16 July 2018

Discover the Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, The Duchess Imprisoned For Witchcraft

Available in paperback, eBook and audiobook 
on Amazon UK and Amazon US 

England 1441:  Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, hopes to become Queen of England before her interest in astrology and her husband’s ambition leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king. Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life. 

More than a century after her death, carpenters restoring one of the towers of Beaumaris Castle discover a sealed box hidden under the wooden boards. Thinking they have found treasure, they break the ancient box open, disappointed to find it only contains a book, with hand-sewn pages of yellowed parchment.

Written in a code no one could understand, the mysterious book changed hands between antiquarian book collectors for more than five centuries. After years of failure to break the code, experts finally discover it is based on a long forgotten medieval dialect and are at last able to decipher the secret diary of Eleanor Cobham.

14 July 2018

Connecting with readers on Goodreads #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Goodreads is for readers, so is not the place for authors to engage in self-promotion but there are over 75 Million registered users, looking at over two billion books, who have created 77 Million reviews.  So how should you build this into your author platform? I've been on Goodreads for over seven years and offer some thoughts on some things to consider:

1. Create your Goodreads author page

Your author page is separate from your member profile page, which lists your bookshelves friends and reviews. It doesn't take long and it’s free, so search for yourself and click on your published author name, then send a request to join the Goodreads Author Program. If you haven’t set up your page, Goodreads offers readers a disappointing silhouette, so switch that for your favourite photo. You can also add a bio, links to your blog and Twitter user name. I sometimes see authors who put the wrong links, so test them to make sure they work properly. (My Goodreads author page is HERE if you’d like to see what they look like.)

2. Make sure your books are listed

Your books don’t just appear on Goodreads, someone has to list them in the first place. The best person to do that is you, as soon as your book is launched. You can make sure the details are all correct, with the best cover image. If you added the book it is easier to update it in the future. Check before adding a book by searching by author and title – and read the guidelines. If your books need to be added, you will be given access to the online form.

3. Start adding and reviewing books you read

The aim of Goodreads is for readers to share thoughts about books they read, so please join in. I sometimes forget but am trying to make time to write a short paragraph and cross post on Amazon as well as Goodreads, so you have double value from your time and your review may help other authors and readers.

4. Join and interact with Goodreads groups that match your genre(s)

There is a discussion group for everyone on Goodreads, including many led by Goodreads Authors so start exploring – just go to http://www.goodreads.com/group and type some keywords into the search box. Some groups offer book useful book promotion advice and are a great place to link up to other indie authors and find new ideas. (I recently formed a useful group of 'beta readers' for my new novel on a special interest group.)

5. Link to your writing blog with RSS

I have a lot of visitors to my writing blog via Goodreads, so it is definitely worth hooking up the RSS feed. (If you don’t know how to do it, here is step-by-step guidance) 

6. Post your promotional videos

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a one and half minute video worth? I’ll be posting later in this series on my experience with YouTube, but if you have a promotional video it makes sense to add it to your Goodreads author page.

7. Make time to update your status

This is one of the under-used areas of Goodreads, which means if you have time to bother your input stands out. All you need to do is go to http://www.goodreads.com/update_status and you’ll be presented with any books you’ve marked as currently reading, but you don’t have to limit your updates to that.

8. Send friend requests to like-minded reviewers and authors

Goodreads recommends that you only add someone as a ‘friend’ after you’ve interacted with them in a group or in a book discussion thread. I rarely bother sending friend requests to readers unless I have a really good reason, but it’s a useful way to keep tabs on other authors who share your interests.

9. Accept friend requests

Unlike Twitter, where you need to be a bit careful about who you follow back, I’m happy to accept any ‘friend requests’ on Goodreads. If I have the time I usually check out their blog and add them on Twitter if they have a Twitter username - you can be fairly sure they’ll follow back.

10. Help other authors

One of the Goodreads groups I like is Authors Helping Authors described as is a place where authors and bloggers can come together and help one another out. If you have a writing blog this is a great place to find authors interested in guest posting.

Tony Riches
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Do you have more ideas and suggestions on how to get the best from Goodreads? If so, please feel free to add a comment below

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join in.

