21 May 2017

Book Launch Spotlight: The Librarian & other strange stories, by Michael Dodsworth Cook


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

In the novella of the title, the antiquarian Jack Tregarden looks back to his first disturbing investigation. The young Jack is a brilliant scholar from a working class background who forms an unlikely friendship at Oxford with the charismatic and mysterious aristocrat Simon de Betancourt.

Many years later Tregarden is invited by de Betancourt to his family home, Ashcombe Abbey, ostensibly to revise the catalogue in the house's remarkable library. But as the days unfold Tregarden is confronted with a fiendish centuries' old puzzle which he must solve to unlock the great mystery of Ashcombe. As a result he is confronted by unimaginable forces which challenge his most fundamental beliefs.

In '24th June' the anniversary of his wife's death turns into a day Matthew Hargreaves will never forget.  The idea of all-pervasive Nature is given its ultimate expression in 'How the Trees Grew'.
An infamous crime returns to terrify the latest member of an ancient family in 'Golgotha Heights' 

# # #

About the Author

Dr. Michael Cook began by writing academic books, including the first full length study of the locked room mystery followed by a lively comparison of the detective and ghost story. Drawing on these themes, he has now started writing fiction, developing a different kind of mystery, one which features elements of both detection and the supernatural. ‘The Librarian & other strange stories’ is his first collection of tales. The short novel of the title introduces us to Jack Tregarden, an antiquarian investigator, recounting his first disturbing case.He is a fervent advocate of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, M R James, E F Benson, Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr, all of whom have influenced his own writing. As a former National Trust director, he has a close affinity with the Devon countryside which provides inspiration for his books, while his garden allows thinking time for his writing. He has a lifetime interest in sport, particularly Yorkshire cricket, and a passion for collecting books. Find our more at Michael's website www.michaelcookonline.com and find him on Twitter @MichaelDodCook.

19 May 2017

Book Launch Spotlight: Dark Maiden by Lindsay Townsend


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Beautiful Yolande comes from an exotic line of exorcists—a talent she considers a gift—and a curse. In fourteenth century England, a female exorcist who is also black is an oddity. She is sought after and trusted to quiet the restless dead and to send revenants to their final rest.

Geraint the Welshman captures Yolande’s heart with his ready smile and easy ways, and the passionate fire of his spirit. An entertainer, he juggles and tumbles his way through life—but there is a serious side to him that runs deep. He offers Yolande an added strength in her work and opens his heart to her with a love such as she’s never known.

But Yolande is not free to offer Geraint her love completely—not until her “time of seven” has passed. 

Can the powerful attraction between them withstand the powers of evil who mean to separate them forever? Yolande’s conscience and conviction force her to face this evil head-on—but can Geraint save his Dark Maiden…
# # #
About the Author

Lindsay Townsend is an historical romance author living in Yorkshire. Her current books are set in medieval England, ancient Rome and ancient Egypt. For news, background articles and updates about her books, please visit Lindsay's Book Chat http://www.lindsaytownsend.co.uk and find her on Twitter @lindsayromantic.

Guest Post: What Is Stylistic and Substantive Editing? by Cindy DeJager, Words Are My Business


It is choosing words that are concise; reconstructing sentences and paragraphs, and changing the order of the written work so that it accurately reflects the writer's intent.
Substantive and stylistic editing is not a separate kind of editing, but rather another level or step deeper than the mechanical editing of grammar and spelling that most writers are familiar with. The substantive edit is the difference between a good article/essay and an exemplary one. Make your writing to be clean and sparkle; I'll show you a fast method to achieve that.

Look these three things:

1. Is the subject clear?


Find the nugget of an idea buried and tangled in sentences and paragraphs.

2. Composition


These are the words that form the sentences.
Look at the words and see if they accurately say what they should.

3. Structure

There is a logical order to writing
Ideas form and progress in a natural order.
Craft sentences or paragraphs so that the whole article makes more sense and follows that logical order.

Let's look at a real example. Here is an actual article that I received from one of my regular contributors.

