23 September 2018

Stories of the Tudors Podcast Six - Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland

Margaret was the eldest daughter of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York, and was born on 28 November 1489 at the Palace of Westminster, a year and a half before her famous brother,  who became King Henry VIII.

Henry VII wanted to use his daughter’s marriage to James IV of Scotland to end the wars, stop him supporting Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English throne, and make a lasting alliance with Scotland. This podcast tells the story of what happened next.

Click here for the podcast: Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland

21 September 2018

Book Review - The Du Lac Prophecy: Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles, by Mary Anne Yarde

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The much-awaited fourth book in the Du Lac Chronicles could be read as a stand-alone novel but to really understand the complex web of relationships I recommend starting with the first book.

You also need to brace yourself for some brutal action, as even by Du Lac standards, this has more than its share - from the first page to the last.

The strength of this series is the link back to ancient legends which form a tantalising backdrop as we learn a little more with each book. I particularly like the development of secondary characters, although I must warn readers not to get too fond of any of them!

The Du Lac Prophecy is a future classic, with an ending I'm sure even George R. R. Martin would be proud of.  Five out of five stars.

Tony Riches 

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About the Author

Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood. At nineteen, she married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions. Mary Anne Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. Find our more at her website and follow her on Twitter @maryanneyarde

20 September 2018

New Book Launch - Rival Queens: The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Kate Williams

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Elizabeth and Mary: cousins, rivals, queens. They loved each other, they hated each other – they could never escape one another.

Kate Williams’s thrilling new history tells the story of Elizabeth I of England and her betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots. At the end of the Tudor era, here were two women on two thrones. But this was a man’s world and many believed that no woman should govern. All around Elizabeth and Mary were sycophants, spies and detractors who wanted their power, their favour and their bodies. And so they became one another’s closest confidants in the struggle to be both women and queens.

Alliances were few, but for many years theirs survived – until the forces rising against them, and the struggles of love and dynasty, drove them apart. It was a schism that would end in secret assassination plots, devastating betrayal and, eventually, the signing of Mary’s death warrant in Elizabeth’s hand.

Kate Williams’ Rivals Queens offers an electrifying new perspective on Elizabeth and Mary, and the most important relationship of their lives – that which they had with one another.

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About the Author

Kate Williams studied her BA at Somerville College, Oxford where she was a College Scholar and received the Violet Vaughan Morgan University Scholarship. She then took her MA at Queen Mary, University of London and her DPhil at Oxford, where she received a graduate prize. She also took an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway. She now teaches at Royal Holloway. Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWilliamsme and visit her website.

19 September 2018

Coming Soon: Marcia Meara Talks About The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody

They're back! Jake and Dodger are at it again, accompanied by their boss, the archangel Azrael.

I am so excited, I can hardly stand it. Once again, Nicki Forde Graphics Design has come up with a cover that does exactly what I wanted it to do. It provides a great-looking image that clearly links the second novella in my Emissary series with the first one. 

And it does this by putting Jake's big, red-and-white semi front and center, angel wings and all, but with a completely different background. In The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody, Jake and Dodger travel both coasts of Florida, day and night, working their emissarial magic wherever they find souls in trouble. For me, the palm fronds over the truck, the ocean in the background, and the moon shining down are perfect.

I can't give you an exact release date for The Emissary 2: To Love Sombody yet, as I still have a few more tiny odds and ends to finish up, including the blurb. But I'm 99.9% sure it will be available within a week or two, and I'll have more to share with you then. In the meantime, what do you think?

My heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful bloggers who have helped me share my new cover with the Immediate World! It's lovely to be part of such a supportive online community, and every single one of you is special to me. Thank you! NOTE: This is not a stand-alone novella, so now's a good time to grab the first one. You can read it in an evening and be all set for The Emissary 2. You'll find The Emissary 1 on Amazon HERE.

Marcia Meara
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About the Author

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Her belief in the redemptive power of love is a unifying factor in both of her popular series and her poetry. Today, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go! Marcia has published six novels, one novella, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon: Wake-Robin Ridge A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2 Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3 Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3 The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love Marcia’s Amazon Author Page Find our more at Marcia's website http://marciamearawrites.com/ and find her on Facebook and  Twitter @marciameara

17 September 2018

Preparing for National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Stephen King once said ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.’

The first bit is easy. As a book reviewer, I have a healthy 'TBR' (to be read) list and several books 'on the go' at once. It’s the ‘write a lot’ bit that can cause the problem, particularly if it's an unusually mild autumn in the run up to Christmas. 

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) might be the answer for anyone who wants to learn how to write a lot (every day) while being part of a fun community who share an interest in creative writing.

