18 November 2017

The Tudor Book of Days Special Giveaway

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US
and directly from the Tudor Times Shop

Would you like to win a beautiful Tudor Book of Days Perpetual Diary?  The Tudor Times Shop has donated one for me to offer to someone to be chosen from the comments below on the 
10th December, 2017.

The hardback cover of this unique six-days-to-a-view perpetual diary features Tudor roses and flowers, courtesy of the V&A Museum.  An 'at-a-glance' year planner, notes section and dedicated space for recording special occasions and reminders make it a book you will rely on.

The Tudor Book of Days Perpetual Diary is also a historical record of the Tudor period, with saints and feast days listed for every month, a month by month account of important political and social events, key births, deaths and events listed alongside their relevant days.

To round it all off, there is a glossary of over 150 key Tudor figures, so if you'd like to win a copy please feel free to comment below.

Book Launch Guest Post ~ Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees: A Travelogue of Vietnam, By C. L. Hoang

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Filled with historical and cultural tidbits and personal reminiscences, and illustrated with over forty photographs, Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees offers the reader an insightful and fascinating glimpse
of this tropical land.

By nature I am a slow planner, especially when it comes to long trips away from home. So imagine my surprise when in late 2016 I was presented with an opportunity to join a group tour to Southeast Asia, with the main focus on Vietnam, and I heard myself spontaneously blurt out, “Sign me up!”

It turned out to be one heck of a trip. Seventeen days in total, beginning and ending with a twenty-hour flight over an eight-thousand-mile stretch of ocean, across fifteen time zones and the International Date Line and a wide scale of climate changes. Most significant to me, it marked my first time traveling back to the ancestral homeland I hadn’t seen in over four decades.

This travelogue retraces the major segment of the tour—the final ten days—which took us on an itinerary of discovery through the length of Vietnam: from Saigon, my former hometown in the south where I grew up during the war, to Hoi-An, the best preserved medieval seaport in Southeast Asia; Hue, the ancient capital of imperial Vietnam, on the central coast; Halong Bay, a world-renowned natural wonder on the Gulf of Tonkin; and our final destination, Hanoi, the country’s thousand-year-old capital, in the north.

I tried not only to recapture the highlights of this whirlwind journey—with their historical background and mythical lore—but also to explore a few special sites that I wish we could have squeezed into our packed schedule. At times the travelogue may read like a journal because it is sprinkled throughout with all kinds of resurrected memories—of my own childhood, in a time and place long since gone.

The book contains many pictures, forty-three in all. Most were taken by me on this trip—so please kindly overlook imperfections—and the rest were generously contributed by family and friends who had visited there before. Color printing technology being where it is today, I was forced to limit the total number of pictures and pages to reduce the setup and printing fees. This is so the book can be reasonably priced for a wide audience, even though my personal inclination was to share every relevant and worthwhile photograph I have.

I also decided to include many historic names in Vietnamese, along with their English translations, of course. As it was in our age-old tradition, names were never merely names; they carried great meaning and were often used to promulgate noble aspirations. Over the millennia, many of these ancient names also took on an extra aura, as they became associated with momentous events that still resonate with the Vietnamese people to this day. By incorporating them into the travelogue in their original spellings, I strived to convey an intangible aspect of our heritage, one that extends beyond pictures and descriptive words.

To people who have read my Vietnam novel, Once upon a Mulberry Field (Willow Stream Publishing, 2014), this travelogue offers a glimpse of the story’s setting as it appears half a century later. For others, I hope it kindles your passion for travel and discovery and also provides you with a different view of this once ravaged land—and perhaps the inspiration to visit there some day. As the French writer Marcel Proust once reminded us, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

This journey across the Pacific Ocean accomplished both for me.

C. L. Hoang
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About the author

C. L. Hoang was born and raised in Vietnam during the war and came to the United States in the 1970s. He graduated with degrees in electrical engineering from Ohio University and the University of California, Berkeley, and earns his living as an electronic engineer, with eleven patents to his name. Books, history, and travel are his hobbies. His first book, Once upon a Mulberry Field, is an award-winning novel set at the height of the Vietnam War. It is followed by Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees, the travelogue of his recent return trip to the ancestral homeland. Visit him at his website www.mulberryfieldsforever.com and find him on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter @CLHoang

17 November 2017

Poetry Spotlight: Back on Earth, by Mark Andrew Heathcote

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

This is a collection of breath-taking poetry and prose, which is packed with a cacophony of emotions. The author is masterful in poetic metaphor, often using birds, flowers and nature as an effective method of telling a heart’s story. 

