Mastodon The Writing Desk: February 2016

25 February 2016

London Calling, by Helen Carey @HelenCareyBooks

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A poignant, warm-hearted and engaging saga of south London's women during the Second World War.
It will take more than Hitler's Luftwaffe to break the spirit of the residents of Lavender Road. If courage, resilience and a shared sense of humour could win wars, the conflict would already be over.
It's not all harmony, though. Nurse Molly Coogan and would-be actress Jen Carter certainly don't see eye to eye. Molly, despite hating the strict discipline of wartime hospital life, is unimpressed by flighty Jen's prima donna ways. While pretty Jen, unaware of Molly's secret heartache, can't resist taking her own personal frustrations out on Molly. It's probably just as well that no one knows what challenges lie ahead...
From stolen glasses in the Flag and Garter to fancy dinners in the heart of the West End, from a desperate battle for survival on a hospital ward to a torpedo hitting its target in the Mediterranean Sea, LONDON CALLING takes readers into a world of ordinary people living extraordinary lives.

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About the Author

Helen Carey is the author of Lavender Road, Some Sunny Day and On a Wing and a Prayer, and teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Wales where she specialises in story structure.  She is a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and currently has fellowship posts at Aberystwyth University.  Helen also writes travel articles and short stories. She has worked for a literary agency and as a reader for several publishers. Having spent time in various parts of the world Helen now lives in Pembrokeshire in West Wales where she and her husband run their small coastal farm as a conservation project.  For more information about her and her books please visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @HelenCareyBooks.

23 February 2016

Book Launch Guest Post ~ The Du Lac Chronicles : Book 1, by Mary Anne Yarde

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

If all you had left was your heart, would you give it to your enemy?

A generation after Arthur Pendragon ruled, Briton lies fragmented into warring kingdoms. The powerful Saxon King, Cerdic of Wessex, spent the last twenty years hunting down Arthur’s noble knights. Alden du Lac, the once king of Cerniw and son of Lancelot, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden’s kingdom lies in rubble. Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex, has been secretly in love with Alden for what seems like forever. She will not stand by and see him die. She defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves from her father’s dungeons. Alden and Annis flee Wessex together.

There is something very appealing about chivalry and honour. It is no surprise that the stories of King Arthur and his knights have etched their way into the hearts of a nation. They certainly found their way into my heart at a very early age. Their stories were part of my childhood – growing up very near Glastonbury, I guess that is not really surprising.

However, I always felt slightly deflated by the ending of Arthur’s story. There is a terrible battle at Camlann where Arthur is mortally wounded. He is whisked away to Avalon and that is the last that we hear of him. Likewise, his knights if they have not already been killed, tend to end their days as hermits. I never really bought into that ending. It was just too final and far too vague.

I started to research the era and was fascinated with what I learnt. In particular I became very interested in a Saxon called Cerdic.  In AD 519, Cerdic of Wessex - according to The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles – became the first West-Saxon King of Britain. His journey to being crowned is quite extraordinary. He landed in Hampshire at the end of the fifth Century. He and his son, raged war across the Southern kingdoms of England – conquered most of them, and brought a sort of unity to the south that had not been seen since the Roman era.

But here is where it got interesting for me. Cerdic’s exploits and Arthur’s legendary legacy became entwined. Some say the their armies once met at Badon Hill. I wanted to explore this possibility some more, and this is where my inspiration for The Du Lac Chronicles came from.

The Du Lac Chronicles is set a generation after the fall of King Arthur and I wanted to create a story where the knights did not end up in monasteries and then disappeared into the shadows of history. I wanted to write about what happened after Arthur died. In particular, I wanted to write about the changing ‘Saxon’ world that these knights now found themselves in.

The Du Lac Chronicles follows - through the eyes of Lancelot du Lac’s sons - Cerdic of Wessex’s campaign to become High King. The world the du Lac’s had known was to be changed forever by this one man’s determination to enslave the kingdoms under the Saxon yolk. In my story these men, these knights, do not die easily and they certainly do not become hermits!

Mary Anne Yarde
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Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood. At nineteen, she married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions. Mary Anne Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking—so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out! Find our more at her website and find her on Twitter @maryanneyarde.