13 July 2018

Giveaway of New Audiobook: Mary - Tudor Princess, narrated by Ruth Redman

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US
Audible and iTunes

Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her. Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe.
Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love? Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this 'sequel' follows Mary's story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Actress Ruth Redman's wonderful narration brings Mary Tudor to life with compelling warmth and sensitivity.

A code to download a free copy of the audiobook will be sent to the first five people to send a request by email to tonyriches@live.com

11 July 2018

Tudor Book Spotlight: Daring Dynasty: Custom, Conflict and Control in Early-Tudor England, by Mark R. Horowitz

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

He founded the most famous dynasty in history: the Tudors. Yet, in 1485 when Henry Tudor defeated Richard III to become King Henry VII, he possessed the most anemic claim to the throne since William the Conqueror. 

In defiance of the norms of medieval rule, he transformed England from an insolvent, often divided country in the waning years of the Wars of the Roses into an emerging modern state upon his death in 1509, a legacy inherited by his larger-than-life heir, Henry VIII. How did this happen? 

Through impressive archival research over several decades and a provocative perspective, Daring Dynasty illuminates what occurred by exploring key aspects of Henry's reign, which included a dark side to royal policy. 

It will provide historians, students, history enthusiasts and devotees of "all things Tudor" with an understanding of how the populace and political players melded into a nation through the efforts of its king and his government.

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About the Author

Mark R. Horowitz is an English historian, business executive and marketing consultant, author, educator and news commentator. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) He has authored scholarly articles and given academic papers in the U.S., Britain, Portugal and Ireland. He has written hundreds of articles and scripts as a weekly international columnist for UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL; Guest columnist for USA TODAY; and weekly radio commentator on an NBC affiliate in Chicago. These news commentaries looked at everything occurring today from the perspective of the past. You can find Mark on Twitter @shiremoot

23 June 2018

New Historical Fiction Spotlight: Judge The Best (Above all Others; The Lady Anne Book 5), by G. Lawrence

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The end is nigh...

Anne Boleyn is Queen, with an infant daughter in the royal nursery and another child on the way, but plots are forming within the shadows of court. As events progress, bringing sorrow and fear to Anne's fragile life, she finds once-allies are becoming enemies.

In the final book of Above All Others: The Lady Anne, Anne Boleyn faces hardship, sorrow and danger as she attempts to challenge not only Thomas Cromwell but Henry himself.

Judge the Best is the last book in the series Above All Others: The Lady Anne, by G. Lawrence
"I think how delighted Anne Boleyn would be to see, nearly 500 years after her murder, how she has lived again in these books, which I recommend most highly to anyone who is interested in her.  The series is a terrific achievement, and a magnificent tribute to this most fascinating of women." Best-selling author Terry Tyler
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About the Author

Gemma Lawrence is an independently published author living in Cornwall in the UK. She studied literature at university says, 'I write mainly Historical Fiction, with an emphasis on the Tudor and Medieval periods and have a particular passion for women of history'.Gemma can be found on Wattpad and Twitter @TudorTweep.

22 June 2018

Interview with Cryssa Bazos, award winning historical fiction author of Traitor’s Knot

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I. Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road
as a highwayman.

I'm pleased to welcome historical fiction author Cryssa Bazos

Tell us about your latest book

Traitor’s Knot takes place during the uncertain era between the execution of King Charles I and the start of the English Civil War. This is a story of love and conflicted loyalty. Elizabeth Seton is a young woman who has been shunned for her father’s role in a failed Royalist uprising. In the midst of this new social order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament. To further complicate her life, she meets James Hart, a former Royalist officer turned highwayman. He preys on Parliamentarians in order to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, Charles Stuart. Traitor’s Knot has been called a thrilling romantic adventure.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My preferred writing routine would be to write on a sunny patio with a great view of the sea, but unfortunately, the reality is that I write in between the demands of a full time job and the needs of my family. I often carve out writing time during my lunchtime as well as during my commute. The longest time that I have to immerse in writing is on the weekends, when I dive into the 17th century from morning until the mid-afternoon.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Live whatever scene you’re writing. This advice was given to me early on, and I apply it to my own writing. Living the scene involves putting yourself into your character’s skin. It makes the story more immediate to the reader. One of the challenges of writing historical fiction is to keep it from sounding like a historical info dump, but by thinking of the character and what they could be going through, the writer can best avoid these pit falls.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Making connections on social media has helped me spread the word, mainly through Twitter and Facebook. I’m starting to experiment with newsletters and participating in newsletter swaps, and I find those very effective. My publisher, Endeavour Media, also makes good use of newsletters to reach readers. 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Charles II’s escaped after his loss at the Battle of Worcester, and his six-week adventure evading capture is well documented by contemporary accounts that were written a decade later during the Restoration. I stumbled on a letter written by the Venetian Ambassador of Paris, days after Charles safely arrived in France, where he stated that a highwayman helped Charles in his escape. This was never mentioned in any of the historical accounts, although there were rumours about that possibility circulating London at the time. Did it really happen or did Charles fib to protect those who had helped him? These questions are fodder for historical fiction. Naturally, I used the alternative version in Traitor’s Knot. It was too good to pass up.

