TV. That’s really boring, so I crochet or embroider something. Or we sit outside, eat, drink wine and work on a problem in my draft. Such therapy has titled at least three books so far. And of course, I love to read. What precious stolen time!!!

Q: Who is your favorite Romance author?
A: There are just way too many to mention one. And I like genres outside of romance like historicals. Rome in particular. One romance I didn’t like believe it or not was Gone with the Wind. Sacrilegious I know. I did not like the way Scarlett treated Melanie so I quit reading it. Never got over that.

Where can we find you?
My website:
RPride website:
My blog- Writer's Riding Right:
My Roman blog:
Dreamin' blog:

This is Aelia’s jewelry that Lucianus gave her in Vows of Revenge. Genevieve Flynn, master jeweler and designer, has made this especially for Aelia…and for you. It is available at her website Many of my characters will be wearing Genne’s jewelry that you will also be able to have. Guys too. Alexius, Julius, and Calgacus will have something for you as well as their heroines.

This is the Iceni pendant that Kianna give Julius…designed by Genevieve as well. “As long as you wear this my soul will be yours.” Because of Kianna’s promise, Julius will not remove this pendant from his neck. A future prize in a drawing.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter at my website because I will occasionally be giving away sets of my characters’ jewelry in a drawing along with a lot of other things as…

I will also be giving away the first Reader…meaning a scroll. The Kindle is not the first means that provides various stories to be read on it. The scroll was the first. Sign up by November 1, and you may also win your own scroll with your choice of one of my stories… so you can also read “like the ancients.”

Amid pirates, godfathers, and forbidden love, vows of revenge are made in the unforgiving world of ancient Rome. Trapped in an abusive marriage, Aelia Sabina does all she can to gratify her patrician husband Cassius Julius Gullus, but to no avail.

Martino Lucianus Drusus vows revenge against this patrician who stole his family’s land and attempts to destroy the beautiful Aelia. He saves Aelia from this fate worse than death and takes her to Amalfi where you live by your heart…not by Rome’s laws.

When Cassius discovers that Aelia lives and now loves Lucianus, he vows to finally destroy this plebe in Rome’s court where patricians rule and plebeians grovel.

But will he?

Late summer, Stabianum, Italy, 295 B.C.
“He’s coming! He’s coming!”

Aelia’s heart chilled as she twisted the iron wedding band on her left hand. He’s coming. She didn’t want her husband coming home.

Her seven-year-old son raced toward her, eyes glowing with excitement. A cold shiver slid down her spine as she squatted before him. “How far away is…your father?”

“Not far,” young Cassius gasped. She brushed away the beads of sweat clinging to the dark curls stuck to his forehead on this dry, hot summer day. “Not far, Mama. I saw the dust from the horses. There must be thousands with him!”

She studied the round beaming face of her son as she adjusted the childhood protective charm on his necklace. He looks so like his father. I just pray he does not grow to be like him.

“Do you suppose he’s brought the whole army with him?” she asked. An ounce of hope ignited in her heart. If Cassius brought his soldiers, he’d be too busy for her.

“I hope so, Mama. Maybe I can go riding with them.”

Aelia scowled. “Young Cassius Julius Gullus, you’ll do no such thing.” Gennadius, her master slave, only recently taught him how to ride. At seven, the boy considered himself quite the equestrian. “You are not to ride until your father says you may do so. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mama.”

Aelia glanced at the boy’s personal slave, who stood nearby. “See that he is prepared to meet his father.” She looked down at her son. “Now go. Be quick. You must not disappoint your father.”

“Yes, Mama.”

The slave scurried off behind her son.

Aelia’s stomach tightened even more as she scanned the atrium, the formal greeting room, for some flaw, for some overlooked error, anything. All she saw were fresh white curtains ruffling over the doorways to the back garden. The hot sunlight beamed through the opening in the ceiling onto the pool filled with water trickling into the cistern below the polished limestone floor.