The deep emotions of the writer will not be missed, but rather felt in a profound way, with imagery so strong, that the reader easily identifies with what the poet is saying. Mark muses on subject matter which addresses ageing, fading love, love’s rebirth, peace, harmony, and the consuming emotions of rage and love, locked in a poet’s heart. 

The beauty of Mark’s traditional style of writing, is comforting, yet evocative. I found that I had to re-read many pieces, lest I missed the hidden meaning in his many forms of expression. He has created his second collection, with the most beautiful, gentle flow, which is carefully constructed. 

Mark ends his book with pieces on the musings of love, following the harsh cold of winter. It warms the heart, to travel through very vivid images from his poetic heart. Mark Andrew Heathcote is an accomplished poet in his own right, with a penchant for metaphors painting beautiful pictures in the mind of the reader.
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About the Author

Mark Andrew Heathcote is from Manchester in the UK, where he lives with his partner Elaine and their two children. His two poetry books, In Perpetuity and Back on Earth are both published by CTU Publishing Group ~ Creative Talents Unleashed. Mark is an adult learning difficulties support worker, who began writing poetry from an early age at school. Mark enjoys spending his leisure time reading, writing and gardening. 

Special Guest Post by Author Alison Brodie: The Bottom Line

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Devious, ruthless, and loyal, Zenka is a capricious Hungarian
with a dark past.

“For though to be read is not the motive which impels the author to write, but once he has written his desire is to be read” – W. Somerset Maugham

I have always written. Silly pieces that didn’t go further than a few paragraphs, then I managed a page or two. Suddenly something shifted inside me and I had a story that HAD to be told…

I was on a modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands with a (truly beautiful but volatile) Italian model (Peri). We stayed in an old farmhouse with the owner, a housekeeper from the village, the German photographer and his assistant. The owner was the rugged sort with the typical Scottish no-nonsense attitude. And he and Peri struck sparks off each other. It was fascinating to watch, but scary; they were like big cats circling each other waiting for the moment to attack (but they couldn’t when the photographer was present).

When Peri and I were flying back to London, I suddenly felt this PING! In my head. The story of Peri and Douglas rushed towards me and I couldn’t get to paper and pen quick enough!
I did not write with the thought of big bucks in my head. I wrote because I HAD to.

The book became Face to Face. The first agent I sent it to, Dinah Weiner, signed me up immediately and got me a two-book deal with Hodder within three weeks. Face to Face did really well, but when it came to the second book, I froze. I didn’t have anything to write! Day after day, I stared at a blank piece of paper and … nothing.

Eventually, I managed to finish a book that was OK and it was published, but Hodder declined to keep me on.

I was without a publisher.

After the traumatic experience of Second Book Syndrome, I stopped writing. I kept myself busy settling into my new home in Shawnee, Kansas. Then one day a character came into my head, then another. They were telling me their story. And I let them lead me on. This was to become The Double, a tale of an American rock star and a poor Scottish nurse changing places.

At the time, it was entitled Famous Last Words. I sent it to my agent, Dinah Wiener, and she wrote back, saying, I quote: “Well, I’ve now finished Famous Last Words and congratulate you – it’s a really good read, a page-turner with good characterisation and a splendid plot. I look forward to offering it, and to representing you again. My agency agreement letter is enclosed.”

You can imagine how I felt! But … she couldn’t sell it to a publishing house.

I was gutted. (That’s not a nice word, but it aptly describes how I felt!)

My contract with Dinah fizzled out. I was in a literary wilderness.

But I kept on writing. Why? Because I HAD to. (Fellow writers will understand what I mean). I wrote Wild Life and sent it off to agents. The rejections were crippling. (Stephen King used to put his rejections on a nail in the wall until one day the rejections got so heavy the nail fell out).