1. What is the main idea?

Answer the questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Buried Treasures

[Good title - it tells me exactly what the writer wants to tell the reader]

[when] Two months ago I took over the job of going through my [who] Great Aunt & Uncles’ [where] house to get it cleaned out and ready for sale. This home is 80 years old and my Aunt had lived in it from the day my Great Grandfather built it back in 1930. Along with the old features of the home, and due to the mind set in those days, that you don’t throw anything away. [what] They kept everything! I had a big job of going through every nook and cranny in that house, and deciphering what was valuable or not. I took a few days here & there to go to antique stores and shows to get an idea of what I should be looking for, so that I don’t throw something away that may be valuable. What I have found has made me re-think and really appreciate these items. Being an Interior decorator, I love the intrinsic beauty of things. I have now grown to appreciate the items that I had grown up with. So, you must be very careful of what you toss into landfill or take to recycling. [how] There are collectors out there looking for these items. I was talking with the man at the metal recycling place one day, and he showed me a solid brass spice grinder that someone brought in for recycling. He paid the person $1.50 for it and now can turn around and sell it for anywhere up to $165. When I spoke with a Dealer at the Antique Show and Sale, he said that [why]most people don’t realize the treasures they have right in their own homes or those of loved ones that are facing downsizing, going into nursing homes or dying, leaving the big task of going through their belonging to their family members.

2. Composition

Making those sentences concise and flow!
Examples of how to edit sentences:
(Unedited) Two months ago I took over the job of going through my Great Aunt & Uncles’ house to get it cleaned out and ready for sale. This home is 80 years old and my Aunt had lived in it from the day my Great Grandfather built it back in 1930.
(Edited) Two months ago, I acquired the job of going through my great aunt’s eighty-year old house to get it ready for sale.
(Unedited) Along with the old features of the home, and due to the mind set in those days, that you don’t throw anything away. They kept everything!
(Edited) My great aunt never threw anything away; she kept everything.

Omitted from the article:
What I have found has made me re-think and really appreciate these items. Being an Interior decorator, I love the intrinsic beauty of things. I have now grown to appreciate the items that I had grown up with.

I removed this part because it really had nothing to contribute to the article.
Turn those choppy short sentences into one concise sentence, or a compound sentence that flows.

3. Order and structure

Now you can start putting all the ideas and newly constructed sentences in order to make the article flow.

Refer to the “who, what, where, when, why, and how”. This is the logical flow of information.

Final copy

Buried Treasures

Two months ago, I acquired the job of going through my great aunt’s eighty-year old house to get it ready for sale. My great aunt never threw anything away; she kept everything. I went through every nook and cranny in her house, and had the difficult task of deciphering what was valuable or not. Visits to antique stores were enlightening and I learned that if you are not careful you could be throwing out valuable treasures.

During a conversation with the man at the metal recycling yard, he showed me a solid brass spice grinder that someone brought in for recyclin# # #g. He paid the person $1.50 but its value could be anywhere up to $165. We may find ourselves with the task of liquidating our parents and relatives assets, and if we are interested in learning more about antiques and collectables we will likely discover buried treasures in our homes.

Review of the final copy

You will notice that I chose better words for some of the sentences:
A. [Two months ago I took over the job of]
Two months ago, I acquired the job...
B. [When I spoke with a Dealer at the Antique Show and Sale, he said that most people don’t realize the treasures they have right in their own homes]
Visits to antique stores were enlightening...
Use your thesaurus to find a more accurate and descriptive word if you need to.

Don't be afraid to take those long, wordy, sentences and whittle them down as much as you can. You want to take your reader into your idea as smoothly and quickly as possible. Immerse them in sentences and paragraphs that don't require a machete to cut through the jungle of non-relevant ideas and off-tangent directions.

