Mastodon The Writing Desk: December 2015

29 December 2015

Inspiration for writing The Tudor Trilogy

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.  They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors? 

I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle and often visit the small room where the thirteen-year-old Lady Margaret Beaufort gave birth to the future king, Henry Tudor. I also recently stood on the remote beach at Mill Bay near Milford Haven, imagining how Jasper Tudor would have felt as he approached with Henry and his mercenary army to ride to Bosworth - and change the history of Britain.

All I knew about Owen Tudor was that he was a Welsh servant who somehow married the beautiful young widow of King Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois, and began this fascinating dynasty. Inspired to write a historical fiction trilogy about them, I was amazed to discover that, although there are plenty of references to Owen, Jasper and Henry in novels, there were none that fully explored their lives.

I wanted to research their stories in as much detail as possible and to sort out the many myths from the facts. There are, of course, huge gaps in the historical records, which only historical fiction can help to fill. For example, there is no record of the marriage between Owen and the Dowager Queen Catherine, although I have also not been able to find evidence of the legitimacy of his decedents, particularly Henry VII, ever being challenged.

Another advantage I have is that my previous two historical fiction novels, The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, and WARWICK ~ The Man Behind The Wars of The Roses are also set in the fifteenth century, so my considerable library of books and papers on the period are invaluable in cross checking dates and events.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my many readers around the world for helping to make the first book of The Tudor Trilogy, OWEN, an Amazon best-seller in the UK and US, and my best-selling book in Australia, where I have a rapidly growing readership.

Owen was an adventurer, a risk-taker, a man who lived his life to the full and made his mark on the world through his descendants. Jasper Tudor made it possible for his nephew Henry to become King of England and bring a lasting peace to the country. I am now helping to campaign for a statue of Henry Tudor to be erected outside Pembroke Castle so that their legacy is not forgotten.

Tony Riches


23 December 2015

Historical Fiction Spotlight ~ The Painter's Daughter, by Julie Klassen

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Sophie Dupont assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. In private, she paints the picturesque north Devon coast, popular with artists--including handsome Wesley Overtree, who seems more interested in Sophie than the landscape. 

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother Wesley's responsibilities. Near the end of his leave, he is sent to find his brother and bring him home. Upon reaching Devonshire, however, Stephen is stunned to learn Wesley has sailed for Italy and left his host's daughter in serious trouble. 

Stephen feels duty-bound to act, and strangely protective of the young lady, who somehow seems familiar. Wanting to make some recompense for his own past failings as well as his brother's, Stephen proposes to Miss Dupont. He does not offer love, but marriage "in name only" to save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he fears, she will at least be a respectable widow.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie finds herself torn between her first love and this brooding man she barely knows. Dare she wait for Wesley to return? Or should she elope with the captain and pray she doesn't come to regret it?
"In this gorgeous story of love and redemption, Klassen spins a tale of secrets and deception, coupled with unexpected plot twists and a swoon-worthy ending; giving readers more evidence as to why she's a fan favorite."--Library Journal starred review
"Christy Award-winning Klassen draws on Jane Austen's impeccably crafted novels in her latest richly nuanced and superbly written inspirational Regency romance."--Booklist starred review
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About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Her book, The Silent Governess, was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit for more information and find Jule on Twitter @Julie_Klassen.

22 December 2015

Guest Post – Writing The Viking Hostage, by Tracey Warr

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Set in late 10th century France and Wales, The Viking Hostage tells the intertwining stories of three women living through turbulent times of Viking raids, Christian conversions, and struggles for power across Europe. Sigrid is a Norwegian sold into slavery in the French Limousin, stubbornly clinging to her pagan identity. Aina is a rich heiress, betrothed as a child to a man who does not offer her the adventure she craves. Adalmode is the daughter of the Viscount of Limoges, whose father has forbidden her passion for a young man imprisoned in his dungeon for a great crime. Their stories question and tangle with the nature of human nobility and of freedom in the highly stratified, unequal, and often brutal society of early medieval Europe.