I wanted desperately to be READ. So I became an indie author. In 2015/16 I published Wild Life then The Double – both on Amazon Kindle. It was so easy, so quick! (A traditionally-published book can take over a year to see the light of day. With Kindle your book is born with 72 hours!).

I published Brake Failure earlier this year with 28 five-star reviews from book bloggers. Zenka was published last week and the 24 five-star reviews on Goodreads are all from book bloggers.

I don’t write for the money (Come on, Alison, tell us the truth!) Well, yes, I would like to make some dosh but the truth is (honestly!) I want to be read – just like Somerset.

I want to be READ. That is the bottom line.

And, finally, it is happening. Book bloggers have taken time out of their busy lives to risk reading an unknown indie – me. And by being an indie I have found myself in the warm, fuzzy world that is the blogging community. Book bloggers don’t read books for money. They don’t do it for gain. They do it out of love … love for literature. They are not reading my books cos they see dollar signs. They read them cos they LIVE books. They are intrepid explorers in a literary jungle.

I’ve never before had such encouragement and support. For instance, the guy who runs this blog? Tony Riches? I don’t know him. Yet, out of the blue, he invites me to write something on his blog. The night before the release of Zenka, I am worried that I haven’t done enough to promote the launch, and suddenly I get an email from Tony asking if I want him to help launch Zenka. YAY! And ever since, he has been quietly promoting me.

I hope, one day, the general public will read my books and if they do, it will be totally due to people like Tony Riches.

Thank you.

Alison Brodie

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About the Author

Alison Brodie is a Scot with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother's side. Alison has lived all over the world, including Kansas City, Athens and Basque country. Her first novel Face to Face was published by Hodder & Stoughton and became Good Housekeeping's Pick of the Paperbacks. Find out more at Alison's website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @alisonbrodie2 

15 November 2017

New Book Launch ~ Anne Boleyn: Adultery, Heresy, Desire, by Amy Licence

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Anne Boleyn’s unconventional beauty inspired poets ‒ and she so entranced Henry VIII with her wit, allure and style that he was prepared to set aside his wife of over twenty years and risk his immortal soul. Her sister had already been the king’s mistress, but the other Boleyn girl followed a different path. For years the lovers waited; did they really remain chaste? Did Anne love Henry, or was she a calculating femme fatale?

Eventually replacing the long-suffering Catherine of Aragon, Anne enjoyed a magnificent coronation and gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth, but her triumph was short-lived. Why did she go from beloved consort to adulteress and traitor within a matter of weeks? What role did Thomas Cromwell and Jane Seymour of Wolf Hall play in Anne’s demise? Was her fall one of the biggest sex scandals of her era, or the result of a political coup?

With her usual eye for the telling detail, Amy Licence explores the nuances of this explosive and ultimately deadly relationship to answer an often neglected question: what choice did Anne really have? When she writes to Henry during their protracted courtship, is she addressing a suitor, or her divinely ordained king? This book follows Anne from cradle to grave and beyond. Anne is vividly brought to life amid the colour, drama and unforgiving politics of the Tudor court.

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About the Author

Amy Licence is an historian of women's lives in the medieval and early modern period, from Queens to commoners. Her particular interest lies in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, in gender relations, Queenship and identity, rites of passage, pilgrimage, female orthodoxy and rebellion, superstition, magic, fertility and childbirth. She is also a fan of Modernism and Post-Impressionism, particularly Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, Picasso and Cubism. Amy has written for The Guardian, the BBC Website, The English Review, The London Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement and is a regular contributor to the New Statesman and The Huffington Post. She is frequently interviewed for BBC radio and made her TV debut in 2013, in a BBC documentary on The White Queen. You can follow Amy on twitter @PrufrocksPeach or like her facebook page In Bed With the Tudors. Her website is www.amylicence.weebly.com

Book Launch Spotlight: Joan of Arc and 'The Great Pity of the Land of France', by Moya Longstaffe

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Joan of Arc's life and death mark a turning point in the destiny both of France and England and the history of their monarchies. `It is a great shame,' wrote Etienne Pasquier in the late sixteenth century, `for no one ever came to the help of France so opportunely and with such success as that girl, and never was the memory of a woman so torn to shreds.' 