Cindy DeJager
# # #

About the Author

Cindy DeJager is a professional substantive and stylistic editor with twenty years’ experience in editing and publishing. She was previously the senior editor of eight years for Great News Publishing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; the publisher of 93 monthly community publications. When she was twelve years old, Cindy used to watch her mother as she wrote a book using the old manual typewriter. The tall, wood bookshelf in the living room used to fascinate her and the titles of her mother’s research material intrigued Cindy for many years. Years later, in 2000, her mother self-published her book and Cindy took over the marketing and promotion of the book (Amazon was a new sales platform at that time). In 2014, when her mother became ill, Cindy decided to open her own editing and publishing companies. Her mother passed away in 2015 and Cindy retired her mother’s company and began growing Words Are My Business and Opal Publishing. Currently Cindy owns and operates Words Are My Business and OpalPublishing, the publisher of OPAL a digital magazine for author and writers. Opal is published 10 times a year and features best-selling and up-coming authors, short fiction, poetry, prose, and articles by great writers. Cindy is a writer also, she is currently working on generational family saga set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Find out more at Cindy's website www.wordsaremybusiness.ca and find her on Facebook and Twitter @words_cindy & @opalpublishing.


18 May 2017

New Book Review – Jane Austen At Home, by Lucy Worsley


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

This new telling of the story of Jane's life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison. It wasn't all country houses and ballrooms, in fact her life was often a painful struggle.

I can say with some confidence that, after reading this book, you will never read Jane Austen’s works in quite the same way again. I also wonder if, like me, your mental picture of Jane Austen is a blend of the famous ‘portrait’ by her sister Cassandra and Anne Hathaway’s memorable portrayal in TV’s (historically inaccurate) ‘Becoming Jane’?  If so, you must read this brilliant new work by Lucy Worsley.

Lucy’s lively style and relish in fascinating details shines new light on the real Jane Austen. Most of what I thought I knew was right – but lacking the vital context provided as we study the reality of Jane’s home life. In the modern vernacular, we would say she was ‘just about managing’ for most of her time, although Lucy helps us understand what was considered normal in Georgian society – and what was not.

Jane’s sister destroyed many of her letters deemed ‘personal’ and those which survive have been described as ‘mundane.’ Lucy Worsley disagrees and finds delight in the trivia. She says, ‘...her personality is there, bold as brass, bursting with life, buoyant or recalcitrant as each day required. These letters are a treasure trove hiding in plain sight.’ I was also fascinated to realise Jane knew her letters could be read aloud, often over breakfast, so used a code known to her sister to ensure discretion.

To return to what Jane might have looked like, Lucy suggests she was around five feet seven, with a twenty-four inch waist (the alarming consequence of wearing tight stays as a girl). She rebukes biographers who describe her as a ‘plump, dumpy woman’ based on Cassandra’s portrait rather than the evidence.  Similarly, the romantic image of a lonely writer fits poorly with the known facts.

I was intrigued by the glimpses of the author’s own formative years. By wonderful coincidence Lucy attended the Abbey school in Reading where Jane Austen was sent as a border at the age of thirteen. (She also stayed at the same house as Jane Austen by the sea in Lyme Regis.)  As we approach the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on the 18th of July, I highly recommend this new book, which establishes Lucy Worsley as one of my favourite authors.

Tony Riches

(A review copy of this book was kindly provided by the publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, at my request)

# # #

About the Author 

Dr Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, and other historic places. Her first paid employment after studying history at Oxford was at a minor stately home called Milton Manor, near Abingdon, where she fed the llamas. After that she became an Inspector of Ancient Monuments at English Heritage, doing historical research at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire: this led to her first book, 'Cavalier', about a dissolute Royalist duke. Her work as a curator at Kensington Palace led to 'Courtiers', which was followed by 'If Walls Could Talk', 'A Very British Murder', and her first historical novel for young readers, 'Eliza Rose', which is set at the Tudor court. For mre information visit Lucy's website www.lucyworsley.com and find her on Twitter @Lucy_Worsley,  

Book Launch Guest Post ~ Child Taken, by Darren Young


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

One hot summer's day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won't give up hope that her daughter is still alive. How can she? Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what's been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.


Although I enjoyed writing, I never thought I’d write a book or anything like that. My idea of utilising words for a living had all but ended when I gave up hope of being a journalist and got the ‘safe’ job at the bank my mum always wanted me to get.