22 February 2016

Book Launch Guest Post ~ Chosen Child, by Linda Huber @LindaHuber19

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Ella longs for a child of her own, but a gruesome find during an adoption process deepens the cracks in her marriage. A family visit starts off a horrifying chain of events, and Ella can only hope she won’t lose the person she loves most of all. Amanda is expecting her second child when her husband vanishes. She is tortured by thoughts of violence and loss, but nothing prepares her for the shocking conclusion to the police investigation. And in the middle of it all, a little girl is looking for a home of her own with a ‘forever’ mummy and daddy… 

I remember exactly when I started to write. It was for my Brownie Writers’ badge when I was seven, and I loved it so much I’ve never stopped. Inspiration for my books and stories comes from daily life – there’s a story in almost every situation, if not a book!

The idea for Chosen Child came to me eighteen months ago at my niece’s wedding in Scotland. I was chatting to a relative who works in child welfare, and I’m not sure how we got onto the subject of adoption, but we did. So there I was, glass in hand, hearing all about adoption activity days and the potential problems facing adoptive parents – and an entire plot crashed into my head.

My books are psychological thrillers, a genre that fascinates me. Every day we see people – strangers – going about their business, but we don’t see behind their ‘on the train face’ or their ‘walking along the street face’. Some of them could be going through hell, for all we know. Even with people know, we often have no idea what’s happening in their lives and what emotions drive them.

So many stories, just waiting to be written… In my books, I like to get right inside my character’s heads, show what they’re thinking and feeling. In psychological thrillers there’s usually something not-quite-right going on, and as my books all have at least two point of view characters, the reader knows more than the individual characters do, which is a good way to increase tension.

Working the plot out is actually the easy bit. This happens, then that, and so…  Finding the characters is trickier, discovering what makes them tick and why they act the way they do. It’s challenging – and great fun! In Chosen Child, we have Ella, who is longing with all her heart to be a mother, but adoption is the only way, and her husband Rick, who is okay about adopting – but it should be a nice little white and healthy baby boy.

Then there’s Amanda, mother of a toddler and expecting her second baby. The way these three react to the problems they face at the beginning of the book changes their lives, and the lives of those close to them. Not least of all the child Ella and Rick are planning to adopt.

Research is another big part of my writing process. I always set my books in an area I know, but memories alone aren’t enough; I need information about things like – if you call 999 in St Ives, where does the ambulance come from and how long would it take? Is there a train link from Newquay to Penzance? The world wide web is a huge help here. And of course there’s police procedure – but the above-mentioned niece has solved this problem very nicely for me by marrying a policeman!

The ending of a book needs thought too – I like it to be positive but also realistic after what’s happened in the story. The reader should be left feeling the characters might be out there somewhere, living their lives… and who knows what’ll happen next!

Linda Huber
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About the Author

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog. Nowadays, she spends her time teaching English and writing psychological thrillers. The Paradise Trees, The Cold Cold Sea, The Attic Room and Chosen Child are available in eBook and paperback. Find out more at Linda's website and follow her on Facebook  and Twitter @LindaHuber19

19 February 2016

Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Linda Porter

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry. 

Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified during the reigns of Elizabeth and Mary's grandfathers. Henry VII aimed to provide stability when he married his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland in 1503. 

But he must also have known that Margaret's descendants might seek to rule the entire island. Crown of Thistles is the story of a divided family, of flamboyant kings and queens, cultured courts and tribal hatreds, blood feuds, rape and sexual licence on a breath-taking scale, and violent deaths. 

It also brings alive a neglected aspect of British history - the blood-spattered steps of two small countries on the fringes of Europe towards an awkward unity that would ultimately forge a great nation. 

Beginning with the unlikely and dramatic victories of two usurping kings, one a rank outsider and the other a fourteen-year-old boy who rebelled against his own father, the book sheds new light on Henry VIII, his daughter, Elizabeth, and on his great-niece, Mary Queen of Scots, still seductive more than 400 years after her death.