The initial spark for my novel, The Viking Hostage, was a couple of sentences in a Chronicle written by a monk, Ademar of Chabannes, in 11th century France. Ademar described the kidnap of Emma of Segur by Vikings in the year 1000, from a monastery on the coast near Poitiers and her return to her husband, the Viscount of Limoges, three years later in exchange for a huge ransom paid in silver. The Viscount had to ‘appropriate’ some of the silver from the monastery where Ademar lived so I suppose that rankled with him and his fellow monks. I immediately started wondering what happened to Emma during those three years.

At first I thought her captors would take her to Norway and I began researching 10th century Norway and Vikings. Then I considered that perhaps she would be kept nearer France to enable a quick turnaround when the Viscount managed to get together the ransom, so perhaps she was held on the Isle of Man which was a Viking stronghold. But then I realised that most of the islands around the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales where I live were also occupied by Vikings and well known to me, so why not have my captive Viscountess on a Welsh island that is a fictional mix of the islands of Caldey and Skomer. I’m very short-sighted and I liked the idea of writing a medieval character with myopia and this became Emma’s husband Viscount Guy. The story of Guy’s sister Adalmode runs parallel to Emma’s, as does that of a third woman, the Norwegian Sigrid Thorolfsdottir.

I wanted to write a novel about Vikings from a female perspective and to combat some of the stereotypical ideas about them. We can’t help but be impressed by the Vikings’ adventurous spirit and their achievements as seaborne explorers. I tried to write about them as fully rounded people, rather than two-dimensional villains: as tender and funny, as well as fearsome pagan warriors. There is evidence that Scandinavian women were on some of the Viking ships. The people of the fjords, as the Welsh called them, were traders, farmers and mercenaries, often integrating with the other cultures they encountered, as well as being raiders and slavers. Traces of the Vikings in Wales are in place names especially islands and coastal ports, in a few references in the Icelandic Sagas, in recent archaeological digs at Anglesey, and in the Welsh Annals written at St David’s Cathedral where those monks had good cause to complain about them since Vikings raided that cathedral eleven times.

I was surprised and delighted to find The Viking Hostage topping several bestseller lists in the Amazon Australia Kindle Store this month. I always enjoy hearing what readers have to say about my novels because each of them imagines the story in their own slightly different way and I’m often surprised by what my words have conjured in their minds. There are both conscious and unconscious processes at work in writing, and you have to trust to that. It’s easy to lose impetus and self-confidence and start to doubt the value of what you are doing. You are working alone so much as a writer. When I was writing my first novel I did an MA in Creative Writing in Wales and my fellow writers on the course were important critical friends in the writing process. Now I belong to the Parisot Writers Group in France and continue to find it very helpful to discuss writing with other writers when I’m in the thick of doing it. Writing a novel is a long haul and you need all the encouragement you can find.

My novels are a weave of researched facts and imagining in the gaps between those facts. Alongside historical research I use maps, objects in museums and visiting places to help me flesh out my characters’ experiences. In writing The Viking Hostage I was aiming to create a world that the reader could step into, encountering the sights, sounds, colours and smells, joys and anxieties of the 10th century.

Tracey Warr
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About the Author

Tracey Warr was born in London and currently lives in Wales and France. She studied English Literature at Oxford University and holds a PhD in Art History. She worked as an art curator and university lecturer in art history and theory before starting to write fiction six years ago. She undertook an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St Davids in Carmarthen. Her first historical novel Almodis (Impress, 2011) was set in early medieval France and Spain. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize, presented in the Rome Film Festival Book Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel The Viking Hostage (Impress, 2014) is currently on Amazon Australia Kindle bestseller lists. She was recently awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary for work on her third novel about Princess Nest and King Henry I, set in 12th century Wales and England, which will be published next year. She also received an Author’s Foundation Award from the Society of Authors this year for a biography she is working on about three French noblewomen, three sisters, who held power in 11th century Toulouse, Carcassonne, Barcelona and the Pyrenees. Tracey is a Book Reviews Editor for Historical Novels Review and also writes art book reviews for Times Higher Education and New Welsh Review. Her most recent publication on contemporary art is Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Ashgate, 2015).Find our more at and find Tracey on Twitter at @TraceyWarr1 