A breeze full of herbal fragrances drifted through the potted palms and ferns boasting no dead leaves. She gazed across the atrium through the four columns and studied the two couches before the tablinum, the official office that faced the vestibule where she stood. She went to one couch and straightened it an inch. Perfect. Everything must be perfect.

Her heart thundered against her ribs. Cassius’s letter had arrived last week and, in that moment, all joy faded from her soul. For the last three years, her husband had fought with Rome against the Samnites and now was coming home victorious. And Cassius Julius Gullus liked being victorious.

“Domina, is there any more you need?”

Startled, Aelia swung about to face her dark-skinned slave, one that her husband would not recognize. “Gennadius, do you think anything is set wrong?”

He looked across the atrium and shook his head. “I see nothing amiss, domina.” The smile on the dark Greek face gleamed. “Should dust even consider resting anywhere in here today, it would come at a cost.”

She scanned the room for vagrant dust particles. Cassius expected perfection. His perfection. “Then see that everyone is correctly arranged outside. We must exceed his expectations.”

The master slave bowed in submission. The waves of black hair gathered at the nape of the slave’s neck gleamed in the afternoon sun. “Yes, domina.” He backed and motioned to the slaves. “Go!” he ordered.

Aelia stiffened and curled her hands into fists as her body pulled erect. It was her task to please her husband and, after seven years of marriage, she found that with Cassius it was an impossible task. Except during his absence.

However, her mother insisted that this was the reason for a wife’s existence. “It’s your obligation as a wife to see to his comforts, to see that his household works to his pleasure, and to bear his children,” she said. “Never forget this.”

How could she ever forget? She had tried to please Cassius. Honor his house. Be the virtuous wife that he could respect above all others. Doing so had gained her nothing. But none of this mattered to Cassius Julius Gallus. All he wanted was control of everything that breathed.

Her hand pressed against the fabric of her cream-colored linen stola bordered with light green embroidery. The touch did nothing to stop her churning stomach. She walked through the ornate vestibule, past the lararium drifting incense taking her prayers to the gods to make her husband approve of all she accomplished during his absence.

Three years, years that had made her independent, but now she must become humble and submissive again. She had no choice but to relinquish everything to him. That concern paled against the knowledge that he would expect another son from her.

Aelia blocked her mind against what that meant. Yet revulsion flooded over her as she appeared in the walled courtyard.

“Halt!” A trumpet played the order over the sound of thundering horses as drifting clouds of dust poured over the walls. Aelia heard her husband’s commanding voice. Her heart stopped as the rustle of footsteps gathered, formed, and shuffled beyond the protective walls. The sudden silence did little to restart it.

She looked around for his son, her son, their son. He must be there! “Young Cassius?”

“Here, domina.” The boy’s slave stepped back as the washed and dressed child appeared.

“Is he here, Mama? Is he here?”


She rested her hands on the small shoulders and scanned the straight lines of slaves waiting like human walls. A hot breeze whipped through the courtyard as each slave waited for their first glance from their dominus for the moment they must drop their gazes in submission. For new slaves like Eudokia and Gennadius, this would be their first time they would see their master, since both had been purchased during Cassius’s absence.

Aelia glanced at her personal slave standing behind her. Eudokia scanned over the palla and nodded. The gesture released a frail sense of confidence through Aelia. Nevertheless, she drew the cream linen shawl tighter around her. Cassius would be furious if any part of her remained uncovered in public. She didn’t want to endure his fury or such a beating ever again.

Her heart halted as her husband stepped past the opening gates. Young Cassius glanced up at her for permission to move, but her hands had frozen to his tiny shoulders. The boy squirmed beneath her grip as his father, little taller than she, appeared in the courtyard with all the importance of a king and all his officers.

All gazes other than hers dropped as Cassius Julius Gullus, citizen and patrician of Rome, inspected all before him.

His short, rusty brown hair gleamed with sweat from the polished helmet he carried at his side. His round face was tan. His drawn mouth matched the straight line of eyebrows puckered between his glowering gaze. His free arm, corded with muscle, swung at the side of his red tunic and chainmail shirt as he strode past the slaves, scanning, looking for an imperfection.