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About the Author

Linda Porter is an historian and author.  She was born in Exeter, brought up in Kent and has a D.Phil in History from the University of York.  Linda has lived in Paris and New York, where she was a History lecturer at various universities, including Fordham and the City University of New York.  On returning to the UK she changed careers and spent over twenty years working for British Telecom, many of them involved with developing the company’s corporate image in expanding international markets.  Disillusionment with the corporate world and a yearning to get back to historical research prompted her to leave BT in the early 2000s.  Since then she has written three critically acclaimed books, Mary Tudor: The First Queen, (2007), Katherine the Queen: the remarkable life of Katherine Parr, (2010) and Crown of Thistles: the fatal inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots (2013).  Her latest book, Royal Renegades: the children of Charles I and the English Civil Wars, will be published in October, 2016.  She is a regular speaker at stately homes and literary festivals throughout the country and has appeared on television and radio.  Linda is currently acting as historical consultant for a major new BBC series on the Six Wives of Henry VIII and is doing research for her next book, on the marriage of John and Sarah Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, which will finally take her back to her favourite period, the 18th century.  She is married with one daughter and lives in Kent. Find out more at Linda's website

18 February 2016

Guest Post ~ Hold the Faith: Apostle John Series, by Susan M. B. Preston

Available on Amazon UK, Amazon US

To be a Christian in 1st century Ephesus, under Roman rule, is dangerous. 
The arena awaits, a background threat… one that candidates for baptism are reminded of. The decision might cost them their lives. All it takes is the refusal to burn a pinch of incense and declare that Emperor Domitian is lord and god, and Roman ire declares they are subversive, rebels.

It is 92 AD, and the Apostle John still lives! The sect that the Jewish authorities had hoped would die following the crucifixion of their leader, had not happened.

What had happened was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that was (dare I say it) almost like an idol to the Jews of the time. Many of those early followers of the ‘Way’, later to be called ‘Christians’ in a derogatory term, had fled under the persecution from the Jews. With the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, came the Diaspora and Jews joined their fellow Jews in various cities around the Roman Empire.

Using biblical principles I worked out that John, the apostle, would have been married. Working out his age in 92 AD was relatively simple, so calculating the age of any children, and their children was again worked out using the knowledge of when Jewish men married. The daughters were married off far earlier, often soon after puberty, but men had to be mature, settled, and able to support a wife and family.

Thus, although the Apostle John is a key figure in the series of books, he is not the main character. Readers have identified Benjamin, the great-grandson I ‘gave’ John, as the ‘hero’ of the series.
Hold the Faith, the first in the series, is the first in print, although all three are available as eBooks. Book four is ‘resting’ in draft, but starting to urge me to ‘get on with it’. So do a few fans who have followed the family and the brethren through the trials of living in ‘occupied territory’.

I chose Ephesus for the location as most of the evidence pointed that way. There is a friend who would not buy the book because her pet theory (which I did consider) was that John had gone to England. Historically, I could not find enough evidence to support that.

As a child I loved history as a class subject, and as a young person, I devoured books on the Tudors, some of the French ancestry, Scottish history and a long series on the Popes. The Medici and Borgia families fascinated me.

Never would it have occurred to me that I would be writing Christian, historical fiction. I wrote manuals to help my computer classes. But when listening to a detailed Bible study on the gospel of John, I wondered. “Could that be true?” and so started a long trail of research, which does become addictive.

What I found were the people and the times that these folks in the Bible… who had been just stories until then. I found out what it was like living under Roman rule, being hated by Jews, Romans and pagans. They were people. It seems I succeeded in showing that because I have emails and reviews saying that. There is a time to stop a series though, and that will come at the end of book five. Book four is written, book five is thoughts, ideas, promptings. In the meantime book one is now in print – on sale in the US but the ‘official’ Australian launch is in May.

I consulted many versions of the Bible, Josephus (a former Pharisee, and prone to exaggeration by many commentators). Lionel Casson’s ‘Travels in the Ancient World’ was amusing in parts. I subscribe to Biblical Archeological research newsletters and Biblical History newsletters. Suetonius gives insights into the Roman emperors he writes about, as well as various Roman festivals and everything Roman. I have a shelf full of books and hard drives with gigabytes of research – oh, and I recently found another valuable newsletter… Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Susan M. B. Preston