18 December 2015

Blog Tour ~ Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories by Eileen Stephenson #HFVBT

02_Tales of Byzantium

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

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A young empress defies her powerful father for love and her rightful place on the throne. A charismatic commander takes the gamble of a lifetime to save the lives of thousands of innocents. An exiled princess finds a new sense of purpose and creates a legacy that will stand through the ages.
These stories provide a glimpse of the dynamic and proud Byzantines who lived during the height of the empire's splendor. 

"Through elegantly described details, sharply observed characters, and especially crisp, modern-sounding dialogue, Stephenson takes these vignettes from the thousand years of Byzantine history, mixes them liberally with such excellent modern narrative histories as John Julius Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium, and manages to create three very intriguing windows into a part of history largely unknown to many readers." -Anne McNulty, Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

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About the Author

03_Eileen Stephenson

Eileen Stephenson was born in Fort Worth, Texas but spent most of her life in the Washington, DC area. She has degrees from both Georgetown University and George Washington University (neither involving the Byzantines) and is married with three daughters. Her interest in Byzantine history all started one fateful day when every other book in the library looked boring except for John Julius Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium. 


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 14 Review at Library Educated Interview at Let Them Read Books Tuesday, December 15 Review at The Maiden's Court Wednesday, December 16 Guest Post at A Bookish Affair Thursday, December 17 Review at The Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews Spotlight at What Is That Book About Friday, December 18 Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog Spotlight at The Writing Desk Saturday, December 19 Spotlight at Teatime and Books Spotlight at To Read, Or Not to Read Sunday, December 20 Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review Monday, December 21 Review at Book Nerd Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views Interview at Flashlight Commentary Tuesday, December 22 Review at Luxury Reading Review & Giveaway at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf


To win a Paperback copy of Tales of Byzantium by Eileen Stephenson please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Rules – Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Tales of Byzantium

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17 December 2015

I AM HENRY trailer (release date 2016) #Tudors

I AM HENRY (the trailer). Winner Award of Excellence for LEADING ACTRESS and CINEMATOGRAPHY, and Winner Award of Merit FILM SHORT, Accolade Global Film Competition 2015
This absorbing short drama is set in the hour of King Henry VIII's death.
Written and Directed by Jan Hendrik Verstraten. Starring Sebastian Street, Fleur Keith, Maria de Lima and George Johnston. Producers: Massimo Barbato and Tarik Kemp. Cinematography by Simon Rowling. Composer: Louis Sebastian Mander. Costume Design by Kristen Ernst-Brown.

Follow #iamhenryfilm on Facebook and Instagram

and on Twitter @iamhenryfilm

Find out more at

15 December 2015

Guest Post ~ Absolute Truth, For Beginners: The Case of Slowly, Slowly Finding Your Story

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

My second novel, Absolute Truth, For Beginners is essentially a love story, narrating how an insecure twenty-something art history graduate, Elisa Mancini, falls in love with Judith Shapiro, a famous mathematician thirty-two years her senior. That’s why I thought that it would be apt to start this guest blog with a relationship metaphor.

Because there are two ways of finding your Perfect Match, right? There’s the quick way, and there’s the slow way: you fall in love at first sight, or then your friendship slowly transforms into something deeper and different altogether. In a similar way, there are two ways of finding your Perfect Story. That is, either the story overtakes you like a blitzkrieg, and you’ve got everything perfect in your head in a matter of minutes, or even seconds: just think of JK Rowling on a crowded platform when the idea of a scrawny, bespectacled boy with miraculous skills hit her. Or then it grows on you so slowly that you don’t even know where it came from.

This novel belongs to the second category. For its birth was slow – so slow that today I have no recollection when the idea first came to me, and why. Moreover, what led me to write Absolute Truth, For Beginners was not Elisa and Judith’s affair, but Judith’s work, the so called theory of absolute time. That was the starting point. I grew interested in time, and started to collect all kinds of material on it: time in physics, time in mathematics, time in art, time in psychology, animals’ conception of time, the history of watch-making, you name it.