Biographers have crossed swords furiously about her inspiration, each according to the personal conviction of the writer. As Moya Longstaffe points out: `She has been claimed as an icon by zealous combatants of every shade of opinion, clericals, anticlericals, nationalists, republicans, socialists, conspiracy theorists, feminists, yesterday's communists, today's Front National, everyone with a need for a figurehead. 

As George Bernard Shaw said, in the prologue to his play, "The question raised by Joan's burning is a burning question still."' 

By returning to the original sources and employing her expertise in languages, the author brings La Pucelle alive and does not duck the most difficult question: was she deluded, unbalanced, fraudulent - or indeed a great visionary, to be compared to Catherine of Siena or Francis of Assisi?

Extract from the Prologue
 ~  Joan: A Burning Question Still 

Ô Jeanne, toi qui as donné au monde la seule gure de victoire qui soit une gure de pitié! 

André Malraux, Rouen, 30 May 1964 

On Wednesday, 21 February 1431, at 8 o’clock in the morning, a girl of nineteen years of age was led into the chapel of the castle of Rouen, before a tribunal presided over by the portly Bishop of Beauvais and comprising no less that forty-two eminent theologians and canon lawyers of all ages, sitting in solemn array, leaning forward and gazing at her with intense curiosity, mingled in many cases with stern disapproval, dark suspicion, and occasionally perhaps even pity. 

She was dressed in plain and sombre male clothing, a belted knee-length tunic over the hose of a page, but she was of average height and build for a girl of her time, not at all the strapping hoyden they might have expected.1 Her dark hair, cut round and still short like a soldier’s even during her captivity in Rouen, lent a curious pathos to her appearance, somehow underlining her present vulnerability. 

Joan of Arc's Tower, Rouen
After passing the previous two months imprisoned in a cell in the tower of the castle, chained to a heavy wooden beam by night and by day, allowed no exercise and only meagre rations, and guarded at all times by hostile English soldiers ‘of the roughest sort’, of whom three were shut in the cell with her at night and two kept guard outside, she now looked pallid and very young. And when she spoke, the greatest surprise of all was her voice, for it was soft and feminine, with a hint of the speech of her native Lorraine.  Who was this notorious and enigmatic prisoner, on trial for her life? What had brought her to this pass?

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About the Author
Moya Longstaffe is a retired Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Ulster, having previously taught at the universities of Bristol. Edinburgh, Heriot- Watt (Edinburgh), Caen and Belfast. She is the author of Metamorphoses of Passion and the Heroic in French Literature: Corneille, Stendhal, Claudel (Edwin Mellen Press) and The Fiction of Albert Camus: A Complex Simplicity (Peter Lang). She has researched the life and trial of Joan of Arc from primary sources over several years.

14 November 2017

New Historical Fiction ~ The King's Mother: Book Three of The Beaufort Chronicle, by Judith Arnopp

Pre-Order from Amazon UK and Amazon US

October 1485: With the English crown finally in his possession, Henry Tudor’s endeavours to restore order to the realm are hindered by continuing unrest. While the king is plagued with uprisings and pretenders to his throne, Margaret in her capacity as The King’s Mother oversees the running of his court. 

The warring houses of York and Lancaster are united, the years of civil strife are at an end but, as the royal nursery fills with children, the threats to Henry’s throne persist and Margaret’s expectation of perfect harmony begins to disintegrate.
As quickly as Henry dispatches those whose move against him, new conflicts arise and, dogged by deceit and the harrowing shadow of death, Margaret realises that her time for peace has not yet come.

Intrigue, treason and distrust blights the new Tudor dynasty, challenging Margaret’s strength of character and her steadfast faith in God.

The King’s Mother is the third and final book in The Beaufort Chronicles, tracing the life of Margaret Beaufort.

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About the Author

Judith Arnopp is a historical fiction author based in Wales, UK. She has a particular interest the Tudor period and her collection of Tudor novels will take you inside the minds of women like Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr, Anne of Cleves and  Katherine Howard. The Beaufort Chronicles, is a trilogy tracing the life of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of the Tudor Dynasty. Books one and two, The Beaufort Bride and The Beaufort Woman are available now and book three, The King's Mother is to follow soon. Find out more at Judith's website www.judithmarnopp.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @JudithArnopp.