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About the Author

Susan Preston is someone you will usually find at her desk behind her computer, researching and writing her fiction books set in the 1st century AD. Originally from the historic town of Peebles in the Scottish borders, she grew up surrounded by history. Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined she would write a historical fiction series on early Christianity. It was when a church girls club needed a leader, that Susan stepped forward took on the role, and delved into the stories in the Bible. The ‘leap’ to full-length fiction novels was born from an, “I wonder if that’s true’ moment, and a vast amount of research… which she admits is addictive.  Now there are three books in the Apostle John series, a fourth ‘resting’ in second draft, and a fifth… more than likely. Find out more at and follow Susan on Twitter @SPrestonPerth

17 February 2016

How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life, by Ruth Goodman

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The real Wolf Hall - a time traveller's guide to daily life
in Tudor England

The Tudor era encompasses some of the greatest changes in our history. But while we know about the historical dramas of the times - most notably in the court of Henry VIII - what was life really like for a commoner like you or me?

To answer this question, the renowned "method historian" Ruth Goodman has slept, washed and cooked as the Tudors did - so you don't have to! She is your expert guide to this fascinating era, drawing on years of practical historical study to show how our ancestors coped with everyday life, from how they slept to how they courted.

Using a vast range of sources, she takes you back to the time when soot was used as toothpaste and the "upper crust" of bread was served to the wealthier members of the house. Exploring how the Tudors learnt, danced and even sat and stood according to the latest fashion, she reveals what it all felt, smelt and tasted like, from morning until night.

'Ruth is the queen of living history, long may she reign!' - Lucy Worsley

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About the Author

Ruth Goodman is a historian who specializes in the social and domestic life of Britain.  She works with a wide range of museums and other academic institutions, exploring the past of ordinary people and their activities.  She has presented a number of highly acclaimed and popular  BBC 2 television series including ‘Victorian Farm’, ‘Victorian Pharmacy’, ‘Edwardian Farm’, ‘Wartime Farm’ and ‘Tudor Monastery Farm’.  In each of these programmes she spent up to a year recreating life from a different period.  Ruth was also the expert presenter on BBC 1’s  ‘24 Hours in the Past’ and is a regular contributor to ‘The One Show’ and ‘Coast’.  Her book ‘How to be a Victorian’ attracted international acclaim and this was followed by ‘How to be a Tudor’ (both published by Viking). 

15 February 2016

I Love the Tudors: 400 Fantastic Facts, by Mickey Mayhew #Tudors

New on Amazon UK and available for pre-order on Amazon US

  • Henry VII’s father died in prison before he was born.

  • Henry VIII was too fat to walk down the stairs.

  • Mary Queen of Scots was almost killed by an earthquake at Sheffield Castle.

  • Elizabeth I wore poisonous makeup.
This fun little book, containing 400 fantastic facts about the Tudor era and more than 100 illustrations, will delight Tudor fans everywhere!

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About the Author

Mickey Mayhew is a lifelong Londoner, currently completing his PhD on the cult surrounding tragic queens Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots. He was co-author on three books relating to Jack the Ripper and his first non-fiction work, The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots, was published in January 2015. I Love the Tudors was released in January 2016 and went straight to the top of the Amazon bestselling chart in Tudor history. Fiction includes the urban fantasy frolic 'Jack and the Lad', first part of the paranormal romance trilogy 'The Barrow Boys of Barking'. Mickey is also a regular columnist for several 'highbrow' historical journals, as well as being a film and theatre reviewer for various London lifestyle magazines; elsewhere several short stories have also been serialised. Find out more at his website and find Mickey on Twitter @Mickey_Mayhew

10 February 2016

Guest Post ~ Virgin Widow: A Reappraisal, by Anne O'Brien

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Anne Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, grows up during the War of the Roses, a time when kings and queens are made and destroyed in an on-going battle for the ultimate prize: the throne of England. As a child Anne falls in love with the ambitious, proud Richard of Gloucester, third son of the House of York. But when her father is branded a traitor, her family must flee to exile in France. As Anne matures into a beautiful, poised woman, skillfully navigating the treacherous royal court of Margaret of Anjou, she secretly longs for Richard, who has become a great man under his brother's rule. But as their families scheme for power, Anne must protect her heart from betrayals on both sides-and from the man she has always loved, 
and cannot bring herself to trust.

On balance, medieval women, even royal and aristocratic women, have very little to say for themselves in the pages of history, often no more than a few lines or a paragraph to their name.  Apart from a few notable females, they are remarkably silent. 

Why should this be?