But listening to a radio interview one sunny midweek afternoon as I drove along the A43 changed my attitude somewhat. On the talk show, GP Taylor was talking about his life changing decision to begin writing at the age of forty. I was thirty-nine and three quarter years old and my head had been turned.

The interview wouldn’t leave my brain. Was I capable of such a bold move? I liked writing a lot, but a book? I wasn’t sure I had the time, energy or competence but the more I dismissed it, the more I felt challenged and compelled to at least try.

A few months later, during another car journey, another bit of radio (this times a news bulletin) caught my attention and my idea for Child Taken was in place. I knew by the end of the journey what I wanted to do – from first page to last – and how I’d do it. It just needed to be written.

I set out with only three main objectives. To have short chapters as I’d read a book like that and loved it, to make the story as positive as possible and to not resort to killing characters for no reason. Then I had to work out how to get my idea and objectives into something that people might want to actually read.

In nearly every other part of my life, I am what was once described to me as a ‘big chunker’; quite happy with very high level of detail and not one for having to know precise information. The worst person imaginable when it comes to proof reading, in other words.

But with writing, it turned out that I was the polar opposite.

I was lucky that I knew the whole story in my head but I couldn’t do anything else until I’d done a chapter by chapter break down of how I’d tell it.  Then I began to build up each chapter, from a simple one liner into a thousand words and carried on until I’d got a first draft of Child Taken just over nine months later.

After that, I did a second draft; then a third and a fourth. Each time I made sweeping improvements although the story itself didn’t change at all. However, the way I told it certainly did. I also sought advice and feedback from a variety of sources. I was like a rabbit in the headlights in this new world but I talked to people who knew it well and more importantly, knew what readers and publishers wanted.

More drafts, each time less dramatic, followed plus a cull when I got rid of a couple of thousand words that I liked but the story didn’t need. In the end, by drafts ten and eleven, I was changing the odd word or sentence here and there; fine tuning and listening to the publishers and their appointed experts wherever I could and acting on it.

I was a naïve, idealistic novice to begin with and in many ways, I still am. I’ve had to learn on the job, pick up any advice and tips whilst learning from mistakes. I’ve been lucky to because I surrounded myself with the right people and as I’ve always maintained, what I’ve actually done is written a – fingers crossed - very good Word document.

It is my friends at Red Door Publishing that have turned it into a book.

Darren Young
# # #

About the Author 

Darren Young was born and grew up (sort of) in the West Midlands but now lives in Nottingham with his wife and their two children. His background is in financial services and in particular, customer service, where he has a master’s degree and has been a consultant on the subject, helping organisations improve their customers’ experience, since 2004. He began writing in 2014 after hearing a radio interview. Child Taken is his debut novel and he’s currently working on his next book. Away from writing, he enjoys a game (good or bad) of tennis and any decent film although he has also been known to disappear without trace for a few days at a time with a TV box set. Find out more at Darren's website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @darrenyoungbook.


16 May 2017

Book Launch Spotlight: Heloise, by Mandy Hager



What happens when the 12th century's most famous French lovers are caught in the crossfire of factions, religious reform and zealotry?

Heloise has an exceptional mind. In her determination to pursue learning rather than marriage or life as a cloistered nun, her path inevitably crosses with Peter Abelard, the celebrity philosopher, theologian and master at Paris' famed Cathedral School.


When two such brilliant minds meet and engage, sparks are likely to fly. And when those two minds belong to a charismatic man and a determined young woman, those sparks are likely to ignite. But theirs is an impossible love.
At a time when the Gregorian Reforms are starting to bite and celibacy among the clergy and church officials is being rigorously imposed, these two embark on an affair that will see their lives forever changed.
Based on meticulous up-to-date research and the pair's own writings, this novel recreates the times, offers a plausible interpretation of the known facts and a vivid imagining of the gaps in this legendary story. So, too, it shines a light on a changing world whose attitudes and politics are not so very different from our own.