Aelia searched for any sign of appreciation or even joy. Anything that showed his approval.

At last, the challenging gaze came to her as direct as an arrow. It hesitated, and then lowered to the boy. She released their son to race toward him. The man broke form and squatted to accept the child into his arms.

“Are you my son, almost a man?”

“Yes, Papa. It’s me. I’ve grown. I can ride. I can even swim now.”

As the elder Cassius rose, he took the boy up with him. “Can you now?” It was a deliberate question, asked as if he’d been deprived of the information.

Mentally, Aelia raced through her husband’s letters. Nothing was said of keeping these lessons from the boy. Nothing. She was positive.

“Yes, Papa, come. I’ll show you.”

“Tomorrow, young citizen. I must honor your mother’s presence.” He lowered the boy to the dirt and focused on her. “Aelia Sabina, I greet you.”

Her soul braced. “Cassius Julius Gullus, I welcome you. May my husband find his home to his pleasure.”

He glanced behind her at Eudokia. Aelia noted the spark of interest flare in his eyes. “So many new faces.”

“I wrote you…about them. In my letters.” Or more like reports that she had sent monthly.

Cassius drew his attention back to her. “Yes. I got them.” He moved toward the doorway. Gennadius motioned for the door slaves to wash Cassius’s feet and stepped back to the doorframe, keeping his gaze downward.

Aelia’s heart lurched against her ribs as her husband halted and glared up at the black-faced slave who stood a full head higher than allowed. An eternity seemed to pass as her husband’s feet were washed and replaced with house sandals.

“Papa, come on.” The young Cassius grabbed his father’s hand to drag him deeper into the cool depths of the vestibule, breaking the torturous moment.

Aelia forced her steps forward. She nodded to Gennadius to release the slaves to their jobs and entered into the vestibule’s shadow. It enveloped her.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Coming books.
Threatened Loyalties
Messalina really wants to despise Alexius but he is making it impossible. But Alexius is willing to do anything to regain Messi’s trust and love, even if it may cost him his life, his future, even his family’s reputation. But will it?

Red Fury-The Revolt- Book one
The Iceni queen Boudica isn’t the only one revolting against Rome’s expectations. Julius Agricola has fallen in love with Boudica’s beautiful daughter Kianna. But will Rome allow this after what her mother leads her revolt?

Short stories that go with my books:
(cover coming soon) Birth of a Bully is from my coming novel Vows of Revenge. Aelia’s son has run away from his father. This is the real reason why...not the one he told his mother.


For the Family- based on Threatened Loyalties. There’s a reason everyone calls Viciria ‘the witch’…but behind her back. This story explains what happened to this woman and why she is so frightening and loyal to Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

The Chrysalis- based on Red Fury-The Revolt. Kianna’s sister was raped by the Romans who also killed her soul mate and he died in her arms. Now, Morrigan wants Roman blood, but first, like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, this Iceni princess must become an Iceni warrioress.

 And another Short Story for fun…Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That

Well, I can’t believe my short story about Sualty, Chico, Sir Tom, and Smiley got to be included in this book. If I could have video taped this, I know it would have won America’s Funniest Video for sure.

My Boys’ Choir” will be in I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That coming out September 18, 2012


Sandy said...

Great excerpt, Judy. I can feel Aelia's fear.

Cara Marsi said...

Judy, you had me at Ancient Rome. I love, love, love anything about Ancient Rome and I especially love romances set there. I went to Amazon to look for your books but didn't see them. When I went to your website I saw that the books won't be out until September. I signed up for your newsletter so I'll know when the books are released. Thanks for a great interview.

jean hart stewart said...

powerful excerpt...and I too love anything about Rome. Must be all the Latin I had in school..will be looking forward to your books..

Anonymous said...

Thank you all. I"m working like crazy to get Vows up but Createspace is very slow in getting this done. September 15 and maybe sooner. Fingers crossed.

Thank you all soooo much

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