21 July 2018

Visiting the Tomb of Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France, was the youngest surviving daughter of King Henry VII and the younger sister of King Henry VIII.  Mary was also grandmother to Lady Jane Grey. I spent four years researching her life for my books, as she is born in my book Henry - Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy, and is the subject of my latest book, Mary - Tudor Princess. Mary is also a central character in my next book, about the life of her husband, Charles Brandon.

Mary Tudor died at Westhorpe in Suffolk after a long illness, a little before eight in the morning on the twenty-fifth of June 1533. She was thirty-seven years old. She was laid to rest in the abbey church of Bury St Edmunds. Her alabaster monument was destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries and her tomb moved to the nearby St Mary’s Church, where it is to this day.

In 1784, Mary’s lead coffin was moved to the chancel of St Mary’s and placed under a plain slab of Petworth marble inscribed ‘Mary Queen of France 1533.’ Although Mary was only Queen of France for some ninety days, it seems she never used her husband's surname or her title Duchess of Suffolk, always preferring to be referred to as Queen of France, so I believe she would have been happy with the simple inscription.

I visited on a bright summer morning and was impressed by the scale of the church, which is one of the largest parish churches in England, with the largest West Window of any parish church in the country.

In the Lady Chapel, there are stained glass windows, provided by Queen Victoria which show events from Mary’ life. In the lower centre window, Mary is shown being 'forgiven' by her brother Henry VIII for marrying his best friend, Charles Brandon, without his permission.

The later inscription and insignia on the wall above Mary's grave and the marble curb were provided on the orders of King Edward VII, who visited in 1904: 

When Mary's coffin was moved it was opened and it is reported that her hair was some two feet long, a ‘reddish-gold’ colour and her teeth were even and complete. Locks of her hair were acquired by historian Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, and Lady Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland. Several specimens claiming to be Mary’s red-gold hair survive, including this one in the Bury St Edmunds Moyse's Hall museum:

I was pleased to see how the town of Bury St Edmunds celebrates the connection with Mary Tudor.  There is even this large poster in the Corn Exchange Wetherspoons:

My book  Mary - Tudor Princess is available from Amazon in paperback, ebook and audiobook editions, and although it is historical fiction, it is based on years of research to ensure her story is as factually accurate as possible.

Tony Riches

17 July 2018

Book Launch Guest Post by Sarah Dahl ~ Tower: Unchained by Love (A Tales of Freya Short Story Book 6)

In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives – all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives. Young Viking Myskia lands on Irish shores to rescue his lover Adisa from the clutches of his family's enemy Raven. After a fierce duel, Myskia finds himself in the confined walls of a strange tower, facing Adisa. Their reunion turns out to be very different than what he imagined. Can the passion they once shared break down the walls that have grown between them after months of slavery? Or has she changed in ways he’s unprepared for? 

Set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.

A tower as protagonist – An intimate Viking chamber play

The short story Tower – Unchained by Love is on the one hand the most gritty and bloody of my Tales of Freya. We see our protagonist Myskia attack a village to duel his arch enemy. His reunion with his enslaved lover Adisa turns out very different from what he had hoped for. It’s not like he can just snatch back the lady and run to the boats. Myskia has to break down the walls of the strange tower, and also those that have grown between him and his beloved woman. Until passion can unfold

Inside the tower, I wanted to oppose them like in an intimate chamber play: with nowhere else to go. Forced together. They aren’t the same people as before Adisa’s ordeal, but their bond is strong, and their wills and hearts are too. In this intimate setting, they go through a whole array of emotions; and with the traumatic experiences of especially Adisa, her encounter with Myskia is explosive – in many ways. 

So what I needed as a setting was a space that could intimately contain and intensify this wild exchange between them. So the former lovers end up in the very narrow space of a strange round tower, making both of them uncomfortable but also vulnerable and therefore open up. I specifically chose the slender, quite ancient round towers of Ireland, as seen in Glendalough, as a setting for this Tale. These towers’ history is vague. It is unclear who built them, why, and what they contained. They’re often near religious sites, but not quite on them. This uncertainty is ideal for a writer, as it gave me room to set up my chamber play as I needed it to be.

Our young and passionate hero is challenged not only by his enemy and then Adisa, but also this stone structure. He follows its exotic pull, then has to break into this imposing building, which in itself feels suicidal. Once inside, the narrow confines intimidate and confuse him. There is only one way to go: higher and higher into this dark space.

The round, narrow wall literally forces the lovers back together (be that a good or a bad thing). But it also protects them from the bloody mayhem down in what feels like the real world. The tower has a very surreal and removed-from-it-all intimacy to it. Cramped together, our couple is free from interruptions and distractions and can process their traumas and sudden reunion, to then celebrate the latter (in every sense that comes to mind ;-)).

So as often, there is some inciting “prop” for a story to develop. I had this idea of the tower as an intimate setting long before I wrote the Tale “Tower” – about 15 years ago, when I first saw the round towers “in person” in Ireland, steeped in mystery. Only much later did I plot this story “into” this exact space, and made it part of the story, almost like a protagonist in itself. Another challenger, an opponent to overcome. But also a protector for a while, as if the tower’s huge stony hand was folded around our couple for the time they need to reunite in minds, hearts, and bodies.

Sarah Dahl
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About the Author

Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Find out more at her website sarah-dahl.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @sarahdahl13

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.