"Brilliant, gripping, thought-provoking, insightful of the times and its dilemmas and wonderful in allowing the reader to get into the heads and hearts of people with a very different world-view." 
Author Martin Lake
# # #

About the Author

Mandy Hager is a multi-award winning writer of fiction for young adults. She is a trained teacher, with an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts (Whitireia) and an MA in Creative Writing for Victoria University. She also writes adult fiction, short stories, non-fiction, educational resources, blogs and articles, and currently tutors the Novel Course for Whitireia’s Creative Writing Programme. Find out mroe at her website mandyhager.com and find Mandy on Twitter @MandyHager.

Editing your writing with the PerfectIt intelligent proofreading add-in #AuthorToolboxBlogHop


I can’t be alone in wondering why the spell checker in Microsoft Word has hardly improved in the last ten years.  The solution is to use professional editing services, although you need to ensure your manuscript has as few avoidable errors as possible before you send it for editing.

For my last two novels I’ve been using a third-party add-in to help spot typos and ensure consistency. PerfectIt is easy to use and install and can be run at any time as an extension to the spelling checks.

In particular, I find PerfectIt good at highlighting the following, which are often overlooked by the Word spelling check:
  • Common typing mistakes (such as 'manger' instead of 'manager')
  • Words spelled in more than one way (such as 'adviser' and 'advisor')
  • Inconsistent capitalisation of headings, titles and proper nouns
  • Finding missing quote marks in dialogue
  • Highlighting phrases that are used inconsistently
  • Checking for words and phrases that appear with and without a hyphen
  • Improving consistent use of compounds, numbers, fractions and directions
  • Removing spaces before punctuation

Once installed, PerfectIt appears as a new tab in the Word menu. You can set up you style preferences and save them for different types of documents. All you have to do then is launch the add-in and follow the instructions.

You can try PerfecIt for free before you buy it - and the licence is for life, so there are no problems if you change your PC or laptop. Visit http://www.intelligentediting.com/download/download/

PerfectIt is not a substitute for a professional editor but will help your editor spend their time on things that really matter, rather than sorting out avoidable typos. 

Tony Riches

Do you have some great editing tips 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 May 2017

Book Launch Spotlight ~ That Darkest Place (Riverbend Book 3) by Marcia Meara


New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

In Book 3 of her popular Riverbend series, Marcia Meara, author of Wake-Robin Ridge, A Boy Named Rabbit,and Harbinger, takes another look at the lives of the Painter brothers—Jackson, Forrest, and Hunter. While Hunter is home again and on the mend, the same isn’t true for his oldest brother. Jackson’s battle has just begun.

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don't leave your brother stranded in that darkest place."
~Hunter Painter~


The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.

# # #

About the Author

Marcia Meara is a native Floridian, and lives in Sanford, just north of Orlando, with her husband of 30+ years, two large cats, and two small dachshunds. When not working on her books and blogs, 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 a mere 64 years later, she finally wrote "Wake-Robin Ridge," her first novel. Making up for lost time, she has published five more novels over the last four years - find out more at her website The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/ and follow Marcia on Facebook and Twitter @marciameara.

13 May 2017

Guest Post by Jennifer Macaire, author of The Road To Alexander (The Time For Alexander Series Book 1)

 

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US


Ashley is a time-travel journalist who has fought to prove herself in a world that that believes her road in life was paved by her parents' fortune. After winning a prestigious award, she is selected to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero, Alexander the Great, she voyages back in time for less than a day to interview a man whose legend has survived to the present day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her. Stranded in the past, cold and aloof Ashley has to learn
to befriend, to trust...and to love. 



Writing hot when you have a cold.

Sometimes I don't feel so hot. I don't feel like writing a love scene. But there's a book to finish. The hero and heroine are in place, (picture a book as a movie set) and the producer (the author) yells "Roll 'em!"... and the scene starts to unfold.

So, here I am, sitting at my desk, a flannel blanket over my shoulders, a steaming hot tea by the keyboard, and I'm stuffed with aspirin and sucking a sore throat pill.