My drawers were brimming with material on time, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had a story in my mind, but it was lightyears away from the novel that is going to be published today. It was about magical realism rather than contemporary fiction (something which shows that there is indeed a link between my first novel Witchcraft Couture, which is basically a fantasy novel, and this one), and the story evolved around a strange school for particularly talented children. Elisa and Judith were present in that story in their pre-historical, Neanderthal forms. But they were just two of the very many people in that story.

It wasn’t an easy story, and on numerous occasions I was so frustrated with it that I was close to throwing everything into the dustbin. But the story refused to be killed. It just didn’t leave me alone. I put it away, determined not to write it any more… and a few months later it would be back on my mind, and I would find myself racking my brains as to how to change the story, how to make it function.

Which, actually, makes me think about relationships again. Because just like far too many love affairs start with fireworks and fanfare – and then wither away when reality and everyday problems kick in – several novel ideas come to life in a flash of extraordinary inspiration, and then simply draw their last breath somewhere during the first manuscript version. Alternatively, there are stories that come with plenty of structural and character problems; but there is something in them, something compelling, which makes you return to them again and again and again. And that’s why in the end they are the lucky manuscripts. They’re the ones that transforms into novels, and reach the finishing line.

This is what happened with Absolute Truth, For Beginners: I cut out the school stuff, and eliminated everything else except Elisa, Judith and Judith’s theory of time. That’s when I decided that Judith and Elisa would have an affair, and that the theory of absolute time should be a scientific theory rather than a fantasy-novel philosophy. The more I wrote the new version of Absolute Truth, For Beginners, the more the story started to blossom. During the last months leading to the publication I wrote and rewrote the novel with an almost feverish intensity: rarely have I enjoyed writing a novel so much as I did during that period. It was then that I knew that Absolute Truth, For Beginners had finally found the shape it was meant to have.

Because books, you see, can have happy endings. Just like relationships.

Katarina West 
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About the Author

Katarina West is the author of Witchcraft Couture, her debut novel. She was born in Helsinki, Finland, into a bilingual family that in addition to humans consisted of dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, canaries, rabbits and – thanks to her biology teacher mother – stuffed owls and squirrels. She spent time travelling in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and went on to study at Queen Mary and Westfield College in London and the European University Institute in Florence, where she completed a PhD in political science and published a book based on it, Agents of Altruism. During those student years she started work as a journalist, and continued writing for various Finnish magazines and newspapers for over ten years, writing on various topics from current events and humanitarian issues to celebrity interviews and short stories. She also briefly worked as a university lecturer on humanitarian issues in Northern Italy.  Katarina lives in an old farmhouse in Chianti with her husband and son and when not writing, she is fully immersed in Tuscan country life, from jam-making and olive-picking to tractor maintenance.  Find out more at her website and follow Katarina on Facebook and Twitter @WestKatarina

12 December 2015

Guest Post ~ – A Fast and Easy Way to Promote Your Book, For FREE!, by Richard McMunn

I sat down to write my first physical book in 2009, and I have to say it was one of the best things I have ever done.

Since then, I have written and self-published in excess of 150 books. Although it has been a truly life-changing experience, I often found it challenging in the early days to promote my books without having to pay through the nose for the privilege. Through my own personal experience, paying for book promotional services does not always lead to any decent exposure, or even any book sales, to be honest!  In fact, I have often found that I can get far greater exposure for my books by using the many free resources that are out there.

On that basis, I decided to sit down and think about how I could not only help myself promote my own books, but also help other authors to gain free exposure for theirs, too. After a quick Internet search I soon realized that the domain name was available to purchase. I was actually amazed that the domain was still available to buy, and so I quickly snapped it up for the princely sum of £2.99. I then hired a website developer to create the design for me, and the rest as they say, is history!

I invested quite a bit of my own money into getting the website designed and built, and it has always been my intention to make it an entirely free resource for authors. Basically, I wanted it to be a place where every author could go to in order to promote his or her books.