Because medieval history was primarily a man's world of politics and battles, family manoeuvring and power-brokering, written by men about men.   A woman was dominated by the men of her family throughout childhood, betrothal and into marriage.  Obedient to father, brother and husband, her role was to ensure an alliance with an equally powerful family.  When she does appear in history she is written about in the context of her relationship to men: daughter, sister, husband, unless she took the veil.

We may not expect to hear much from a woman of the lower classes, but surely a woman of the court had an opinion of the people and the political events around her, and a strong one when the direction of her life was changed at the dictates of the men in her family.  I cannot believe that she has nothing to say. I am sure these frequently intelligent, well-educated women made their opinions known - as all women do.

Anne Neville was the first of the medieval women I chose to write about in Virgin Widow, to bring her from the shadows of history to stand beside the famous men of her family.   Anne was Queen of England, daughter of the most powerful man in England and wife to one of the most notorious Kings, and yet we know so little about her.   History records the dates of her life and a sparse outline of her two marriages.  Her family of course is well documented.  The Earl of Warwick, her father, figures prominently in the history of the Wars of the Roses, a dominant force in the making and unmaking of kings, whilst Richard III, her second husband, needs no introduction.  But Anne appears a figure without form or depth.

It seemed to me that, surrounded as she was by strong female characters, Anne too might have been a young woman of considerable spirit.  Her mother, Anne Beauchamp, an heiress in her own right, was perfectly capable of running the Warwick household in her husband's many absences.  Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, proved to be a formidable women at the centre of her equally formidable family.  Elizabeth Woodville rose from relative obscurity to be Queen of England, holding her family together through death and imprisonment.  Queen Margaret of Anjou, wife to the ill-fated Henry VI, had no qualms about taking control of the reins of government during her husband's mental difficulties.  None of these contemporaries of Anne could be considered to be shrinking violets.

Given this background, Anne seemed to me to be a gift to an historical novelist.  How could I resist the opportunity to put words into Anne’s mouth and encourage her to emerge as a living entity with the bloody event of the Wars of the Roses as a backdrop?  Equally hard to resist was the possibility of a romance between Anne and Richard, raised together as they were for some years at Middleham Castle.  There is no evidence that there was ever a childhood affection between them, but equally there is nothing to suggest that there was not. 

Without doubt, Anne was used as a pawn in the unscrupulous political dealings of the Wars of the Roses, making and unmaking alliances, as would any young girl of similar status.  But what if she had inherited all the self-will and pride of her Neville and Beauchamp ancestors…?

I was inspired to recreate her.  So Virgin Widow was written.

Anne O'Brien
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About the Author

Anne O'Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters degree in education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding as a teacher of history. Always a prolific reader, she enjoyed historical fiction and was encouraged to try her hand at writing. Success in short story competitions spurred her on. Leaving teaching, she wrote her first historical romance, a Regency, which was published in 2005. To date nine historical romances and a novella, ranging from medieval, through the Civil War and Restoration and back to Regency, have been published internationally. Anne now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, on the borders between England and Wales. Since living there she has become hooked on medieval history. Virgin Widow, published in 2010 was Anne's first novel based on the life of an historical character, Anne Neville, wife of Richard Duke of Gloucester. Her second novel tracks the early life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, through marriage, crusades and divorce, not to mention scandal, as Devil's Consort (In the USA published as Queen Defiant.)  Other novels depict the scandalous life of Alice Perrers, mistress of King Edward III, who broke all the rules as The King's Concubinefollowed by Katherine de Valois as The Forbidden Queen and Elizabeth of Lancaster as The King's Sister. Anne's latest book, The Queen’s Choice, about the life of Joanna of Navarre, was released in the UK on 14th January 2016.  Find out more at Anne's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @anne_obrien.

8 February 2016

The Bravery of Mary, Queen of Scots, Executed #OnThisDay 8 February 1587

The wax mask placed over Mary's face
after death to preserve the memory of her.

I remember as a child being horrified at how Elizabeth cut off her cousin’s head. Now, decades later, I am a little closer to understanding it. It is cold and windy here in Pembrokeshire today on the 8th of February, and I imagine it must have been much the same in London more than four centuries ago. Mary asked her executioners to kneel while she prayed for their souls, and said 'I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles.'