On November 1st, NaNoWriMo participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-words of a novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. The organisers say ‘valuing enthusiasm, determination and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.’ (See http://nanowrimo.org/about )


I've made things a little harder by choosing historical fiction as my genre, so I start researching in September, sorting out timelines, making notes and gathering references. I like to visit actual locations for inspiration, and to track down original documents and sources - all of which takes time.

I also create a good outline before November. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to track word count and notes on dates etc. for each chapter. I aim for twenty-five chapters of about four-thousand words, to arrive at a first draft for editing of around 100,000 words. 'Nano' can take me half way there in a month - but I like to know where I'm heading.

Although some writers like to 'wing it' and allow for creativity during November, I find it useful to make key writing decisions, such as choice of point of view, voice, where and when it will start - before I write a word. 

Writing Time

I can imagine some of you are saying you simply don't have the time - and I do understand. My children have long since left home, and I'm able to be a full time writer now, but things were very different when I 'won' my first NaNoWriMo (in 2011).

I’m not a 'night owl' when it comes to writing. I'm what they call a ‘lark,’ which means I wake early, my head full of ideas for plot and characters, so I write as much as I can first thing, then have the rest of the day to reach my target. 

I've learned  NOT to try to finish my 50,000 words on the 30th, as it's important to have space to catch up if you need it. I therefore aim to exceed my target by about a hundred words each day until I'm a full day ahead.

Now, as they say, the hard work starts.... Happy writing!

Tony Riches

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Do you have some great tips on #NaNoWriMo you would like to share? Please feel free to comment

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.

15 September 2018

New Book Review ~ The Norman Conquest: William the Conqueror's Subjugation of England, by Teresa Cole

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

One of the main historical dates most people can tell you is that the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066 - and King Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye by William the Conqueror.

In this thought provoking new book Teresa Cole points out that over nine centuries later it's time to take a fresh look again at all the evidence - and the outcomes of the Norman Conquest of England. Most importantly, it is essential to examine the context for the account represented in the Bayeux tapestry.

I remember going on a school trip to see the tapestry as a child, and recall the 'comet with long hair' which Harold saw as an omen of doom. (ISTI MIRANT STELLA - These [people] look in wonder at the star). Teresa Cole points out that this was probably an appearance of Halley's comet - and it was visible at Easter 1066, not October, when William invaded (a detail ignored by the tapestry makers, who had the benefit of hindsight.)

This engaging book is packed with details and narrated in a lively style:
William the Bastard they called him, although probably not to his face. A strictly accurate description but not necessarily a term of endearment. In fact, there were not many who really loved William of Normandy - his wife, probably, and his inner circle of trusted friends. Even his children seemed to have mixed feelings.
I particularly liked Teresa Cole's chapter on 'The winners and losers of 1066: A Personal View'. Whatever they thought of him, William's victory removed at a stroke not only the King but every noble lord of note, transforming the future of England forever. He then proceeded, with the 'Doomsday Book', to note everything of value and share it between his followers.

Was Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye? All I can say is that there is an intriguing twist to King Harold's story, and you'll have to read the book to find out. Highly recommended. 

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Teresa Cole has been a teacher for thirty years. She has written several law books and a historical biography by Amberley, 'Henry V: The Life of the Warrior King & the Battle of Agincourt 1415' She lives just outside Bath, UK.

Disclosure: A review copy of this book was kindly provided by 
Amberley Publishing

9 September 2018

The Great Seal of Queen Elizabeth I

Seals were used on most documents in the past, to close them and to prove that the document really was from the person who sent it. Most seals had a picture of the owner and a motto or legend around the edge. It would usually show the type of job the owner did and contain information about their family.

However, a Great Seal was special – it belonged to the monarch and all important business that the monarch did had a Great Seal attached. If a document had this seal on it, it had the monarch’s ‘seal of approval’ as it contained the monarch’s wishes or commands.

The seal was made of a mix of resin and beeswax which turns a brown colour with age and regular use.

The Great Seal of Queen Elizabeth I was used by the Chancery, the Tudor Civil service, to show that the document attached was ordered in the Queen’s name. Elizabeth had her own personal ‘privy’ (private) seals for documents that she approved herself.

Queen Elizabeth used the first Great Seal from her coronation until 1586, after which she used the 'second seal' produced by the artist Nicholas Hilliard:

The second Great Seal of Queen Elizabeth I shows an unusual image the queen on horseback riding across what look like a field of flowering plants. The queen is depicted as a strong, feminine figure, not in military armour. 

The inscription around the edge reads: 
'Elizabetha dei gracia Anglie Francie et Hibernie Regina Fidei Defensor'
('Elizabeth by the Grace of God Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith'). 
This second seal was 'surrendered' to King James Ist on his accession in May 3 1603 - and used by him for eleven weeks until his own seal was ready.

(Source National Archives)