The website has been a huge success and has attracted hundreds of authors from across the globe. Once an author signs up for their free account, they are then able to: 
  • Upload their book to the website, free of charge;
  • Upload an image of their book and create a book description;
  • Submit an author biography and links to their own website;
  • Add BUY NOW buttons and sell their book(s) directly from their own dedicated author page;
  • Create and upload a YouTube video to their author page, which can be used to promote their book;
  • Offer their book for sale at a discount and also link it to their own website, Waterstones, Amazon and the Book Depository;
  • Connect with their readers and fans by inserting their social channels into their page, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

In addition to all of the above free features, an author can also tweet and share their page to their Twitter and Facebook followers. Conversely, fans of their books can leave an independent review on the website based on their experiences of the content.

The website is growing very fast indeed and I have plans in the future to develop it further, whilst still keeping it as a free resource for authors around the world.

Hopefully you will take advantage of it yourself by signing of for a free author account and you will also let other authors know of its existence. After all, we can all do with a bit of free exposure for our books every now and then!

Richard McMunn

To start promoting your book on the About The Author website, please visit:

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About the Author

Richard McMunn is a former Fire Officer who has written and self-published over 150 books to date. He is the founder of, the UK's leading careers information website. In addition to writing his own books he is passionate about helping aspiring authors achieve their writing and publishing goals. He is always looking for innovative ways to help authors promote their books to a wider audience. Richard lives in Kent, England and spends much of his time in the Lake District, walking with his Labrador dog, Ben. Follow Richard on Twitter @RichardMcMunn.

11 December 2015

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva, by Eliza Redgold

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don't know her true story. We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. 

There are various endings to Godiva's ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for 'peeping Tom') and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax. Naked is an original version of Godiva's tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

“Redgold’s variation on this enticing legend is often lyrical and offers a satisfying blend of history, lore, and romance.” ~ Booklist
“NAKED delivers far more than the famous ride of Lady Godiva. It’s a beautifully woven story of love, loyalty, and the determination of a young woman to protect her people and their way of life, no matter the price. Godiva is a wonderfully strong woman in an age of dangerous men, and in NAKED, she certainly meets her match!”  Amalia Carosella (author of Helen of Sparta)
“Lady Godiva of Coventry gets a bold new retelling in Eliza Redgold’s Naked, which breathes new life into the story of the woman who would stop at nothing to protect her land and people. Look for this exciting new read in 2015.”  Romantic Times
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About the Author
Eliza Redgold is an author, academic and unashamed romantic. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia, where she writes historical fiction (St Martin's Press) and romance (Harlequin). Her 'Romance your Senses' series of contemporary romances are published by Harlequin (MIRA) Australia and Escape Publishing. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates
She says “Writing makes me braver. It has inspired adventures (and misadventures!) in travel, nature, art, literature and even gastronomy. I hope my books will inspire you too! They’re for people who love a good story, but want to discover new things. They also feature adventurous heroines who are prepared to take risks in life and love. Though in life and in love, of course, things never go quite as planned …”  Find out more at Eliza's website and find her on Twitter @ElizaRedgold.

Blog Tour ~ Becoming George Washington, by Stephen Yoch

02_Becoming George Washington

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

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George Washington, action hero . . . Long before Washington was the old man on the dollar bill, he was a fatherless boy with few resources and even less education. So how did he become the most famous person in American history? Becoming George Washington tells the story of a young man with boundless energy, bravery, and passion, who grew from a fatherless boy into a self-confident leader. At the same time, he struggled to suppress both an awful temper and his love for a married woman, Sally Fairfax. A courageous war hero, Washington rose to the pinnacle of Virginia politics. His experiences as a young man allowed him, decades later, to lead the Revolution. This compelling historical novel reveals the person behind the famous face and how he grew to become America’s leading Founding Father.