I'm writing: "They touch, he slides his hands along her cheeks, grasps her jaw, turns her face to his. She resists, and then their eyes meet. Her cool resistance vanishes in the heat of his gaze. He leans over. Their lips touch..."

And I sneeze.
I picture the woman kissing the man and then sneezing.
The moment is gone.
I start over. This time I get as far as his lips trailing down her neck. Then he breathes in her scent, and all I can smell is my camphor rub. I try to imagine something more romantic than camphor. Jasmine – the old standby. She smells of jasmine - a delicate, sweet scent. He sighs and buries his face in her neck, her hair tickles his skin.

I sneeze again.

Damn it. I take a swig of hot tea. Blow my nose. Glare at the keyboard. The hero is getting annoyed. The heroine is yawning, about to fall asleep. I realize I've been sitting here staring at the keyboard for a long time. My tea is cold. I sigh and start over.

Cool hands sliding over hot skin. (I have a fever!) Sweat pearling on brows. (That too, is easy to imagine.) But my fever is making me loopy. I keep imagining the hero putting cool hands on the heroine's burning forehead. I can only write it once though, not seven times in a row. Besides, she's supposed to be feverish with desire, not with the flu.

I sigh, sneeze, and start again.
By now my eyes are watering so hard I can hardly see my screen and I've finished a whole box of tissues.
I realize I will not be able to finish my love scene.
I must get rid of my cold in order to write hot.
Sometimes, you just have to wait.
As the saying goes, "Waiting is half the pleasure."  My hands fly over the keyboard.

The heroine pushed the hero away. "Not tonight, darling," she said. "But don't worry. The wait will definitely be worth it.

Jennifer Macaire
# # #

About the Author

Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband and three children. She lived in the Virgin Islands and used to work as a model. She met her husband at the polo club where he was playing. All that is true, but she mostly likes to make up stories.  She has published over twenty novels. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Find out more at her website  and her blog, where she writes about her life in France https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/.  You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter @jennifermacaire.

12 May 2017

Visiting Charles Brandon’s Tomb in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle


I’d always wanted to visit St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. When researching for my current work in progress, (about Henry VII’s daughter Mary Tudor), I realised Charles Brandon’s tomb is there so I decided to visit and take a look at it.

St George’s Chapel is within the grounds of Windsor Castle and was founded by King Edward III. Many successive royals have made their own ‘improvements’ and the chapel was seriously damaged by looters during the English Civil War.

There is a real sense of being at the heart of English History as you enter, as it is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter and burial place of many kings. I spotted the portcullis badge of Margaret Beaufort everywhere, as well as the Dragon and Greyhound of King Henry VII.

The chapel is also full of surprises. I found I was looking at the tomb of King Edward IV, buried with ‘Elizabeth Widvile’.  The tomb had been ‘lost’ then rediscovered during restoration work in 1789, which explains its modern appearance. (When the tomb was found many ‘relics’ were taken, including locks of Edward's hair – and liquid from the bottom of the coffin!)

I was listening to the audio tour as I entered the quire and was amazed when I was asked to look up to the left of the altar. That morning I’d been writing about Catherine of Aragon watching Henry VIII’s jousting from an ornate wooden gallery. There above me was another - the wooden gallery from where Queen Catherine would sit to watch services in the chapel, as well preserved as if she was expected to arrive at any moment.

Henry VIII’s tomb occupies the middle of the quire and is surprising both for its simplicity and the company we’ve chosen for him to keep in eternity – as well as Jane Seymour, Henry is buried with the beheaded body of King Charles Ist and a stillborn son of Queen Anne. (If you’d like to know what Henry’s tomb was supposed to be like, there is a useful post here.)

Having failed to find the tomb of Charles Brandon, I sked a guide and discovered it in the south transit, half covered by a wooden bench seat and under a life-sized portrait of King Edward III adjacent to the tomb of King Henry VI.  Interestingly, it refers to Mary Tudor as ‘Married Mary daughter of Henry VII, Widow of Louis XII King of France.