King Charles II and Jane Lane riding to Bristol
 by Isaac Fuller via Wikimedia Commons

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Not a specific scene, but settling on the opening chapter was a challenge for me. I must have had about ten different versions of chapter one, and they were all entirely different scenes. Sometimes Elizabeth opened, other times it was James. There were hangings, conspiracies, robberies and even an unnecessary prologue. All ended up in the ‘land of lost scenes’. I do credit my editor, Jenny Quinlan of Historical Editorial, for helping me find the right opening. Once I had settled on that, the first chapter wrote itself.
I don’t believe I’m alone in this. Most writers struggle to find where their story should start. Oftentimes what they think should be the opening is really a note from Muse to Writer about background material that no one really needs to know about.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m working on a second novel that follows the fate of one of the characters in Traitor’s Knot from the disastrous Battle of Worcester to the sugar cane fields of Barbados. In between, I’m also working on a novelette (or a novella) called the Highwayman of Moot Hill. It’s a prequel to Traitor’s Knot, and focuses on the adventures of James Hart before Elizabeth arrived in Warwick.

Cryssa Bazos
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About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction author and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelist Association and is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Her debut novel, Traitor's Knot, is published by Endeavour Media, and is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award (historical fiction), a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards (historical romance) and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. For more information visit Cryssa's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @CryssaBazos.

21 June 2018

Researching and Writing Mary – Tudor Princess

Available on Amazon UK, Amazon US

I chose to write about Mary because I’d researched her birth and early life for my previous book, Henry – Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy. In the trilogy I’d moved forward one generation with each book, so it appealed to me to write a ‘sequel’ which did the same. I’d become intrigued with Mary’s story of how she risked everything to defy her brother when he became King Henry VIII.

When I began the Tudor trilogy, I had little factual information about Owen Tudor, Mary’s great-grandfather. The amount of information increased exponentially by the time I reached the story of Mary’s father, Henry Tudor, as he kept detailed legers of his finances. Some of Henry’s letters also survive, including some to his mother, but they were all rather formal.

This time, I had the advantage of a fascinating book The French Queen's Letters: Mary Tudor Brandon and the Politics of Marriage in Sixteenth-Century Europe (Queenship and Power) by Erin Sadlack, which includes all Mary’s surviving letters, many with replies, as well as an insightful analysis of her state of mind at the time. I prefer primary research and found her letters offer an evocative ‘voice’ for Mary, as well as revealing how she felt about people and events.

I wanted to explore Mary’s vulnerability as well as her strengths, and I was assisted in this by her brother, who broke off her engagement to young Prince Charles, future Emperor of Rome, to marry her off to the fifty-two-year-old King Louis XII of France. Although Mary was barely eighteen at the time, Henry saw his younger sister as a small price to pay for a treaty with France.

I enjoyed untangling the many myths about what happened next, from causing the death of King Louis with her ‘passionate exertions’ to her dying of ‘grief at her brother’s divorce from her friend Catherine of Aragon.’ I also had the benefit of knowing a great deal about the people and places of Mary’s world.

The difficulties came when I had to show Mary’s struggles with the dangers of medieval childbirth. I was present at my daughter’s and my son’s births, and there are plenty of historical accounts to draw from, but I believe only a woman can fully understand how it feels to bring a new life into the world.

I have now competed the companion book to Mary - Tudor Princess, telling the story of Mary Tudor's husband, Charles Brandon, who was King Henry VIII's lifelong friend. Brandon - Tudor Knight will be published later this year.  

Tony Riches