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About the Author

Steve doesn't golf or fish and is a below average hunter, but his love of history and writing compelled him to pick up his pen and tell the little-known stories behind the men that made American history. After years of extensive research, Steve wrote his first book on young George Washington. Steve lives in a suburb north of St. Paul, Minnesota with his supportive wife and two fantastic teenage sons. He graduated with honors from Boston College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He has enjoyed over two decades of practicing law in the Twin Cities, helping individuals and businesses solve complex problems.


Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, December 07 Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past Wednesday, December 9 Review at Library Educated Friday, December 11 Spotlight at The Writing Desk Monday, December 14 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Tuesday, December 15 Review at The Maiden's Court Wednesday, December 16 Interview at Layered Pages Spotlight at Historical Readings and Reviews Thursday, December 17 Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More Friday, December 18 Interview at Flashlight Commentary Monday, December 21 Review at Bookish Tuesday, December 22 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book Wednesday, December 23 Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews Guest Post & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation Thursday, December 24 Review at Book Nerd Monday, December 28 Review at Just One More Chapter Spotlight at Puddletown Reviews Tuesday, December 29 Review at The Absurd Book Nerd Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views Wednesday, December 30 Review at Luxury Reading Guest Post at The Absurd Book Nerd Thursday, December 31 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

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10 December 2015

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Leader of Battles (IV): Drystan, by David Pilling

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Britannia, 491 AD. Twelve years have passed since the British victory at Mount Badon. For the first time since the departure of the legions, Britannia is at peace. The Saxons are quiet in the east, towns and villages once again flourish, and Artorius reigns supreme as High King. 

Yet the hard-won peace is fragile. Trouble flares in the north, inside the Kingdom of Rheged, where civil war threatens to break out over territory and the hand of a royal princess. Artorius once again rides out at the head of his famous Companions to restore order, but the war only exposes tension among his followers. The long peace has bred resentment, and a new generation of warriors grow to manhood who care little for the past. 

While Artorus struggles to maintain order in Rheged, a new and far more deadly enemy rises in the far south-west. Drystan of Kernow, bastard son of King Marcus, slays a famous pirate in single combat. Having earned a glorious reputation, he is sent to Hibernia to fetch back a young bride for his father. The bride is Esyllt, daughter of King Niall. Drystan falls in love with the girl and abducts her, threatening to start a new war that will tear Britannia all to pieces. 

Artorius is forced to move swiftly to save his kingdom. The ageing warlord soon discovers that no man is invincible, and suffers defeat, betrayal and personal loss in his fight against Drystan. Meanwhile, as the British kingdoms falter, the shadow in the east continues to gather strength. 

Book Four of the Leader of Battles series follows the tale of Drystan and Esyllt, better-known as the doomed lovers Tristan and Isolde. This version sets their romance against the harsh, unforgiving backdrop of post-Roman Britannia, where treachery is rife, and darkness closes over the head of the High King.

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About the Author

David Pilling is an English writer and researcher, addicted to history for as long as he can remember. He spent much of his childhood dragging his parents up and down ruined castles in Wales, and the medieval period has always held a particular fascination for him. David is also interested in the Roman period, the Dark Ages and the British Civil Wars of the 17th century. His first published novel, Folville's Law, followed the adventures of Sir John Swale during the dying days of Edward II's reign. His stand-alone novel, The Half-Hanged Man, was told from the perspective of three characters and focused on the mercenary Free Companies that plagued Christendom in the latter half of the 14th century. The White Hawk is a 3-part series set during The Wars of the Roses, chronicling the adventures of the Boltons, a family of minor Staffordshire gentry, as they attempt to survive this treacherous and bloody period of English history. Caesar's Sword tells the story of Coel ap Amhar, King Arthur's bastard grandson, and his adventures in the glittering, lethal environment of Constantinople and the Late Roman Empire. David has also written four volumes of an Arthurian series, titled Leader of Battles, that act as loose prequels to Caesar's Sword. Fireship Press have released Nowhere Was There Peace, a tale of espionage and power politics set during The Second Baron's War, just after the Battle of Evesham. He is currently working on a new series titled Soldier of Fortune, chronicling the adventures of John Page, an English soldier and poet in the early 15th century, and contemplating a textbook on Robin Hood and other medieval outlaws. David has also written a series of fantasy novels with his friend and co-writer, Martin Bolton. They are set in the fictional universe of The World Apparent, and to date two books have been released: The Best Weapon and Sorrow. A third book is planned and underway, with perhaps more to come. Find out more at David's website and find him on Twitter @RobeH2.