And what about Mary Tudor’s tomb? She died in Suffolk on 25 June 1533 and Charles Brandon paid for a fine tomb Bury St Edmunds Abbey. When the abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, her remains were taken to St. Mary’s Church, also in Bury St Edmunds, and placed under a modest slab – another long trip from Wales!

Tony Riches

10 May 2017

Guest Post by Chris Bishop, Author of Blood & Destiny (The Shadow of the Raven)


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

878: Wessex stands alone against Guthrum's Viking hordes as all England cowers beneath their raven banner. With most of his army destroyed following a surprise attack at Chippenham, Alfred, King of Wessex, retreats to the desolate marshes at Athelney. Whilst few believe he can ever restore the kingdom, he remains
determined no matter the cost.

Writing without a reader is like talking to yourself. What you say may make perfect sense but no-one will hear you – or, even if they do, they’ll probably think you’re crazy!

My debut novel, Blood & Destiny, started out as a short story about a ghost which I intended to submit to a literary competition. It was not a genre I had ever attempted before but I had a plot in mind which started out with the remains of a young boy being disturbed by archaeologists who were excavating his grave, curious to know why he had been buried in such a remote and lonely place.

That is, in essence, still the basis of the prelude to Blood & Destiny, except that it rapidly became apparent that the ghost of the boy had his own tale to tell. He seemed to take over the story, pushing me into all sorts of places I had not intended to go and inducing all manner of twists and turns along the way. The upside of this was that pretty soon the whole story came gushing out like a … well, like all good stories should.

The strange thing was that when I started to research the facts of the era (Anglo Saxon England), I found that so much of what I had jotted down fitted the perceived historical facts like a glove. Then, when I eventually gave my ghost a name (actually, I gave him two names but you’ll have to read the book to find out why) he seemed to come to life and I realised that I was no longer writing a short ghost story, I was writing a novel.

When I’d finished it, I sent a draft off to several publishers, all of whom were very complimentary but they either rejected it as being ‘not for their market’ or suggested so many revisions that I began to wonder who was actually writing it. That’s not to say that their suggestions were unwelcome; in fact I took on board quite a few of them but, in the end, I opted to tell my story (or rather Matthew’s story) my way - in the way that it had come to me.

One of the publishers made a very valid point in saying that the voice at the beginning of the story (in the Prelude) seems older than the text suggests. When I looked at this I realised it was true. I also realised why – it was because Matthew’s life did not end where my story ended, implying that he yet had even more to tell me. With that in mind I drafted Book Two (The Warrior with the Pierced Heart) and even sketched out an outline of a plot for Book Three (The Vengeance of Kings). There is even a wildly ambitious plan for a Book Four but that won’t be about Matthew, it’ll be about …actually, you’ll have to wait and see what that will be about!

I’d like to think that Matthew’s ‘ghost’ guided my pen throughout the process (or should I say told me which keys to press on my keyboard?). Certainly it felt that way at times as so much came gushing out – including details I didn’t know I knew but then found to be correct. So, is it possible that this really is Matthew telling his story through me - and if so, does that mean it could actually be true?

Personally, I think not. To accept that would be to deny the hours of research, drafting, editing and revision that are all part of writing a novel. But I think it is just one of those stories that needed to be told to the extent that several reviewers have described it as ‘a damn good tale’. If so, I regard myself as being very fortunate that it was given to me to tell it.

Chris Bishop
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About the Author
Chris Bishop was born in London and after a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor, he retired to concentrate on writing, combining this with his lifelong interest in history.  Blood and Destiny is his first novel and is part of a series entitled The Shadow of the Raven. His other interests are travel, windsurfing and fly fishing. Find out more at his website and find Chris on Twitter @cbishop_author.

9 May 2017

Your Chance To Support The Reedsy #IWriteBecause Campaign


Books must sometimes seem as though they’re just made up of a bunch of words, but they’re much more than that. They’re whole worlds.