Her maidservants then began to remove her clothes, which must have been a final indignity for such a proud and private woman.  She unfastened the crucifix which she always wore around her neck and handed it to her executioner, saying it should bring him some money, then passed her well-worn rosary to one of her ladies.

It is reported that all this time she seemed calm and in good spirits, saying she ‘never had such grooms to make her unready', and that she 'never put off her clothes before such a company.'  Now dressed only in her petticoat and kirtle, she embraced her two ladies, and spoke to them in French, 'Ne crie vous, j'ay prome pour vous'. She turned to her other servants, who had assembled to witness her death, and asked them to pray for her.

A blindfold was now pinned over her head and she knelt on a cushion, praying in Latin, Psalm 31: In Te Domine confide non confundar in eternam, then, feeling with her hands for the executioner’s block, lay down her head, resting her chin over the block. In a final, chilling plea, she stretched out her arms ad called out, ‘In manus tuas, Domine,’ four times.

The act of execution did not go well. And took several attempts with the axe.  It is said as he lifted her head by her hair, her wig fell off to reveal short, grey hair. And her lips continued to move as if still praying. A detail often not reported is that her little dog, hiding under her petticoats, refused to leave his mistress and lay down between her head and her shoulders.

I will remember her today as a brave woman, who faced death with dignity and great courage, a true queen. 

The scene of the execution, created by an unknown Dutch artist in 1613 (Wikimedia Commons) 

6 February 2016

Historical Fiction Spotlight ~ The Heretic Heir (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles Book 2) by Gemma Lawrence

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

February 1603, the last of the Tudor monarchs is dying, but Death must wait for Elizabeth of England to finish her tale... 

As The Bastard Princess, Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, has fought through a childhood of intrigue and peril to her place as the heir to the English throne. But as her sister, Mary I, the first anointed and sole Queen of England takes the crown, Elizabeth must face her most dangerous challenges yet... for Mary I is determined to return England to the Catholic faith, and will have none stand in her way. 

Protestant Elizabeth knows that she must survive the suspicions and distrust of her sister, in a reign where rebellion and war freely stalked the lands of England. 
To survive, this heretic heir must hone her skills in survival, wit and wile, in order that she may one day... become Queen. 

"This book is a masterpiece." Terry Tyler, Author

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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 who inspire me'. Her first book in the Elizabeth of England Chronicles series is The Bastard Princess (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles Book 1). Gemma can be found on Wattpad and Twitter

5 February 2016

Historical Fiction Spotlight ~ Tristan & Isolde: Book One. Love Is Stone, by RR Gordon @RRGordonDotCom

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

The long-awaited first book in the Tristan & Isolde series from the bestselling author RR Gordon ... 

The Legend Of Cornwall’s Star-Crossed Lovers 

Saxons are spreading across southern England, squeezing the Celts into the corners of Cornwall and South Wales. Is it simply a matter of time until a race that once covered most of Europe is driven into extinction? 

Two teenage Celtic brothers from a small border village attack a band of Saxons who venture across from Wessex. King Marke of Cornwall hears of their deeds and recruits them into his royal guards, the younger Tristan rising over a few short years to become his champion swordsman. 

King Vortipor has recently united all of South Wales into a single kingdom, but when he falls ill, the old factions begin to re-surface. His queen, Elen, struggles to keep the kingdom together while hiding the true seriousness of her husband’s condition. 

Isolde, a young Irish princess, is betrothed to a man she hates. Isolde plots to overthrow her father in order to determine her own destiny, but little does she know that her actions will set four kingdoms on a collision course that is likely to have a profound impact across the whole of the known world. 

Cornwall's Romeo and Juliet 

The Celtic legend of Tristan & Isolde’s love has endured a thousand years and is part of the folklore of nearly fifty countries. Some believe the story inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, making Tristan & Isolde the original star-crossed lovers. 

Weaving legend into historical fact, the best-selling author RR Gordon has created a spell-binding tale featuring battles, romance, political intrigue, engaging leading men and strong heroines. 