8 December 2015

Guest Post ~ La Bastarda (The Trastámara Series Book 1) by K.M. Guerin

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Doña Constanza Enríquez de Castilla may be the daughter of a claimant to the throne, but she will never be a princess. The product of her father's dalliance with a young French girl, she has never been welcome in the eyes of his wife and legitimate heirs, who see her as a threat to the safety of their inheritance and a thief of their father's love. In the royal court, the games of Fate mean anyone can rise or fall
at the royal will; does Constanza really want to play,
or is she content to simply remain LA BASTARDA?

Writing was a hobby I gave up years ago after being told that it would be stupid to “waste” myself on something that would never be a viable way to earn a living.  I only decided to take it up again when I found myself a stay-at-home mom, unable to do much else.

The original idea behind LA BASTARDA came when I was researching medieval Spain.  Ever since I first read The Other Boleyn Girl, I was fascinated by this country, the realization that a large part of my identity as a Chicana (or Mexican-American, if you’re unfamiliar with the term) was shaped by these people.  I spoke Spanish, I grew up with an unshakeable belief in the Catholic faith, and in my wallet I still carry a medallion of an Marian aspect, Our Lady of Guadalupe, even though I am very much a non-believer.

Much of the historical fiction I read, however, cast “Spain” as the Big Bad Enemy, the stereotypical villain twirling his moustache as he watches the metaphorical train come barrelling towards the helpless Damsel (played by tiny England or war-ravaged France).  Me?  I was interested in the ruling family that started out as a king’s bastard son holding on to his throne by a thread, and ended with some of the most memorable European rulers - queens, no less! - who would oust ancient civilizations from the lands where they had ruled for hundreds of years, who would stand up to desperate tyrants for the sakes of their marriages, who would be so passionate that her contemporaries would claim she was driven “insane” by love.

I wanted to write about the Trastámara, the dynasty whose members would give birth to Kings and Queens of Spain, Navarre, and Naples, and whose own blood would help to furnish the Habsburg dynasty as well as give rise to Mary Tudor, the vehemently Catholic monarch of Spain in the midst of the Reformation.

But where to begin? I found my main character while I was researching her royal half-sister, Leonor, Queen of Navarre.  Her life fascinated me, especially the chronicles I could find of her return to Castile after her marriage (because, for all intents and purposes, her marriage was not a happy one).  It was during research of Leonor’s father, Enrique II, that I stumbled across the list of bastards in his will.  Out of all of them, only one was listed without her mother, and she had been betrothed to a pretender to the Portuguese throne.

A cursory glance into the girl’s background (to see if anyone had ever discovered her name) allowed me to learn that the girl was not only without a mother (possibly implying the death of the girl’s mother, possibly in childbirth) but that her fiancé had married her half-sister by another mistress - and that she had married the recently widowed elder brother a few years later.

I was intrigued by this illegitimate daughter, this Constanza of Castile. And each of those things gave rise to what I know today as “LA BASTARDA”.  I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it, and I look forward to releasing my second book (and the second book in the series!) in late 2016.

K.M. Guerin 

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About the Author

K.M. Guerin is a wife, stay-at-home mom.  In regards to reading historical fiction, she is definitely a medieval/early Renaissance anglophile, though her debut novel, LA BASTARDA (available now on Amazon), is set in 14th century Spain.  When not writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with family, and figuring out how to work the latest in social media. Find out more at and find her on Twitter @KM_Guerin

7 December 2015

Historical Fiction Blog Tour ~ The Prince of Prigs, by Anthony Anglorus #HFVBT


Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

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The union of England and Scotland under one crown is not even a half century old, and the Parliamentarians already threaten the very fabric of the nation. 
These are the adventures of highwayman Capt. James Hind who, in Robin Hood fashion, steals from the Roundheads to help fund the royalist cause. 