Above all, words are powerful — and now more than ever, we can use words to get the message out and do good. It is our firm belief that every child, regardless of geography, gender, or economics, should get ready access to books and education. That’s why we started this campaign: #IWriteBecause. Our founders established Reedsy in 2014 not only to give writers the resources to publish great books, but also to kindle writing and reading everywhere.

With this in mind, we’re asking writers such as yourself to send us short, one-minute videos. The game is in the name: why do you write?

When you tell the world your answer, you’re inspiring kids everywhere to write and create their own messages. Say #IWriteBecause to them now — and one day in the future, perhaps we’ll see those kids telling us that #TheyAlsoWriteBecause.

We wanted to ensure that our campaign makes a positive impact, so for every author sends in a video, we’re donating $10. The money is going to our partner, Room to Read, a non-profit foundation that focuses on reading acquisition and girls’ education in Africa and Asia.

Thanks to Tony, Annie and writers everywhere who contributed videos, we’re proud to say that we’re aiding Room to Read’s mission to reach 15 million children by 2020. We’ve appreciated the outpouring of support from our community, and we’re really excited about the enthusiasm with which writers are approaching the #IWriteBecause campaign. We could not do this without you guys.

If you’ve not done so yet, join all of us in making a difference in the world today. It’s easy to step up and contribute — spreading the word about it is even simpler. All it takes is a minute to send us a short video explaining why you write!

Again, we’re pledging to donate $10 to Room to Read for every video we get, so this is your chance to use your words to give direct to a good cause. If you’ve got any questions about the campaign, or Reedsy, please send them my way: yvonne@reedsy.com.


Looking forward to your video!


5 May 2017

Book Blast Blog Tour: Raven’s Feast (Hakon's Saga Book 2) by Eric Schumacher #HFVBT


New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Raven’s Feast is the sequel to God’s Hammer, the true story of Hakon Haraldsson and his quest to win and keep the High Seat of Viking Age Norway.

It is 935 A.D. and Hakon Haraldsson has just wrested the High Seat of the North from his ruthless brother, Erik Bloodaxe. Now, he must fight to keep it.

The land-hungry Danes are pressing from the south to test Hakon before he can solidify his rule. In the east, the Uplanders are making their own plans to seize the throne. It does not help that Hakon is committed to his dream of Christianizing his people – a dream his countrymen do not share and will fight to resist.
As his enemies move in and his realm begins to crumble, Hakon and his band of oath-sworn warriors must make a stand in Raven’s Feast, the riveting sequel to God’s Hammer.

“At its core, Raven’s Feast is more than a story about a young king holding firm to the power he has won in Viking Norway,” said Eric Schumacher, author of Raven’s Feast. “It is the story of a young man holding true to one’s self and convictions in the face of extreme challenges — something to which, I hope, many people can relate.”

To celebrate the launch, the prequel, God’s Hammer, will be available free-of-charge on Amazon in the USUK and Canada from May 2-6, 2017.



Praise for God’s Hammer (Hakon’s Saga, Book 1)

“Eric Schumacher has created the most evocative tale in his stunning novel — God’s Hammer. This book completely drew me in. The research that has gone into God’s Hammer has to be commended, and it is incredibly rich in historical detail. It was as if I was looking through a window into the past as I read the pages of this remarkable story. Hakon’s portrayal is both realistic and believable. Schumacher has obviously researched the life of Hakon in great detail, and this certainly came through in the writing. Schumacher brought Hakon back to life. Well Done!” – Mary Yarde, the author of The Du Lac Chronicles

“Author Eric Schumacher put together a rousing story of warfare, religious strife and tested friendships.” – Mercedes Rochelle, author of Godwine Kingmaker and The Sons of Godwine

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About the Author

Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, God’s Hammer and its sequel, Raven’s Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm. More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his website. You can also connect with Eric on  FacebookGoodreads, AuthorsDB and follow him on Twitter @DarkAgeScribe.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, May 2
A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, May 3
T’s Stuff
Pursuing Stacie
Thursday, May 4
Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 9
WS Momma Readers Nook
Wednesday, May 10
Back Porchervations
Friday, May 12
Book Nerd