‘An epic tale in the style of Game Of Thrones’ 

‘Interlaces historical fact and storytelling fiction like Bernard Cornwell, combined with the epic intrigue and crisscrossing plot lines of George RR Martin – a glorious, sumptuous story’ 

‘RR Gordon’s best book yet – a masterpiece of historical fiction’ 

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About the Author

RR Gordon grew up in Yorkshire and now lives in the Cotswolds with his wife & four children. Author of the Wish You Were Here Series: Gull Rock, Ramsey Sound and Rydal Water, he writes books that might be described as thrillers, but with a twist of humour and romance. Find out more at and follow RR Gordon on Twitter @RRGordonDotCom

Book Launch: The Redoubt (The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam Book 4) by Devorah Fox

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Available now, The Redoubt, Book Four in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic fantasy series. 

Having bested beast, man, and even his own failings, King Bewilliam has regained his throne, reunited with his sons, and restored his embattled kingdom, yet something is lacking. When a crippling famine threatens the Chalklands’ very survival, his vassals propose a risky plan to seek aid from a distant ruler. King Bewilliam strikes off on a perilous journey to the island empire of Sea Gate accompanied by a cadre of loyal knights and nobles who are unaware that the plan will reunite the king with a spurned lover.

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About the Author

Devorah Fox is the author of best-selling novels The Lost King, The King’s Ransom, and The King’s Redress in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic fantasy series. Devorah also co-authored the contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks with Jed Donellie and contributed to Masters of Time, a SciFi/Fantasy Time Travel Anthology. When not writing fiction, she is publisher and editor of the BUMPERTOBUMPER® books for commercial motor vehicle drivers and developer of the Easy CDL test prep apps. Devorah was born in Brooklyn, New York and now lives in The Barefoot Palace in Port Aransas on the Texas Gulf Coast. Find out m ore at Devorah's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @devorah_fox.

1 February 2016

Historical Fiction Spotlight ~ Tapestry, by Christopher Largent

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A New Perspective on a Famous Moment in European History

Christopher Largent, Author, gives the back-story of the 1066 Battle of Hastings from a surprising perspective. In his new novel, Tapestry, the author offers a first-person tale based on the famous Bayeux Tapestry in Normandy, France, revealing it to be an elegant cover-up rather than a reporting of actual events.

Opening in 1035 AD, Tapestry focuses on a mysterious emissary whose life entwines with the characters that move behind the events leading to the Norman Conquest of England — which turns out to be very different from what historians have supposed.

The emissary engages with fascinating male and female characters, both famous and little known, including William the Conqueror, William's mother Arlette and his wife Matilda, Edward the Confessor, Kings Magnus and Harald "Hardraada" of Norway, Earl Harold of Wessex, and famed teacher Lanfranc of Pavia, the mentor of St. Anselm.

Trained in diplomacy, the emissary also studies healing and vision-seeking with a European herbalist, the last Icelandinc prophetess/seer of the Old Religion of Odin and Thor, and a Native shaman/wise man.

In this travels, the emissary moves through a huge range of ancient locales: Normandy, Flanders, Denmark, Norway, the Shetland and Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and ancient North America, so that the reader experiences delights from charming trading towns to the dazzling Northern Lights.

Told in a first-person 11th-Century voice, Tapestry lifts the reader out of 20th-Century mental habits to experience a perspective without Freudian psychology, existential despair, power politics, or psychopathic evil — all inventions of the 20th Century. The result is both engaging and refreshing.

The novel also occurs before the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Black Plague, so for 11th-Century citizens, this era was not some grimy "Dark Age" but a New Age, in which religion and diplomacy, as much as politics and military strategies, defined and reformed the world.  As one of the novel's characters notes, even the weather was good in this century.

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About the Author

Chris Largent taught the history of philosophy and comparative religion for forty years, which led to his fascination with history and his love of historical research. He also taught seminars on writing, publishing, Shakespeare, poetry, and the Arthurian Cycle. In fact, after teaching a class in England, he was taken to Normandy in 1987, where he saw the Bayeux Tapestry, which inspired his 11th-Century novel, Tapestry. A professional editor, he has also run two micro-presses and served as a marketing manager for a third, while also doing peer reviewing for university presses and publishing houses oriented to metaphysics and philosophy. He began writing both fiction and nonfiction when he was very young and at age 15 received a Columbia Journalism Award for his editorials. To develop a sense of great literature, he studied writers ranging from Shelley, Dickens, and Poe to P. G. Wodehouse and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Find out more at his website