When Cromwell comes to power, James, the Prince of Prigs, must be careful whom among his treacherous “friends” he trusts.

The fount of my inspiration

I was going to write about whatever it was that inspired me to start writing. But you know, I’m not sure ‘inspired’ is the right word in my case. It was more of a sequence of events.
  I had written before; back in the eighties and nineties I wrote an autobiography to try to understand myself during a particularly dark period of my life, and later, a comic novel combining a random series of strange events I had experienced. Neither were ever published, but they did teach me that I enjoyed writing. However novelising events you’ve experienced yourself is one thing; writing historical fiction is quite another.
  Then in 2009, I sold my business with the aim of semi-retiring, got bored, decided to research a local character I’d heard about, liked his story and decided to write it.
  But don’t imagine for a moment that writing Historical Fiction is just a case of writing. At every step there’s something else you have to research, more to learn and I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of trying to find out about all sorts of things. It’s not just a case of using Google, you have to do research to find out where you can do the research! What was happening in the world back then, what did they eat, what did they wear, what did they drink, what did they eat with, where was that character at that specific point in time, does this character have any descendants - the list is, quite literally endless. On top of that, you have to keep building ever-larger bookcases to hold all of the reference books. I’m very good at D.I.Y. now. Ask Tony, he’s been writing far longer than I have and I can guarantee that he spends at least as much time researching as he does writing and editing. And it’s fun. Challenging. Exciting.
  At the end of it, you find you are something of an expert in that brief period of time. However, unless you plan to continue writing about that particular segment of time, you then have to set aside all that you’ve learned and start again.
  This happened to me; the character in the first tale, George Davenport, lived towards the end of the eighteenth century and was in fact one of the last highwaymen. But I followed that with a character set in the middle of the seventeenth century - ironically one of the first and certainly the first highwayman of note.
  “The Prince of Prigs” recounts nine critical months in the life of Captain James Hind, highwayman, Royalist officer and all-round roguish good egg. He enjoyed life to the full, and would rob you with panache and humour. But if you had the misfortune to be a high-ranking official in the Parliamentarian Government, your treatment would be less benign, although he still eschewed killing. The poor, especially Royalists, would often come out of the robbery with more money than they entered it, and it was this generosity which turned him into a folk hero.
  Indeed, it was this trait that first endeared this character to me. I found it inspiring that even when the chips were down, he still would give to the poor and maintain his good humour. I did also appreciate his reluctance to kill - a tendency which marked him out, for the more usual approach was to rob then kill. Even with the Regicides - those responsible for the beheading of King Charles I - he retained his sense of humour, although in their case he made them the butt of the joke. He beat preacher Hugh Peters in a war of quotes from the bible, John Bradshaw was made to look an idiot... but they all lived to tell the tale. Although they preferred not to actually tell the tale,  the coachmen were always perfectly willing to do it for them.
  Numerous complimentary reviews have told me that I achieved my initial objective; to write a broadly historically accurate book with lots of action and great pace.  The book is  published by Bygone Era Books and is available at all good bookshops and online as paperback or e-book.

Anthony Anglorus 
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About the Author

03_Anthony Anglorus 1
After a lifetime of balancing books, Anthony turned his hand to writing them in 2009. His first book, The Other Robin Hood, is available as an ebook. An Englishman still living in England, he married a Russian doctor in 1999 and will be moving to rural France after reaching retirement age — but the writing will continue. He is already working on the sequel to The Prince of Prigs, tentatively titled Dark Days, Dark Deeds.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 7 Guest Post at The Writing Desk Thursday, December 10 Review at Diana's Book Reviews Monday, December 14 Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne Interview at Historical Fiction Addicts Tuesday, December 22 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views Wednesday, December 23 Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf Monday, December 28 Guest Post at Historical Fiction Addicts Tuesday, December 29 Review at Queen of All She Reads Thursday, December 31 Tour Wrap-Up at Passages to the Past

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